Kitchens and baths sell more houses than any other space in the home. They are also, perhaps, the subject of more home shows than any other area in the house (except maybe the garden). What you put in the kitchen and bath, then, is extremely important. So how can you know what's hot and what buyers want?

You could conduct consumer surveys or check out every shelter magazine on the newsstand. This may give you some insight, but could you be sure you were getting an accurate picture? Abetter method would be to find out what buyers are actually asking for in showrooms across the country. A tough task but, luckily, BUILDER has done the leg work for you.

We asked design pros in key markets a simple question—What do consumers want?—and boiled down their responses on the following pages in our annual collection of hot kitchen and bath trends. Some of these trends are new must-haves that surfaced recently; others are so out that they are in again. Take a peek and see if your company is keeping up with Bob, the builder down the street.

Trend 1: The Great Outdoors Despite increasingly smaller lots, home buyers still want to live large, so they are extending their indoor living spaces into the outdoors. An outdoor kitchen is an example of this phenomenon. “It's perfect for California,” says Sandy Koepke, principal of Los Angeles–based Sandy Koepke Interior Design. “And, it's a relatively inexpensive way to add square footage to a home.” But the rooms aren't just popular in sunny climes. Seattle-based LeeAnn Baker, president of LeeAnn Baker Interiors, says the trend is still very hot in her area. “I have done three such projects in the past year, and it is surprising to me the lengths my clients will go to accomplish such elaborate outdoor rooms,” she says. “My clients are mainly in the Pacific Northwest, which is known for its year-round rainy season, yet it is filled with people who want to be outdoors all the time.”

STEEL DEAL: Known for outdoor grills, the manufacturer now bills itself as a one-stop source for designing and equipping an outdoor kitchen. The Custom Outdoor Kitchen Collection is a full range of appliances and modular cabinetry that allows builders to integrate units into a masonry structure or assemble components into a freestanding, fully finished configuration. All cabinetry is 30 inches deep and fabricated of stainless steel.

Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet.


LICENSE TO GRILL: The 24-inch gas TruSear infrared outdoor grill is constructed of heavy-duty stainless steel and offers 43,000 BTU on high and 14,500 BTU on low. It has a push-button electronic ignition, full-width removable drip tray, and porcelain-top cooking grids. The product is available in stainless steel with brass trim option for nameplate, knob bezels, and handle/brackets.



COOK-OFF: The new line of outdoor gas grills is designed with seamless edges and knobs that complement its weather-resistant stainless steel construction. All models feature a built-in thermometer, a 22,500 BTU-burner, stainless steel grates, and sear plates. Grills are available in 27-inch and 36-inch models.



Trend 2: Top Drawers

For a country that places a value on oversized things, America has a strange fascination with small items as well (see the latest digital camera). In 1998, the first major appliance in a drawer appeared on the market. Since that time, U.S. consumers have been snatching them up. “I have seen an increase in refrigerator drawers—almost mandatory in the upscale market,” says Florence Perchuk, a certified kitchen designer in New York. Her clients also love Sharp's new microwave in a drawer. Jean Stoffer, of Jean Stoffer Design in River Forest, Ill., says, “I use refrigerated drawers in almost every kitchen I design.” People like the convenience and point-of-use placement “right where they are needed,” says Stoffer. Plus, she adds, “they don't have the above-counter mass of a large refrigerator.” Perchuk believes consumers like the fact that these types of appliances allow for alternative placement in the kitchen. But there is another reason they are popular: “I guess we are aging, and consumers don't want to bend too low or lift too high.”

CLEAN DISHES: To commemorate the company's 70th anniversary, its hugely popular DishDrawer has been given an upgrade. The manufacturer says the unit is the only dishwasher on the market to vary water pressure depending on the cycle selected and is the only one to feature a flow-through detergent dispenser, which greatly reduces staining. Available in black, white, stainless steel, and integrated, the energy-efficient unit uses 2.4 gallons of water per drawer.

Fisher Paykel.


SECOND SIGHT: Insight Pro combines the world's first microwave drawer with a smooth glass-ceramic cooktop. Insight is also available as a stand-alone microwave drawer. The 30-inch-wide unit offers versatility for home buyers because it can be placed in islands and tight spaces. It opens with the touch of a control panel and can hold a 9-inch oblong dish. It is available in stainless steel, black, and white.

Sharp Electronics.


Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.