Some years just seem to zoom by. This has felt like one of them, especially compared to the last two COVID ‘decades-in-a-year.’
What kitchen and bath design industry trends did 2022 reveal? Which ones will continue into the new year? To answer those questions, I reached out to four industry professionals:
- Host of the “Around the House Show” on radio, TV and podcast and design/construction educator Eric Goranson
- Lisa McClelland, senior v.p. of design studios for upscale national homebuilder Toll Brothers
- Carolyn Ames Noble, Atlanta-based designer and American Society of Interior Designers’ Board Chair
- Steve Smith, CEO of high-end, Southern California retail chain Pirch.
Smith notes that supply chain issues have improved, particularly in reduced Asian import delays, but are still bedeviling the industry. Component shortages are part of the problem, but so is the war in Ukraine, he says. “I think we will be dealing with supply chain issues and delays in some manner throughout 2023, but it will continue to get better and better every month.”
Designers have been finding ways to work around the challenges, Noble shares, including with local sourcing whenever possible. “Supply chain issues have affected every facet of the design world this past year.” She’s somewhat more confident in a 2023 recovery.
Goranson is a bit more bearish on economic factors. “I don’t see the supply chain and pricing issues recovering any time soon,” he predicts. He also sees issues for the industry with new construction slowing down, adding, “I think the current issues will continue through most of 2023.”
“The ASID 2022 Trends Report found that most homes currently have at least one or two smart items, and projects that by 2023 more than half will have three or more,” Noble comments.
Smith sees his luxury clients being enticed by their convenience, citing “being able to start your washer and dryer from your couch or being able to preheat your oven on your drive home. Customers are extremely interested in things that simplify everyday tasks.”
Interoperability will likely be one of the factors that drives adoption and true convenience, and will be a strong trend in the new year, Goranson anticipates. It’s been talked about and worked on for years, and is finally emerging. “The hot item in kitchen and baths is compatibility of all the smart home tech working together so you don’t have to have five apps on your phone to control it,” he observes. “We are seeing a lot less ‘new’ smart tech items hitting the marketplace but they are now starting to really work together.” This is a trend that will definitely continue into 2023.
Another trend Goranson observes is over-the-air appliance updates. This began a few years ago with manufacturers adding air fry and other capabilities to the ranges they had already sold. It’s a definite boon to homeowners and a reason for them to stay electronically connected to manufacturers. Those connections can certainly be leveraged into future leads and sales.
“We are seeing the modifications that stemmed from COVID now being implemented as permanent wants and needs from clients, and we predict their continuous proliferation as we enter 2023,” Noble says. These include handwashing/sanitizing spaces and secondary islands for dining, entertaining, Zoom happy hour, homework and other needs, the designer notes. The ASID Report shared that wellness is a driving concern in both kitchen and bathroom trends, she adds.
Goranson points to the ‘well-washing’ many of us have seen in the industry, with instant wellness influencers hawking questionable products. The pandemic played a part in that trend, he recalls, with millions of consumers both staying home and experiencing previously untested shortcomings of their homes. “I predict in 2023 we will see much more thought going into wellness and sustainability that is supported by real world conditions versus someone on a social media platform making baseless claims,” he adds. Amen!
Layouts: Goranson sees the decades-strong open-concept trend evolving. “We are starting to see more spaces broken up so that someone in the living room can have a little privacy for schoolwork, online learning, or a Zoom meeting while someone is preparing in the kitchen. Is the open concept dead? I don’t think we are there yet, but we will continue to see less of that in 2023 and beyond.”
Flexible design, including varying counter heights and improved lighting, for multi-generational needs will also increase, Noble predicts, citing a quadrupling to 26% of these households in the last decade. She also sees kitchens extending into their homes’ outdoor spaces, with one in five study respondents adding this feature.
“The pantry has been a greater area of focus and investment for our homebuyers, possibly driven by more people staying in and cooking at home,” McClelland says. “The luxury pantry of today is much larger [with] organizational components.” She sees this trend continuing through 2023 and beyond, along with other kitchen features like “wine storage, hospitality bars, and other creative storage solutions as people entertain more in their homes.” Larger or multiple islands are also trending as people multi-task and host in their kitchens.
Appliances: The Goranson also predicts more induction cooking appliance sales resulting from gas bans in California and other states. He additionally predicts that sous vide functionality, widely used in cooking shows, will spark continued consumer demand.
Noble sees more hidden and doubled appliance trends. Concealing them appeals to those seeking a seamless aesthetic. “Having two – two stoves, two fridges – whatever the appliance, adding another increases a kitchen’s functionality for some homeowners,” the designer observes.
Smith is seeing beverage center appliance trends. “We used to sell built-in coffee machines in one out of ten kitchens, and now it’s more like three or four out of ten. Customers want to put in their own version of either a bar or a soft drink center, so their homes are better equipped for entertaining. Anything that allows people to entertain in their home has become a must-have.”
McClelland’s homebuyers are drawn to smart appliances, the designer says, noting that “voice commands to assist with cooking are highly desired,” as are “wall ovens with remote access for pre-heating, checking cooking status, and personalizing settings, all managed remotely via WiFi connections to control units from anywhere.”
