Design: Kirsti Wolfe; Kirsti Wolfe Designs, Bend, Ore.; Photo: Paula Watts Photography
When homeowners today reach out to remodelers to update tired kitchens and baths, they do so with the expectation that they will get the latest kitchen and bath design ideas. And as kitchen and bath remodeling activity grows in the wake of the recession, some of the clearest and most promising new ideas are represented in the nearly 500 entries received by the National Kitchen and Bath Association for its annual design competition.
The trends represent what’s currently fresh and forward-thinking in kitchen and bath design including distinct visual elements and color, unique design details, personalized products and materials, and an architecturally artistic approach to proportion, says NKBA President David Alderman, CMKBD.
“NKBA designers continue to find surprising ways to incorporate complex design solutions and the latest technology into incredible kitchen and bathroom designs,” says Alderman. “We’re excited to release some of the overriding trends conveyed in the 2011 competition.”
No. 1 Commitment to Color
Clients and designers alike are making strong commitments to color. The relationship with vibrant color is introduced into the room through a backsplash of back-painted glass in a strong carrot orange, representing a color that’s smooth and fresh, and also refined enough to pair with the contemporary exotic wood cabinetry. This is a sleek kitchen deserving of a color that makes a statement. The tangerine, mango, and carrot family of colors is being incorporated into the palette of stylishly appropriated residential spaces across the country.
No. 2 Tactile Appeal through Textures
The use of actual and implied texture offers a tactile and visual feast. Lines, colors and patterns can act as either a point of interest in a given space or a mellow background to a more prominent component. The textured touch is apparent through an oversized glass mosaic tiled rug inset into the limestone floor, creating the effect of an actual textured and patterned area rug. A quilted effect, also seen in fashion trends, was created using custom-made glass keystone tiles, adding a shimmering surface to the wall of the shower.
No. 3 The Attributes of Glass
The National Kitchen & Bath Association is seeing glass shining and glimmering throughout kitchen and bath designs this year. Lighted panels of Mica art glass incorporated into the design of the volcanic stainless steel hood, the window in the door, and a glass tiled backsplash shining from behind granite countertops act as pops of color and light against the warmth of wood. In this example, they also help to provide cohesion, and as glass continues to be used in so many places and spaces, the application appears almost limitless.
No. 4 Freestanding and Angled Tubs
Large freestanding tubs are taking front and center in bathroom design, and in this master bath retreat, the tub is centered and visible through French doors leading to the bedroom space. Freestanding tubs could be considered almost the norm, creating a focal point of near sculptural quality. Rounded, rectangular, and angled tubs are specified as an artistic accent that also provides a soothing soak. Whether situated on stones, wood flooring, or a low stage of sorts, the freestanding soaking tub is an integral part of many master or main bathrooms.
No. 5 Espresso and Chocolate in Cabinetry
Silky hues of chocolate and espresso are shimmering from the doors and drawer fronts of distinct cabinetry, incorporated into striking kitchens, ranging from contemporary to traditional. Natural finishes—absent glazing, distressing, and overall pomp and circumstance—are now found in many kitchen designs, as simple chocolate browns act as the smooth and understated partner to brighter accents. Whether black coffee or milk chocolate, the cabinetry foundation in the mid to dark brown family of colors appears rooted in the residential design approach.
No. 6 Walk-in Pantries
With the introduction of greater amounts of open wall space, and less in the way of wall cabinets, the need for a larger separate pantry has been prompted. Open plan kitchens are requiring alternative pantry and storage solutions. The grand scale of this kitchen aptly allowed for a walk-in pantry designed for use as a working pantry. Sinks, dish storage, and food storage can be incorporated into pantries that appear as this one, to be entirely integrated in appearance into the space, and serving as a transition from one room to the next.
No. 7 Detailed Ceilings
This sophisticated design has a rustic touch that relies on traditional architectural features paired with sleek contemporary finishes and materials. The rough-hewn barn beam ceiling is beautifully detailed, and although the detail was newly created, it appears as if original to a comfort-worn space. The ceiling is highlighted by cable-strung lighting, which lights the textures and natural intricacies of the rough wood, bringing intimacy to the elongated space. This design feature straddles two trends seen strongly in the competition: detailed ceilings and textures.
No. 8 Natural Elements
This refined rustic southwestern powder room is the perfect example of the use of natural elements in design. An agate slab became the foundation for this bathroom space that’s as unique and distinct as the elusively elegant stone itself. Translucent crystal formations within the rock are highlighted by backlighting that sets off the smoky grays, brown, and icy white. Polished stone combined with leather-wrapped cabinetry is at the core of this opulent space. When the beauty of nature can be brought inside a home, the impact is unmatched.
No. 9 A Tiered Approach to Proportion
The concept of stacked components and graduated overlapping heights was brought to a new level of sophistication in this urban kitchen. Varying heights of the island surfaces, the elevated and overlapping dining countertop, and the statuesque pantry cabinet create asymmetrical proportion, while complementing the cityscape outside the windows. The tallest point of the pantry, thickness of the countertops, and the dining surface resting effortlessly on the prep and cook surface convey a proportionally tiered balance to this contemporary space.
No. 10 Inlaid Flooring
Variations of inlaid flooring are being incorporated into many new kitchen and bath designs. To accommodate the wet environment in this French style master bathroom, a new wood-look ceramic tile combined with natural travertine was used. Each piece was hand-fitted and angled to mimic the look of a real parquet floor. French carved cabinetry legs draw additional attention to the stunning floor. Designers and installers are being called on to bring innovation, stretching old boundaries as materials are selected and flooring is installed.