WE ASKED LOCAL kitchen designers about the trends they are seeing in Maine homes today. Here’s what they said:

• White is huge. “Right now by far the most popular kitchens are painted white kitchens,” said Gilbert Miller, owner of Maine Custom Kitchens in Wilton. “Usually the inset door-style kitchens are what people are going with, especially in the painted white.”

Why so much white? Miller said it’s a combination of wanting the kitchen to look light and bright and the fact that painted white is part of the cottage look, which is still popular in Maine.

Blaine Davis, a designer at Castle Kitchens in Scarborough, agreed that painted inset doors are still very popular – and not just in white but in bold colors like reds and black. But he said he is starting to see some more contemporary trends, which means more muted colors such as grays, greens and blues.

Theresa Tomczyk, sales manager and design consultant at Distinctive Tile & Design in Portland, agrees white is white-hot for kitchens. But she is also starting to see some of the same trends as Davis. “I’ve been doing a lot more with the gray tones and brown tones,” she said.

• Cherry cabinets are still going strong, both locally and nationally. Cabinets are generally trending toward darker woods such as walnut. “Red birch is a popular choice lately,” Davis said. “It’s a really pretty wood species. That comes from the birch tree, but it’s the center part of the tree where the nutrients come up through the tree, so it’s a little darker color.”

• Stone countertops are still popular, but people are shying away from the polished finishes. “More people are going with a honed or an antique finish on their granite countertops,” Miller said. “And there’s a lot more slate and soapstone rather than granite going in.”

Quartz countertops, around the same price point as granite, are also becoming more popular because they are “green.” Quartz doesn’t stain like a natural stone would, and there are interesting colors that aren’t found in natural stone.

“Granite used to be the go-to for countertops, but I’ve seen more and more engineered countertops,” Tomczyk said. “There’s some beautiful engineered crushed quartz.”

• Mainers are looking for a cleaner, more contemporary look when it comes to tile, Tomczyk said.

“I do a lot of kitchen backsplashes where they’re looking more towards glass, but I still do a lot of traditional stones,” she said. “What I’ve been seeing in terms of new materials is getting away from the tumbled, a little more rustic, to more honed finishes. And I’ve been doing a lot more water-jet mosaics as an accent behind a range.”

Water-jet mosaics are made with stone that’s been cut with water, creating precision lines, circles and geometric shapes. These designs are more generic and appeal to a broader range of potential homebuyers as opposed to decorative murals that might affect the resale value of a home.

• More people are renovating parts of their kitchens rather than tearing them out and starting over, largely because of the economy, Miller said.

And instead of buying completely new cabinetry, they are giving their existing cabinets a facelift with refacing work.

“I’ve been seeing more and more people, where they might have sold their home and built another one, they’re kind of tweaking what they have, keeping the cabinetry and doing a new countertop or changing out a backsplash,” Tomczyk said.

Davis agrees. “I think what’s happening in a nutshell is people aren’t blowing out the walls to increase space,” he said. “They’re working within the confines of the footprint of the home, as a general rule of thumb.”

Three or four years ago, Davis said, a homeowner might have spent $120,000 to expand a kitchen. “Now they’ll do it all for $60,000.”

Before you faint, Davis said it’s still possible to get a nice kitchen, with new cabinetry and granite countertops, for $10,000.


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