Shades of Gray (and Other Kitchen Trends)

Shades of Gray Countertops

From the material of your counters to the color of your cabinets, our expert reveals the secrets behind what’s both trendy and timeless in terms of kitchen remodeling.

Feeling Gray: Forget brightly colored countertops. The color trend for kitchen counters nowadays is every shade of gray. Popular countertop colors range from pale mist to medium slate to smoky charcoal. Manufacturers are offering an array of muted grays in a variety of countertop materials, including stone, concrete and man-made polymers, says Joe Maykut, director of product management for Sears Home Improvement Products in Longwood, Florida.

Unlike some trends that’ll fade in a few seasons — think fire-engine red kitchen tile — this kitchen remodel trend this one has staying power, he asserts. “Gray is a wonderful neutral tone that you can accent with any color you like.”

That makes it easy for current — or future — homeowners to redecorate with new accessories and keep the home looking fresh and modern without a major remodel.

“Going with neutrals definitely makes it easier to sell your home in the future,” Maykut says.

Granite vs. Polymer: The most popular countertop material is still granite, and prices for traditional colors have come down. Watch out, though, if you’ve found a deal that seems too good to be true. It probably is, Maykut states. “The quality of the stone will be reflected in the price point.”

When choosing a granite countertop top, check for depth and edging, he says. Lower-quality stone won’t have a consistent thickness, which makes it much more vulnerable to cracking. Fabricators also reduce costs by creating precut sizes with a basic edge.

“That may be fine for builders, who can design kitchens to meet the size criteria, but it’s much harder to fit a precut counter on a rehab project,” Maykut says.

Man-made countertops that integrate bits of granite, quartz or other natural stone are gaining popularity, he adds. The material is ground up and layered into a polymer, which provides the color and depth of stone, but with a less porous surface and more consistent color palette.

Cabinet Colors: Along with countertops, cabinets are getting a makeover. For the first time in years, the most popular kitchen cabinets include darker woods, particularly those with more complicated molding and edges, Maykut says. “The darker finishes accent the shadow lines in the grooves to give the cabinets more of a 3D effect.”

Sears Home Services recently introduced seven new cabinet colors — five of which are deep, rich browns, including shades of chestnut, clove, and dark chocolate.

“They are very earthy browns, rather than red-toned cherries and mahoganies,” Maykut says.

These darker browns offer a warm, neutral palette to the kitchen that doesn’t limit accessory colors. “Red-toned or mahogany woods can pigeonhole you from a decorating standpoint,” Maykut warns.

Give Glass a Go: Homeowners are also adding depth and interest to their kitchens with glass tile on their walls and backsplashes. Blue, white and gray are the most popular colors for 2014, reflecting the trend toward neutrals.

“Glass tile has a huge impact on the look of a kitchen,” Maykut says. “Even simple shades reflect light and give a 3D effect that you can’t get from flat matte tiles.”

Maykut notes that smaller glass mosaic tiles are particularly popular, both in 1-inch squares and longer 1-inch-by-5-inch pieces that create horizontal lines in the design. “The longer lines make the wall look larger, which makes the space more interesting,” he explains.

Not sure you’d like the look of gray counters or dark cabinets? That’s where our fun kitchen visualizer tool comes in. Upload a photo of your kitchen, and you can see what it’ll look like if you followed some of these kitchen remodeling trends. And while you’re at it? Think about how other projects like new flooring could help make your dream kitchen come to life.

Interested in some of these ideas? Get a free in-home consultation by calling 1-888-565-4048 or heading to the Sears Home Services kitchen remodel page.