What Will the Post-Pandemic Kitchen Look Like?
What will the post-pandemic kitchen look like? How has COVID affected kitchen design? The COVID-19 pandemic has touched every aspect of our lives, all the way down to what our kitchens will look like moving forward.
It’s not really surprising that COVID would affect how we live in and use our kitchens. While quarantining and social distancing, homeowners spent a lot more time in their homes last year, especially in their kitchens cooking, cleaning and eating well.
With the uncertainty of the pandemic impacting the way we use our kitchens, our emphasis now is on hygiene, comfort, calm and safety.
Post-Pandemic Kitchen Will Be Multi-tasking
Thanks to COVID, families are spending more time in the kitchen than ever before, and it has become central to daily life.
Now more than ever before, the kitchen is the social hub of the home, where families gather for various activities throughout the day. It has long been the heart of the home. But it has emerged as the hardest working, multitasking room, as well.
As a result, beyond preparing and enjoying meals, the kitchen has become a social venue via Zoom, and it’s also an office, classroom, playroom, restaurant and more.
Experts see no end in sight to this expansion of the kitchen’s uses. They envision more open-space concepts, an extension into multi-season outdoor living spaces, larger kitchen island hubs and increased functionality and storage to allow homeowners to cook, eat, work, home-school and play, all in the kitchen. While quarantining during the day, our kitchens became our home offices or they became our kids’ classrooms, or maybe they were even both at the same time. Then at night, all of that got pushed away, and they became our full-service kitchens and our restaurants because we couldn’t go out to eat.
NKBA Predictions for Post-Pandemic Kitchen Design
The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) predicts that the pandemic will have a lasting influence on kitchen design. (The NKBA is a trade association for the kitchen and bath industry that provides tools and research.) Their research shows that post-pandemic kitchens will be contemporary-styled, due to the sense of calm, well-being and simplicity they project during an otherwise chaotic time.
These contemporary kitchens will feature:
- clean lines
- minimal detailing
- the warmth and texture of natural finishes
- larger windows to bring the outdoors inside
Further, they predict that homeowners will have an increased desire to invest in their homes post-pandemic. This includes, but is not limited to:
- the need for multi-purpose spaces in the kitchen
- minimalistic styles
- the use of organic or natural materials
- enhanced outdoor living areas.
The Post-Pandemic Kitchen will Contain Memories
The most sought-after kitchen designs will combine both purpose and personality. Further, these kitchens will reflect the homeowner’s taste and lifestyle.
The pandemic has made everyone more nostalgic for real human connection, and this desire will be reflected in our kitchens going forward. Homeowners will combine unusual or unique items that have meaning and conjure up memories that will spark joy every day.
The Post-Pandemic Kitchen Will Have Easy-to-Clean Materials
After a year of being hyper-aware of germs, our hand-washing and disinfecting everything habits will translate into the types of materials we want for our kitchens. Non-porous surfaces like glass and metal will become common.
The need for easy-to-clean surfaces will continue top-of-mind. Quartz countertops will continue to be the leading material, as they are easy to clean and keep clean. We will see quartz being used as backsplash material.
Because of their “cleanability”, induction cooktops are on their way to surpassing gas cooktops as the favorite choice.
The Post-Pandemic Kitchen will Bring Nature In
Natural light, large windows, skylights and growing plants will be as essential as appliances in the post-pandemic kitchen. Outdoor living has become important as homeowners crave a lifestyle that connects them to nature.
Having a large window with a view to the outdoors or a door leading into a green space is a must. This could be a window box full of herbs, a pair of French doors leading onto a patio filled with plants, or just a balcony with a chair so you can enjoy fresh air. The outdoor kitchen is becoming more popular as outdoor dining is refreshing and fun.
The Importance of Sustainability in the Post-Pandemic Kitchen
Sustainable practices are more important than ever, from creating a designated place for herbs to grow beside a sink or under the kitchen island, to having a specific area for composting.
But beyond making these eco-friendly practices a part of daily living, homeowners are predicted to keep sustainability in mind when sourcing materials for their kitchens.
For example, Ash timber for cabinetry has low-VOC emissions, which promotes better air quality in the home and is also a more cost-effective material.
Post-Pandemic Kitchen Design – Colors and Finishes
Because of people’s desire for a calm and soothing space, lots of natural colors, like tans, grays, beige, light blues and greens, will dominate in post-pandemic kitchens. People remodeling or shopping for a new home want integrated indoor/outdoor living spaces with organic materials in both spaces. As a result, this need for a connection with nature has created a move toward a color palette based in nature.
Designers see wood grain cabinetry becoming more popular, in addition to warm and natural finishes.
Hard edges in design will give way to curved countertops, walls and woodwork to provide the look and feel of harmony and warmth.
Post Pandemic Kitchen Design – Layout
One of the top trends in kitchen layout to emerge from all the time spent working from home includes creating L-shaped islands to maximize counter space and open up the layout. Now, islands have become a space to work, to home-school, to use as a dining table, to use for meal prep and for extra storage.
Bigger is better when it comes to islands. They provide seating for more people, with outlets to support laptops and chargers and/or countertop appliances.
Further, organizing has become more important as kitchens become multi-purpose to accommodate work-from-home and learn-from-home activities. It’s been proven that getting rid of clutter reduces stress, and people want cabinet built-ins that hide clutter. Appliance garages and pantries are in demand.
