Earlier this year, the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) revealed its latest standout design trends that were garnered from the association’s 2011 Design Competition. In honor of kitchen and bath month, we decided to follow up the NKBA’s effort by interviewing some top designers to see what’s hot and what’s not.
Like politics, design trends are local. A moving target, they are often based on the region of the country, income levels, and the motivation for hiring a design professional in the first place. For New York City-based green designer and lifestyle expert Robin Wilson, it’s about health and the environment.
“My clients come to me for three things,” says the principal and CEO of Robin Wilson Home. “They want water efficiency, energy efficiency, and they want quality design—something that will last and won’t go out of style.”
Wilson, whose projects include the interiors of former-President Clinton's Harlem office and the residence of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., says middle-class families/clients aren’t asking for the same things they did three or five years ago—such as large whole-house projects with all the bells and whistles.
But they are asking for bigger great rooms that encompass kitchen, family room, and media center. More flex space is a plus, and a colored accent wall is a must. White cabinets and wood floors are hot, she says, and low-flow showerheads that still offer power are also important.
Designer Patricia Gaylor is doing more renovations as homeowners stay put and update their spaces. “The current trend is for renovating existing housing stock, which represents millions and millions of homes across the country that are here and need deep or not-so-deep energy retrofits,” says the principal of Little Falls, N.J.-based Patricia Gaylor Interior Design. “This is a great way to stay in your home, remodel and refresh it, and also gain great savings on energy bills.”
Though Gaylor does mainly renovations, her clients tend to be higher-income families or individuals who are “focused on saving money, no matter how much they have.” The designer is seeing requests for recycling centers in the cabinets, organized drawers for spices, and a strong trend for farmhouse-style sinks, even in stainless steel. “Stone tops [are hot] but not granite,” she adds. Instead, clients are asking for honed surfaces, composite quartz, and soapstone.
Designer Mick De Giulio tends not to think of what materials are hot and what styles are trending when it comes to kitchens because they eventually fade and become outdated. Instead, he focuses on the needs of the clients. “I try to concentrate on lifestyle trends and how people are living,” says the principal of Chicago-based de Giulio Kitchen Design. At the moment, he says, the kitchen is king for consumers.
“People want to live in their kitchens,” de Giulio says, which is why they are getting bigger and the adjacent formal spaces such as dining rooms are getting smaller and even disappearing. “The kitchen space is becoming the living space,” he continues. “It will be more of an area to hang out and not just cook.”
In his kitchen spaces, de Giulio is using multiple materials for countertops, quartz surfacing, and cabinetry that will endure.
One thing to remember is that in an uncertain economy, classic designs are more likely to stay fresh. “I’ve looked at architecture of the past and designs of the past,” Wilson says. “And many of the designs are still not dated. Simple is more likely to last.”
Multiple countertops in one space
Formal living rooms
Granite (except exotic types)
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Chicago, IL.