As I type these words, it’s cold and dreary outside; the sky is grey, the ground is frozen and my new outdoor grill appears to be all but shivering (having lost its warm cover to overly exuberant puppy teeth).
“Spring is never coming. I don’t think we’ll ever see color again,” I complain to a designer friend.
“I felt that way for almost five years,” she laughs. “I still have flashbacks to when the color du jour was ‘nondescript’ and all anyone cared about was resale. But it’s better now. Color is coming back. Color makes everything better.”
She’s right, of course. While the weather may still be winter drab, interiors seem to be getting lighter, brighter and a lot more interesting.
Color was everywhere at the recent Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, from warm metal finishes to myriad shades of blue, to silvery grey with hints of metallic shimmers adding a touch of sparkle to spaces that overall were lighter, brighter and a lot more modern than in years past – but in a softer, more livable way.
The show floor was overflowing with custom color palettes spanning the gamut from bold primary colors to classic neutrals to soft amethyst, ethereal rose and pale watercolor blue. Faucets and fittings showcased brass, gold, rose gold and matte black, and hardware also offered plenty of variety, from textured, rustic looks to sea-inspired designs to elegant, crystal-studded knobs and pulls.
But it’s not just color that’s changing the design landscape: Design is also getting a lot more personal. Having tossed the idea of designing for resale out the window, consumers are increasingly interested in creating spaces that speak to them individually, and resonate with who they are and who they want to be. Not surprisingly, designers are enjoying the resulting freedom to unleash their creativity – and that, too, seems to be more evident in designers’ attitudes today, and the projects they are doing.
In the kitchen, countertops and backsplashes are showcasing dramatic designs, from exotic wood mixes and endless variations of quartz to richly saturated hues of tile and colored glass mosaics that sparkle and dazzle, or glow with the help of LED lighting (see related story, Page 46). Even more neutral countertops are incorporating personalized elements, like multi-level island designs, or innovative edge treatments that set them apart from the norm.
Likewise, the newest appliances also follow the trend toward personalization, allowing users to pick and choose the cooking features they want. Technology also leaves room for the personal touch; not only do the latest ovens allow for remote operation, they can even store favorite family recipes for posterity (see related story, Page 50). And, of course, a growing number of appliances are now available in custom colors, with as many as 200 choices available to match just about anything one can imagine, or dream up.
In the master bath, customized storage for hair dryers, electric toothbrushes, jewelry, lingerie and more are increasingly being used to personalize the space for today’s homeowners (see related story, Page 40).
Instead of all of the bells and whistles in the shower, users can pick and choose only what they think they will use, whether that’s a rain showerhead, steam, Bluetooth capabilities, custom lighting, programmable water temperatures for each member of the family, adjustable jets with massage action or something else.
No one cares about keeping up with the Joneses anymore; rather, it’s about creating a luxury experience that fits one’s personal tastes, wants and needs. And the plethora of products on display at this year’s KBIS (see related story, Page 64) are designed to make it easier than ever for designers to provide these custom spaces that so speak to homeowners’ hearts.
For a number of people attending this year’s show, the return home was delayed by a powerful snowstorm – and for many, the remnants of winter are still hanging around. But until the weather improves, at least the kitchen and bath design industry is offering plenty of color, creativity and customization to warm things up.