Post Pandemic Kitchen Design – Technology
Post-pandemic, smart technology will allow homeowners to live their lives to the fullest. Gesture and voice recognition are becoming more prevalent. Your technology will recognize you and allow you to control your appliances the way you want.
According to the NKBA, technology in the kitchen will continue to grow in importance as we remodel our kitchens based on needs discovered while working from home and quarantining.
Top priorities include:
- dedicated device charging and viewing
- seamless video communication
- emergency power for the refrigerator
- leak detection
- voice-activated lighting controls
- touch-free faucets
Smart tech is bringing the future to our kitchens. You probably have a smart device on your counter, but how about a large screen built into the front of your microwave over the range? GE’s Kitchen Hub centralizes smart home tools and offers a guided cooking app and Google assistant, besides streaming TV and web browser. An in-oven camera means you can keep an eye on dinner while you’re out of the room.
Other smart appliances, including screens on a backsplash, can recommend recipes, bring up the day’s calendar, and help cook a dish efficiently. These technological components will provide peace of mind and allow people to provide nutritious meals for their families with staying at home.
The Importance of Wellness in the Post-Pandemic Kitchen
Over the past 12 months, we’ve spent more time at home than ever before in our lifetimes. In the kitchen design world, that single pandemic-induced behavioral change is dramatically impacting the industry. Specifically, it’s created an intense focus on wellness and sustainability.
Rather than spending money on travel, shopping or dining out, people are investing in home renovations, particularly in high-quality ones that create a sense of wellness into their lives.
During the pandemic, the concept of wellness was expanded beyond the bedroom and bathroom to include the kitchen. People discovered that surrounding themselves with nature and nature-inspired materials creates a calming effect.
Increasingly, we’re using our homes as space for personal health and wellness and the kitchen is no exception.
Appliances in the Post-Pandemic Kitchen
Because people are cooking more at home, many homeowners are paying more attention to how their food is prepared. Steam and steam-assist ovens are gaining popularity because they retain food’s nutrients during cooking.
They want easy-to-clean appliances. For example, electric stovetops that can be easily wiped off will replace gas stovetops that release carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and other harmful pollutants into the air, which can be toxic to people and pets.
Refrigeration has become more important, thanks to the increasing use of natural and organic ingredients and the need to preserve fresh food.
A concern for people in the last year is ‘how do I keep my family safe”. GE saw an increase in the use of sanitize cycles in their appliances during the pandemic.
We’re also seeing an increase in antimicrobial surfaces and coatings and materials that can easily be wiped down or are antibacterial, like copper, glass or stainless steel.
Universal Design Will Factor into the Post-Pandemic Kitchen
The post pandemic kitchen will balance function, safety and good looks to create a space that works for everyone, including those with disabilities, the elderly, children in strollers, and anyone else who may be using the kitchen.
This approach not only creates an accessible multi-functional kitchen with convenient features for a diverse group. It also reduces the need for modifications that may be required in the future.
Hands-Free = Germ-Free
A clean and germ-free kitchen has always been important, of course, but with a focus on hand washing and having to wipe down everything since the pandemic first hit, features such as easy-to-clean surfaces, touch-free technology and pull-out spray faucets will take on extra importance post-pandemic.
It should come as no surprise given our pandemic dread of touching things that touchless technology is a rising trend. Imagine opening your oven with your elbow or even your voice. Touchless faucets and hands-free water dispensers for the home are available from Elkay.
Sinks will be made from more hygienic materials, such as non-porous quartz that helps prevent the spread of bacteria.
Remodeling a Kitchen After the Pandemic
Kitchen design and home renovation professionals found themselves surprisingly busy throughout the pandemic as homeowners began to reevaluate how they used existing spaces.
As shelter-in-place orders stretched out, homeowners envisioned creative ways to enjoy their surroundings and connect with friends and family like never before, all while adding value to their properties.
A post-pandemic kitchen renovation means you will need to be prepared to spend some serious cash, and be patient. The wait lists for kitchen designer and contractor availability and access to materials and appliances are long. Very long.
When it comes to the budget, prepare yourself for sticker shock, because of the current high cost of lumber and building materials.
Expect to spend $65,000 to $90,000 if you’re replacing all materials in a 200-square-foot kitchen, L-shape with an island.
A luxury kitchen will range from $110,000 to $150,000 or higher, depending on where you live and your kitchen’s size. The average renovation with high-end appliances and semi-custom cabinets starts at $100,000. Of that budget about 40 percent will go toward cabinets, with appliances as the second-biggest line item.
Homeowners are in high spirits as the pandemic ends, and they are eager to spend money on their homes. Homes will still be a type of sanctuary, but with more open and social spacing.
If we have learned anything from this past year, it’s that the pandemic will have a lasting impact on the way people spend time in their home. Kitchen layouts, materials, and styles are noticeably shifting as homeowners remain in place and are adapting their lifestyles as priorities change.
Sources Used and For Further Reading
- Washington Post: What to Know About Renovating Your Kitchen During COVID
- Las Vegas Review Journal: Pandemic Motivates Change In Design Habits
- Today: How the Pandemic is Changing Kitchen Design
- Real Simple: Designers Envision the Post Pandemic Kitchen of the Future
- Kitchen and Bath Design News: Covid-19 Inspiring Future Renovations
KDP exists to offer insight and advice about all things related to kitchen remodeling. Our goal is to connect homeowners with talented, experienced kitchen designers who live and work in their communities. We are a serious resource for anyone preparing to remodel their kitchen so they can make the best possible choices about designers, contractors and products.