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The kitchen at the 2015 Sunset Idea House in Denver, by Jonas DiCaprio of Design Platform and Megan Hudacky of CKY Design....

Ah, the kitchen. Often the most expensive room to remodel, it's also a showcase for the way we live now. Here, five kitchen trends that feel totally of the moment yet long-lasting enough to be worthwhile investments.

A San Francisco kitchen designed by Lynn K. Leonidas and Andrea Faucett. (...

1. Mixed materials for cabinetry and counters

Who says your cabinets have to be all one color—or that your counters and island top have to match? Here at a kitchen for a young family in San Francisco, designers Lynn K. Leonidas (who's currently working on interiors for my Victorian remodel) and Andrea Faucett juxtaposed walnut base cabinetry with upper cabinets in matte white lacquer; honed granite counters; and a butcher-block island. "Since the kids can reach the base cabinetry, we wanted the finish to be darker to avoid stains," says Leonidas. "The family wanted a butcher-block counter, so we used it on the island, where prep work is done." To keep the space cohesive, the style for both upper and base cabinetry remains consistent, and the two counter materials share the same thickness.

Tile for days: Natural Hues tile in Aegean, Jade, and Real Teal, available from Daltile. (Thomas J. Story)

2. Continuous tile

Think of this as a backsplash on steroids. To delineate the kitchen in Sunset's 2015 Denver Idea House, seen above, from the rest of the open-plan space, designer Megan Hudacky extended the tiles to the ceiling and onto the floor. The key: sticking to a palette in soothing shades of blue, which complements the warm hickory of the kitchen cabinetry and floors yet doesn't overwhelm the eye.

A San Francisco kitchen by Lynn K. Leonidas and Andrea Faucett. Backsplash is hexagon tile by Fireclay Tile. (Aubrie Pick)

3. Streamlined sink situation

Efficient yet low-profile, this three-hole sink packs in a soap dispenser; a faucet with a pull-down spray; and a water filter. Countertops remain uncluttered while functionality stays top of mind.

A microwave is built right into the counter of a San Francisco kitchen by Lynn K. Leonidas and Andrea Faucett. (Aubrie Pick)

4. Built-in counter appliances

These days, seamless integration is the name of the game. Appliances that once used to hang out on your counter, such as microwaves and coffee machines, are now built in for a sleeker look (check out this sexy coffee system by Wolf).

A wallpaper moment in the butler's pantry at the 2014 Idea House kitchen in Manhattan Beach, California, designed by DISC Interiors. (Thomas J. Story)

5. Glamming the butler's pantry

OK, I admit it—I'm not exactly sure if this is a trend or just my own personal design obsession. But here at the 2014 Sunset Idea House in Manhattan Beach, California, the humble butler's pantry gets a showstopper treatment thanks to two-inch thick soapstone countertops and Krane's Chrysanthemum wallpaper in Navy. After all, a little decadence in the kitchen never goes out of style.

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