12 Kitchen Trends Southern Designers Predict Will Be Everywhere in 2021

White, Black, and Gray Kitchen in Chapel Hill House
Photo: Ngoc Minh Ngo; Styling: Ed Gallagher

As we move into a fresh year ahead, much has changed—but a lot will stay the same, too. Many of us have adjusted to a new routine of working (and schooling) from home that will continue as we flip the calendar to January, and we're all staying in and cooking more than usual too. It makes sense that kitchen design trends for 2021 will be not only about beauty but maximizing function of this central hub of the home, where we are spending even more time than ever before. Here, interior designers from around the South share their predictions for what's trending in kitchen design for 2021 and beyond.

01 of 12

Durable Materials

White Kitchen with Shiplap Island
Laurey W. Glenn

Kitchens have become more of an all-in-one gathering spot as a result of the pandemic, says Joni Vanderslice, founder and president of J. Banks Design Group in Hilton Head, South Carolina. As such, durable materials are going to be key going into 2021—think moving away from marble and granite and into stain-resistant quartz, a material that's been growing in popularity the last few years.

02 of 12

Pops of Color

White, Black, and Gray Kitchen in Chapel Hill House
Ngoc Minh Ngo; Styling: Ed Gallagher

White-on-white kitchens have been the hottest style for a while now, but 2021 will be all about happy hues. "I see bold choices with color, such as a whole bar or even a full kitchen," says Maureen Hodor, co-owner of Kitchens by Design in St. Simons Island, Georgia. Among the most popular choices for 2021? Green—from vibrant to mossy to dark army versions (or even mint!). If you're wanting to test this trend in small doses without committing to a full-on colorful kitchen, try painting just your island, adding color to your backsplash or even redoing the fabric on bar stools.

Read more: 7 Paint Colors We're Loving for Kitchen Cabinets

03 of 12

Matching Backsplash and Countertops

When it comes to a backsplash, you can't go wrong with a classic white subway tile. But who's game for switching things up? Next year, kitchen design will be about replacing the typical tile backsplash with a stone one that matches your countertop, says Katie Vance, partner and interior design director at Powell Architecture + Building Studio in Nashville. "Whether marble or quartz or anything in between, you can turn your countertop into your backsplash for a seamless look," she adds. The best part? No grout to keep clean.

04 of 12

Classic Cabinets, With a Twist

1503 Washington Avenue Waco Kitchen
Sold in a Snap Photography

In 2021, we'll see the minimalist, European-style flat-panel cabinets start to give way to more inset shaker-style doors and drawers that utilize exposed metal hinges, says Joel Nolan, principal architect at NolanStudio in Austin, Texas. It's part of a larger movement toward less minimalism and more decorative home design—in this case, bringing to light the understated elegance of shaker furniture back to the kitchen.

05 of 12

Warmer Woods

Kitchen with organic appeal
Photo by Annie Schlechter; Design by Kiki Shilling; Styling by Karin Lidbeck 

In addition to changing cabinet styles, we'll also see a shift in what cabinets are made of, says Hodor. She's predicting more Scandinavian-inspired ideas for 2021. "This means rift cut white oak, quarter sawn white oak, and flat cut white oak in light-colored stains, or white-washed," she says. Mixing wood with white can give a warmer feel to the typical all-white kitchen.

06 of 12

Black is Big, Too

Fancy a moody kitchen? You're right on trend, as gorgeous noir and black shades are hot for 2021, too, says Maureen Stevens, an interior designer in New Orleans. "In fashion, black is considered classic and can pretty much go with anything; the same goes for interior design," she says. You can go big with black quartz countertops or introduce it in a smaller format. The satin brass finish will still hold court in 2021, but black hardware and lighting are very popular again, says Hodor. Don't worry about being too matchy-matchy, either: She's still seeing a lot of mixed metals in kitchens.

07 of 12

Waterfall Edges

This Is the Countertop Trend We’re Seeing Everywhere
jodiejohnson/Getty Images

Formerly a design touch pretty mainly seen in custom kitchens, countertops with waterfall edges (i.e., those that drop vertically down the sides instead of ending at the end of a cabinet or island) are going to be a big trend in 2021, says Kellie Sirna, co-founder of Studio 11 Design in Dallas. "The vertical drop of a waterfall edge dramatizes the beauty of a natural stone countertop," she says. In addition to its aesthetic value (waterfall island? Talk about a statement piece!), the practical application of this type of edge is another layer of protection for your cabinetry below.

08 of 12

Textured Walls

When we're all spending more time cooking, it becomes more important to make that space an interesting and inviting place to hang out. Nolan says he's seeing more textured plaster being applied to kitchen walls, bringing variation and character to what would otherwise be a flat, purely functional surface.

09 of 12

Arches and Curves

The shape of kitchens is transforming as well. Next year, elegant curves and arches are going to pick up steam, providing a dynamic alternative to the ordinary square doorways and openings of the last few years, says Nolan. Just picture how beautiful and unique a rounded pantry door could be!

10 of 12

Accent Lighting

Lighting is everything in a kitchen—not only for being able to see what you're cooking and eating, but to set a mood, too. Sirna predicts thoughtful, dimmable accent lighting to be a major focus of kitchen design for 2021. "This saves electricity while shining a glamorous light on the dark void created between countertops and cabinets," she says. As a bonus? You can spotlight eye-appealing kitchenware (like colorful stand mixers!) and pretty cookbooks, too, transforming these everyday objects into works of art.

11 of 12

Creative Storage

Dream Kitchen Design Ideas: An Organized Pantry
Laurey W. Glenn

You want your kitchen to be stylish, yet also interesting and functional. That's where storage comes in: Homeowners are getting more creative in this department for kitchens. Ample storage with organizational components will continue to trend into 2021; expect to see more creative uses of closets, pantries, and the various corners around the kitchen that go underutilized, says Sirna. For example, she's converted under-the-stairs storage into a wine cellar used for home-based wine tastings.

12 of 12

More Functional Pantries

As we've all stocked up on more pantry staples than we know what to do with, organization of this important space in our homes is key. While walk-in pantries are amazing, they're usually not an option in smaller homes or apartments. That's where functional touches like expandable shelves, lazy Susans, and pull-out drawers and shelves come in. "Thanks to the rise of shows like The Home Edit and Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, we're all realizing that less is more," says Stevens—as long as it's organized.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles