The fall is coming

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The fall is coming and there is plenty of exciting design trends to look forward to. The local new construction market has been booming and you’ll likely have more new homes to scope out than you can handle. The landscape of home design is evolving at the moment, and our local builders are not holding back! Here are some of the latest design trends to watch out for in our area.

Contrasting Islands

Kitchens have always been the center of the home so it seemed like an appropriate place to start. When you’re touring new homes this fall, keep an eye out for contrasting islands. Mixing up cabinet colors and finishes in the kitchen creates added dimension and gives the space more balance. Most often you’ll see a kitchen full of white uppers and lowers, with a darker stained or painted center island finish.

It doesn’t stop at the cabinets either. Watch for builders to mix and match counter tops to bring more texture and interest to an already very popular communal space.

Tile, Tile, Tile

As you’re perusing through kitchens, watch for geometric tile patterns and classic colors and shapes laid in new patterns.

There’s an interesting design trend that helps create added height to the kitchen and it involves an entire wall of tile. Think of it like a painted accent wall, but covered entirely in tile. It’s a fantastic and functional way to add lots of character and style to an otherwise lackluster wall.

Unique Vanities

Watch for floating and minimalist vanities with sleek sinks and plumbing fixtures. On the other end of the spectrum, the farmhouse trend is alive and well in this area, so you may see refurbished furniture being repurposed into a bathroom vanity or storage cabinet.

Secondary Spaces

With the television on less and attention turning to mobile devices, new construction clients are focusing on creating communal spaces where socializing is easier. More design elements are being added to laundry rooms than ever before. Builders are now incorporating cubbies, open shelving, accent walls, and other creative storage solutions to laundry rooms.

Pantries are getting bigger and housing more than just a few wooden shelves. Barn doors, full countertops, and even small appliances are making their way into walk-in pantries.

Bonus rooms in general have been reserved for extravagant homes over the years, but new construction homes are catering to consumer requests and including more elaborate spaces for entertaining and communing. Common bonus room concepts you’ll find this fall are home theaters, fitness rooms, play rooms complete with bunk beds, and master suites with sitting rooms.

Smart Features

Builders are embracing smart home technology in the form of security systems, wireless thermostat controls, and everything in between.

The Nest Learning Thermostat allows homeowners to control their homes temperature from anywhere they have cell phone service. This type of technology is convenient, (and cool) no doubt, but it also saves homeowners an average of 20% on their heating and cooling bills.

The Lutron Caseta Wireless system and Google is an automated way to control the lighting in your home. You can turn lights on and off from anywhere. This system even controls your window treatments and the temperature of your home.

If home security is your focus then you may want to check out the iSmart Alarm system. It’s synced up to your wireless devices, allowing you to keep an eye on your home from anywhere. It comes with window and door sensors, motion detectors, and cameras. This system is a bit of a one-stop shop because it also lets you control lighting, smoke detectors, and your thermostat from your phone.

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Quartz is the New Top Choice For Counter tops

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by Gian Luca Fiori President at Marble and Granite, Inc.

For the first time, quartz surfacing such as ColorQuartz shown in Calypso Brown, has inched ahead of granite in popularity for residential kitchen counter tops.

Once upon a time, granite was the first and last word in residential kitchen Quartzcountertops. When homeowners fantasized about their dream kitchens, there was no doubt that granite countertops would be a part of it. With their timeless elegance and excellent resale value, it’s no wonder that granite ruled. That is, until now. According to the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) there is a new number-one for residential kitchen countertops and that material is quartz.
Though granite is still an incredibly popular (and excellent) choice for kitchen countertops, many are starting to recognize the appeal of quartz. A manmade surface, quartz is the first surface to give granite a run for its money. Over the past five years or so, more homeowners and designers have begun to realize the benefits of quartz surfaces and there has been a steady increase in the specification of quartz in kitchen and bath projects.

Here at Marble & Granite, Inc. our preferred brand of quartz is ColorQuartz —a brand that emphasizes top quality materials and innovation.
What is it about quartz that’s so appealing? Here’s what today’s top kitchen and bath designers have to say:

Practicality
ColorQuartz, as an example, is made up of 88-percent real quartz (the hardest mineral on earth) which is obtained from company-owned quarries. The high quartz content makes the material exceptionally tough and very durable. It’s also resistant to stains and scratches. And thanks to its durability, quartz surfaces like ColorQuartz  can prove cost-effective in the long run.

Ease of Maintenance
Quartz surfaces do not require sealing, oiling or waxing. And because brands like ColorQuartz are non-porous, they’re easier to clean. Bacteria can’t get inside, so it can’t proliferate.

Versatile
ColorQuartz comes in a wide range of colors, unlike natural stone, which is limited to the natural process through which it’s formed. Because it’s available in nearly any color of the rainbow and since it can be easily fabricated into virtually any shape or size, quartz countertops can fit practically any style of décor.

ColorQuartz  in Statuario Fantastico looks like authentic marble.

Looks Like Natural Stone
Manufacturers like ColorQuartz produce quartz countertops in everything from solid colors to imitation granite and marble. In fact, some of the most beautiful ColorQuartz choices that we offer look so much like authentic marble that almost no one would suspect it isn’t the real thing. (See Statuario Fantastico above.)

Quartz surfacing will never leave you wanting for choices. And because ColorQuartz has invested in the factory space (for research, design, and production) and manpower in the form of the most experienced stonemasons, you won’t be disappointed in the ColorQuartz brand. ColorQuartz constantly examines and inspects the raw materials they use to ensure only the very best goes into each slab of quartz they manufacturer.
Would you like more information on quartz? Come in and talk with our surfacing experts at either of our two Marble & Granite, Inc. showrooms. We’ll explain how although ColorQuartz is “man-made,” it’s offers quality, variety, versatility, longevity, and style that rivals even the finest granite.

Your new kitchen…an investment for a lifetime

by Liviu G. owner of Kre-Art kitchens & bathrooms.

Designing your new kitchen will add substantial value to your home. One of the most important elements to determine when beginning your project is your budget. Communicating this to your designer allows them to quickly determine the appropriate products for your project. Cabinetry from Omega or Dynasty will fit into practically any budget. This worksheet will help you to arrive at a project estimate.

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When planning your project, keep in mind that the cost of installing a new kitchen can be recovered when the home is sold – it’s an investment in your home’s equity. After 10 years, a new car may be worth very little, but a kitchen is often worth much more than the original investment.

According to the latest studies and recommendations, the national average for a kitchen remodel was 10% of the current house value.

Example :  Current Home Value – $375,000

  1. To determine a total kitchen-remodeling budget choose a 10% percentage of your home value.
  2. 10% of house value at $37,500
  3. Breakdown of suggested remodeling investment.
  • 40%  Cabinets                             $15000
  •   9%  Counter tops                         $3375
  • 10%  Appliances                             $3750
  • 10%  Lighting/Electrical                    $3750
  •  3%  Wall Covering / Painting             $1125
  •  8%  Floor Covering                         $3000
  • 20% Labor (including plumbing)          $7500

Of course this numbers are just a suggestion of how much you are expected to spent on your renovation. The reality is it also depends on the materials, appliances, type of counters and floor. Also age of the house and taking down a wall or adding a pony panel, etc.

Today’s New Kitchens Are Inviting, Elegant, and Dark

People spend more on the kitchen than any other room in their house. Not that the kitchen is really a separate room any more, but usually an extension of the living area or family room.

It is a space that is used not only for cooking and entertaining, but also for doing homework, home office work, socializing and many other day-to-day activities. Therefore, it is an area of the home that needs to be as inviting and as functional as possible.

