Surfaces: Design ideas for today’s kitchens


The newly published 2024 UK Houzz & Home Study has revealed that median spend for kitchen renovation projects increased by 16% to £15,100 in 2023, with homeowners dedicating more than 11 months to the planning stage and just under five months to building.

This is a serious investment of time and money. Homeowners are spending more and taking longer to ensure they get the kitchen of their dreams, which means they are looking for the trends that will hold up both aesthetically and functionally for a long time.

As kitchens remain the heart of many modern homes, their surfaces take on a multitude of functions. Countertops are no longer just the convenient space available for food preparation; they’re where families eat, converse, work and socialise.

This means that homeowners are looking for surfaces that are not just durable, but stylish, warm and inviting. A timeless classic to achieve this is, of course, wood. Says Alex Main, director at The Main Company: “Wood, and more specifically reclaimed wood, will bring warmth and personality to a kitchen – making it feel instantly cosy and inviting.”

Kitchens-Review-The-Main-Company-Blue Surfaces

Seeing red

While wood brings its own natural warmth to a kitchen, manufacturers are providing a diverse range of materials to achieve an earthy, inviting ambience with pops of colour. AluSplash offers a range of bold red splashbacks that can be incorporated into modern and rustic kitchen designs.

The brand cites the increasingly popular ‘Unexpected Red Theory’, which states that adding a pop of red to any room will bolster its aesthetic, adding depth and character. “Red is a popular option and with a variety of shades from a striking scarlet to a deep terracotta, it is very versatile, suiting most design schemes from contemporary to traditional,” Lucile De Graaf, marketing executive at AluSplash.

“A great way to incorporate the colour into an existing design scheme is through a daring red splashback – this will act as a focal point, drawing the eye in and standing the test of time.”


Alusplash – Bold Red Splashback

Terracotta & texture

For homeowners looking for a more demure ‘pop of colour’, the earthy tones taking storm in 2024 can achieve a rich and natural palette that is low-key and calming. In fact, a recent study by Toolstation found that brown is the top kitchen colour for 2024, with a huge 929% increase in online searches from last year.

However, this more muted shade should be used sparingly to add warmth without creating a space that feels drab and dated. Says interior design expert Sophie Clemson: “See brown as your new neutral, but make sure not to overuse this shade, or it could feel quite dull.”

To stay within the realm of earthy tones while veering more toward a colourful palette, tiles in olive, moss green, terracotta and clay bring the natural world into the kitchen, says Tile of Spain UK director Maria D Arráez, as well as being highly functional for surfaces.

“Spanish manufacturers have created a diverse selection of tile sizes, finishes and colours which are ideal both aesthetically and functionally for surfaces. From on-trend terrazzo to brick tiles and small format, customers have a huge range to choose from to make a statement in their kitchen.”


Tile of Spain

And it’s not just colour, but texture that manufacturers are utilising to bring the right aesthetics into the kitchen. Ca’ Pietra’s new Stucco collection of floor and wall tiles offers an interesting and tactile finish to a kitchen’s surfaces by combining porcelain tiles with the effect of plaster.

Grazzie Wilson, head of creative at Ca’ Pietra, comments: “From a distance, you can see the slight mottling to the colour, giving visual texture and subtle depth to a room. They’re the sort of tiles you want to run your hands over no matter where you use them.”

Ca’ Pietra Stucco Floor & Wall Tiles

Balanced brilliance

SapienStone, part of the Iris Ceramica Group, has combined these trends of natural tones and earthy texture to create the Balance collection of worktops, made from a mix of fine and colourful soils with a resin – or cement-like finish.

Pictured below, this tactile surface is available in eight colours, including neutral shades such as ivory and light grey, as well as bolder colours like Chester Green and Steel Blue and earth tones of ochre and Marsala Red, so homeowners have a wide choice to fit their kitchen’s aesthetic.


Modern marble

However, for those searching for a standout worktop that is lower maintenance than wood and more durable than natural stone, CRL Stone’s Quartz Cristallo collection fits the bill. This quartz marble-effect surface from CRL Stone is scratch, heat and stain-resistant, and its four colour options – Verde, Platino, Azure and Gris -feature dramatic brushstrokes, vibrant patterns and organic veins to create a showstopping worktop, splashback or wall.

“Kitchen surface trends are embracing marble-inspired materials that offer both beauty and resilience,” says CRL Europe managing director Simon Boocock. “Surfaces that combine durability, low maintenance, and a marble-like appearance are becoming a popular choice for modern kitchens.”


CRL Stone – Cristallo

Seemless integration

Finally, some brands are taking it a step further when it comes to surfaces that can create clean, uncluttered lines without losing any functionality in the kitchen, allowing homeowners to prep, cook and eat in the same space.

RAK Ceramics’ CookingRAK is an “innovative blend of surface and kitchen tech” that integrates stovetop cooking directly into the countertop. The induction system is produced exclusively with RAK Ceramics porcelain slabs, which are capable of withstanding high temperatures and are scratch- and stain-resistant.

Ben Bryden, sales and marketing director, RAK Ceramics UK explains,Integrating appliances into the worksurface maximises space, offering a cleaner, more streamlined look.  This seamless design, with appliances hidden and just the surface visible, also plays into the trend for the hidden kitchen – a key look that suits our modern, open-plan lifestyles.”

The CookingRAK slabs can be customised with special markings and come with four silicone pads to protect the countertop, and their hidden design means that the worktop space can still be used for all other functions in a busy, modern kitchen that acts as the heart of the home.

RAK-Ceramics-Product-Design-–-KBB-Product-CookingRAK Surfaces

Pictured at the very top: CRL Stone Cristallo

We hope you enjoyed this Feature on Kitchen Furniture Design from Kitchens Review. Please look through our feature archive for more useful information.

If you are interested to see the latest trends in bathroom design, please visit our sister site Bathroom Review.

Feature by Ellie Clow

Ellie Clow has worked in journalism for over ten years, specialising in B2B and trade journalism. She has written for financial publications and several leading KBB titles.