The sexy new Beverly Hills kitchen of John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, featured on the cover of September’s AD, showcases the trend in all its curvy glory. The entire house, by interior designer Jake Arnold, is full of rounded shapes, including a plaster staircase and gently curved velvet chairs.
But the showstopper is the luxury kitchen, where a 15-foot island of swirly caramel calacatta macchia vecchia marble with rounded corners dominates the space. A dramatic hood above the range on the island has a parchment-colored plaster cover with rounded corners, rather than the industrial look of most exhaust hoods. And brass bar stools made at (Wh)Ore Haüs Studioshave inviting fuzzy upholstered seats, covered in Pierre Frey’s yeti fabric, a mix of wool, mohair and longhair alpaca.
“Since the architecture was very contemporary and angular, my goal was to soften the space,” Arnold says. “We added lots of roundness to the house and I wanted the kitchen island to be inviting and sculptural. Chrissy loves to cook and I wanted everything to be beautiful but super functional in there.
“Most of the islands I do now have the corners softened,” he adds. “I tend to stay away from very clean lines, I find them too harsh. This is more family friendly, and it makes it more livable.”
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Curves in kitchens are both practical and have an aesthetic appeal, Jen Nash, head of design at Magnet, a large kitchen specialist in the U.K., wrote in an email. “While they can soften the space and serve as a focal point in open-plan spaces, they can also be integrated with other design features, such as curved walls, furniture and lighting fixtures, creating a cohesive and somewhat playful design theme,” Nash says.
Just as curved sofas look inviting and comfortable, kitchens with softer edges can have a more approachable vibe. And rounded edges and spherical shapes can connect a kitchen made for family gatherings with the living area in an open-plan space.
“When there are no hard edges, the kitchen makes a smooth transition from dining area to the living room,” says Thomas Morbitzer, co-owner of New York-based architecture and interior design firm AMMOR.
Morbitzer and co-owner Goil Amornvivat recently transformed a walled-off kitchen in a one-bedroom apartment in New York into an open design that blends with the living area. The new space includes a rounded kitchen peninsula, curved backsplash edges and rounded cabinet doors. Even the brushed brass hardware has a curved profile. The peninsula was pushed further out into the dining area to open things up, Morbitzer says. “The rounded corners help you move through the space.”
Curves also make sense in small homes, Amornvivat says: “When space is at a premium, the curved counters make circulation better. When you’re moving around, you aren’t hitting the corner.”
Ami McKay, of Pure Design in Vancouver, reached back to memories of trips to England and the cafes of Paris for a recent kitchen design. She started with sage green cabinets (painted in Sherwin Williams’s Rosemary), then created an archway of encaustic concrete tiles above the range and hung large round white bistro lights. “The arch has been around forever, it goes back to the Romans,” McKay says. “Our kitchens had a lot of straight lines and we were quite contemporary and minimalist for a while. It’s nice to have something with more interest.”
Krista Alterman, of Krista + Home in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., employed circles in almost every room of a house she recently designed for a young couple. Above the induction cooktop in the kitchen, she installed a large round backsplash made of porcelain slab over a wall of frosted white glass tiles.
Why? “Circles give that sense of integrity and perfection to a space,” says Alterman. “They are pleasing to the eye and more youthful, there are no sharp angles.” She says part of getting away from the sterile white environment that has dominated kitchen design for so long stems from the pandemic.
“Circles represent community and connection. We were disconnected for so long, emotionally things start to appear in the trends of fashion and interiors that come from a deeper place,” Alterman says, adding that it’s also why kitchens have taken a more colorful turn in recent years. “People want to feel a sense of real comfort and joy. Curved edges are pleasing and feel safer and more comforting than an angled, sharp edge.”
Even if you can’t undertake a full renovation or afford custom curved cabinets, though, designers say there are other, more accessible ways to incorporate this look in your own kitchen, starting with the counters. “Counters are usually made to order anyway, and cutting those into a shape vs. leaving them as a rectangle should not necessarily increase the cost,” says Morbitzer. “It’s sculptural and feels unique and special.”
Alterman suggests round penny tiles for a backsplash or a wallpaper with a round pattern. Polka dots, anyone? “Pick a fabric for the windows that has a round pattern,” she says. Or a large white ceramic bowl on your kitchen island can make a strong — and very budget-friendly — statement.
Or perhaps you’re leery of making a trendy choice now that will look like a 2023 relic in five years.
“Because curved cabinets are notably trendy, they will likely date themselves quickly,” says Charlottesville architect Carmel Greer. But there are some instances, she says, where curves really make a lot of sense, such as when there is a “circulation pinch-point” in a kitchen. She also says that islands are a better place for curves than, say, kitchen cabinets “because it’s easy to circulate around something that is rounded.”
Her preferred source of a soft edge is a table. “An oval or round table is actually reinforcing the casual nature of gathering together,” Greer says. “There is no head of the table, people are equally gathered.”
McKay, though, shrugs off the idea that it’s a trend that will fade quickly. She says curves are timeless. “Think of a Smeg refrigerator. The corners are so soft. It will always look good,” she says. “We are just taking a classic shape and doing it in a modern way.”
An earlier version of this article included incorrect credit information for a photo of a kitchen of a one-bedroom apartment in New York that was designed by AMMOR Architecture. The photo was taken by Garrett Rowland. The article has been corrected.