Since investing in a new kitchen comes at a significant cost – it is typically the most expensive area of the house – being aware of latest kitchen design trends will help you to make the right choices to ensure you achieve the best possible outcome and don’t make expensive mistakes.

Color trends

We are starting to see darker, moodier color palettes for the kitchen in dark charcoal grey to black palettes. There has been an increase in black feature kitchens, combined with black appliances, pendant lights and feature tiles or dark stone splash backs.

Alternatively, for those who aren’t fond of dark colors, shades of grey can be incorporated with concrete floors, as a feature paint color or as concrete counters. While grey is a slightly more daring departure from the previously standard white and less adventurous than black, it is a neutral color that can easily be layered with other products and styles.

Finishes

New designs are seeing a lot more layering of color and texture, with finishes that create visually interesting but practical spaces. Think geometric and three-dimensional backslash tiles, concrete or mat engineered quartz stone bench tops and dark mat cabinetry, teamed with warm metallic sinks and faucet in brass, copper, rose-gold or nickel.

These sleek finishes are balanced with natural organic looking elements such as timber cabinets or detailing, or wide timber plank flooring, or timber look tiles. Wood (real or engineered), stone, concrete and warm metal finishes feature strongly.

The glossy kitchens we have seen for several decades will be replaced with the more natural look of mat finishes, particularly for counters and joinery. The mat look is currently a very strong trend in design. It is soft to touch and less reflective and will likely be here to stay for some time, as dark colors and black lend themselves well to the use of mat finishes, since they do not show finger marking like a gloss finish.

The look of marble remains popular in the form of low-maintenance and innovative engineered stone, with many versions in both light and dark colors with varying degrees and patterns of contrast veining.

Adding metallic and timber accents is another way to create visual appeal and a valuable point of difference. Materials in these shades can be applied to cabinetry, paneling and toe kicks, as well as doors and tapware.

Popular high contrast styles combine a two-tone, monochromatic color combination of timeless black, grey or navy with white (usually in the counters), punctuated with elements of timber and/or brass for warmth. This creates a look of refinement and elegance, with an air of natural simplicity and earthy luxury.

Kitchen Cabinets

Wall cabinets in a contrasting colors or finishes to the base cabinetry are a winning combination that we will continue to see going forward.

Open shelving to display interesting objects injects personality into a kitchen and when used in a contrasting finish to the cabinetry, helps to break up the space and creates an interesting mix of finishes.

Navy cabinetry with timber and brass accents is likely to become the next top look.

Kitchen sinks and faucets

We will start to see more black and white sinks or the more luxurious option of metallic sinks. These will be combined with matching or complementary metallic taps in finishes such as matte black, brass, copper, gun metal and satin nickel.

Kitchen hardware

The most popular finishes for cabinet handles are mat black, satin nickel, pewter and antique brass. The commonality between all these finishes is that they are mat, not high gloss finishes, and so do not show finger marks like the polished chrome we have seen in the past.

The key trend to note is that the all-white kitchen is now a thing of the past, with new kitchens embracing an inviting, elegant, sophisticated and warm aesthetic to align with today’s lifestyle.

5 hot kitchen design trends

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The kitchen is the heart of the home. You want a kitchen that reflects your personal style, fits in with the rest of your decor, and feels like a welcoming space where friends and family can gather and create lasting memories.

If you are thinking about making some minor changes to update your kitchen, or perhaps a total redo, here are a few of the top kitchen design trends for 2017.

1. Black and white

One of the hottest trends in kitchen design right now is a black-and-white color palette. Gleaming black counter tops paired with traditional white cabinetry create a classic space with a modern feel. All white kitchens—from the traditional farm-house style to an elegant space with marble counter tops, remain a popular choice. Add a touch of black to your all-white space with new accessories or fixtures to refresh your kitchen and make it look on-trend.

