From the Experts

Kitchen Trends to Fit Your Lifestyle

Michael J. Berens, Aging & Design Author

By Michael J. Berens
Freelance researcher, writer and editor with extensive experience in the converging fields of aging and design

Time to update your kitchen?  Consider these latest trends in kitchen design.  Even if you’re not ready to embrace gray cabinets or fire engine red appliances, you will find the latest innovations in products and materials will improve your kitchen’s functionality and ease of use as well as style.

Open-plan layouts

Today’s kitchens are more open and integrated into the rest of the home, serving as socializing areas where family members and guests can participate in food preparation and serving.  The more open layouts provide wider pathways that improve mobility.  Kitchen islands or workstations allow more efficient placement of sinks, prepping surfaces, cooktops and appliances, reducing effort spent walking, bending and reaching.  Countertops can be staggered to accommodate different heights for standing or sitting.

Easy-access storage

To maintain the open kitchen’s clean, spacious look, today’s designs opt for built-in appliances and storage spaces, with long lines of cabinets and shelves.  Manufacturers have made accessing stored items much easier by adding features such as roll-out shelves, multi-tiered drawers and hydraulic lifts.  Dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers and beverage coolers also are available in pull-out models, along with ovens and microwave ovens that can be installed in a kitchen island or below a countertop to improve ease of access.


Switches and handles are becoming a thing of the past.  Most new appliances use touchpads instead of dials.  Sensor-activated faucets and lighting controls turn on or off with a slight wave of the hand.

Versatile surfaces

While granite and quartz continue to be the first choice for countertops for many homeowners, a new generation of man-made products, including laminate, porcelain and ceramic surfaces are available in a wide variety of patterns, colors and price ranges.  They are durable, require little maintenance and have the added benefit of being bacterial-resistant.


Energy-saving appliances and lighting, water-conserving fixtures, and flooring, surfaces and cabinetry made from reclaimed, recycled or replenishable sources are widely available for the kitchen and competitively priced.  These products also minimize or eliminate the presence of toxic substances and airborne particles that can affect people with allergies or respiratory ailments.


The talk at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show was all about the coming of smart appliances and those that incorporate screens or tablets.  You can purchase a refrigerator or range hood with a built-in Wi-Fi-connected computer and surf the Internet, listen to music, watch streaming video or take a cooking class while you prepare the evening meal.  With the use of an app on your smartphone or tablet, you can operate your crockpot or switch off the oven when the roast is done, even if you’re not at home.

To see examples of some of these innovations, click here.