House & Home

Kitchen Remodel Trends: Are They Easy to Keep Clean?

Posted July 28, 2015

Kitchen remodel time! You've probably been waiting years for the chance to update that most-used room of the American home, your kitchen. And right now your head is dancing with visions of beautiful backsplashes and fabulous flooring. You've browsed kitchen designs and found tons of new fashions you love. We don't want to rain on your parade, but let's come down to earth for just one minute. How easy are popular kitchen remodel features to keep clean?

Shelving and Storage

Open shelving can turn your kitchen cozy and welcoming -- a collection of coffee mugs out in the open, for example, extends a warm invitation for visitors to help themselves to a hot cup of java. It's also a great way to display cherished but infrequently used china and silver pieces that might otherwise languish at the back of a cupboard. On the other hand, open shelving in the kitchen does attract a lot of dirt and grease, especially if it is located over a gas stove. If you adore the look, go ahead and install open shelves in your updated kitchen, but be prepared for extra cleaning duty.

An alternative is to include some clear glass cabinet fronts. They will show off your stuff without forcing you to pull out the degreaser on such a regular basis.

In general, go for as much storage as you can comfortably fit in. It won't add substantially to the cost of your kitchen remodel, but having pots, pans, and small appliances tucked neatly away will make the room much easier to clean.


Cabinets that soar all the way to the ceiling measure 42" as opposed to the usual height of only 30". Although it makes cabinet installation about 15 percent pricier, this modification will give your kitchen a very contemporary look and also extra storage space, both of which increase your home's appeal when you're ready to sell. (However, you'll need to stand on a stepstool or rolling ladder to reach those upper shelves -- reserve them for items like your gigantic Thanksgiving turkey platter.) Another huge plus is that you will be cutting out a tedious cleaning chore, getting at the dust bunnies that hide on top of less statuesque cabinetry.

While we're talking cabinets, you might want to think twice before putting your money on up-to-the-minute handleless versions. Yes, they do give a kitchen that sleek and sophisticated air, but no, there is no surefire method to keep them from picking up fingerprints and streaks much more readily than cabinets equipped with handles. What's more, they are harder for aging or disabled cooks to maneuver.


Tile is a fun, inexpensive way to redo kitchen countertops. Problem is, though, that counters covered with standard 4" x 4" ceramic tiles can easily go from comfortably casual to just plain unkempt. Why? The smaller the tile, the more grout lines you'll end up with … and grout is notoriously difficult to keep clean. (Spaces between tiles also trap tiny food particles. Blecch!) Why not substitute larger-sized tiles and stain-resistant epoxy grout? Alternatively, go for low-maintenance laminate, quartz, stainless steel, or super-stylish back-painted glass as your countertop material.


Fans of the undermount sink rave about the way you don't accumulate a buildup of water, gunk, and slime around its edges. Instead, you simply wipe or squeegee any countertop crud straight into the basin. We're all for simple, especially when it comes to cleaning. However, it is imperative to make sure this type of sink is expertly installed (high quality adhesive and proper sealing against moisture are key) and that your countertop material will be tough enough to support the heavy weight of a sink full of dishes. Undermount sinks work best with stone or concrete counters, not so much with tile or laminate.

Integral sinks are more expensive but they absolutely eliminate any join between sink and counter, minimizing mess. These are a great option if you are installing solid-surface or stainless steel countertops.

Laura Firszt writes for

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