3 In-Demand Designers Share Which Outdated Kitchen Trends to Retire

a bright, all-white kitchen
Amy Bartlam

If there's one room in the house that shows its age the fastest, it's the kitchen. Sure, the bare necessities will always be required in this space—you can't be expected to get by without a sink, cabinets, and appliances—but their style and positioning can be the difference between preserving the past and embracing the present. A modern kitchen, for instance, would never have tile countertops and insufficient lighting, but would definitely make room for an island and matching sconces.

Between HGTV, social media, magazines, and blogs, most people know what a modern kitchen entails. But it takes a professional to discern which of today's looks are still going strong and which already belong to the out-of-date crowd. That's why we asked three designers, Tali Roth, Jesse DeSanti, and Max Humphrey, to give us the details for which kitchen trends to retire.

From a one-tone aesthetic that has seen its moment pass to an artistic choice that is too specific for its own good, these three designers have pinpointed which styles are already on the outs. Since they also shared which trends are still looking sharp, like colorful cabinetry and mixed metals, you're sure to have all the advice you need to create a coveted kitchen that's totally now.

Tali Roth, Founder of Tali Roth Designs

a bright, all-white kitchen
Courtesy of Tali Roth Designs

Kitchen Trends to Retire

Specific Kitchen Art

"I don't think these have been in for a while, but oversize forks or paintings of fruit should be left to small country diners," Roth says. "It's obvious, and art shouldn't relate to the space it's in—we don't have images of people watching TV in a living room!"

Oversize Hardware

"I think oversized hardware is a little passé," she says. "There's often so much going on in a kitchen, and this draws too much attention."

Ornate Cabinets

"Cabinet doors with multiple steps and curves collect dust and take away from the overall feel of a kitchen," she says. "I don't think you need to have a flat-paneled contemporary kitchen, but keeping it simple is the best approach."

A Crazy Backsplash

"For a while there, people were doing loads of Moroccan cement patterned tiles or color-blocked backsplashes. They look too busy and they date quickly," she says. "Keep your coloring simple and layer it with texture rather than color and pattern. You can accessorize with cookbooks, flowers, and utensils that are easily movable."

Kitchen Trends to Try Instead

Graphic Art

"Hang whatever you love looking at," Roth says. "It doesn't need to fit a theme."

Small, Sleek Hardware

"Use small knobs or finger pulls that sit at the top of the cabinet for a uniform look," she says. 

Simple and Timeless Backsplashes and Cabinetry

"If you still want tile with loads of character, then look for something handmade for added texture," she says. "You should also consider bringing the countertop stone up the backsplash."

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Jesse DeSanti, Creative Director at Jette Creative

a bright, all-white kitchen
Amy Bartlam

Kitchen Trend to Retire

White on White on White

"Kitchens are leaning toward a warmer feel, and people aren't afraid of color right now," DeSanti says. "So white is tending to lose its moment. But I think white still works if you add warm elements to it, like wood hardware."

Kitchen Trends to Try Instead

Wood Cabinetry Hardware

"This is something we're doing a lot lately and loving it," she says. "People have responded well to it, and I think that it will have a good impact. I think 'warm' is the trend to look for, and you can really warm up painted cabinets with a touch of wood."

Light-Colored Cabinets

"In the trend of white being out, people haven't been opposed to color lately," she adds. "I also see dark cabinets changing more to a mellow palette of warm gray, sage greens, and so on."

Random Cubbies for Open Areas

"People have a hard time with open shelving, but having small areas of openness is really nice," DeSanti continues. "Think about mixing open cubbies with cabinets for both irregularity and symmetry."

Stainless Steel Hoods

"I'm seeing this a lot. I'm not sure I'm completely on board with this trend, but I could be swayed," she says. "I will still be doing hood inserts, personally."

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Max Humphrey, Portland-Based Interior Designer

an all-white kitchen
Christopher Dibble ; DESIGN: Max Humphrey Interior Design

Kitchen Trends to Retire

Matchy-Matchy Metal Finishes

"Some designers like to specify one single finish for everything—like the faucet, cabinet hardware, light fixtures, and even bar stools if they have metal legs," he says. "To me, that's the kitchen equivalent of wearing an entire outfit from one clothing store."

All-White Everything

"White cabinets with white countertops and white subway tile is the easy way out when it comes to kitchen design," Humphrey notes. "I love going bold in a kitchen with a high contrast palette." 

Modern Farmhouse

"Design TV shows have been hitting us over the head with the 'modern farmhouse' trend, which has become a kitchen cliché," Humphrey adds. "If you live on an actual farm and want to add some modern touches, then, by all means, go for it. But suburban kitchens decked out in shiplap and a faux-rustic style have got to go."

Kitchen Trends to Try Instead

Mixed-Metal Finishes

"I think it's cooler and more casual to mix it up a bit," he says. "If you have a polished nickel sink faucet, there's no rule that you can't mix in brass cabinet knobs."

Lots of Color

"Cabinets look great when they're painted dark, like navy blue, charcoal gray, and even olive green," he says. "You can layer in contrast with black countertops and a light backsplash. Or, go tone-on-tone with light gray cabinets and matching wall color."

A Choice between "Modern" or "Farmhouse"

"Modern farmhouse actually has some cool aspects to it, but I like to go full force one way or the other—meaning to choose between modern or farmhouse," he says. "In an older home, I think a modern kitchen can look great, just as bringing vintage and organic elements into a brand-new home is a good way to balance things out, too."

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