When you think about kitchens, you probably think about cabinets, countertops, appliances, sinks and faucets. Plants are usually not top of mind as you visualize a fabulous space full of gleaming quartz and lacquer fronts. Yes, there are green thumb-wielding individuals who grow herbs on window ledges above the sink, but they’re still in the minority of kitchen enthusiasts. If you happen to be one of them, great! Consider yourself an early adopter.
Several global kitchen companies are now working to make plants in kitchens a more common occurrence, and some brought their leafy wares to the LivingKitchen trade show in Cologne, Germany, in January. Why, you ask? Plants add wellness benefits to kitchens, and the industry is focused on improving homeowners’ health and well-being through this hard-working space.
Plants create a welcoming note, improve your home’s indoor air quality and strengthen your connection to nature. If the plants you’re including in your kitchen are edible, they also add flavor (via herbs), nutrition (via greens), or if you’re a botanical overachiever, both. So dedicated home chefs and non-chefs can both benefit from this trend that goes far beyond window ledges.
Forward-thinking European manufacturers are adding plant holders into designer kitchens. Nobilia, one of the most popular kitchen brands in Germany — one out of every three German kitchens has Nobilia cabinets — has created plant holders with their own grow lights. LEICHT, an upscale German luxury brand, incorporated plant holders into its base cabinets.
In the most dramatic example of plants coming to the kitchen space, ARAN Cucine, an Italian brand, created OASI: The Concept Kitchen, an island prototype with a dwarf lemon tree growing in the middle. The prototype is the Swiss Army Knife of kitchen islands, with just about every appliance, fixture and storage component built in, and a live fruit tree at its center. Now, given that this is a concept kitchen, it’s unlikely that you’re going to have one in your house any time soon, but the idea, introduced at Eurocucina in 2018 and brought to this year’s Cologne fair, has definitely taken root in the industry.
Beyond the LivingKitchen show, SieMatic and Poggenpohl have also included plant holders in their luxury German cabinet lines, and Canadian manufacturer Urban Cultivator has created a self-watering, self-lit under-counter appliance to grow herbs and greens in your kitchen — no green thumb required. Italian kitchen brand Scavolini partnered with Carlo Cracco a leading European TV chef — the Emeril Lagasse of Italy — to create its Mia kitchen with modular wall holders for plants and other kitchen essentials.
Ultimately, you don’t need to remodel your kitchen to incorporate plants in this important space. You can add simple pots of cacti, flowers, herbs, greens or other popular varieties where they won’t interfere with your meal prep or cleanup. If you don’t have a green thumb, consult the internet or your neighborhood plant department pro to see what can work with your kitchen light and exposure, and put your plants in self-watering pots. We all need more greenery in our lives!
Jamie Gold, CKD, CAPS, MCTWC is a wellness design consultant, Certified Kitchen Designer and the author of the New Bathroom Idea Book and New Kitchen Ideas That Work, (Taunton Press). Jamie can be found online at jamiegold.net.