The hardest-working rooms in a home are the kitchen and bathroom. Both rooms receive a steady flow of traffic, so it’s not surprising that homeowners are always looking for ways to update them and keep the design looking fresh.
But updating your kitchen or bathroom doesn’t need to entail a full-on renovation.
Sure, expanding your kitchen or installing a new bathtub would be exciting, but it’s not exactly the most practical—or affordable—solution for many of us. But the good news is you don’t have to think big to make a big difference.
“In these popular areas of the house, making small changes to finishes can be impactful and change the whole look and feel of the room,” says Gena Kirk, vice president of KB Home Design Studio. Bathroom and kitchen fixtures can include door handles, cabinet pulls, and wall colors.
So if you’re itching for an interior refresh, why not start with something quick and easy like the finishes in your kitchen or bathroom? Here are the colors and metal finishes experts say are going to be big in 2021.
1. Greige is the new gray
Design experts say warm greige, or a color that’s a combination gray and beige, is replacing cool gray tones in cabinetry and flooring.
“Even before COVID-19, this change was afoot,” says Kirk. “Gray was ubiquitous, and people were seeking a reboot and refresh. Homeowners are seeking warmer, calming surroundings. While gray remains popular, grays infused with yellow or beige tones are more inviting and relaxing.”
Kirk says the right paint, like Sherwin-Williams Perfect Greige, can easily transform a room. She says this paint color is less harsh than white and softer and warmer overall.
This color “works well with everything, but when combined with blues, soft greens, cream, taupe, natural stone, light wood, it evokes a nurturing and transformative spirit,” Kirk says.
Another way to make the tone come alive is to add accessories like a greige wicker basket ($39.99, Target) on a pantry or bathroom shelf.
2. Brass with a brushed-gold finish
Brass as a material for lighting and plumbing fixtures can create an enduring, classic style. But in the new year, brass is going in a fun new direction when it comes to finishes.
“Since stainless steel and nickel have been the norm for so long, brushed-gold finish is a refreshing alternative. It has the look of a handmade piece, crafted by an artisan,” says Kirk.
“Brass with a brushed-gold finish is warm, and it sparkles like jewelry,” says Laura Bohn of Laura Bohn Design Associates. “While chrome finishes disappear, brushed-gold finishes are much more noticeable.”
She says homeowners can achieve the look by installing new cabinet handles, drawer pulls, or faucet ($296.25, Home Depot) for an easy swap and instant update. Or select a bowl ($150, Target) in the same finish and fill with fruit.
3. Matte black
“We haven’t really seen black fixtures or fittings that much until recently,” says Kirk. “Black’s simplicity and contrast adds depth to any room and provides a dramatic and expensive-looking accent.”
Matte black for backsplashes, tiles, and hardware can be a sophisticated addition and can be combined with brushed-gold elements for a more modern look.
Bohn agrees, saying that black can serve as a great neutral backdrop and that homeowners can add white and brushed-gold elements so that the look is bright and fresh—for example, black cabinets plus a white counter plus a brush-gold faucet.
“Matte black is elegant and chic, and makes an impact when paired with nearly any color or hue,” says Kirk.
Kirk says black and white Spanish-inspired floor tiles are hugely popular now and is seeing these types of tiles in bathrooms and on kitchen backsplashes.
Kirk also recommends painting a black square in the kitchen using chalkboard paint. You can write on the square to create a family calendar or keep track of your grocery list.
In a guest bathroom, try going for all-black walls or cabinets for a dose of drama.
4. Weathered nickel finish
Anyone looking to achieve a more understated vibe should consider fixtures and lighting options in a weathered nickel finish.
“Weathered antique nickel is actually a gray metal, which is a fresh look. Both weathered nickel and brass are softer items; neither are flashy,” says Bohn.
Kirk says these additions are versatile and can work well with traditional, transitional, or modern styles.
“Weathered nickel hardware offers a gorgeous and sophisticated look,” says Kirk. “Adding cabinet hardware (starting at $12.50, Pottery Barn) or a great pendant light ($53.96, Home Depot) in this finish can take the room up a notch with instant warmth.”