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Patti Cowger

There’s a good chance that you know someone who is remodeling or rebuilding a kitchen. Maybe that someone is you. There’s also a good chance that a lot of questions have come up during the process. It can be an intimidating project because kitchens are central to family living and so heavily used. Aesthetics and functionality are important both now and for future resale.

Whenever I’m asked about trends, I answer carefully. I make the distinction between trends and new ideas that will be long-lasting. I make the distinction between trends and what actually makes sense in a particular house. You may have previously read my philosophy that good design is good design no matter the style. By sticking to this philosophy, the design will be timeless no matter the trend.

But today, I’m going to shift from my lofty philosophical ideas and give you a few concrete opinions. Kitchen “trends” that I think have staying power:

— Two-toned cabinetry. Whether base cabinets are a different color than upper cabinets or perimeter cabinets are different than an island, using two tones brings interest to a kitchen. This technique is an especially good one for large kitchens, all white (or light) kitchens, or all dark kitchens. It can either bring needed weight to the space or relieve it of heaviness. Another way to use two tones is to single out individual cabinets, such as a large pantry, bench or shelving, to apply an accent color.

— Wine chillers. The popularity of this appliance has been coming on strong in recent years. I doubt its popularity will fade, especially living where we do. Enough said.

— Patterned floors. This has been one of my personal favorite design elements for many years. Before the recent plethora of available patterned tiles, I used to create my own geometric patterns using different colors and sizes of tile. My design process is, happily, now much easier. I’ve never been a fan of accent strips in backsplashes or shower walls. They are disruptive and distracting. Whenever clients were interested in such a feature, I’d nudge them into a decorative floor, or if that was too bold for them, a decorative baseboard. The key is to avoid any other strong pattern in the space.

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— Subway tile. These will never, ever go out of style. Never, period. If you’re tired of the traditional 3-inch by six-inch format, you can find many other sizes today. You can also install them vertically or stacked instead of the standard horizontal offset.

The subway shape is also conducive to chevron and herringbone patterns. Some tiles are hand-molded and/or hand-glazed which add dimension and interest. When choosing a tile size, scale is important. For example, a six-inch by twelve-inch tile is good for shower walls, but too large for eighteen-inch kitchen backsplashes.

— Specialty sinks. A sink can be the crowning jewel in a kitchen especially if it is located where easily seen. Farmhouse sinks can be rustic, contemporary or in between depending on the decorative detail or shape of the aprons. Long, trough sinks are very cool (my apologies, I just can’t think of another word to describe them) and butler’s sinks (similar to farmhouse but square) are cute and charming. Sinks come in a variety of colors and materials such as Silgranit, copper, concrete, and stone as well as porcelain, cast iron and stainless steel.

— Quartz countertops. Having used quartz more than any other countertop material over the past dozen years, I don’t even consider this a trend anymore or wonder if it will go out of style. The colors just keep getting better and better.

As more ideas pop into my mind, I realize I need a second column. I’ll share them next week along with trends that may not have the same staying-power. In the meantime, many of my past columns about kitchen design can be found at plcinteriors.com/blog.

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Patti L Cowger is an award-winning Napa-based interior designer and owner of PLC Interiors. For more information about her design services, visit her website at plcinteriors.com call (707) 322-6522; or email plcinteriors@sbcglobal.net.