modern kitchen design, white tiles and open shelving

No longer just the place to cook and enjoy meals, this year our kitchens transformed into home offices, makeshift classrooms and puzzle workshops, too. After a long winter spent indoors, now feels like the perfect time for a kitchen refresh, with a focus on comfort, mood-boosting décor and functional storage.

Not sure where to start with your own kitchen makeover? No worries! We’ve rounded up 11 of 2021’s hottest kitchen design trends, from dramatic black cabinetry to bright white backsplashes and pops of colour. Whatever your style and budget, these affordable ideas are sure to inspire.

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1. Use a sleek, functional kitchen cart for easy storage.

There’s something so chic and cool about bar carts—they’re trendy yet classic and instantly upgrade any kitchen. They’re also super versatile and multifunctional—they can store and display dishes, cookbooks, potted plants and more. Plus, since they’re on wheels, they move easily between rooms, making them great for entertaining, too. All you need is a few feet of space to set up your own cart display.

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2. Update your kitchen island with stylish bar stools.

The kitchen island is where everyone gathers, and the trend now is to prep for that delicious moment when guests will be able to meet there again. To make your kitchen island more inviting, consider swapping out your stools for an updated set—it’s a quick, easy and budget-friendly way to add new life. Whether your style is minimalist or luxe, there are countless options offering both comfort and elegance. The hardest part is choosing your favourite!

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Cleaning Tip
Raising toddlers or little kids? Consider metal or plastic chairs instead of fabric to make quick work of juice spills and Goldfish cracker crumb removal.

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3. Upgrade your storage and décor with floating shelves.

Floating kitchen shelves are a trendy way to increase storage without taking up extra counter or floor space. They add dimension and depth to the room, and even better, let you show off your favourite accents and accessories (whether you collect air plants, crystals or cute mugs). Plus, there are also so many styles available right now, from simple, sleek ledges to trendy geometric shapes.

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4. Add a kitchen pantry for extra food storage.

Pantries played a key role for many families this year, as we stocked up on toilet paper, canned goods and other essentials. Don’t have a walk-in pantry? Free-standing cupboards are an ideal solution. With cabinets and drawers, pantry cupboards offer enough space to store all your dry goods in one place—from the kids’ cereals on lower shelves to mom’s cookie stash on the top. Plus, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as an organized pantry—which is probably why there are nearly half a million #pantry posts on Instagram (check it out for organizing inspiration).

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TIME-SAVING TIP
An organized pantry makes easy work of your grocery list, since you can clearly see what’s running low at-a-glance, rather than rummaging through multiple cupboards.

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5. Extend a white subway tile backsplash to the ceiling.

As more and more folks ditch wall cabinetry in favour of open shelving (see #3!), ceiling-height kitchen backsplashes are taking over—and they look dreamy. A white backsplash is particularly stylish, since it reflects light and brightens up the entire space (plus, when it comes to kitchen colour trends for 2021, it’s all about black and white).  Subway tiles are a classic option (when are they not on-trend?). Today’s smart kitchen tiles are an easy, peel-and-stick option for anyone looking to try something new without breaking the bank.

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Cleaning Tip
If you’re installing real tiles, look for a grout that’s long-lasting and easy to clean—so your beautiful white backsplash stays stain-free.

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6. Go for a modern, Scandinavian-style dining set.

There’s nothing like a new kitchen table and chairs (or a matching dining set) to make you feel better about another year spent mostly at home. Simple, Scandinavian designs work with many other styles, mixing a contemporary vibe with a rustic, warm touch—think glossy white plastic, natural wood and velvet upholstery—to conjure comfort and relaxation. This style of design is known for its functionality and beauty, so your kitchen will get the best of both worlds.

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7. Add unexpected pops of colour and personality.

One of the easiest ways to add instant personality to any room, but especially to an all-white kitchen, is with vibrant, eye-catching accents. You might already have some great items stored away, like books, ceramics, printed tea towels or bright dinnerware. Don’t be afraid to display them! Choose a spot that could use some extra personality—it’s all about strategic placement to keep the look simple, not cluttered. (Bonus tip: it’s always worth sacrificing a little bit of counterspace for a vase full of fresh flowers!)

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8. Go for gold finishes.

Just because we’re going for comfort in 2021 doesn’t mean we can’t have a little luxury, too. And what’s more luxurious than gold? Adding pops of gold throughout the kitchen is easier than ever, now that faucets, sinks and cabinet hardware come in a variety of metallic finishes. To avoid looking like you’re living in King Midas’ palace, go golden with just a few key features: think your faucet, utensils, or even your toaster. Gold looks especially fancy against a backdrop of black or white (see trends #5 and #9).

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9. Up the drama factor with black kitchen cabinets.

Not feeling the appeal of an all-white kitchen? Go for glamour with black cabinetry instead. When it comes to kitchen cabinet trends, this look is stealing the show right now—and we love how sleek and neat it looks. All it takes is a few coats of paint. Or, if you’re looking for a bigger impact, look for minimalist black cabinetry without handles or pulls (this really adds some depth and drama). Not to worry if you don’t have wall cabinets—this look is also easy to achieve with shelving, hutches, display cabinets and buffets.

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10. Install a pendant light over your kitchen island or dining table.

Yet another fun, simple (and budget-friendly) way to update your space this spring is by investing in some new kitchen light fixtures. Pendant lights make a big statement, whether placed above a kitchen island, table or breakfast nook. They add a modern element of décor and there are so many shapes, materials and designs to choose from. We love the dramatic look of metallic drum lights and the beauty of woven designs made from natural materials like rattan (so hygge!).

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11. Add a rug in front of your island.

Since we’re spending so much time gathered around the kitchen island (whether baking bread or helping with homework), carpet runners placed in front of islands are trending right now. In addition to soothing tired feet, a runner also offers texture, warmth and colour. Be sure to take it outside and shake it off at least once a week to get rid of any crumbs and dust.

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