Kitchens: Cooking up a Style Storm

Emma Clegg remembers her grandmother’s simple kitchen in the 1970s and wonders what she would think of boiling hot water taps, decorative splashbacks and induction hobs with integrated extraction. It’s hard to tell, but what she is sure she would have liked is a kitchen that belongs to the whole family.

I remember my grandmother’s kitchen in the 1970s. I say my grandmother’s, because I only remember my grandfather walking through the kitchen to the garden. It was a closed-off room, a fairly small room at the back of the house, a bit chilly, very practical. An area to prepare food and wash up. There was worn grey linoleum, an enamelled electric stove with a fold-down top, a stainless steel whistle kettle, a small fridge, linoleum counters, wooden drawers and cabinets with simple wooden knobs, and a single door to the back garden. I suspect she had lived with that kitchen for many years because it had none of the ‘modern’ flourishes typical of a kitchen of that time – particle board cupboards, laminate benchtops, or shades of pastel.

Things have changed in the kitchen world, thank goodness (including the idea of who the kitchen ‘belongs’ to!). Kitchens are now the focal point of our homes, a place for the whole family to relax, work and socialise as well as cook and eat. And, location permitting, they are likely to spill out into the garden, creating a ‘green room’ extension. Sir Terence Conran described the kitchen in his 1994 The Essential House Book as ‘the hub of the home’ – and this was undoubtedly an expert projection.

That established, prevailing fashions come and go, and kitchen design constantly shifts in its make-up and flow. New trends, often driven by technology,­­­ sweep in and change the kitchen conversation. Equally, reinvention is necessary from time to time, ranging from a simple style refresh to commissioning a new extension where you start from scratch. Here are some thoughts from our local kitchen experts on what’s hot in the room that is the warm, beating heart of so much family activity.

Modern-style two-oven Aga in Raspberry by Blake and Bull

Blake & Bull — Aga cookers remanufactured as eco-electric ­— MATTHEW BATES —
The longevity of our Aga cookers and the fact they now run on electricity that gets cleaner and more sustainable every year, has meant a huge increase in their popularity. Everyone wants what Aga cookers provide – amazing food from a cosy, warm kitchen. The controllable electric models mean kitchens don’t need to be stifling in the summer and that the cookers can cope with even the biggest Christmas dinner!

Through the careful choice of style, colour and trim you can create a sleek modern appliance or a traditional feel. We make cookers to order in nearly 6,000 combinations, so no two are alike. Aga cookers cook with radiant heat from cast iron ovens unlike almost every other cooker, and nothing else makes food taste the same. No ‘forced convection’ (fan) oven comes close!

Colour trends change all the time, so rich colours are in now when a couple of years ago every second cooker was grey. We make and sell our own range of accessories too, from drying racks (to make use of the warmth!) to textiles and roasting trays, all made in Britain.

Ben Argent Kitchens — contemporary bespoke kitchens ­— EMI ARGENT­—
We create timeless contemporary kitchens, and there has been a shift from uber-minimal to more of a hybrid, contemporary style mixed with rustic or industrial, or with classic elements to add visual interest.

Natural wood always gives a timeless finish and adds warmth. Pale or whitened oak is ever-popular, but there is a trend towards darker, richer tones, such as smoked or fumed oak. We’re introducing antique metals including brass and bronze, and incorporating liquid metal finishes for kitchen fronts or splashbacks to create distinctive, sophisticated features.

Our bespoke freestanding 20/20 collection, inspired by elegant, modern furniture design was a result of wanting to move away from kitchen units being fitted between walls, instead designing individual, free-standing furniture with more personality. Our freestanding kitchens float on beautifully crafted legs, creating an elegant, lightweight appearance that makes a room feel spacious and dynamic.

We recommend the Bora induction hob with integrated extraction, removing the need for an extractor above or ducting below, and giving more design freedom and storage. It also removes all steam and odours, which is mesmerising to watch and complements open-plan living.