Storage: The pandemic inspired many homeowners to shop in bulk and storage has evolved to meet that need. “I see larger pantries coming into style and more thought going into kitchen storage accessories,” Goranson says.
“A storage trend we’re seeing is a designated cabinet or pantry space to hold counter appliances when not in use,” Noble notes. “It keeps things off the counter in an easy to access space, keeping the kitchen clean and harmonious.”
Surfacing: Goranson predicts increased demand for porcelain slab countertops. “The durability is a huge factor and now that fabricators have a better understanding on how to work with it, combined with materials that are fabrication-friendly, we will see more used in kitchens.” He also expects to see more use of large-format porcelain for floors and walls. All three will be brought outdoors, too.
“We’re integrating nature into our kitchens through natural, inherently antibacterial, and sustainable materials like copper, certain kinds of oak and fireclay sinks,” reports Noble, citing the ASID Report showing “44% of consumers are willing to change their lifestyles to invest more in sustainable products and brands.” Designers will be encouraging this trend, she says.
Fixtures and Faucets: “Faucets that have multiple features have been a big trend,” Smith says. This includes both multiple spray modes, but also multiple water types, like “filtered chilled, boiling and sparkling water all out of the same faucet with the touch of a button. We sell these as an additional faucet to almost all our customers,” he adds. He’s also seeing more workstation sinks “where you can prepare, cook, serve, entertain and wash all in one area.”
Goranson also sees chef sinks leading trends in 2023 and increased popularity for better touchless faucets, but not a total market takeover. “Smart really needs to be smart for the public to need it. I don’t think we are there yet.”
Toll Brothers’ clients are bullish on products that make cleanliness easier, McClelland shares. “Touchless faucets and sinks with Microban are rising in demand,” she notes.
Layouts: “Larger primary bathrooms allow for freestanding bathtubs and larger walk-in showers, outfitted with state-of-the-art plumbing fixtures that have smart technology features plus water conservation and spa-like functionality,” McClelland comments.
Larger showers will continue to trend into the new year, Goranson notes. He also sees barrier-free entries continuing, partly because they can now be installed without a lot of framing changes. These enhance both style and access. “I am seeing a trend of improved accessibility into bathrooms,” he adds. “I am not talking about that ugly ADA hotel bathroom, but well-thought-out spaces people can grow older in that will stand the test of time.”
“Shower rooms are a new trend in bathrooms,” Noble declares. “As reported in the ASID 2022 Trends Report, there’s an increased demand for relaxing and calming areas for people to de-stress. With this need comes the rise of shower rooms as spaces for people to unwind and get away.”
Fixtures and Faucets: “We’re seeing a rise in high-tech toilet systems, with added features such as self-sanitizing technology,” Noble comments. She sees these continuing to trend in 2023 and beyond. Many of those will be wall hung for ease of cleaning, McClelland adds.
Bidets are also booming, and steam showers and aromatherapy are becoming more popular and affordable, Goranson says. He’s less sure about digital showers. “There is a fear of only getting a few years out of it before having to remodel and upgrade. The manufacturers will need to better address that for many people to consider them.”
When it comes to showering, Toll Brothers is emphasizing the bathroom as a self-care sanctuary with rain showerheads, body sprays and hand showers. This does not mean that tubs have disappeared. In fact, they’ve evolved into sculpture, Smith declares. “The variety of materials, styles, designs and colors is incredible. Customers now want their tub to become the focal point of their bathroom, and I don’t think that’s going away.”
Enhanced mirrors aren’t going away either, even though they may no longer substitute for medicine cabinets. Smith sees them on the rise, he says. “The lighted mirror trend has grown dramatically to the point that we have seen 400% sales growth. Every customer wants lighted LED mirrors!” he declares, and they’re going into secondary bathrooms, too.
“Smart technology and integration have become popular with lighting fixtures and wall hung mirrors,” McClelland comments. “These products offer voice command and touchless functionality to adjust for moods and times of day.”
Storage: Storage will be big in the new year, with trends like wall-hung vanities continuing and medicine cabinets making a comeback. “This will address the multiple items that clutter a current bathroom countertop with electric toothbrushes, water flossers, electric shavers, hair dryers and so many more plug-in appliances,” Goranson observes.
Surfacing: Porcelain will prevail here, too, as it’s a durable, low-maintenance surface for floor and wall. The host/educator also sees shower drying systems trending for their time-saving and hygienic properties. Custom wallpaper will also grow in popularity as homeowners seek to personalize their homes and prices drop, he predicts. Noble is seeing biophilia-inspired wallpaper with various elements of nature depicted.
Toll Brothers’ McClelland also points to heated surfaces as a trend for the homebuilders’ clientele.
“Over the last couple of years we have seen every group of customers upgrade their homes,” Smith shares. “Customers from every level of income want better products, with more features and technological enhancements.” They’ve had to deal with contractor and product shortages driven by a global pandemic, the retail executive notes. But they’re incredibly enthusiastic about improving their homes and health in the new year. So are we! ▪
Jamie Gold, CKD, CAPS, MCCWC is an award-winning author, wellness design consultant and industry speaker. You can learn more about her design industry presentations, books, Clubhouse events and consulting services at jamiegold.net.