‘Find joy where you can’

When Ann Osborn was looking to update her kitchen this summer in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, she made a last-minute decision to opt for a bold turquoise backsplash instead of a white one.

“Shiplap or white subway tiles were my original choices for our kitchen remodel but then I went totally off-road and decided I wanted some fun color,” she explained in a post on Instagram.

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Osborn told TODAY Home that the bright color made her happy. “As much as I’m a fan of a white kitchen, this go-around I didn’t want to play it safe and do something we had already done.”

Considering the coronavirus pandemic was going on during her remodel, Osborn said perhaps it subconsciously played a role in her taking this bold risk. “It’s not for everyone, but if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that life is uncertain, so find joy where you can.”

Emilie Munroe, who owns San Francisco-based interior design firm Studio Munroe, told TODAY that she’s seeing a trend of homeowners updating their all-white kitchens with pops of color.

interior of a nice loft (piovesempre / Getty Images)
interior of a nice loft (piovesempre / Getty Images)

It’s something she says has been making a comeback over the last five years as celebrities like Cameron Diaz and Hilary Duff have been playing with color in their own kitchens.

Adding a pop of color, even if it's just on an island, can give your kitchen some personality. (Thomas Kuoh)
Adding a pop of color, even if it’s just on an island, can give your kitchen some personality. (Thomas Kuoh)

Some homeowners have become more adventurous with their design choices because of the Hollywood influence — but adding color to the kitchen is also something Munroe personally encourages her clients to do. These days, especially after months of quarantine and uncertainty, color can be even more beneficial.

“During times like these, when clients are spending more time nestled in their homes, a white kitchen can leave them yearning for style choices with a specific voice and character,” Munroe said, adding that she’s currently working with a client who had a standard white kitchen and opted for cornflower blue cabinets in their remodel.

The most popular hues for kitchens right now are cool tones, according to Munroe. “We see emerald, seafoam, navy, mint, dusty grey blue and forest green the most often,” she said, adding that these shades are great because they feel similar to nature and are a great way to lift the spirit, bring the outside in and ground the heart of the home.

Wood is also popular for kitchens these days. But not that ’80s look you might be picturing. “It’s more pickled and rustic now,” said Jaimee Rose, who owns the Phoenix-based design firm Jaimee Rose Interiors. The great thing about wood, she added, is that it still looks great even if it gets a little beat up — which can be helpful if you’re using your kitchen a lot more during the pandemic.

Wood is making a comeback in kitchens, too. (Thomas Kuoh)
Wood is making a comeback in kitchens, too. (Thomas Kuoh)

Rose said she’s still doing a lot of white kitchens but that green and navy blue hues have been popular as well for the last few years.

But no matter what color you go with, Rose said it ultimately comes down to the fact that people want their homes to be a place of refuge — especially during a pandemic.

She added that her firm has actually been very busy with home updates for clients during quarantine, citing the fact that people are stuck at home and want their places to be better. Due to social distancing efforts, though, most people are opting to be away from home while workers are there.

Osborn, who used a contractor for her kitchen remodel in June, said her project went surprisingly fast. “You know how remodel blues can go, delay after delay,” she said. “But this went really quickly.”

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