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Talking home trends with a Las Vegas-based kitchen designer

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The housing market might be oh-so-hot right now, but the kitchen is even hotter. With local housing stock so low, many homebuyers are taking whatever they can get with plans to remodel their new space later.

“We’ve had a lot of people walk in the door and say, ‘I bought a house. I hate the kitchen. It’s got to go,’” says Hannah Hofmann, kitchen designer for Las Vegas’ Willbanks Kitchen Design Center.

Hofmann spends her days talking to homeowners about what they do and don’t like. She helps customers turn their Pinterest boards and folders of magazine clippings into kitchens they’ll love. Armed with the real-time tastes of Southern Nevada homeowners, Hofmann spoke to the Weeklyabout the hottest kitchen styles out there right now.

Nonporous countertops. The most dated style in Las Vegas is white-tile countertops with oak cabinets, Hofmann says. But, she says, any porous countertop surface is on its way out, and that includes butcher block, marble and granite. While gorgeous, natural stone surfaces are tough to maintain. They have to be sealed annually to prevent liquids from seeping in, and even then, they can still get scratched or stained. Hofmann says the pandemic highlighted the importance of a choosing a surface that won’t be a germ haven. “We’ve been doing a lot more quartz,” Hofmann says. “They’re antimicrobial, nonporous, easy to clean and low-maintenance.”

Open concept. The trend of tearing down walls and opening up kitchens is going strong. “I’m opening everything up,” Hofmann says. “I don’t think we’ve gotten to the close-it-back-down part yet.”

Clean lines. Simple elegance is in. Gaudy frills are out. Customers are going for Shaker-style doors and ditching arches and raised panels.

Open cabinetry and shelving. “We’re getting rid of a lot of top cabinets and just doing floating shelves,” Hofmann says. Shelving makes a kitchen feel more open, but keep in mind that what was once hidden away will soon be on display. If you have gorgeous matching dishware you want to show off, shelving’s a great option. If you’re more of a slob, you might want to stick to cabinets. To enjoy the best of both worlds, try pairing tall end-pantry cabinets with floating shelves, Hofmann recommends.

Contrasting colors. A color-scheme no longer needs to be all one thing or another. “A lot of times, if we are doing something super dark, it’s going to be mixed up with something a little bit lighter,” Hofmann says. “We’re doing a lot of mixed cabinetry. Maybe the top is a white or painted color, and then the bottom is a wood tone. There’s a lot of mixing of light and dark colors for top and bottom.”

Solid-wood cabinetry. Real wood is a classic material because it’s high-quality and durable. “It’s got a good look to it,” Hofmann says. “It has an older, more established feel.” It’s trendy to use wood stains to bring out the texture of the wood grains. Knotty wood is particularly popular right now.

Pull-out storage. Cabinet storage now offers a lot of customizable options. Hofmann says pull-out spice racks in either the base or top cabinets are popular upgrades. Pullout racks can also be used to store larger pantry items. Swing-out storage can also help optimize the storage space of corner cabinets. “As much stuff as you can fit into a usable space is always the trend,” Hofmann says.

Drawer-style microwaves. Microwaves might be the ultimate cooking convenience, but they aren’t the prettiest kitchen feature. According to Hofmann, the latest solution is to save your sightlines with a drawer-style microwave in a bottom cabinet. “It’s getting that thing off the countertop and out of your face—just making it look a lot cleaner.”

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