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Kitchens 2021: the latest designs and colours

Gadget garages, working kitchens and unfitted units... This year, says new design company Huckleberry, we're witnessing a kitchen revolution. Here's what it looks like.

Kitchens are getting a lot of love this year – and boy do they need it. We’ve cooked in them, worked in them, snacked in them, lounged in them and quarrelled in them more than we thought possible in the last 12 months. As the primary meeting, eating and working space in our homes they deserve some attention and investment. What savings haven’t gone on the Med holiday (*sob*) is going into cabinets and worktops.

The renewed love for kitchens, according to Matt and Claire Podesta who’ve recently launched their own kitchen and furniture company, Huckleberry between the Chilterns and the Cotswolds, is also being driven by a mass move out to the countryside. With WFH now well established, many families are moving out of cities to reap the benefits of the country living (welcome to the sticks, guys!) or converting second homes into their main residence.

For many, the kitchen is the first investment. Matt and Claire, with the winning combo of award-winning furniture designer and artist, reckon that the way we use kitchens is making its biggest shift since the advent of the fitted kitchen in the Fifties and Sixties, reflected in their super-reasonable starting price of £12,000. Here are the big trends for 2021, according to Huckleberry, and how to harness them for your home.

The working kitchen

The kitchen is often the lightest and brightest room in the house, and in the case of draughty old cottages it’s also the warmest (cue entire family huddled around the Aga). So, it’s natural that once we all started working, and schooling, from home, that we’d gradually migrate there. Tea and coffee in easy reach, the highest concentration of sockets, closest to the router… and so the kitchen office was born. The kitchen table, island unit and breakfast bar are now our desks. With laptops, tablets and phones replacing desktop PCs, we can perch on any chair and only need a small workspace. Our homes are now flexible spaces that have adapted to technology – ugly printers now hidden away in a separate room while we perch at the breakfast bar within arm’s length of caffeine.

The cosy kitchen

We’re all doing it – knocking through from the dining room to create a kitchen diner and somewhere along the way a sofa or armchair finds its way into the kitchen. Soft areas in the kitchen mean we can work, rest and cook in one space. It’s like living in a flat – we’ve gone full circle. There might be an office, snug, playroom or posh sitting room to escape to but by and large the kitchen is doing it all.

Unfitted kitchens

Nostalgia continues with this trend – peek into the kitchen of your local heritage pile and you’ll find the kitchen is a collection of unfitted units: usually a table, dresser, wet area and sideboard with washing up done in the scullery. It’s a style that’s gaining popularity again – out with the long runs of base and shelf units in clinical colours, in with beautiful pieces of furniture that you have for life – you can take it with you if you move, pass it onto family or sell it. It’s what’s driving demand at Huckleberry according to Matt and Claire – bringing the ‘below stairs’ joinery of Georgian times back upstairs (think Downton Abbey but sadly without the army of cooks, maids and butlers).

Colour pops

Image: Instagram/ @archdigest

The neutral F&B colours in hues of grey, cream and green are still popular but with a pop of colour such as brinjal (think aubergine) or deep navy blue – both very 2021. The colours of the year are a good example of this contrast – Dulux went for a warm beige called Brave Ground while and Pantone’s 13-0647 is a vibrant primrose yellow. The unfitted kitchen in particular lends itself to this trend but it can also work with an island unit and a run of cupboards. Out with the dentist room cabinetry in long sleek runs of white and in with character and individuality (mercifully tends to hide the stains better too).

Block colour

Image: Instagram / @archdigest

The other colour trend of 2021 is a single colour across the whole scheme – cupboards, walls, tiles and splashback in a bold block of colour. It’s suprisingly effective and works well with dark colours.

Gadget garages

Everyone loves their gadgets but they take up an enormous amount of worktop space by the time you’ve got your coffee machine, smoothie maker/juicer, bread machine, toaster and for the old-school diehards, the Breville sandwich toaster and Soda Stream are still clinging on… These need to be hidden away but still accessible. Hello gadget garage. This might be a dresser cabinet with foldout doors or a larder with sliding shelf, but the gadgets are there, and some may even be plugged in, instead of piled under the pandemic/Brexit pasta mountain in the most awkward cupboard in the kitchen.

Clay has it’s day

Image: Instagram/ @emmarosestyle

There’s been a long running trend in kitchens for wooden floors thanks largely to the advances in engineered wood, but Claire and Matt are now predicting a move back to terracotta and brick flooring. It’s a more natural and heritage look and can be made cosy with underfloor heating fitted underneath.

Eye on sustainability

There’s a big drive to consider the environmental credentials of everything that comes into our homes, and especially so with big investments like kitchens. At Huckleberry the focus is on minimising the use of manmade materials to reduce carbon footprint and consider paints with less chemicals like waterborne and linseed paints. They also work with a forestry foundation that sustains woodland in the UK. Questions to consider asking a kitchen supplier include where was it made, is the wood sustainable, what paint is used and is it toxic and can you recycle my old kitchen?

Design details

Painted furniture with accents of natural wood are still increasingly popular over smooth or sleek look cabinets. Even the big high street kitchen makers are moving towards making in-frame kitchens that have more detail than the simple shaker design with panelling or beading.

Out with the showroom

Traipsing round the showroom at the weekend finishing with a pushy salesperson offering you 10% off if you pay TODAY is on the way out. The pandemic has accelerated use of tech to the point where we’re stepping into our kitchen before its even there – video consultations, virtual reality and 3D modelling can give us a really good idea of the design without even leaving the house. This also reduces the overheads for the kitchen supplier so should reflect in the pricing. If the TV programme Your Home Made Perfect has been one of your lockdown guilty pleasures, you’ll know what we mean. If only we could VR-up the dinner too, we could sit back in the snug, glass in hand and wait for the magic to happen.

Huckleberry. Tel: 01844 220 168. Email

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