All our worktops are sintered stone, or ceramic. These are the most durable surfaces available, and can’t be scratched, stained or burnt. Highly polished worktops are long gone, replaced by those with matt and subtly textured finishes. Accessory channels – giving versatile functional storage within the worktop – can be used for anything from utensils, chopping boards to power bottles and herb sinks.

Open pantry units are in vogue, and backdrops include those with beautiful veined stones, antique mirrors, or a striking hand-laid decorative geometric mirror backing.

Kütchenhaus — german inspired kitchens — BEN GREGORY —
Kitchen trends this year include the use of earthy colours such as reds, greens and blues, which help create a tranquil environment. Continuing its rise is a timber accent finish, which works well for Scandi-style oak décors. Acoustic panelling provides an interesting contrast to block colour doors and panels. Exciting door colours to look out for in 2024 include coral and jade, with splashes of colour coming from colourful flower motifs and detailed boho-style décor.

Kitchen styles of note include minimalist true handleless cabinetry, paired with taller base cabinets and lower plinth panels, which look streamlined and add more storage. Hiding a utility entrance or walk-in larder using dummy tall units or sliding door solutions can provide great ways of not breaking up the design flow.

Kitchen appliances continuing to garner attention include the vented hob collection by Bora – where there are no more unsightly overhanging extractor hoods. To those looking for an integrated refrigeration solution with the capacity of freestanding options, a new range of 30in/760mm wide integrated fridges and freezers are available from Bosch, Neff, Siemens and AEG.

As the sustainability message continues, worktop manufacturers are highlighting their porcelain, low-silica products, and interest is being shown to the Dekton and Neolith brands, which offer heat-proof, extremely hard-wearing worktops, wall panels and tabletops.

Bath Kitchen Company — high-quality bespoke kitchens ­— JAMES HORSFORD —
We are seeing dark moody colours coming in, paired with warm woods, and almost American farmhouse-style features. Bronze and brass patinated handles are very popular, with unique shapes, such as wavy pull handles, making a comeback. Splashback ledges are in vogue, and open shelving made of the same material as the worktop.

Lighting is a big factor that can change the mood of a kitchen. We are seeing statement pendants predominate, and even table lamps on worktops. Mixed metals are a big focus for kitchens and it’s no longer the rule that everything needs to be in one colour. Fluted and ribbed marble and islands are also very trendy, and unique.

Shaker is always a popular choice as a kitchen style, especially in Somerset, as it lends so well to the style of period homes here. As we are a bespoke kitchen company, we can cater for any design dream or idea, and we work with lots of variations of that. For simpler spaces you could be more refined, and for grand homes with high ceilings, we add profiles and beading to match particular detailing.

In Bath, classic will never go out of fashion, but we also make some beautiful contemporary kitchens. Marble with strong veining has been a consistent desired work-surface over the last few years. The statement that it can make, especially if pared with a more neutral cabinet, is beautiful. This fulfils the desire for a kitchen that has character, as the marble will age and gently wear in, while still retaining beauty for years to come.

For cooking appliances, steam ovens are becoming more and more popular as people are wanting to eat more cleanly, and most of the brands we work with such as Wolf and Bertazzoni, cater to that.

Dream Doors — new kitchens and replacement doors — Malcolm McKay —
Neutral colours, such as sage green and sky blue, have been taking over our homes. This means that we connect with nature and green kitchen elements are a great way to bring a sense of zen.

Our kitchen designers have also seen a rise in the desire for energy-efficient swaps in their homes, including switching to a microwave oven and induction hob, and installing a boiling water tap to eliminate the energy used to heat a kettle, or boil water on the stove.

We have a commitment to sustainability, and that’s why we actively encourage our customers to reuse any existing cabinets that are in good condition and only to replace doors and drawers!

Accent lighting, including within pelmets and plinths, is increasingly popular. Slim shaker style doors are also on trend, with narrower and plainer details for a cleaner look.

Granite sinks are another big area and have taken over from ceramic sinks. These are hard-wearing, scratch and stain resistant, and available in multiple colours to match your kitchen design.

