Contemporary look for kitchens gains popularity

As passionate cooks and home entertainers, Oliver Bonke and Ingrid Abisambra have a kitchen that caters to their lifestyle. But it wasn’t always that way.

After the couple bought a traditional-style home in historic Brookhaven last year, they tackled some renovations including opening up and modernizing the cramped, alcove kitchen.

For help with the kitchen project, the couple worked with interior designer Monika Thiels and Matthew Rao of Atlanta-based Rao Design Studio.

To liberate the space, walls came down and two sets of French doors were created to bring in more natural light and connect the indoors to the outside patio.

In the opened-up space, a long, stainless-steel central island was added along with a Gaggenau induction cooktop, SeiMatic cabinets, Liebherr wine fridge, an industrial sink, plus a Miele dishwasher and steam oven.

With its European appliances and modern finishes, the kitchen feels warm and welcoming, especially with the addition of the whitewashed brick wall and a custom dining table made from reclaimed barn wood.

“The space is what we wanted: simple and accessible, fresh and contemporary,” said Bonke. “We use it and enjoy it.”

For Bonke and Abisambra and other Atlanta-area families, the kitchen is the home’s centerpiece, with casual living, dining and outdoor spaces branching off from it.

“Today’s kitchens are places where traditions and connections are made and experiences happen,” said Rao. “A new kitchen is an investment in your life and lifestyle.”

While it is tough to forecast what kitchen or bathroom features will be in demand, Debbie Blumencranz and Kelly Carlisle, designers at Atlanta-based Design Galleria Kitchen and Bath, have some ideas. So do members of the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NBKA). The nonprofit trade group recently issued its 2015 report on kitchen and bath trends.

Kitchen trends

- Clean with an overall contemporary feeling.

- Multiple colors. While white is the most common color scheme (followed by gray), kitchens with multiple color schemes are emerging. An example: A white kitchen with light countertops, an espresso island (or two) and painted gray cabinets.

- Countertops. In the past three to five years, many clients who love to cook, bake and entertain have opted for quartzite over marble and especially granite, said Blumencranz.

- European-style cabinets

- Steam ovens.

- Furniture-look pieces that are comfortable

- More windows

- TVs and docking stations

- Multiples of appliances (most notably two dishwashers) in one kitchen or dishwashers with a third rack.

- Wine refrigerators

- Outdoor kitchens

- Fewer standard kitchen tables, which are being replaced by bigger islands, counters or tall, bar-style gathering tables.

- Focus on the user experience, from easy maintenance to accessible design for all, including pets. Solutions include pullouts and rollouts from kitchen cabinets. Also two sinks for multiple cooks.

- Mixed metal finishes. Silver tones can mix with gold tones, like in jewelry.

- Clean, contemporary or transitional designs. More than half of the NKBA designers surveyed expected to do more contemporary kitchens in 2015, with that style running a close second behind transitional styles in popularity.

Bathroom trends

- White and gray as dominant colors

- Floating vanities

- Under-mount sinks are still a top choice, but single, large trough sinks with two faucets are showing up in master and children’s bathrooms.

- Walk-in showers that are easy to use and accessible by all

- Free-standing soaking tubs in the master bathroom

- Amenities, including steam showers, electric heated floors, anti-fog mirrors, lighted showers and shower seats. Some designers in the NBKA report noted that clients also asked for coffee and bar areas in the bathroom and separate water closets.

- Innovative storage, such as drawer pullouts and rollouts for hair-styling equipment and oral-care appliances

Costs of new kitchen and bath

NKBA members specialize in full kitchen and bathroom projects, both remodels and new construction. More than half did kitchen projects in 2014, ranging from $20,000 to $49,000, and bathrooms in the $10,000-to-$29,000 range for design, materials, and labor.

Another nearly 40 percent of the NKBA members reported that their average kitchen price was more than $50,000 for design, materials, and labor, and nearly 30 percent reported that their average bathroom price is more than $30,000.


For more information on kitchen and bath trends or designs, visit the National Kitchen and Bath Association at