In the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Germany, U-shaped kitchens (like the one shown here) are the most popular, according to the survey. In the U.K., designer Conrad Hendrick of LWK Kitchens says history plays a role in kitchen layouts. “Unless you are willing to remodel, then your home’s existing architecture will often dictate what your layout will be,” he says. “And with Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian architecture still imprinted on many modern homes, it follows that these styles naturally influence kitchen design, and in many modern cases lean toward a U-shaped kitchen layout.”
Aside from the historical influence, Hendrick says people desire the U-shaped layout because it provides a generous work surface and storage capacity. “They are also highly efficient and simple to use because of the limited number of steps required when moving between different areas of the kitchen,” he says.
“Our people have always lived in tiny apartments, so they obviously did their best to make the kitchen occupy less space,” he says. “These layouts allow us to fit all the appliances you need in a very small space. Even when people move to bigger apartments, memories make them choose the angular configurations while they could afford an island kitchen or any other kind.”
And designers are responding to this with new interpretations of the traditional Japanese kitchen. Kitchen House recently launched the combination kitchen island and dining element seen here in collaboration with architect Kengo Kuma. It combines modern design and technology with “primitive materials like glued laminated bamboo board, black iron frame and cast aluminum,” Imai says.
George Lisac, owner of Kerrock Countertops in Union City, California, is seeing a big rise in requests for engineered quartz. “Even more than granite,” he says. Engineered quartz is 97 percent crushed quartz mixed with 3 percent resin to create a nonporous material that doesn’t need to be sealed like granite. It was the most popular countertop material in the U.S. after granite, and the No. 1 choice in Canada, Ireland, Spain and Australia.
But not everyone embraces the material. Burghardt, owner of Domicile San Francisco, says he’s been ripping out and replacing the engineered quartz countertops he installed years ago. “People are not happy with them,” he says. “People also universally seem disappointed with the matte finishes which are prevalent in our market. They show a lot of fingerprints and look dirty as opposed to the polished surfaces.”
Instead, Neolith, a porcelain material from Spain, shown here mimicking Calacatta marble, has been taking over his clients’ kitchens lately. “You can’t scratch it, burn it or stain it,” he says.
A recent Houzz discussion about kitchen remodeling desires sheds light on a few sought-after features. Induction cooktops, charging stations for electronics, retractable power points, baseboard vacuum systems, built-in pet feeding stations, ovens with side-opening doors, as shown here, and drawers instead of shelves on the bottom cabinets came up frequently.
But there were also calls for a few nontraditional kitchen features. “A sexy man that will do dishes, cook and take out trash,” commented Houzz user Brandi Nash Hicks.
Meanwhile, homeowner Sarah Haubert had an inventive idea. For her recently built custom home, she mounted the motor for the range hood outside. “So I can be cooking at the stove with the fan on high and it is amazingly quiet,” she says. “This has seriously been one of my favorite things we did in this house.”
“We need the white colors to reflect any sunlight that comes through the windows during those long, dark winters. In general the weather is not great, so any reflection of light is important,” says Allan Torp, a lifestyle expert for Bungalow5 in Copenhagen, Denmark. “It keeps the kitchen looking bright and clean, and doesn’t induce a heavy feeling when those sunshine days are over.”