The Best Kitchens of 2021

When it came to kitchens, designers were cooking with gas this year.

kitchen with large marble topped island covered in food in foreground and blue la cornue stove to the right and sleek modern wooden cabinetry in background
Thomas Loof

The all-white kitchen may be a classic, but it was an endangered species in the design world in 2021. In its place: color, glamour, and razzle-dazzle details from coats of emerald lacquer to hand-poured terrazzo floors and custom chandeliers. If we had to psychoanalyze the trend, we’d conjecture that months (turning into years) of time spent at home—and home kitchens where chilly ranges were suddenly fired up to produce everything from sourdough loaves to homemade gourmet meals—might have inspired many to up the ante on the design of the most used space in the house. Here are some of our favorites.

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1 Green Lacquer
minimalist kitchen with long wood table in the center and green lacquered cabinets the left and green tiled half wall all around large round pendant light hangs down over the table
Cerruti & Draime

Green lacquer envelops a minimalist kitchen in a Parisian loft designed by Fabrizio Casiraghi. The galley kitchen has zinc countertops, the oven is by Miele, and the kitchen flooring is travertine inset with Verde Alpi marble.

2 Marble Marvel
kitchen with large marble topped island covered in food in foreground and blue la cornue stove to the right and sleek modern wooden cabinetry in background
Thomas Loof

A vivid blue La Cornue range was the jumping off point for Summer Thornton’s design of a Chicago kitchen. Cerused oak cabinetry, a counter in heavily patterned marble, and Roman and Williams Guild pendants add to the room’s dazzle.

3 Crisp Details
kitchen with white cabinets and island in the middle with white marble top and black leather backed stools pulled up to it
Max Burkhalter

Textural accents like fluted wood cabinetry by Henrybuilt and Cristallo quartzite counters from ABC Stone warm up a sleek modern kitchen by Michael K. Chen. The barstools are by KGBL, and the pendant is by Roll & Hill.

4 All That Brass
sleek open kitchen with built in cabinetry and center island with a golden base
Stephen Kent Johnson

Architect Poonam Khanna’s design for a Hamptons kitchen features a custom island clad in brass that is designed to patina over time. It’s topped with a Calacatta marble counter. The pendants are by Apparatus.

5 Romantic Lilac
small white kitchen with a blue farmhouse table adjacent to a small room with a striped black and white rug octagonal tble with blue tile base and a red striped chair in the right corner
Oberto Gili

Lavender walls add unexpected charm to the kitchen in textile designer Lisa Corti’s Milan apartment, which is separated from the living area by a windowed wall. Colorful touches like a blue worktable and red baseboards add to the candy-hued palette.

6 Inner Strength
modern open kitchen with grey stone island at center
Elsa Young/Bureaux

In Johannesburg, architects Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens created an open kitchen with an island in flamed Namibian granite and dramatic overhead cylindrical vent hoods by Faber. The Aga stove is original to the 1950s home designed by Eyvind Finsen.

7 Pedal to the Metal
modern sleek kitchen with a metal countertops and chairs and a large hardwood table and shiny tiled floor
Ricardo Labougle

A massive wood table by Hermes Erbanesteria provides an organic counterpoint to the stainless steel kitchen in the Rio de Janeiro home of designer Juliana Lima Vasconcellos. The chairs are by Andrée Putman for Emeco.

8 Fit to Be Tiled
modern kitchen with black and silver cabinetry and green tiled wall
Nathalie Krag

A restaurateur’s kitchen in a midcentury villa in Capri, designed by architect Giuliano Andrea dell’Uva, has walls lined in majolica tiles, metal-fronted custom cabinetry by DeManincor, commercial appliances, and a terrazzo floor.

9 Celadon Symphony
farmhouse kitchen with a small green painted antique table at center white brick walls and original white cabinetry
Kelly Marshall

An antique farm table provides extra work space and anchors the kitchen at Chris Benz’s 1880s home on Long Island. He kept the home’s existing cabinets and refreshed them with Farrow & Ball’s Old White, with doors and trim in Ball Green. The brass hardware is from Rejuvenation.

10 Old-World Glamour
Ricardo Labougle

This kitchen, inside an 18th-century villa designed by Lorenzo Castillo, maintains its old-world charm but with palatial touches—at times literally: The fringed bronze chandelier was sourced from a royal residence in Madrid.

11 Staking a (Re)Claim
kitchen with large wooden island with mirrored cabinetry underneath and blue stools and blue tiled floor and door leading to outside a pendant light made of vintage czech glass chemistry funnels hangs over the island
Paul Raeside

London design firm Retrouvius turns reclaimed architectural elements into “salvage glamour.” In this townhouse kitchen, the island was made from old museum cabinets, and the pendants are fashioned of vintage Czech glass chemistry funnels.

12 Ice Ice Baby
kitchen with shiny brass cabinetry and terrazzo floor and vintage stools at island
Helenio Barbetta

From its brass cabinetry to its hand-cast glass chandelier and chunky terrazzo floor, this Milanese kitchen by architect Hannes Peer nods to 1970s glamour. The vintage barstools are by Marcel Breuer.

13 Colorful Cubism
green lacquered cube hold appliances next to an island in pink marble
Ye Rin Mok

For a 1930s bungalow in the Silverlake district of Los Angeles, Rachel Bullock of LAUN created a kitchen-in-a-box: A green lacquered cube conceals appliances, cabinetry, and shelving for dishes and pantry items. Next to it, the island is in pink marble.

14 Rich and Rustic
kitchen with open shelving and raw wood island with mesh black stools and a professional viking stove black x shaped lights with white globes hang from the ceiling
Stephen Kent Johnson

For restaurateur Rose Bonura, Ryan Lawson outfitted an 18th-century home in Stamford, Connecticut, with a raw wood-paneled island and open shelving by Mathieu Matégot for Gubi. The flush-mounted lights are by Schoolhouse Electric, and the range is by Wolf and the refrigerator by SubZero.

15 Curve Appeal
large open kitchen with curving cabinetry and matching island clad in panelling and globe pendant lights
Esther Choi

Feng shui principles guided the design of a TriBeCa kitchen by architecture firm Dash Marshall. A curving cabinetry wall and matching island embody the concept of “flow” and are clad in tambour paneling. The counters are Caesarstone, and the pendants are by Ladies & Gentleman Studio.

16 Light-Filled Sanctuary
kitchen with fluted white island with matching backsplash and oak cabinets that conceal appliances
Brian W. Ferry

The pièce de résistance of this Brooklyn kitchen by Home Studios is an island clad in fluted white marble with a top and matching backsplash in deeply veined Paonazzo. Custom oak millwork conceals appliances and storage. The range is by Lacanche.

17 Postmodern Twist
commercial looking kitchen with marble topped island with open under storage and a stove hood in red
Brian W. Ferry

In a Brooklyn townhouse designed by Civilian, the kitchen was relocated to the parlor level. Inspired by commercial kitchens, the steel frame island is given a luxury upgrade with an Arrabescatto marble top. A custom hood in red laminate adds a color pop to the neutral space.

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