2. Shades of gray

Want to update your kitchen cabinets without the expense of replacing them? Consider painting them a soothing shade of gray. This wonderful neutral has been a popular color for interior walls the past few years, and that trend is expanding to cabinetry. Pair cool gray cabinets with some warmer wood accents for an eye-catching look.

3. Consider your counter tops

Durable, beautiful quartz counter tops continue to be a popular choice for today’s kitchen design. Want the look of natural stone without the cost? Today’s laminate counter tops mimic the look of granite at a fraction of the cost. Unlike laminates of the past, these lookalikes features a natural looking pattern and a wide range of edge options. Wood is another counter top material that is making a comeback in 2017.

4. Not-so-basic black

Does your home have a modern vibe? Consider upping the drama of your contemporary space with sleek black kitchen cabinets. The all black kitchen is a hot trend for 2017.

5. Mix your metals and go bold

Pulls, knobs, handles and light fixtures are like jewelry for your home. There are so many interesting choices these days, you can easily spruce up your space without breaking your budget! Mixing metals is a trend right now. You don’t have to have all stainless, bronze or brass hardware. Mix it up for an eclectic look. Opt for drama when choosing light fixtures, as well. Oversized shades on basic bulbs above your bar create drama.

Whether you are looking to completely redo your kitchen or just freshen up the space, research today’s kitchen design trends to help you find a look that is perfect for you.

What’s cooking for kitchens

According to NKBA’s 2017 Kitchen & Bath Design Trends Report, here are 10 kitchen trends to watch for:

1. Clean lines, built-ins and simple door styles dominate kitchen designs. Contemporary- styled kitchens will overtake traditional to be the second most popular design after transitional. Emerging: industrial and mid century modern. Mountain modern and coastal are variations on contemporary.

2. White and gray painted cabinets dominate kitchen color schemes and show no signs of slowing down, especially gray. Blue painted and high gloss cabinets are emerging. For overall color schemes, blue as well as black are emerging.

3. Two-toned kitchens are gaining in popularity. Also mixing it up: materials and metals, across surfaces and as accents.

4. While wood cabinets dominate kitchen designs, metal – currently a small segment of the cabinet market – appears to be emerging. Metal cabinets are most frequently specified by younger and male designers.

5. Furniture-look pieces, rollouts, pullouts and under cabinet lighting (LED) are among the most popular kitchen cabinet features. Crown molding is declining. Rustic and reclaimed woods were mentioned.

6. Quartz is the most popular kitchen countertop material, and trending up. Granite, the second most popular countertop material, is trending down.

7. Induction cooktops and convection ovens are trending higher, and microwave drawers are outpacing freestanding or built-in microwaves.

8. Technology in the kitchen is increasing. About one-third of NKBA professionals included wiring and pathways for future tech integration. Also trending: internet connected appliances and docking stations.

9. Interior barn and pocket doors are trending up.

10. Accessible and/or universal design features continue to trend up for kitchens.

Baths going contemporary

Here’s what’s trending in the bath as relates to the woodworking industry:

1. Contemporary and transitional-styled bathrooms have overtaken traditional  style preferences.  Shaker style is gaining on traditional, while mid-century modern is emerging. Asian fusion is a niche design.

2. Whites, off/whites and gray are by far the most popular color schemes. Blue is emerging, with younger design professionals leaning more toward violets and purples. Stainless steel is niche and emerging.

3. Linen storage cabinets and wood vanities are the most commonly used storage solutions. Floating vanities and open shelving are popular and increasing in popularity. Toilet topper cabinets are declining in demand.

4. Ceramic tile flooring is the most popular, although high-quality vinyl appears to be an emerging trend.

5. Most homeowners prefer undermount bathroom sinks, with requests for vessel and pedestal sinks continuing to wane. Trough sinks are an emerging trend.

6. More than half of the NKBA members surveyed said they eliminated a tub or whirlpool in a bathroom remodel over the course of the past year. Yet half also specified a freestanding tub during that same period, and 60 percent expect to specify more of them in 2017.  While tub/shower surrounds are maintained and updated when they already exist in a home, they are not being added to new bathrooms or completely remodeled bathrooms.

