Kitchens are often called “the heart of the home.” It’s easy to see why because so much activity happens in the kitchen. It helps to have the right kitchen and one that is conducive to your family’s activities.

Free-standing islands or large islands are still the trend. A large island allows for family and friends to gather around a central point while you are cooking or cleaning in the kitchen. Eating at the island also helps with busy and on-the-go families these days. The large island fits nicely into an open-concept living space, which is also still on-trend.

Finish trends happening in the kitchen are matte black appliances, fixtures and hardware that helps add contrast to wood or more traditional cabinets. While we are seeing this in local homes, our members are also seeing a return to natural stone and earth tones. I wasn’t sure about matte black appliances, but in person, they look sleek and attractive.

Two-tone cabinets are still happening all over. More kitchens are adding a pop of color or a fun island to contrast the wall cabinets and add some texture to the room.

Some national trends say that shiny is out and matte finish is in with cabinetry. Another national trend is the concealed range hood. The vent hood has become part of the design and even a stand-out feature in some kitchen remodels.

Another feature our members are seeing involves placement of the microwave. Many are now being built-in to an island or lower cabinet. Some are also inside a cabinet or even a microwave drawer. This lends to clutter-free countertops and minimalistic living.

As seems to be the trend with every aspect of our lives, technology and smart devices are on the rise. I was just shopping for a refrigerator that included Wi-Fi and voice-activated feature options. You can control almost any household appliance through an app — for the right price. You can even install smart “switches.” You simply move your hand up and down in front of the sensor.

This could be quite nice in a large pantry when you are in the middle of cooking.

One kitchen trend that I will not get on board with is open shelving. I think it looks great in social media pictures and at other people’s houses. I think it really works with tile backsplash that goes all the way to the ceiling. However, I am not a fan. I want cabinet doors to hide it all away. Some of that is probably because I have a whole cupboard of toddler dishes or the fact that I have my grandmother’s 1970s dishes.

I will admit it looks great with pretty plates that add to the aesthetic of a remodeled kitchen. I just don’t think I will come around to open shelving in my own home.

As with almost every room in the house, fun lighting features are trending. The days of boring lights are long gone with so many options for stylized lighting fixtures at so many different price points.

Check out the Home Builders Association of Southwest Missouri’s website,, for a list of members and vendors of some of these great kitchen options.

Valerie Searcy is chief executive officer of the Home Builders Association of Southwest Missouri.