There is no doubt 2020 was a year of unprecedented challenges and upheaval. But it also shook out some positive stories of solidarity within the restaurant industry, coordinated community outreach all over the world, and a new way of living and thinking about the home—the kitchen most of all. With hope for a post-pandemic future in sight, we took a slight look back at all the uplifting and noteworthy happenings and kitchen design trends we think will have some lasting power.

At the start of COVID-19, it became evident the Food & Beverage industry—especially small independent bars and restaurants—were going to be negatively impacted by the pandemic. It spurred countless organizations, including a regular partner of ours, The James Beard Foundation, to create a Food & Beverage industry Relief Fund—a fund we were happy to donate to. The industry’s dire situation also sprung grassroots, community-based projects all over the country. One particularly moving project began with one individual’s efforts to spread love through pizza—an endeavor that is quickly rolling into a business model to follow now and in the post-pandemic world. Another favorite, the Community Free Food Project, speaks directly to food insecurity and allows companies like ours to donate refrigerators to be used in a manner that helps people from all walks of life on a daily basis. In that vein, we are currently working on another such permanent project we will soon announce, but the point is, during these times of strife, countless companies, individuals, and organizations banded together to give back and do their part to support Americans in meaningful ways. Our parent company, True Manufacturing, followed suit by offering homeowners and clients the opportunity to purchase large capacity commercial refrigeration models from its commercial arm (not usually available to the general public) in an effort to assist with additional storage needs—solely for the duration of the pandemic. Families—especially those sheltering with immunocompromised, at risk elderly members, and even a full-house of kids home from college, needed a way to limit their exposure at grocery stores. In addition, they also launched Plex-Shield, a collection of barrier panels for retail, commercial, and hospitality-oriented businesses—conceived of as a necessary safeguard to prioritize the health and safety of essential and non-essential workers.

In the kitchen, we saw a variety of trends that have some major staying power. This particularly popular room might have always been the beating heart of the home, but homeowners and designers are approaching it in a whole new manner. With many Americans spending much more time at home, an increased demand for storage solutions, refrigerator and freezer capacity (including more refrigerators and freezers in general), easy-to-use, multifunctional undercounter units, wine, and beverage centers, and maximizing counter space—function appears to equal, if not surpass, form in kitchen demand. The kitchen must now not only serve as a place to linger and enjoy that much-needed family time, but as a necessary place of utility—where flow is vital, hygienic materials are key, and performance must hit at the highest level possible—with style to boot.

The past year has taught us to enjoy our homes to the fullest, and with that in mind, appliances are no longer solely relegated to the kitchen. While we noticed a huge uptick in what we termed “Living Smarter,” we predict a lot of the remodeling tendencies we saw in 2020 will have some major staying power. Undercounter units in powder rooms, work-out rooms, make-up stations, bedrooms and  guest rooms, forming stand-alone stations, and fully separate bars, became and will stay the norm. As work flexibility increases in the years to come, homeowners are designing their homes and kitchens around comfort and convenience. Cooking and entertaining also saw what we believe is a permanent expansion to the outdoors in unprecedented ways. The past year taught us to increase our footprint and utilize outdoor areas as fully separate yet connected entertaining areas. Garages and basements are now seeing new life, hosting storage solutions such as our large capacity Refrigerators and Freezers, our full-sized Beverage Column, and our Dual-Zoned Wine Column. Thankfully, True Residential offers an incredible balance of solutions-based appliances that thrive on function, performance, storage, and style. In 2020 alone, we introduced the unbelievably well-timed Beverage Column—a unit dedicated solely to beverages. We also launched a vibrant new cheer-inducing Saffron finish—a much needed pop of color and happiness. In addition, we launched our Slide-Top Coolers in four eye-popping colors—these beauties not only provide mobile, icy-cold beverage storage solutions, indoors and out, but they accommodate cans, wine, and sparking beverages with their adjustable bin dividers. And that’s about a year in review—it’s taught us a lot about giving back and how to design our homes to cater to our needs, inside and out.