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Timeless or Trending?

“A designer has a duty to create timeless design.” -Phillip Starck, French Industrial Designer & Architect

What is “timeless” design? Think of the ever popular classic white kitchen – it’s the interior design industry’s equivalent of the little black dress. Some things will never go out of style. They are “timeless”, which, by definition are designs or materials that typically appeal to the masses and therefore have long life-cycles. The Classics. However, timeless isn’t for everyone. Some people are drawn to what is popular at the moment – what’s “trending” – even if they know it could eventually phase out. What’s important for a designer is to be able to balance trendy with timeless and guide their clients to make sure that they are happy with their selections and will be for years to come, regardless of what “category” it falls under. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

For this post we interviewed one of our designers, Jennifer Bianchini, about what she sees as timeless versus what she sees trending in 2024.

Q: What do you think of when asked about timeless design elements in kitchens? How do you guide your clients in understanding the difference between “timeless” and “trending”?

JB: As a designer for 15 years, timeless design is engrained in my head – the classic white, or in recent times, classic gray kitchen; subway tiles; Shaker-style cabinets; stainless steel appliances; open shelving; large islands with seating…

Kitchen and dining with Bilotta Collection cabinetry with brass hardware, with marble island and counter tops and herringbone marble backsplash
This kitchen was designed in collaboration with lulu Home. Photography by Paul Johnson Photography.

What makes a designer successful is knowing what’s timeless while having a constant pulse on the industry so that they know what’s coming down the pipeline, what’s phasing out, and what new “trends” have the potential to join the “timeless” category. I have to be knowledgeable about everything my clients are seeing and researching (especially through social media) so that they feel comfortable (and excited) with what selections they are making for their new kitchen.

Q: What cabinet “trend” have you seen recently?

JB: For both traditional and contemporary rooms, design aesthetics today are simplified and warming. Colors are moving away from grays towards bolder hues of greens and blues and even black. Rift Cut White Oak, so popular for years, is giving way to Rift and Flat Cut Walnut, with natural stains and finishes. Alternative materials including metal doors, fluted wood panels and wood-like laminates are in. Style-wise, I am seeing simpler, cleaner lines; either flat panel doors or some version on the classic Shaker. Even a flat panel with an applied molding around the edge is popular. Very often people mix wood with paint.

Side view of Oak cabinets in kitchen with marble waterfall island
Photography by Stefan Radtke

If a client is hesitant about using a bold color, I often suggest doing one section of the kitchen in that color – maybe an accent piece or a hutch. Something that doesn’t overpower the space but gives them the chance to express what they love.

View of corner of island with prep sink, oak paneled refrigerator doors on the left, arch way in the middle, and custom hutch on the right
This project was designed in collaboration with Andy Toth and Leitenberger Design Group. Photography by Julia D’Agostino.

Q: What about countertops and backsplashes? What’s “in” right now?

JB: In keeping with the overall trend to calm and simplify the palette, when it comes to both countertop and backsplash surfaces, natural quartzite and its man-made counterpart, quartz, is trending, both in solid colors or with dramatic veining. People are replacing intricately tiled backsplashes with slabs of whatever material they used for the countertops, especially behind the range.

Contemporary kitchen with gray and white flat-panel cabinets. The countertops and backsplash are gray marble.
Photography by Stefan Radtke

Waterfall edges are very popular – they add a dramatic touch to both traditional and contemporary designs. They also can provide extra protection to the end panels on base cabinets.

Island with waterfall edge, black and white cabinetry and large black and gold hood over the range
Photography by Stefan Radtke

Q: What other design trends are you seeing in general?

JB: I’d say:

-Colored appliances from manufacturers like Smeg, Viking and La Cornue.
-Statement hoods in different metals.
-Accent wallpaper.

View of kitchen island and hood with black and gold accents through dining room with ornate black and gold wallpaper
Photography by Stefan Radtke

-Mixing of metals – stainless steel and brass as one example.
-Fluted wood panels – both for cabinet fronts and hoods.

Earth-toned bathroom with Bilotta double sink vanity, pocket glass door
This project was done in collaboration with Bilotta Architecture and Innato Interiors LLC. Photography by Stefan Radtke.

