It doesn’t seem to matter the size it is, or the era from which its appliances were born, the kitchen is the heart of the home, and when you’re entertaining, it’s where the people assemble.

Since it’s the most heavily trafficked room in a house, giving it a periodic facelift not only improves your surroundings, but can significantly increase the value of your home.

Even minor tweaks, such as replacing light fixtures and kitchen cabinet pulls or applying a fresh coat of paint, can go a long way in elevating a room. We recently spoke with Mike Mills, designer and sales manager at Decorum Designer Cabinetry and Flooring, in Brunswick.

Most kitchen renovations include modifications to the existing cabinetry. A growing percentage of homeowners are adding or upgrading pantry space, whether it’s a new walk-in pantry or pantry cabinets. White, Shaker-style cabinets continue to be the most popular choice.

Mills said a lot of the more forward trends have been put on hold in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in his opinion, designers are playing it safe. But Glynn County remains on trend, with white Shaker cabinets leading the way.

“There is lots of white Shaker,” he said. “It’s been done over and over and since this is the Georgia Coast, we’re very lucky we an take that trend and give it longer life, because we can get away with it here.”

The simplicity and purity of white Shaker speaks to people he said.

“We are continuing that trend; it’s safe, (and) it’s something we know we will; photograph well for real estate,” he said. “People have that in the back of their minds. If I’m putting my house on the market, I’m putting white Shaker in my house.”

There is also a shift away from the Country French and Tuscan kitchen that were popular several years ago. Mills said the overall look for kitchens is not as “themed,” and that even when people move away from Shaker-style cabinetry, flat-paneled cabinets remain popular, albeit with more detail around their perimeters.

One big shift that’s been occurring over the past several years is the move away from the “matchy-matchy” kitchen that was once so popular. These days, owners like to differentiate their kitchen islands from the other cabinetry, and blues and grays lead the way in color choices.

The Golden Isles is no exception.

“Dark blue is the color,” said Mills. “There are other colors trending in other markets, but dark blue is popular here.”

Mills went on to explain that the island is where most people want their “pop” of color. Other than dark blue, stained wood is also gaining in popularity.

The list of “must-haves” is growing and include a lot of practical amenities, including garbage pull-outs, installed under the counters and hidden from view.

“Trying to operate without these is like buying a car without air conditioning in the Southeast,” Mills said.

There is a growing backlash against over-the-range microwaves, but there’s also a bit of a conundrum, according to Mills.

“Microwave drawers have never come into trend enough for prices to come down,” he explained. “Design-wise, kitchens are in a battle because no one wants to see a microwave, but everyone wants to use a microwave.”

One solution to that, and other countertop clutter, is to install larger cabinet-style pantries that are specifically meant for small appliance storage –hiding them from view but still allowing them to remain totally accessible.

“These are typically used to frame out a refrigerator to give it a more built-in look,” Mills said. “We are trying to incorporate more of those because we do have more small appliances.”

Tile backsplashes are also gaining in popularity, primarily because of the increase in the number of small appliances on which home cooks are now relying.

Both the backsplashes and the surge in countertop appliance use has resulted in the demand for hidden electrical outlets.

They’re typically hidden under the upper cabinets,” Mills said. “We’re also seeing more and more outlet strips that go underneath the cabinets as well.”

Flooring has also undergone a transformation. Hardwood flooring is still a popular choice, ceramic tile still leads the way, and luxury vinyl flooring (now more popular than engineered wood) is growing in favor.

Mills said that one new trend worth watching is that the flooring material used throughout the house is finding its way to the kitchen as well, which gives a seamless look.

Quartz continues its uptick in popularity for countertops.

“Hands-down, it’s quartz,” Mills said. “And the most popular is white with gray veining, which gives it a marble look.”

Perhaps the most interesting trend is the use of mixed metals. For decades now it has been popular to use one metal throughout the room, but mixed metals are now in vogue. People are beginning to move away from the solid stainless steel look. Mixing different materials on appliances, sinks, faucets, lighting fixtures and cabinet hardware makes a room much more interesting.

Leading the way are matte black, which Mills said is a huge color, or honey bronze (kind of a rose gold hue) for kitchen fixtures.

“The faucet still may be brushed nickel because the appliances are stainless, but the more decorative elements are where the color comes in,” he said.