7. White fixtures are trending up, while bone/bisque colored fixtures are trending down.  Brushed brass and gold are emerging faucet finishes; designer faucet colors, while still quite niche, are emerging.

8. The most popular amenities for the bathroom are in the arena of safety and comfort: i.e.., comfort heights, shower seats, lighting in showers and no-threshold showers. Emerging amenities are smart toilets, smart toilet seats, music in the shower, easy maintenance features, and radiant floor heating.

9. Water-saving toilets and faucets are becoming more mainstream.

10. Distributed video and audio and wiring pathways for future integration are still niche in the bathroom, but emerging as a trend.

Conducted in August 2016, the NKBA Kitchen & Bath Design Trends survey generated 562 responses that represent multiple industry segments from across North America.NKBA-Trends2017-Clean lines-Nar-Bustamante

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Trends from the “New Bathroom Idea Book”

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Smart toilets, enhanced medicine cabinets, porcelain slab walls and automation are a few of the top bath trends showcased in the “New Bathroom Idea Book.”

authors Jamie Gold NBIB_CH4_HT_Bidet-Seat_Kohler-683x1024

Click on the pictures to see gallery of new fixtures

 Books about kitchen and bath design need to be updated every few years to keep up with this fast-moving industry. Photos, trends and technology grow stale over time, even though much of their reader advice is evergreen. That’s why publishers like The Taunton Press continually come out with “new” and “all new” versions of their popular series. Among the latest is Taunton’s New Bathroom Idea Book, publishing this month.

Like the author’s previous Taunton title, New Kitchen Ideas that Work (2012), each chapter has a trends-focused section. The writer for both Jamie Gold, CKD, CAPS shares her byline with this monthly Trend Spotting section. Here are some of the trends discussed in the latest volume, accompanied by related images from the book and some thoughts from other industry trend spotters.

SMARTER TOILETS

“Toilets are offering some tremendous new features that go far beyond their original purpose and capability,” the Hot Trend for the Fixtures and Faucets chapter reads. This includes self-cleaning toilets, toilets with hands-free flushing, toilets with bidet functionality and even connected toilets. What types are you manufacturing or specifying?

Anne-Marie Brunet of Ottawa, Canada likes smart toilets: “I see a continued growth for this trend as it seeps into the mainstream media and their design remains modern and fresh. It is a great option for those aging in place and does not scream ‘old.’”

Cheryl Kees Clendenon, a Pensacola, FL-based interior designer, shares, “We use integrated washlets when the client wants to spend the money.”

Las Vegas-based designer Patricia Gaylor likes American Standard’s New ActiClean toilet that is self-cleaning. It actually works and doesn’t cost a fortune, she says. “Touchless flushing from Kohler that you can buy for existing toilets and easily install yourself” is another technology she likes to offer clients. Gaylor also likes toilets with built-in nightlights.

ENHANCED MEDICINE CABINETS

“While some homeowners are forgoing medicine cabinets in favor of more integrated cabinetry, there are some enticing new offerings on the market worth considering,” notes the Hot Trends section for the Storage chapter. These include TV, Bluetooth streaming, phone chargers, organizers, magnifying mirrors and even lock boxes for prescription medicines.

Clendenon and Los Angeles-based architect Dean Larkin build medicine cabinet features into the custom cabinetry they specify, since the traditional configurations and styles don’t fit the ultra-luxury projects they design.

“My clients still request medicine cabinets, so I customize them with moldings to accent or match cabinetry. I also install plugs inside,” shares Gaylor.

Manufacturers like Duravit, Robern and Ronbow are manufacturing sleeker, higher-tech medicine cabinets than the builder basics of years past. “Consumers are looking for functional pieces to remove clutter from the bathroom, which is why we’ve included Bluetooth technology, USB ports, electrical outlets and even LED lighting into many of our medicine cabinets,” says Jason Chen, CEO of Ronbow.

