You are here

Beyond the White Kitchen

Renovation just got seriously exciting

Written and produced by Sally Finder Weepie

Sophisticated finishes, surprising color, and appliances that up your cooking game open the door to reimagined kitchens with personality as rich as crème brûlée.

“Kitchens are becoming richer, with more dramatic marbles, a refined mix of materials, and deeper colors such as dark gray, black, and blue,” designer Christopher Peacock says. He gave this kitchen—anchored by white cabinetry—a fresh edge by layering in surprises: a gray ceiling, a blue island base, organic wood, and luxe metals.


White subway tile will never fall out of fashion, but it’s no longer the only go-to in the kitchen, especially above the range. Homeowners are expressing personality with new tile options that boast intriguing patterns, colors, and textures. In the process, range backsplashes have moved from utilitarian to focal point, with many now rivaling fine pieces of art.

The latest offerings from Ann Sacks include textural “Groove Deco” ceramic field tile by Barbara Barry (far right), ombré “Calacatta Mink” marble (top left), and handcrafted “Gem Swell” encaustic tiles by Kelly Wearstler (bottom left).


Hardware has long been called jewelry for the kitchen, and now it’s living up to the billing. “Fermata” hardware, above, from Belwith-Keeler offers a subtle glow in a brushed golden brass finish, while “Firenze,” below, adds dazzling Italian marble.

Faucet Finishes

Yesterday’s chrome standard (and ubiquitous brushed nickel) has given way to faucets in an array of elegant finishes that play to today’s preference for a deft mix of metals in the kitchen. Gold and brass tones, along with matte black, are the cool kids on the block, complementing an evolving palette of appliance finishes.

Up to your elbows in dinner? Brizo’s “Litze” articulating kitchen faucet with SmartTouch technology activates with just a tap and directs water exactly where you need it.

Rohl’s “Lombardia” pull-down kitchen faucet in Tuscan Brass, Inca Brass, and polished nickel.

Hot Stuff

What’s big in cooking? Steam ovens, like the one in this Dacor Modernist range. Time-strapped, health-conscious home chefs love how steam seals in nutrients and—paired with convection—cooks foods faster. The reheating power of steam has many ditching microwaves. Bonus: You can cook from anywhere with the Dacor iQ Kitchen app. It lets you turn on your oven, check on dishes while they’re cooking, and adjust cook times and temps—all with a tap on your smartphone.

Cooking isn’t a one-pot proposition—so get a cooktop that keeps up. Thermador’s clever “Liberty” induction cooktop automatically adjusts the heating zone and setting as you change out or move pots and pans on the cooking surface.


Seems like we’re always doing more, so why should your dishwasher get a pass? The Star-Sapphire from Thermador incorporates a third rack to handle items you’d normally hand-wash, a blazing-fast 20-minute wash cycle, and Star Glow customizable blue lighting that adds ambience when you’re entertaining—or just makes the prospect of doing the weeknight dishes a little brighter.


Millennials are downing an annual 159 million cases of wine—so keep a few bottles handy. The “WineStation” from Dacor offers a customizable dispensing system that also keeps your vino fresh.

Windows & Doors

Black-framed doos and windows are trending. Get the sleek look and safety, too, with the Marvin Lock Status Sensor. Factory-prepped, it arrives at your home ready to be integrated into your security system. Hidden sensors tell you if a door or window is closed and locked.

Integrated Lighting

Anyone who’s struggled to read a recipe—or even to find the cookbook in the back of a dark drawer—can now rejoice. Cabinetry lighting is no longer an afterthought. Wood-Mode’s new integrated lighting solutions let homeowners and designers plot lighting as they’re drawing up plans for the cabinetry. The LED lighting from Häfele is installed at the factory and arrives at your home ready
to plug and play.

Textured Surfaces & Floors

“Texture is so important right now,” says designer Robert Bakes. “It’s one of the ways to bring in a twist and inject personality into the kitchen.” Get your hands on anything from industrial-chic concrete and metal looks to tiles with the vibe of textiles.

Caesarstone’s new color, “Cloudburst Concrete,”  appears to be a chip off the old concrete block, but, psst, it’s quartz. 

Dekton by Cosentino’s Nilium captures the spirit of aged metal in sanitary quartz. 

Crossville’s “Bohemia” porcelain tile, above and below, offers an intriguing fabric-like texture that’s available in eight colors and in field tile and mosaic options.

Keep Cool

Homeowners’ push for personalization and an increased interest in cooking are driving manufacturers to think outside the old icebox and develop innovative, advanced features—often in appliances that can be built into cabinetry for a sleek, modern look.

Need room today for ice cream (hey, it’s been a tough week) but extra space next weekend for fresh farmers market finds? The Samsung Chef Collection flex fridge goes from freezer to refrigerator at the touch of a button.

Tech Savvy

How will that countertop really look in your kitchen? See for yourself before you buy with Cambria AR, an augmented reality app that lets you virtually overlay existing surfaces with Cambria designs. Share the images online with friends, family—and your designer.

The new GE Profile wall oven makes you a better cook, thanks to a touch display that automatically selects the best cooking mode. It integrates with the Drop kitchen app for recipe simplification and can be operated from your phone or by voice command.

LG takes its Door-in-Door technology up a notch with the “Smart InstaView” fridge. A touch LCD panel links you to a host of Alexa functions—and the display turns transparent when you want to see in the fridge.

Cook Here, Live Here

“More than ever, people want to live in their kitchen,” designer Mick De Giulio says. He’s creating spaces with living room-comfortable, soft seating inside open floor plans. Stone, glass, beautifully grained wood, and jewel-like metalwork mingle with luxe fabrics on window treatments and upholstered furniture to create welcoming rooms that are rich with beautiful architectural elements—not mere utilitarian cooking zones.

Contrast white walls and cabinets with a stained-wood island. The gorgeous grain layers in organic warmth and visually connects to furniture and flooring in adjacent sitting areas, making the kitchen feel like home.