Remodelers and designers agree: For kitchen design, the sleek, uncluttered lines of contemporary design are what’s hot.
“Consumers will be cleaning up their kitchens and baths in 2014,” said John Petrie. He should know: Not only is Petrie the owner of Pennsylvania-based Mother Hubbard's Custom Cabinetry, but he’s also president of the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA)—a nonprofit trade association with more than 60,000 members.
The NKBA surveyed over 420 kitchen and bath specialists for its annual Design Trends Survey, which debuted at Design and Construction Week 2014. The survey chronicles the products, colors, and features most often used in remodel projects and predicts ascending trends for the coming year. Respondents oversaw kitchen projects that ranged from less than $20,000 to more than $100,000, and bathroom re-dos that ranged from $5,000 to $30,000.
In addition to contemporary, designers also said the transitional look remains popular, melding contemporary and traditional furnishings and styles. It secured the number two position on NKBA’s list of trends for both kitchens and baths, followed by Shaker. But cluttered and fussy styles like Tuscan, country/rustic, and provincial are on the way out.
Kitchen features expected to decline include electric cooktops, porcelain enamel sinks, and trash compactors. In bathrooms, vessel sinks are losing favor, along with jetted tubs (whirlpool or air).
Designers say gray will be by far the fastest growing color scheme in 2014. For kitchens, 71 percent of respondents selected gray as the color for the year, while 58 percent indicated gray ascending for bathrooms. Whites and off-whites were next, and also projected to grow in popularity this year.
Color schemes expected to decline in 2014 kitchens include red, bronze/terracotta and greens. Black is the most unpopular color for bathroom fixtures today, perhaps due in part to an increased focus on easy maintenance.
In addition to contemporary style, there’s a clear trend of remodeling with an eye toward universal design—the term used to describe the broad concepts behind accessible architecture. More than half of the designers surveyed specified accessible and/or universal design features for both kitchens and bathrooms in 2013.
If you’re remodeling, look for no-threshold showers, comfort height toilets and shower benches in bathrooms, and microwave drawers and touch-activated or touch-less faucets for kitchens to keep your home ready for aging in place.
Two-thirds of designers reported incorporating docking and/or charging stations in their kitchens, as well as a desk or home office area. Some 56 percent included a flat-screen TV in kitchens.
Another interesting trend NKBA picked up on? Kitchens designed specifically to accommodate cats and dogs—including pet beds, feeding stations, litter box cabinets, and doggy faucets. But animals don’t always respond well to the amenities.
“We have some tough customers on the pet front,” says Maria Stapperfenne, NKBA’s president-elect. “Our four-legged clients can be a little hard to please.”
What’s Hot, What’s Not
Among the other trends coming and going in kitchens and bathrooms:
In — Maple or bird’s eye maple, alder, walnut
Out — White or red oak, hickory, pine
In — Non-white painted, white painted, dark natural stain
Out — Distressed, stained and glazed, light natural stain, and painted
In — Quartz (by a large margin), butcher block and other wood tied
Out — Solid surface, laminate
In — Microwave drawer, convection oven, gas cooktop
Out — Freestanding microwave, electric cooktop, warming drawer
In — Glass, ceramic or porcelain tile, natural stone tile
Out — Laminate, painted wallboard, solid surface
In — Polished chrome, satin nickel, stainless steel
Out — Bronze/oil-rubbed bronze, polished brass
In — Granite composite, stainless steel
Out — Solid surface, porcelain enamel
In — Wood, ceramic or porcelain tile
Out — Vinyl or linoleum, laminate
In — Polished chrome, polished nickel, satin nickel, brushed nickel
Out — Bronze/oil-rubbed bronze, polished brass
In — Undermount, integrated sink-top
Out — Vessel, drop-in
The Elephant in the Room
Amidst the backdrop of a mega-drought in California, one survey response came as a surprise: In 2013, less than 40 percent of designers specified water-saving faucets for kitchens, and less than 50 percent specified them for bathrooms. And survey results show that demand for 2014 continues to be tepid. Is the kitchen and bath industry out-of-step with water conservation issues?
“I think the vast majority of our homeowners and designers take water use for granted,” says Petrie. “I design for the two rooms in the house that use all the water, but I think I can help by bringing awareness.” Even if consumers aren't ready, the technology exists, and Petrie points to Niagara’s Stealth toilet that uses just 0.8 gallons per flush as an example. The company has just come out with a dual-flush model that uses even less.
“Thankfully, manufacturers are ahead of us,” adds Petrie.