'Happy kitchens' are 2021's most positive trend – this is the one feature experts say they can't be without

Kitchen experts have revealed the feature that brings the feel-good factor

Happy kitchen featuring wallpaper
(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

'Happy kitchens' is one of those kitchen trends we have been hearing about more and more frequently recently – we suspect it's a pandemic side effect. Happy kitchens tend to be classified as those decorated with pretty – and adventurous – kitchen color ideas, whether brightly colored cabinetry, prettily patterned tiles, or handsome wallpaper, as in the room above.

However, there's more to happy kitchens than just aesthetics – as kitchen experts has recently revealed. In fact, there's one particular kitchen idea that the experts say must be present in a room for it to qualify amongst the happiest of kitchens. 

And while you might think it would be a life-enhancing modern gadget – that dream coffee machine, the stand mixer you've always promised yourself or perhaps that expensive but alluring range oven – we're actually going back in time and embracing a feature that has been around since the late Middle Ages. Really.

walk-in pantry in a kitchen with food storage drawers and shelves

(Image credit: Future)

Yes, it's the walk-in pantry. The fact pantry ideas topped the list of things that make people happiest in a kitchen in a study by Magnet shows we're leaning towards retro kitchen features – and that we've learnt the value of great kitchen storage ideas during the pandemic. Hardly surprising since most of us took up baking in one form or another in the past year. 

The coveted walk-in pantry was followed closely by family-sized refrigerator/freezers (American-style, as they're known in the UK).

George Miller, Home Designer at Neptune comments that because we've seen open-plan living become increasingly popular over the past year, the kitchen has become somewhere for families to 'congregate, work, as well as cook, eat, and clean. A larder is now very much a lusted-after feature due to its ability to create more storage,' says George. 

Because we're using the heart of our homes for multiple things, homeowners are now adding in an island or a kitchen table, too, plus extra seating, he says. 

kitchen helving for food storage

(Image credit: Future)

As we know, you can never have to much of that. He says finding space for a pantry also means everything has its place, and helps to keep surfaces clear, whether you're cooking dinner or in a Zoom meeting.

We're all familiar with large Instagram-worthy pantries full of labeled glass containers of decanted kitchen staples, thanks to professional organizing brands such as The Home Edit – which has also lead to a rise in demand for pantry organization ideas. The Instagram effect seems to have hit our homes as on both sides of the Atlantic we're favoring a separate room, albeit a small one, designed for food storage. 

Perhaps we are simply finding comfort in storing more food at home than pre-pandemic. As George says, the rise of open-plan living means we view the kitchen as part of a stylish living space – so a small room to conceal cereal boxes helps us maintain a more put-together aesthetic.

kitchen pantry

(Image credit: Humphrey Munson/ Paul Craig)

It will come as no surprise that the best coffee maker was number three on the list of happy kitchen features, after walk-in pantries and refrigerators. While a take-out coffee was the highlight of many commuters' mornings, now that we're working from home more than ever, we want to replicate our latte at home.

Millie Hurst
Section Editor

Millie Hurst is Section Editor at Homes & Gardens, overseeing the Solved section, which provides readers with practical advice for their homes. She has been in the world of digital journalism for six years, having previously worked as Senior SEO Editor at News UK both in London and New York. She joined the Future team two years ago, working across a range of homes brands. Millie formerly worked as Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home, taking care of evergreen articles that help and inspire people to make the most of their homes and outdoor spaces. Millie has a degree in French and Italian and lives in North London.