Outdated kitchen trends – 5 overdone looks that designers like to avoid, and here's why you should too

Interior designers and decorators alike are doing away with certain trends in the kitchen, and the reasons why are fascinating...

Outdated kitchen trends
(Image credit: Stacy Goldberg Photography / Unique Kitchens & Baths / Caz Myers / Haris Kenjar Photography / Heidi Caillier)

It's all too easy to fall foul of outdated kitchen trends, not least because you might have never considered them as 'trends' in the first instance. Yet there are certain design directions you can take that are likely to date your kitchen quickly – some glaring, others seemingly harmless, and a matter of personal taste. 

Perhaps the more obvious kitchen trend trap is to commit to a fashionable feature without factoring in its longevity. One of the most important spaces, the kitchen is the heart of the home, so it should be one of the first rooms you think about when planning an overhaul – and there is always room for improvement and inspiring change with the latest kitchen ideas.

Much like with outdated living room trends, one of the biggest kitchen design mistakes is to entirely eschew character and practicality altogether for fear that your space will date. Ironically, avoiding certain trends can age a kitchen, too. The ultra-modern aesthetic and matte black hardware that has made this list are proof that sticking with certain trends isn't always a good idea in the long term.   

Outdated kitchen trends

When it comes to designing a kitchen, almost anything goes, but our panel of experts advises approaching the following trends and features with extreme caution. 

Here's what designers recommend you do instead...

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The Perfect Kitchen, Barbara Sallick | From $21.87/£30.45 at Amazon
Learn more about the fundamentals of kitchen design in this bestselling book. Find practical advice as well as hundreds of images to inspire your own remodel

1. Ultra-modern kitchens

Brown kitchen with wood cabinets and marble surface

Using interesting materials helps to personalize a scheme, as shown in this Charu Gandhi-designed kitchen.

(Image credit: Elicyon)

'It’s a fact of life that we all want to feel special rather than one of many – and that applies to the way we approach our projects,' says Charu Gandhi, director of Elicyon, on getting the tailored look. 'We want to give our clients something tailored, in every detail, to their requirements.' 

This often means doing away with the ultra-modern, featureless, look once favored by quick flippers. Kitchens, these days, are now cozier, warmer and more welcoming than ever, as demonstrated above. The best kitchen designers and decorators agree that the stark, modern look is over, but what can you do instead? 

'I like to work out how to introduce an atmospheric quality to kitchens, which can otherwise be quite functional,' says Charu Gandhi. 'Interesting materials, such as metal-mesh cupboard door fronts or those in panels of ombré smoky-grey glass, can look beautiful, while tactile surfaces, such as leathered-finish stone countertops, add another note of luxury.'

Interior Designer
Charu Gandhi
Interior Designer
Charu Gandhi

Charu Gandhi is the founder & director of Elicyon. Charu Gandhi is a qualified Architect, registered with RIBA and ARB, who studied and taught at the Architectural Association. Elicyon’s recent projects include the first-ever show apartment at Chelsea Barracks, private homes within Claridges, Mayfair Park Residences and boutique property development, and Beaufort Gardens in Kensington. 

2. Matte black hardware

Modern kitchen with cream painted shaker cabinets

(Image credit: Haris Kenjar Photography / Heidi Caillier)

Every few years, a new trend emerges, and for a while, the trend for matte black hardware was at the height of popularity. We have flippers to thank for this one.

The truth is that matte black hardware has a limited lifespan, and the cons certainly outrank the pros when it comes to this particular finish. Not only can this unfashionable trend be overpowering, but no matter how the hardware has been finished, whether oxidized or powder coated, the black color will fade over time if not properly maintained. 

‘Think of your cabinet hardware like jewelry,’ says Xander Shreenan of Dowsing & Reynolds. If you are willing to say au revoir to your matte black hardware, there are a few other materials that designers recommend will have more longevity and substance. 

For an enduringly stylish and contemporary look, go for solid metal, as interior designer Heidi Caillier has done so above. Stainless steel, brass, and bronze are also all sleek and stylish, giving an imaginative edge to your kitchen cabinets. Metal makes for durability, essential for everyday pieces that frequently get tugged and pulled.

Heidi Caillier
Heidi Caillier

Heidi Caillier Design is a full-service interior design firm, with a project portfolio spanning the US and beyond. Heidi's design philosophy is based on the belief that homes should be comfortable and livable while at the same time beautiful and curated. 

