The Gulf Coast — Sun and sand, seafood and Southern hospitality, bayous and river basins, traditional and transitional design. That’s according to industry pros working in the Gulf states interviewed by Kitchen & Bath Design News.
Angela Poirrier, owner and designer at Acadian House Design & Renovation in Baton Rouge, LA, notes a prevailing desire among her clients for transitional style spaces “combining Acadian/Southern colors with modern clean lines.”
Project manager and director of design at Encore Luxury Cabinets and Design in Naples, FL, Robert VanBenschoten observes a love for transitional design, along with coastal casual and the occasional modern/contemporary design.
Simple yet sumptuous
For Gulf Coast clients, quality natural materials are always the number-one choice. Poirrier points to a desire for high-quality materials “like quartz and porcelain tile, while using natural materials in areas as accents, adding that textured tile is a particular want for many clients.
Across the board, Gulf Coast clients seem to increasingly favor slab front cabinets that can bring a modern flair to even traditional-leaning designs: “My clients are most interested in full access, painted flat panel door styles with stained wood accent cabinetry – usually walnut or rift-sawn white oak,” VanBenschoten says.
The move toward flat or slab front cabinetry is seconded by Ed Perrier, founder and sales manager of V.I.P. Kitchens in New Orleans, LA, with an additional nod to the increasing popularity of color in kitchens. “Although the Metro New Orleans market remains largely traditional, we are seeing more modern lines and styles becoming increasingly popular,” he says. “This is seen in simpler slab front cabinet doors with heavy wood grain or metallic finishes. For their kitchens, islands and pantries, many of our clients are beginning to embrace color while in their baths, more serene spa like tones are still overwhelming favorites.”
“There is a shift to color,” Poirrier agrees, “a move away from the all-white spaces. White [is still] a main part of the design, but not the dominant color.”
Work hard, play hard
At a glance, the “typical” Gulf Coast client seems to be anything but. Poirrier points to a recent shift in her client base from “newly empty-nesters [who are] both working professionals” to “young adults with kids, who are both working professionals.” VanBenschoten, meanwhile, points to a clientele comprised of “retired professionals with a second home in Florida, usually working with a custom home builder and/or designer,” while Perrier notes a prevalence of “upper middle class with ages ranging from the low-high 20s to 70s.”
What all of these population segments seem to have in common, however, is a busy professional life and no time to waste on poorly functional spaces. Poirrier notes a certain no-nonsense approach to the design process. “They want better quality materials and install,” she says, adding that her clients just “want to trust the people that will be in their home.” VanBenschoten agrees, stating that his clients “are looking for honesty and integrity in the building professionals they choose to work with.”
Although function always comes first – abundant storage and clear workflow, universally – creativity and luxury are a close second. Poirrier observes that her clients love high-quality, beautiful natural materials, and are “looking for spaces that reflect themselves, with a nod to resale.”
“Our typical client is a more adventurous consumer and doesn’t want what all their neighbors have. Far from keeping up with the Joneses, our clients are forging their own design path with more of a modern aesthetic,” adds Perrier.
VanBenschoten agrees that his clients tend to be risk takers: “There is no better place in the country to be working as a cabinet designer than southwest Florida. The opportunities here for creativity and innovation in cabinet design are endless.” ▪