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The Kitchen Style of 2021 is Warm and Effortlessly Relaxed

2021 will see a (much-needed) return to warmth in the home, with a full embrace of a softer, more relaxed aesthetic. We’re excited to go beyond the stark, modern lines that have adorned the pages of design publications these past few years. It’s fair to say, we’re all craving homier vibes right now.

FORM Design Team

December 11, 2020

kitchen design

2021 will see a (much-needed) return to warmth in the home, with a full embrace of a softer, more relaxed aesthetic. We’re excited to go beyond the stark, modern lines that have adorned the pages of design publications these past few years. It’s fair to say, we’re all craving homier vibes right now.

We’re also excited to announce our new 2021 product offerings -- more on that later in this post -- that will help you create that cozier feel. First, we want to really dig into this new design movement we’re seeing as we head into the new year.

So what’s attracting homeowners to this warm and tactile aesthetic that’s also, and notably, a little bit rough and imperfect around the edges? We identify a couple of converging currents: from a yearning for all things real and simple; to increased awareness around sustainability and wellbeing; as well as the elephant in the room that is the effects of COVID on our daily lives. It makes sense, because when, if not now, would homeowners look to bring more of a feeling of comfort into their immediate surroundings?

Our impressions are confirmed by data. The hot-off-the-press NKBA market outlook reveals that >20% of homeowners are looking to renovate in the near term, specifically in order to increase the levels of comfort in their home.

A move to a more relaxed vibe has been creeping into design publications and influential social media accounts over the last couple of years, so this tendency isn’t entirely new. But we’re expecting to see a lot more of this next year, and we’re all for it.

Home as our hiding place

Firstly, in discussing trends, we can’t ignore the shaping dynamic of the world as we now know it. When the world is uncertain, people tend to scramble for certainty wherever they can. We instinctively seek comfort and shelter. 

As we are spending a large and increasing amount of time in our homes - not always by choice - we are refocusing our attention and investments on the home. This is evident from the big uptick in renovation activity reported across the country on the back of COVID. 

Some surveys are showing that as many as 75% of homeowners have carried out home improvements since the start of the pandemic. And as many have a new project planned for the next 12 months. 

It is no coincidence that with the new-found sterility and rigidity of the world around us, we are letting ourselves loose a bit more in our own space. So homeowners doing renovations are often opting for uncomplicated designs that form a canvas for their lives, instead of dictating them stroke-by-stroke. Quite simply, we are getting enough of that already: surely, ‘restrictions’ ought to be one of the words of the year of 2020.

Ease and comfort

Secondly, understated luxury seems more fitting to today’s world than the opulent variety built upon complexity, scale, and sheen. Over-designed is out, as it no longer quite fits in with our lifestyle. Instead, tactile elemental materials with their organic and often imperfect qualities are taking over, replacing manmade and/or ‘loud’ alternatives.

From color trends specifically to interior trends more broadly, design publications are currently highlighting some version of relaxed, natural, or comfortable in their predictions for the year ahead.

Houzz stories have been talking about the advent of browns, light wood and all things natural. AD’s Clever outlines a move away from the ostentatious to the essential. 2021 color trends from the leading manufacturers are focused on the warm and the calming.

We’re finding that some homeowners are already there, opting for less intricate overall designs, patterns, textures and color combinations. New luxury is about quality materials that speak for themselves. But they don’t shout, rather whispering gently. Meaningful, real and honest all come to mind as fitting words to describe how we’re increasingly envisaging our interiors.

Anecdotally, the word ‘retreat’ is being used extensively in conversations among homeowners and designers, in discussing the intentions for a project. And “to feel more cozy” is emerging from surveys as one of the top reasons for a renovation right now.

Whether it’s through a greater variety of seemingly unrelated items, or mismatched materials and finishes, the home of 2021 is more about ease and comfort than designed perfection. There is a bit of a Scandinavian vibe to all of this. But it’s a softer, more welcoming Scandi than the better known monochrome variety. With today’s complexity in mind, it is difficult to perceive the world in black and white. Shades of grey - warm grey - seem more appropriate.

At home, but closer to nature

Thirdly, the increasing awareness of consumers and homeowners around issues of wellbeing and sustainability are also contributing to the emerging aesthetic. As awareness grows into a concern, many of us are choosing to be more responsible citizens of the Earth.

Environmental sustainability is a theme that is here to stay, and it does tend to be associated with a certain look. The eco chic style moves away from very flat and sterile finishes and textures. Instead, all things natural or nature-inspired are centre-stage.

Which is just as well, because there are also real benefits from this to us. Biophilia - our innate connection to, and appreciation of nature - does not only apply to bringing all things green into our lives. It is also applicable to natural materials and textures that have the same soothing properties, especially for those among us living in urban landscapes.

If stress-related illnesses weren’t a big enough deal pre-COVID, it seems that they will be in its aftermath. Conversely, fostering closer links with nature has been proven to aid stress-reduction.

Kitchen designs for 2021: walnut, warm concrete, and ‘Nordic cottage’

Where does all this leave us with kitchens, you ask? The first thing to note is that one of the top habit changes that has come out of COVID is cooking and eating more at home. As a result, there is also increasing interest in redesigning the kitchen specifically.

Answering the call for more warmth, our own favorite addition to our offering is the walnut veneer replication door style. Oozing comfort, this finish has real visual depth to it. Earthy walnut pairs incredibly well with black, white or grey, giving a wealth of opportunities for scheme development to suit your personal taste. We predict this will be the kitchen door choice of the year.

Another new favorite that is sure to appeal to many homeowners is the warm concrete reproduction door style. Although concrete has industrial connotations, this particular variety pairs well with wood effects in different shades. As a result, it can look effortlessly beautiful in a range of settings, without pushing too obviously in the industrial direction.

A different take on the comfort theme is the ‘Nordic cottage’ look. New from us are glass upper cabinet doors with inlays, paired with white Shaker style base units. The look is cozy and warm, and fits into a Transitional style home. If the flat panel door look is too modern for you, then this one’s a well-balanced alternative.

Are you among those numerous homeowners who are planning a renovation in the near term? FORM kitchen designers are here to help you turn your kitchen into a warm and wonderful space. Whether you’re envisaging a calm oasis to relax in or a cozy family space to bring everyone together, we have a wealth of solutions to offer.

"We believe that good design improves people's lives. We focus on personalization, performance, and peace of mind."

Co-founders Danny and Tom

Danny Soos & Tom Sherman

FORM Co-Founders

© 2022, Form Remodel, Inc.

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