Coopers Home Appliances — kitchen appliance retailer — DARRIN CHRISTAN —
One of the more surprising kitchen trends that has gained traction is the boiling water tap. Once seen as a luxury item in the kitchen, people have started to be far more diligent around the running costs of their white/small goods, and this even applies to the humble kettle! When you crunch the numbers and realise it’s a long-term investment, it’s hard to imagine your home without one. We love the Quooker cube which offers the all-in-one solution of chilled filtered drinking water, sparkling water and boiling water.

We have an entire suite of recently launched kitchen products. We have undertaken a drastic refurbishment in the shop over the years and the last piece of the jigsaw is the upstairs addition. The first phase was to introduce our brand-new Miele area which showcases top-of-the range laundry, cooking and dishwashing appliances.

One of the more surprising kitchen trends that has gained traction is the boiling water tap”

One of the biggest trends currently is to navigate away from inefficient appliances to greener alternatives. Clear examples of this are heat pump technology dryers that have all but completely replaced the older condenser and vented options, and the sudden boom in replacing gas with safer and more efficient induction where possible. Induction cooking has been around for a long time, but with demand for the technology now higher than it has ever been and with prices becoming more and more reasonable, the question is, why would you choose gas?

The Quooker Fusion Carbon Tap from Coopers Home Appliances

Mandarin Stone — tile specialists — LOUISA MORGAN —
Texture is big in kitchen tile trends right now. As technology advances, tactile finishes are capturing the imagination of homeowners and designers alike. This trend offers a sensory experience, adding interest, warmth, and personality. Often coupled with tonal variation, textural elements invite interaction and soften the ambience of your home. The ever-popular subway tile has been elevated and given extra character as seen in our new Alba and Loki ranges. Such tiles work well in rustic and retro kitchens, but also offer textural contrast to sleek, modern designs.

Wood effect is still firmly on trend, and our range reflects this with new additions for 2024. Their warmth and earthy tones provide a sense of calm and complement natural materials and varying colour palettes. The Jakob range is both beautiful and practical in its plank and parquet format. We’ve also recently introduced an interesting parquet design, which combines a light-coloured porcelain inset within the wood effect tile.

There is a definite shift away from grey hues that have dominated design for so long. Warm tones are increasingly prevalent, as seen in our Zellige Sand and Kobi Clay. Clients are certainly replacing coolness with cosiness choosing nuances of red, pink, orange and peach.

Rustic Barn Conversion with exposed beams and brickwork uses the B3 Bulthaup kitchen from Hobson’s Choice; Above: Alba Mist matt tiles from Mandarin Stone

Hobson’s Choice — luxury kitchens and bathrooms — GRAHAM CRAIG —
The modern kitchen continues to be a place where we socialise, work, cook and dine. With personal wellbeing and sustainability being strong drivers, we can see the integration of decorative planters that go beyond the ‘plant pot on the windowsill’, and storage options tailored for homemade items, such as kimchi.

Our clients often choose to combine textured natural materials or decorative finishes with more hardwearing surfaces. This creates a space that balances eye-catching texture and detail with durability and will have a lasting appeal to the homeowner.

The minimal, understated appearance of a Bulthaup kitchen allows the furniture to sit comfortably in any age or style of home, designed and finished to suit the taste of the homeowner. This style of kitchen is easy to manage and can be continually refreshed with the addition of decorative accessories such as lighting, plants, art and cookbooks.

Induction cooktops with an integrated downdraft recirculate extraction and have a commanding presence – available from brands such as Bora, Miele, Siemens and Gaggenau. Their design freedom and cooking and air cleaning efficiency have quickly made them a firm favourite. Modern integrated downdraft extraction has seen bulky overhead cooker hoods fade away, freeing up space for more decorative lighting alongside bright working area spotlights. With the press of a button, the lights dim, and the sleek kitchen workspace transforms into a more intimate casual dining environment.

Quartz worktops with a decorative ‘marble-esque’ pattern have a real presence. These luxurious, opulent surfaces offer consistent colours and veining, making them a more hardwearing and low-maintenance alternative to natural stone.

Cover image shows: A kitchen with a pantry cupboard from Sky Interiors (Sky Interiors, Bluesky House, Western Way, Melksham, Wiltshire SN12 8BZ;