Enhanced medicine cabinets are “a big thrill for my clients,” shares Jan Neiges of Highlands Ranch, CO. “When they see the outlet inside the cabinet, and mirrors inside and out – they love it. An easy sell!”

PORCELAIN SLAB WALLS

“Large, thin porcelain tile slabs and the very similar sintered compact surfaces have emerged in recent years as a stylish, low-maintenance wall covering that can handle moisture and daily use. The differences between the two are slight and relate mostly to manufacturing specifications and branding,” starts the book’s Floors, Walls, Windows and Doors chapter’s Hot Trends section.

Have you started designing with these surfaces yet? Most of them are from factories in Italy and Spain, which are not only offering sizes exceeding 5’x10′ now, but are continually improving their designs to better resemble wood or stone, and even offering book-matching. They’re an easy-care solution for higher-end clients – given the still-high price tags – but greater competition should bring down costs in the not-too-distant future.

“We love solid shower walls, but they’re expensive, so we use rectified tile when budget is an issue,” comments Clendenon.

“Yes, porcelain slabs are still a luxury item, but I’m seeing more and more every day,” notes Gaylor. “Digitally printed tiles are so realistic now, I use them continually in bathrooms. Much more sustainable [than natural stone], and very reasonable.”

“You can get the luxurious look of marble for a fraction of the price,” confirms Ceramics of Italy’s Cristina Faedi. “Our prediction is that large-scale tiles will be used to expand the apparent size of the bathroom,” she adds. This is accomplished by largely eliminating grout lines.

Brunet agrees: “Clients want the luxury look without the distraction of grout lines, and easy maintenance.”

BATH AUTOMATION & ENTERTAINMENT

“Room lighting, climate, privacy through automated window coverings and sound are getting automated for bathrooms. Many of them can be controlled from a smartphone or tablet, or from sleek wall controls. All of these sophisticated systems can meet 21st century needs while turning your bathroom into a spa-friendly environment,” reads the Hot Trends entry for the Entertainment, Electronics and Extras chapter of the New Bathroom Idea Book. Here are what some designers and manufacturers are seeing in their practices.

Brunet says, “Home automation is growing leaps and bounds here in the Northeast. We’re seeing a rise in motorized shades. Also rising in popularity and sales are automated lighting systems and audio systems.”

Clendenon’s take comes from the Gulf Coast: “We do Hunter Douglas automated shades when there is a difficult window to get to.” TVs aren’t a big item for her clientele, or for Larkin’s Southern California clients either.

“I’m installing more outlets with USB ports in all areas of the house,” shares Gaylor from Las Vegas (she also designs for out-of-town builders).

Ronbow’s Chen observes, “In most of our bath vanities, we have taken our designs a step further by integrating USB ports and electrical outlets into our vanities. We’ve also added motion controlled on/off switches to LED mirrors and built-in Bluetooth speakers.”

LAST WORDS

Not every hot trend, including the four described here or the six additional ones spotlighted in the book (available this month at Barnes & Noble, Lowe’s and Amazon), will show up with the same strength in every region or demographic. Clients hire designers to choose the ones that make the most sense for their project.

Many of the design books out today, including the New Bathroom Idea Book, are published for the large middle and mid-high “aspirational” buyer. They’re the largest audience in the publishing and manufacturing worlds. Where do they fit in your design business? ▪

What’s cooking: The trends shaping kitchen design today

The latest in kitchen trends, according to Richmond designers

If you’re looking to upgrade your kitchen, I can be the voice of recent experience – if not completely by choice. A couple of times since last summer, I’ve shared with RTD readers that my house suffered serious damage from a major storm in July. But the upside (if there is such a thing with storm damage) was that within the insurance settlement budget, I got to redo the kitchen. So I spent a good portion of last summer and fall scouring magazines, talking to stylists and learning what’s hot and what’s not in kitchen trends. Here’s some of what I did and learned during my kitchen renovation, as well as some advice from local interior designers about kitchen design trends.

