3 Designers Share Which Outdated Kitchen Trends to Retire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 home renovation shows, 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but it takes a professional to discern which of today's looks are still going strong and which already belong to the out-of-date crowd. That's why we asked three designers, Tali Roth, Jesse DeSanti, and Max Humphrey, to give us the details for which outdated kitchen trends to retire.

Tali Roth, Founder of Tali Roth Designs

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

Kitchen Trends to Retire

Specific Kitchen Art

It might be time to rethink the artwork hanging in your kitchen. "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

Bigger isn't always better, especially when it comes to hardware. "There's often so much going on in a kitchen, and this draws too much attention," Roth explains.

Ornate Cabinets

"Cabinet doors with multiple steps and curves collect dust and take away from the overall feel of a kitchen," she says. That doesn't mean you need to have a flat-paneled, contemporary kitchen, but do try to keep your cabinetry simple.

A Crazy Backsplash

We love a bold, patterned tile, but your kitchen backsplash isn't the best place for it. "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," Roth says. "Keep your coloring simple and layer it with texture rather than color and pattern."

To add in color or pattern, accessorize with cookbooks, flowers, and utensils that are easily movable, Roth advises.

Kitchen Trends to Try Instead

Graphic Art

According to Roth, if you love looking at it, hang it! Art doesn't need to fit a theme.

Small, Sleek Hardware

Try small knobs or finger pulls that sit at the top of the cabinet.

Simple and Timeless Backsplashes and Cabinetry

"If you still want a tile with loads of character, then look for something handmade for added texture," Roth says. You could also consider bringing your 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

True story: All-white everything isn't always the best choice."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

Ditch the brass in favor of a more natural wood hardware."This is something we're doing a lot lately and loving it," DeSanti 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

Instead of choosing a traditional white cabinet color, opt for something more pigmented, but still light and airy. "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

If you're opposed to open-shelving, limit it to a small space. "Having small areas of openness is really nice," DeSanti continues. "Think about mixing open cubbies with cabinets for both irregularity and symmetry."

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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

Brass on brass on brass? Not so much. "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," Humphrey says. "To me, that's the kitchen equivalent of wearing an entire outfit from one clothing store."

Modern Farmhouse

We know it's hard to hear, but it might be time to give up your modern farmhouse design dreams. "Design TV shows have been hitting us over the head with the modern farmhouse trend, which has become a kitchen cliché," Humphrey says. "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

For a cool and casual look, mix your metals. "If you have a polished nickel sink faucet, there's no rule that you can't mix in brass cabinet knobs," Humphrey says.

Lots of Color

Don't be afraid 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"

Whether you prefer modern or farmhouse, just make sure you go all out. "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," Humphrey 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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