Paul Dyer Photography

Maybe it’s the less than exuberant state of the economy, or perhaps the nation’s growing affection for all things organic, or the imperative to go green. Whatever the drivers, our latest crop of coveted kitchens and baths gives a definitive nod to soothing simplicity. Clean lines, natural finishes, and economical choices were once again bountiful in this year’s Watermark awards, and daylight remains a central ingredient. In the quest for serenity, many designers and home buyers are stripping away the excess and embracing elemental palettes of glass, metal, stone, and wood. They’re also dispensing with some of the old ideas (about work triangles, galley kitchens, and cabinet configurations, for example) and rethinking the rules. This year it’s not so much about what’s hot in kitchens and baths; it’s about what’s functional, essential, and cool.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Austin, TX, Los Angeles, CA, San Francisco, CA.