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This national best-seller is a success for a reason: within the pages, interior designer Amber Lewis trains your eye on everything from perfecting trends to choosing clever color combinations

3. Appliances above the range

Neutral kitchen with extractor hood and rug

(Image credit: Stacy Goldberg Photography / Unique Kitchens & Baths)

Installing appliances, like an over-the-counter microwave, has been the standard for many years, but that is now changing in favor of beautiful design-led extractor hoods, or functional storage. 

Let's face it, the microwave is not the most attractive feature in a kitchen, so why should it be a focal point? Take a considered approach to the style and installation of appliances to realize your dream set-up.

Take your cue from the striking definition of color opposites. ‘Choosing a contrasting finish on an outsize extractor hood will secure the cooking area as a firm focal point,’ says Tanya Smith-Shiflett, founder, of Unique Kitchens & Baths. A wonderful replacement for the now outdated microwave above the range, ‘the traditional chimney-style shape of this bespoke hood soars right up to the ceiling, enhancing the sense of height and providing extra design drama.’

4. Traditional cherry-wood cabinets

wood kitchen cabinet ideas - Modern rustic farmhouse

A kitchen with exceptional use of wood, as designed by Studio Jake Arnold

(Image credit: Tim Williams)

For the longest time, you couldn't visit a home that didn't proudly possess a cherry-wood kitchen. For those keeping up with the Joneses, this wood kitchen cabinet color was a must-have. During the late 80s and early 90s, these kitchen styles were quite expensive, so they were an aspirational design option, but fast-forward thirty years and cherry-wood kitchens are being replaced left, right, and center. But does that mean wood kitchens are outdated entirely? No, quite the opposite, in fact. 

Wood kitchen cabinets are a popular choice for those that love a timeless or classic look – not to mention the fact wood gets better with age. In recent years, there have been a number of new and interesting techniques which have reinvigorated the style and made this old staple a modern favorite.

There's spontaneity and creativity to the new-look wood kitchens of today. Dark and light woods are mixed together. Raw wood and full-grain timber are seeing a comeback. Here, this highly layered kitchen was created by US-based designer Studio Jake Arnold

‘We wanted to preserve the charm of this Los Angeles home, and this kitchen emits an amazing combination of old world and modern elements,’ says Jake. ‘The tones of the wood cabinetry and the skinny floorboards are the perfect contrast to the exposed beams, while the stone countertop adds further contrast to the softness and warmth of the wood.'

5. Farmhouse kitchens

Farmhouse kitchen ideas

(Image credit: The Expert / Jean Stoffer Design)

It is safe to say that farmhouse kitchens are one of the most requested kitchen trends to date, but there is an extremely fine line between getting this style just right, or horribly wrong. The key to this trend is to stop it from looking, well, basic. 

If you are still in admiration of the farmhouse kitchen trend, then consider keeping those all-important characterful features associated with the aesthetic to a minimum. 

The traditional farmhouse kitchen is celebrated for its characterful and personality-packed features. Think exposed beams, mismatched furniture, and relaxed soft furnishings, all of which can be recreated in a newer property. However, getting the farmhouse look in your kitchen is more about enjoying the laidback essence of relaxed country life, than slavish replication. The key is to focus on elements that add warmth, depth, and authenticity.

Don’t be afraid to mix up styles, but ensure they make sense to the overall look and feel.  Traditional finishes and fittings can combine very effectively with modern conveniences, such as brass handles or steel windows. It's all in the detail.

Here, Jean Stoffer of Jean Stoffer Design has kept her farmhouse-designed kitchen simple and cohesive with just three different materials that blend well, and are not jarring in any way. 


What style is in right now for a kitchen?

The most talked-about kitchen trend of the moment is a kitchen designed with sociability and entertainment in mind. 

Designing kitchens for entertaining is something that first came about when open-plan layouts came into fashion – and there's no doubt that the popularity of kitchen diners will endure.

This type of kitchen is a space into which we welcome guests, as well as one we enjoy day to day too – for everything from cooking and eating as a family to working from home.

When thinking about outdated kitchen trends, it is important to emphasize that these opinions are entirely objective. Your home is a reflection of you, and it should be a place of comfort. Our affinity towards certain styles, materials, and kitchen colors has a lot to do with our personalities, environment, and experiences, so it is crucial to choose home decor ideas that make you happier at home, and take what the naysayers suggest with a pinch of salt.

Jennifer Ebert

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.