KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Oct 14 2011

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Understated: The New Trend?

I’ve been noticing a pattern in client requests lately—a softening of colors to monochromatic or soft blends, and a retreat from showpieces. The “flash” is on its way out; understated is in.

This doesn’t mean scaling back; if anything, quality is up. What I’ve been seeing is pro and luxury appliances in bigger demand by my clients than previously, a request for higher-end custom cabinets, and willingness to spending more on lighting fixtures. However, each item no longer fights for supreme “look at me” presence in the kitchen. The varying multiple heights of cabinets are disappearing. Counter edges are square or very simplified. Streamlined is the new byword.

Understated whites and warm tones, streamlined hoods. Design by Joan DesCombes, Joan DesCombes Kitchen Design. For more images, click here.

Is it due to the economy—the sense that conspicuous spending shouldn’t be, well, conspicuous? Sure. I think that that’s partly to do with it. It’s also due to the clientele I serve and my part of the world.

Yet, as a whole, I think our basic human wiring is looking for a cocoon or place from which to hide from the stresses and high pace of everyday. Whether the rooms are monochromatic white on white, or the soft grays, or the browns and warm tones, clients are looking for a safe haven before bragging rights.

Let me know what you’re seeing.

Until next time, Kelly

This entry was posted on Friday, October 14th, 2011 at 6:00 AM and is filed under Kitchen Design, Trends. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1.  Kate @ Sensational Color |

    What you are seeing isn’t specific just to your area. The trend towards streamlined, upscale neutrals has been a trend that has slowly emerged over the past few years and is now gaining momentum.

    Here are few related comments from our 2011-2012 Sensational Color Trends Report that you might enjoy:

    Our attraction to understated, low chroma neutrals indicates we have achieved a higher level of sophistication and sensitivity to color. This allows us to choose neutrals confidently as the ground for intriguing and unexpected combinations rather than simply as a safe color solution.

    Sophisticated neutrals on their own take a tone-on-tone look to high style and are elegant paired with platinum, copper, bronze, or gold that shuns shine in favor of a matte finish.

    The yin and yang of life has changed the dance leaving us feeling out of step where once we felt at ease. We are in a period of rebalancing; looking for solid ground to stand on once again.

    I think you can get an idea from these few excerpts about some of what’s driving this trend. Later this year I’ll be releasing the next trends report and updating the drivers and influences the continue to push this trend forward. Here’s a little clue….for many when they think of their home they are thinking “Perfect Little Jewel Box”

    PS The entire trends presentation replay and pdf are available on colorconsultantcertification.com if you’re interested 🙂