Counters

First up, everybody wanted to talk to me about kitchen counters! Quartz and granite counters are on the rise, local experts say. “The quartz industry has really bloomed. They have the look of marble, but they’re more durable, won’t stain and require no maintenance,” designer Sara Hillery said. And even though there are some suggestions that granite is on its way out, designer Stephanie Theofanos said many of her clients still choose granite for their surfaces.“People are spending a little more on higher-end granite. I’m seeing that clients are more astute in their counter top selections,” she said. “Kitchens are a natural gathering place. And people are looking for materials that can handle red wine, children, crafts and high activity.”Personally, I decided to go for quartz counters because I fell in love with their clean, light look and how closely they resemble marble. The price point was on par with granite and Corian (which is what we had before), and I’ve been very pleased with the quartz tops so far. They’re scratch-resistant, incredibly durable and easy to clean. With quartz, though, you do have to be careful with heat. I keep a stack of trivets handy and use them whenever I place a hot pan on the counter or pull a baking sheet from the oven.

Color

As Hillery noted, “the white kitchen is always a classic, especially here in Richmond.” She worked on the kitchen renovation at the Richmond Symphony Designer House in Ginter Park in 2016. She helped overhaul the 1980s kitchen – think black counters and knotty pine cabinets – and introduced white custom cabinets and state-of-the-art Dekton counters. “Grays and whites in the kitchen are here to stay,”  Hillery said. “Having a neutral palette allows you to put more color into your walls and your fabric choices. ”Theofanos noted that neutrals are “warming up” in color. “We’re seeing lots more warm grays and beige’s,” she said. I’m definitely on the white-and-gray bandwagon. Originally my kitchen had cream-colored cabinets, but my husband and I decided to go even brighter with new white, custom cabinets. We also kept the glass-front style of cabinets, which allows us to introduce color through our choice of china. I’m hoping the effect is bright, crisp and timeless.

Lighting

It’s easy to overlook or undervalue kitchen lighting, but it’s very important, experts said. Big, bold fixtures are a big trend in kitchens, according to Abby Adams, a designer with Mosaic Tile Co. “People are taking the time and making their choice a prominent feature in their home. They’re not just getting something off the shelf” at a home improvement store, she said. Hillery said she has been using chandeliers and multiple pendants in groups of three to add visual interest to her kitchen renovations. I also wanted a lighting “statement” … but on a budget. I searched high and low for the right lighting and eventually found it: a mid century mobile from West Elm – for less than $200! – that’s very retro (with six spiky lights) and that creates a focal point.

Back splash

If counters and cabinets are trending more neutral, back splash is where people have more fun and take more chances. “I’m seeing a lot more investment in back splash. People are making individual statements with color or pattern,” Theofanos said. Hillery noted that graphic tiles behind the range can add beauty to the space. “They give you a pattern and create interest,” Hillery said. I went with Carrara marble for our back splash. It’s a light, blue-gray marble, but we decided to have the small tiles laid out in a diagonal herringbone pattern. And to my eye, while it seemed like counter top choices were of utmost importance when renovating the kitchen, I have to admit that visually, I notice the back splash more than the counters. I love how the back splash picks up on the blue-gray color palette while adding a graphic, dimensional interest with the pattern.

Metals

Think of kitchen hardware “as the jewelry of the kitchen,” as Hillery described it. Brass – yes, brass – is back in a big way. But it’s a brushed, warm brass, not the shiny stuff that screams 1980s.Satin gold and champagne gold also are trending, according to Adams of “Mosaic Tile”. Mixing metals is also popular these days. Brushed brass mixes with almost anything, including copper or oil-rubbed bronze. Adams noted that “brushed nickel never goes out of style, and it always matches with stainless steel.”  Indeed, we went the brushed nickel route in our kitchen. Because more than trends, I’m aiming for timeless. And while having a brand-spanking-new kitchen is nice, I hope I never again have to endure storm damage to get one!