-Curved islands.
-Smart appliances, lighting and plumbing fixtures.
-Banquettes extending off islands.
-Hiding clutter! Docking drawers, desks behind bi-fold doors, countertop appliances behind doors.

Tribeca loft kitchen features Bilotta frameless Copenhagen cabinetry.
This project was designed in collaboration with Alive & Kicking Design. Photography by Kelsey Ann Rose.

Q: What trends do you see fading or sticking?

JB: Depending on the overall design, subway tile is fading and being replaced by big stone slabs, especially behind the range. It’s a clean, more naturally flowing look and easier to clean. The classic “rustic/farmhouse” kitchen is fading out. However, people who like that esthetic can still achieve it in a more contemporary way – simpler/less intricate cabinets, shiplap walls, neutral colors, exposed beams, wide-plank floors, open shelves and more modern apron-front sinks.

Traditional kitchen with inset Bilotta cabinetry in a mix of Farrow & Ball light blue and natural cream. Counter tops are Danby marble with a white farmhouse sink.
Photography by Stefan Radtke

I think the mixing of woods (or wood-like laminates) with paint in bold colors will stick around. I also see waterfall islands staying for a long time.

Q: How do you make the trends work together? Is there such thing as too many trends?

JB: In a word – tastefully! Yes, there can be too many trends in one place which becomes confusing and busy. As a designer it’s my job to guide my clients in making selections that are a happy medium between timeless and trending. They are making a large investment and it’s not something they can just re-do when the trend goes out of style. Perhaps sticking with cleaner lines and neutral colors for the cabinetry and then getting “trendy” with what can easily be changed down the road is that “happy medium” – wallpaper, lighting, stools, or even a hutch piece.

Overall view of kitchen with base oak cabinets on the left with a sink, long island with seating for two at the end, cooking nook in the back, paneled refrigerator and custom hutch on the right
This project was designed in collaboration with Andy Toth and Leitenberger Design Group. Photography by Julia D’Agostino.

But even if I guide them, I also tell them to go with their gut instinct – sometimes it’s more important to go with what they love – they have to live in it! As interior designer, Billy Baldwin said, “Be faithful to your own taste, because nothing you really like is ever out of style.” In that way, timeless and trendy can very much be a personal taste.

Q: How does social media or political climate impact design trends?

JB: Social media plays a big role in influencing prospective clients when it comes to interior design. Whatever they see online, whether it be on Instagram, Pinterest, Houzz, or Google they gather inspiration as they scroll.

Hands scrolling Pinterest on smartphone

This could be both good and bad. For some, the possibilities excite them. For others, they get overwhelmed. But “shopping” begins online. Once they get hooked on something then they’ll take the next step to visit the showroom or request more info. Because of this, a strong online presence is imperative. But the physical location has to match what they are seeing online.

Some clients are looking for ecofriendly materials and sustainable resources. They want to make sure that the world their children grow up in is safe. Save the planet! It’s important for brands to offer sustainable solutions and to make it known through their social posts. One thing I always encourage my clients to do is to recycle their existing kitchen through places like Renovation Angel. Or even repurpose their existing kitchen cabinetry in another room in the house.

Hand holding sphere with butterfly and tree on it

Politically, people are looking for order in a chaotic world. They want to come home each night to something quiet, serene, and safe. Their home is their haven and with all that’s going on in the world around us it’s important to be able to escape and spend time with the people they love in a space they love. (Whether it’s timeless or trendy!)

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Jennifer Bianchini brought her long-time passion for interior design to custom cabinetry for all rooms in a home. Beginning her career designing luxury closets, Jennifer honed a keen sense of functional layout, critical attention to detail, and expertise with space planning. She successfully expanded her expertise to designing cabinetry for the entire home with a particular focus on kitchens. Jennifer recognized a kitchen’s significance within the home and was drawn to the satisfaction she felt working with a family and having her work beautifully reflect their visions and needs. “The kitchen is where life happens. I want to make it the most beautiful and inviting – not to mention functional – room in the home – a place my clients will be excited to gather in every day.” Joining Bilotta’s design team at their Mamaroneck headquarters gave Jennifer the opportunity to work in many design styles given Bilotta’s wide array of cabinetry offerings, from classic to contemporary. Jennifer has built a dedicated following of retail and trade clients alike.

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Timeless or Trending?