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kitchen trends 2020

Sustainable Kitchen Trends in 2020

By Camille LeFevre Home Features Editor
Jan 17, 2020

The kitchen may be the most utilized space in our homes. As such, the kitchen is an area in which we can significantly impact our goals toward healthy, comfortable, and sustainable living. Especially with today’s open-plan interiors that unite living, dining, and kitchen into one contiguous space, there is a lot we can do, beyond esthetics, to make these spaces benefit our health, wealth, and also, of course, the planet.

Consider the fact that kitchens are the place where kids do homework while the parents make dinner. Kitchens are the space where, during parties, guests seem to insist on congregating. In many new homes, a cocktail or wine bar, a small office or laptop area, the laundry room, or outdoor food prep or eating area may also be considered part of the kitchen.

Whether a dedicated chef or cook or someone who needs to get food on the table, we’re still spending lots of time in our kitchens these days cooking healthful meals, growing our herbs, and fermenting vegetables, and more while hanging out with family.

If you’re looking to incorporate more energy efficiency and sustainability in your kitchen bit by bit or through an entire remodel, we’ve got the 411 on making your kitchen light on the planet in 2020.

Looking for the latest? Check out our 2021 Kitchen and Dining Trends: Think Refresh, Not Remodel article.

sustainable kitchen color trends 2020

Use Low or no-VOC and Natural Finishes 

Low- or no-VOC wall and ceiling paints are a given. Jeneva Aaron, founder of and blogger at thehousewire.com, is a fan of milk paint. “Homeowners have used milk paint for millennia,” she says. “Some of the earliest cave paintings have traces of milk in the pigment. Almost all houses in colonial America were painted with it. It’s come back as it’s a safe and organic alternative to latex or oil-based paints. Companies like The Real Milk Paint Co., are making unbelievable paints in gorgeous colors without using toxic materials. Their paint buckets even come with loose pigment so that you can mix your colors.”

Choosing the perfect colors to match your tastes and stand that test of time can seem difficult, but it doesn't have to be. The 2020 kitchen trend is to not have just one color, but several complimentary colors. White and light gray are neutral colors that can easily take center stage in any kitchen. They are complemented well with lighter shades of charcoal, black, blue, red, yellow, and green. Natural light will also help to brighten your kitchen and bring the colors alive.

induction cooktop
Induction cooktop. Photo Credit: Summit

Choose Electric Appliances Over Gas

Gas is detrimental to your health and damaging to the environment in so many ways. Studies reported in such peer-reviewed medical journals as the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine and The Lancet show that gas appliances, particularly on gas cooking stoves, increase respiratory illness in children, young adults, and those who spent time cooking with gas.

According to Wendee Nicole in Environmental Health Perspectives, “Natural gas cooking appliances, which are used by a third of U.S. households, can contribute to poor indoor air quality, especially when used without an exhaust hood. Gas stoves emit nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and formaldehyde (HCHO), each of which can exacerbate various respiratory and other health ailments.”

Many more homeowners are making the switch to electric, and not just in the kitchen. “We see a huge push away from gas ranges and dryers toward electric range and dryers,” says Justin Riordan, interior designer, architect, and founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency. “We have even seen some cities banning natural gas lines to new homes because of the amount of carbon dioxide produced by burning gas.”

In 2020, it’s easy to electrify by installing an induction stove, the top choice for the 2020 sustainable home kitchen. Energy-Star certified refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, and clothes washers and dryers are a must. Enervee is an excellent resource, as it helps homeowners select the most energy-efficient products through scoring that analyzes product performance and total energy use.

Electrifying your kitchen means less energy use, improved indoor air quality, and better homeowner health. It also introduces the opportunity to move toward zero emissions by using solar to run electrical appliances. Moreover, electric appliances integrate easily with smart-home technologies.

smart fridge
Photo Credit: Samsung

Smart Home Appliances Are in for 2020

In an article in Kitchen & Bath Design News, Bill Darcy, CEO of the National Kitchen & Bath Association, said, “By 2020, it’s estimated that 63 million households in North America will have ‘smart home’ systems. That’s nearly 50 percent of all homes.” He’s referring to smart kitchen technologies, including appliances that can learn and meet homeowner preferences and habits.

Kate Bailey, director of showrooms for Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, added, “Within the next few years, smart home appliances may be a feature that most consumers expect. In 2020, we’ll be looking at the connected kitchen as a whole—not just [single] appliances with wifi capability.” Meaning that homeowners can control, like the rest of the home—from lighting to heating and cooling, automated shades, to security systems—their kitchen appliances from a tablet or smartphone app.  

That technology already includes refrigerators with wifi and touch screens, microwave ovens operated by voice control, instant pots with wifi, coffee makers that work with an Alexa app or Amazon Echo, and kitchen scales connected to apps. Smart technology intends to make the kitchen more efficient. To use less electricity, however, you can always get back to basics with human-powered or solar-powered kitchen appliances.

ikea recycled cabinets
Photo Credit: IKEA

Buy Sustainable and Healthy Cabinetry 

The real space-eater in the kitchen is cabinetry, an essential component of an efficient, functional kitchen. Reclaimed wood is an excellent choice for custom cabinetry. More kitchen-cabinet companies are moving toward lower footprint and healthier products by incorporating recycled wood, bamboo, or recycled PET bottles. One such company is IKEA.

Another company, StarMark Cabinetry, is a certified brand in the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association Environmental Stewardship Program. To earn this certification, manufacturers must earn at least 80 points based on compliance with such criteria as the use of certified low-formaldehyde panel products (mandatory), use of wood purchased through a certified sustainable forestry program, and active recycling of waste.

“Today’s homeowner is demanding cabinetry that is made with sustainable materials, responsible manufacturing processes, and low-emissions finishes,” wrote Melissa Tavares on a blog for Horner Millwork. “More and more manufacturers are beginning to understand this demand, and they are increasingly changing the way that they make cabinets.”

sustainable kitchen countertop

Use Natural Countertop Materials

In addition to using reclaimed wood, bamboo, or sustainably certified wood cabinetry, the 2020 sustainable kitchen incorporates such natural materials as concrete, marble, recycled glass and natural stone. Such materials add warmth to the home, are durable, and are often available as a repurposed material.

Choosing countertops manufactured with non-toxic finishes and with lower embodied energy is key. Try to source materials locally to reduce the emissions associated with transporting material. Not all countertops are created equal. It's important to understand the upkeep required to maintain the type of countertype you are looking to purchase. How often does it need to be refinished or sealed? Is it porous? What are the recommended cleaning regiments? Opt for countertops that are not only natural but also require low maintenance.

Final Notes 

Energy efficiency is more than a trend, of course. Climate change is here. Managing our resource consumption has reached a critical level. Homeowners committed to sustainability already know that energy-efficient lighting, fixtures, and appliances, as well as low-flow water fixtures and even touch-free sink faucets (which minimize water use with automatic shut off), are integral components of the sustainable kitchen.

We can always do more, as well. From choosing more durable and lower footprint countertops to composting kitchen scrapsproper ventilation to lower footprint flooring, creating a kitchen—the hub of the 2020 home—that’s comfortable, functional, and sustainable now and into the future is key to a happy, healthy home.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2021-07-21T20:57:15+0000
Camille LeFevre

Article by:

Camille LeFevre

Camille LeFevre is an architecture and design writer based in the Twin Cities.