 

Open shelving and other kitchen design trends that an organizer hates

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Open shelving always looks inviting in magazines, but unless your daily dishes are nice enough to display, it’s not practical. (iStock) 

There are many recent design trends that have vastly improved the functionality and efficiency of the modern kitchen. But while some of the trends succeed aesthetically, they can create organizational challenges. Here are five examples.

Large, open-plan kitchens

Large kitchens with open floor plans have become popular in recent years, and for good reason. For a lot of people, it makes sense to have ample space in the kitchen — it’s the central gathering place and the spot where families spend a significant amount of time preparing, consuming and cleaning up after meals. But despite all the advantages, there are some disadvantages. An abundance of storage can hamper efficiency if it’s not well organized, making it difficult to find what you need quickly. Additionally, and this is not to be underestimated, a larger kitchen means there is more space to clean and keep tidy. If you like to cook and entertain and are able to keep the space neat, a large kitchen is wonderful. But if you’re not spending a lot of time in the kitchen and aren’t especially organized, don’t knock down those walls just yet. Keeping this central — and open — area orderly can be a struggle, and it’s not for everyone.

Replacing lower cabinets with drawers

Another trend is to have mostly deep drawers as storage on the bottom portion of the kitchen. In some ways, deep drawers are better than cabinets for storing kitchen items; things are contained, and it’s easy to see everything when you open the drawer. A lot of companies have also created inserts that can help with organizing. But some things just don’t fit well into wide, deep drawers. I’ve had clients try to store tall alcohol bottles lying down in drawers because they didn’t fit standing upright. Others have voiced their disappointment over how much space is wasted when you try to keep pans and plates in drawers. And heavy items, such as upright mixers, are difficult to store in them. When you’re deciding on a layout, take a complete inventory of your kitchen. A regular cabinet with shelves is sometimes just what you need.

Open shelving

Doesn’t open shelving always look so inviting in magazines and on cooking shows? How nice would it be to have all of your most frequently used dishes out in the open, where they’re easy to see and access?

The problem is, most of us don’t use display-worthy dishes every day. Often, the open shelving becomes a display space in an area that would have been the perfect place to store daily dishes. Before you add open shelving, consider how your pieces will look and whether you’re up to the task of keeping the shelves neatly arranged.

Movable pantry shelves

Built-in pantry cabinets with pullout shelves are also all the rage. They’re a major improvement over pantry closets or cabinets with fixed shelves that make it difficult to access items hidden in the back. However, the design of the movable shelves — wide and with a low frame — makes them difficult to manage and keep neat. Large boxes topple over when the shelves are moved, bags of snacks get piled on top of one another, and there’s often wasted vertical space between the shelves. Fortunately, there are several ways to make these drawers more organized and functional. Insert a vertical divider so that things can be neatly lined up and stored upright. Store foods such as noodles, cereal, rice and flour in stackable canisters that make better use of the vertical space than the products’ original packaging and won’t topple over every time the shelf is pulled out. And use clear, open bins to contain things such as snack bags and bars.

Ceiling-height cabinets

Cabinets that extend to the ceiling are now the norm in kitchen design. And it’s understandable — they make the ceiling appear higher, erase the problem of what to do with the ­awkward space between the cabinets and ceiling, and provide extra storage space. The problem, however, is that these out-of-reach cabinets give people an easy excuse to keep all kinds of things they don’t really want or need. And although it’s fine to keep some rarely used dishes or extra wine glasses in the uppermost cabinets, it is generally not a good idea to keep things or buy things just because you have the space to store them. If this applies only in your kitchen, you’re doing okay. Just don’t let this mind-set infiltrate other rooms.