The kitchen is the heart of the home. For many in Darien and New Canaan, this saying rings true as locals are reinvesting and redesigning the place where they spend the most time.

According to design authorities, like Better Homes & Gardens and HGTV, 2014 will bring new trends while expanding on old ones. Neutrals and classic design are still popular, while jolts of color and unique extras complement and enhance the natural beauty of a kitchen. Local designers agree.

Louise Pascal of True North Cabinets in New Canaan has noticed her clients like to have a focal point in their kitchens. Splashes of color bring a fresh and unique look to a neutral palette.

"A lot of people in 2014 will be using splashes of bright color," Pascal said. "We did a home where the island was painted cobalt blue. (That color) is supposed to be huge this year."

She notes that kitchens are more than just places to cook and eat -- they are areas for a family to hang out and enjoy their environment. And in order to do so, they want to personalize the space.

"There's a lot more self expression and ornamentation (lately). Homeowners aren't afraid to express their personality. We see a lot of jewel colors, gilded frames. The white kitchen will start getting a little old," Pascal said.

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One of Pascal's most memorable kitchens is one with a bright orange glass backsplash -- a very unique look, she said. Another interesting idea is stone.

"Our client wanted durability, an earthy look. We hung huge slabs on the hood wall where the range is. It's a huge trend to clad the wall with slab stone," she said. "It's very dramatic."

A green design continues to be popular with locals. Pascal has noticed her clients are looking for both style and sustainability.

"What we're seeing more of in 2014 is eco-friendly cabinets (which have) no added glues, binders and finishes. These are all growing in popularity," she said. "Much (typical) cabinetry from the Far East is loaded with formaldehyde."

But customers don't have to sacrifice their desired style for a green solution. "There's no change in the look."

Julie Pagnozzi Deterlizzi, the owner of D&D Fine Homes in Darien, said she also find that her clients are looking for a specific image.

"We're not very typical and nor is our audience in Darien," she said. "We cater to specific aesthetic -- (our clients) look for a sophisticated, transitional look. We do a range a lot of high-end homes and comprehensive designs."

Often homeowners look to hire a company that can provide all types of support -- from consultations to interior design to architectural advice to the actual construction. Both D&D and True North provide complete assistance to their clients from start to finish.

"I have an engineer, architect and designer (on staff)," Pagnozzi Deterlizzi said. "We work closely with our audience to create a cutting edge look."

Pagnozzi Deterlizzi has observed her clients prefer more twists on classic designs.

"The trends that we see are definitely a `less is more' look. We use high-grade porcelains from Italy and Spain," she said. "We've seen a departure from stone. Our clientele still appreciates beautiful classic marble, and a lot of customers look for an assortment of materials like metal or glass tiles. They're looking for more rectified, crisp look."

Custom designs are popular at D&D.

"We sell a lot of custom-made, one-of-a-kind plumbing fixture. Clients want a look that's complimentary. They don't want duplicative items that are pedestrian. There's a real desire to not have a commercial look," Pagnozzi Deterlizzi said.

Darienite Stephanie O'Malley hired True North Cabinets to redesign her kitchen last year. After a summer of design and construction, she came away with a highly functional, beautiful and personalized space.

O'Malley looked to Louise and Ken Pascal to guide her toward the future of kitchen design. She had renovated most of her house and the kitchen was last -- it had been nearly 20 years since it was last updated. She invited them in for a consultation and they ended up reconfiguring the entire room.

The first thing the designer said was "`it's dark in here -- how would you feel about getting more light?' So we ended up flipping the kitchen -- the eating space is now where cooking is and the cooking is where the sitting space is." O'Malley said she loved the idea "because it was creative and out of the box."

She finds it hard to pick just one favorite part of her new kitchen. She likes different things about each item in it, and how it came together.

"We picked charcoal gray countertops and the island is beautiful -- it's white with green quartz running through it. They guided us to chunky countertop -- it's spectacular. It's a really a focal point," she said. "We put a lot of thought into the space."

If any trend is the most popular, however, it would be the decision to redesign the kitchen in the first place, rather than move into a home that already has a kitchen that suits the homeowner's needs.

"We see people are interested in investing back into their homes and putting their signature into their homes," Pagnozzi Deterlizzi said.

Pascal agrees.

"One thing we've noticed is more people are staying in their home. People that were planning to move decided to stay and renovate the kitchen instead."

Belinda Stasiukiewicz is a freelance writer.