Ask the Expert

Kitchen remodel: What to avoid

Q: I'm about to renovate my kitchen. What things should I avoid so it won't look dated in five years?

The advice I would give is “think classic.” Classic design is timeless design; when something is done well it will look good for many years.

Finish trends will come and go, such as painted vs. stained cabinets, granite vs. solid surface, wood floors vs. tile floors, stainless steel vs. paint finish appliances. Kitchen shapes and traffic patterns change as well. Years ago, we designed U-shaped kitchens with islands, then U-shaped with an angled kitchen sink area, and now the L shape with a super island.

Houses today are forced to be more efficient due to overall costs. For today's kitchens, homeowners want openness, durability, beauty and great functionality. For these reasons, a feature that is likely to stay a while is the “super island” – a large island measuring at least 4'x8' and offering tons of storage and entertaining space or even the sink and dishwasher. It is just so convenient.

Watching national housing design competitions from year to year is a fantastic way to see trends come and go. Last year, “grey on grey” kitchens were in style, and, while pretty, the look will not be timeless. In 2015, the trend was white cabinets and Carrera marble everywhere – a very classic look that will stand the test of time.
Alaska is a great place for stained cabinets. When choosing stains, it’s safer to stay in the medium tones, avoiding extreme colors. Multi-colored kitchens – where the color of the island is different from the wall cabinets -- will have staying power for a while as well. Stained cabinets will not show cracks or separations the way a painted cabinet will, and they also seem to wear better, keeping a new look for your kitchen. Stainless steel and the new grey steel appliances will be a mainstay. Plumbing fixtures should be somewhat neutral to stand the test of time, such as brushed nickel and chrome. Pantries will always be in vogue. As for countertop choices, natural stones have beautiful variety and imperfections. And manmade solid surfaces have come a long way in beauty and performance.

With open floor plans where there is no good line of delineation, it’s best to avoid changing flooring surfaces. Try to select flooring that will work for the kitchen, dining and family room. Maintaining one surface makes the area look and feel larger.

For the easiest change when a fresh look is desired, consider updating the wall colors and lighting fixtures.

Karen Kassik-Michelsohn, CPBD, Fellow AIBD, is Vice President of Michelsohn and Daughter Construction, Inc., a design/build company in Anchorage. She is an award-winning designer, earning the title “Designer of the Year” from the National Council of Building Designer Certification in 2014 and “Builder of the Year” from the Anchorage Home Builders Association in 2016.