Jun 4, 2012

Trends in Kitchen and Bath Design

It's important to know design and technology trends when remodeling your kitchen and bath. Kitchens can be costly, and it's smart to use the best quality products and maintain current code and technology standards. Aesthetics are as important as function, and understanding what's available will give you a long-term advantage for style, usefulness, and more. Since sustainability in purchasing, using, and ultimately discarding products, is a way of life, knowing what is 'green' and why will help you make the right decisions for your remodel.

The age of remodelers plays a tremendous role in design trends but is 'flattening out' as technology and aesthetics cross generational lines. 
For the first time ever, 4 separate generations—Gen Now (ages 15-34), Gen X (ages 35-44), Zoomers (ages 45-65) and Prime Timers (ages 66-plus)—are interacting, influencing and coexisting closely with one another. While each has its own set of needs, together they are reinventing the rules of what a kitchen and bath should be, whether it cater to youthful technology savvy, a passion for entertaining, the quest for wellness or the desire to age comfortably in place.  Sure "Zoomers" are opting for easy of use and maintenance and "Generation Now and X" opt for clean lines and high technology, but overall, kitchen and bath styles are moving towards sleeker lines - no ornate details - and simple outward appearances, with function that makes operation and use fast. Whether it's due to a busy lifestyle or arthritic joints, new cabinet hardware that enables automatic opening, remote controlled shades, and faucets that turn on when you place your hands underneath, are all products that are here to stay. Long-term value and quality are must-haves for any kitchen or bath, as durability is key for homeowners raising families, as much as for those who have resale value in mind. Aging in place elements provide fabulous function and aesthetics across generations, and will be key elements when selling a home. 
Black chrome faucets
Formica has a new look and edge styles.
A savvy new toilet by Kohler.
Adding color to a neutral kitchen is hot (literally).
Color is more earthy overall, yet mixing in bold color is new.  Plumbing fixtures remain popular in chrome, but new black and midnight chrome are gorgeous and enduring. Sinks are available in earthy browns, grays and with suede finishes, and vessel sinks continue to be an opportunity to add style and a unique focal point to bathroom design. Glass is beautiful as well as functional for vessel sinks and even kitchen counters. Grey and white are popular in natural stone tile and quartz surfaces, as well as appliances. I see products that enable a more personal design alternative. For example, updated quartz and paper - yes paper - countertops, glass backsplash tiles, and even Formica, have textures, colors, and patterns that will work well today as for the long-term. Cabinet colors lean towards white and ivory, but dark stains are still in vogue.  White tubs, toilets and sinks are still king in the bath. Blending with large format porcelain tile in deep gray, makes an elegant and easy care statement.

Integrating products seamlessly into the spaces remains a top trend. From refrigerators that blend right into the overall cabinetry to drawer inserts that provide quick access to hard-to-reach spots, these new storage solutions generated new, unexpected openings for work spaces. Concealed kitchen shelving and extra-wide sinks boasting functional colanders and cutting boards within were also heavily featured, as storage possibilities spread from not only closets and the garage but to the kitchen and bath as well.

  Advanced technology from products that include smart phone applications to designs that mix light and sound in the bathroom. Toilets can now determine how long you’ve been sitting, or open the lid as one walks toward it, and even wall sockets are built smarter to incorporate direct USBs plug-ins for consumers using laptops and charging their phones in the hub of their home, the kitchen.

Once a buzz term, “green” has become engrained in the kitchen and bath industry. What began as an appeal for eco-friendly products and materials in the home has now transformed into holistically sustainable spaces that encourage healthy living behaviors by those inhabiting them. Designers, architects and manufacturers alike are rethinking the word “green” to encompass a complete lifestyle, and as a result, its definition has expanded to include descriptors such as “authentic,” “American made,” “character,” “local” and “organic.” It's now easier than ever to go green. High-efficiency toilets and showerheads are the norm and can easily be installed or retrofitted in any home. Recycling has even become easier, with compactors that can silently crush cans installed right into kitchen cabinet space. Technological advances like motion sensor faucets and lighting have become more sophisticated, helping to save both water and energy.