Hi from Brooklyn!
To be successful in this business, you really need to do a ton of reading. There is always something new to learn or to research for a project. I recently came across some information on the EuroCucina 2012 Show in Milan listing current trends in Kitchens.
Keeping in mind European kitchens are much smaller than American kitchens (by a long shot!), they are built for maximum function and aesthetics.
Fun fact: Did you know that the 1st kitchen apartment designed as a separate room was built in Frankfurt, Germany in 1926? Of course, it was designed by a woman, Margarete Schutte-Lihotzky. Her kitchen design was ridiculously successful. No more bathtubs next to the stove!
Here are the trends from Europe that sound the most promising:
1. Raw wood: This idea probably originated in Northern Europe and continues the Industrial Chic trend that has been so popular. This look works best in medium to dark woods or in a gray wash. While wood plank counters were shown, I'm not sure this will work in our germ obsessed society. I do think that this is a fantastic counterpoint to endless cabinets. Why not add in raw sawn shelving or use it at the end of your island for contrast?
2. Lacquers: Lacquered cabinets are hugely popular in Europe. Contrary to what magazines show, the most popular colors remain white, gray and wood tones. The beauty of this material is that it is predominantly recycled, hard working and can be created specifically to maximize your space. They even make toe kick drawers…you know, the 4" set back between your floor and the bottom of the cabinet. Think how much extra storage that is!
3. Trending Materials: Backsplashes in frosted glass, countertops in metal, LED lighting for undercabinets, toe kicks, & shelving, and cabinet doors with concrete, stone or ceramic coatings. They may need to convince me that this last item is practical…
4. Merging of the Kitchen & Living Room: While the 1926 Frankfurt Kitchen was the answer for separating the kitchen into a work area and keeping the living room as a social space, Americans are keen to incorporate living into the kitchen. And, in Europe, the trend is now catching on with Kitchen Units. Appliances are smaller and tucked into cabinets. The look is highly innovative and kind of fun. What do you think?