Ceramic Is the New Granite: Tips From the World’s Coolest Kitchens

Black ceramic kitchen from "150 Best New Kitchens"

Alno AG

Hey, want a new kitchen? Maybe a better question would be: Who doesn’t? The kitchen is one of the two most popular rooms to renovate, and quite possibly the star attraction for most buyers looking at a home. After all, It’s a place to make food, share food, socialize (while eating food), and spend time with family (no food necessary!). Bottom line: You’re likely to spend a disproportionate slice of your time in this part of your home. So why not make it great?

And as with any remodel, there are endless style possibilities, which basically means opportunities to agonize over the renovation road not taken. Quartz or granite countertops? Knock down that wall or improve it? Stainless-steel appliances or ones that look like wood cabinets?

Well, we’re not going to make any decisions for you—sorry!—but for ideas and inspiration, we turned to Manel Gutierrez, author of “150 Best New Kitchens.” For his new book, Gutierrez curated a selection of the most exciting kitchen designs from around the world, and we’ve presented some of those highlights here. Enjoy!

 

Mixed materials shine in an airy space.

Snaidero

Kitchen with mixed materials from "150 Best New Kitchens"

Don’t just open up your kitchen, integrate it

Yes, everyone knows that an open-plan living area is brighter and airier, but somehow the kitchen always ends up looking like … a kitchen. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Pick appliances with finishes that mimic cabinets, and show off your shelves with objects and books, just like you would in your living room.

Gutierrez says the design solutions he profiles in his book aren’t just focused on the kitchen—they also “seek to achieve an aesthetic unity” with the living and dining areas.

“The best results are truly original, beautiful, and, above all, very practical.”

Shelves in the kitchen are used as they would be in a living room—to show off objects.

LEICHT Küchen AG

Shelves in the kitchen are used as they would be in a living room—to show off objects.
Eye-catching ash wood connects the kitchen with the rest of the living space.

LEICHT Küchen AG

Eye-catching ash wood connects the kitchen with the rest of the living space.

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Play with materials

Gutierrez says one of the main trends he noticed was the wider-than-ever variety of materials being used in kitchens today. Ceramic, stone, glass, and lacquer are taking their place alongside stainless steel. And best of all, designers are mixing and matching them with abandon.

“The more different the materials, the more interesting and intense the resulting combination,” he writes. While concrete is “the preferred construction material for modern architecture,” ceramic is an up-and-comer that’s both attractive and resistant—it’s even been used in space exploration. Hey, if it’s good enough for the astronauts, it’s good enough for your kitchen.

But it’s nice to know that traditional materials haven’t lost their luster either. The all-time favorite? Good ol’ wood.

This kitchen is made of concrete and Canadian pine reclaimed from packing crates.

Guillerme Morelli

This kitchen is made of concrete and Canadian pine reclaimed from packing crates. From "150 Best New Kitchen Ideas."
This kitchen makes use of stainless steel, ceramic and wood.

Alno AG

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Go all white—or all black!

“White has many benefits: it looks harmonious and creates a sense of cleanliness,” Gutierrez writes. “Combined with red it is unbeatable.”

In fact, the monochromatic look always makes a strong design statement, whether it’s light or dark. The use of dark-stained wood adds a natural touch to this hypermodern black kitchen/dining room.

A dramatic black kitchen gets a touch of warmth from natural—but also dark—wood.

LEICHT Küchen AG

Black and wood kitchen in Kaohsiung City from "150 Best New Kitchen Ideas"

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Use switch hitters

Unless you’re lucky enough to have a palatial kitchen, everything in the space had better pull its weight—and then some. These features do double duty:

This kitchen’s island doubles as a work surface and a dining table.

Alno AG

This kitchen's island doubles as a work surface and as a dining table. From "150 Best New Kitchen Ideas"
The stove has a ventilation plate rather than a hood, which also works as a shelf.

Lube

The stove has a ventilation plate rather than a hood, which also works as a shelf.  From "150 Best New Kitchen Ideas"

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The most important part is what you don’t see

In general, storage is like the Spanx of modern kitchen design—when it’s good, you don’t know it’s there, but it makes everything sleeker, tighter, and more put together. Top-notch storage design makes use of those odd corners and makes even gigantic gadgets such as that Vitamix blender disappear.

That said, you can make strategic exceptions—and make a design statement.

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