Consumer Preferences Reflected in NKBA Competition

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ — A number of consumer-driven design trends and product preferences were reflected in the 2010 Design Competition sponsored by the National Kitchen & Bath Association, according to the Hackettstown, NJ-based NKBA, which announced the winners of the competition at April’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in Chicago.

Among the key trends included:

  • Concealed Kitchens: Kitchen design has reached a new level of integration, according to the NKBA. The quiet incorporation of the kitchen into the home’s primary living and entertaining rooms provides homeowners with far more flexibility in their lifestyles. The incorporation of integrated and concealed appliances allows the kitchen to enhance rather than intrude into other spaces. Clean structural lines coupled with sleek color palettes enable the space to establish a distinctive identity, without overpowering the surrounding rooms.
  • Beverage Stations: A new element being added to many kitchens is a beverage station. This area is usually comprised of an undercounter refrigerator and wine refrigeration, as well as a coffeemaker, which can be as varied as the homeowners using them, ranging from simple single-pot coffeemakers to larger units capable of making espresso, latte and cappuccino. This functional destination within the kitchen typically houses stemware, coffee cups, silverware, cream, sugar and tea, and may have a smaller bar area.
  • Scaling of Elements: Shapes, actual and implied textures, along with the placement of fixtures, are being used to create scale. The overall composition of kitchens and baths is being defined by a sense of scale, which is both functional and visually appealing. An irregularly textured pebbled wall, marbled surface in glass tile, reflective metallic material or symmetrically hung pendant lighting directs the eye around the room and contributes to a balanced space. Distinctive wall coverings, tin ceilings and the implied texture of a wood grain are stand-out details that are being seen as contributors to the balance of current designs.
  • Color with Energy: Bold colors are creating a vibrant splash in room palettes for 2010, with rich blues, purples, greens and citrus yellow making appearances in kitchens and baths. Colors exuding emotion also bring life through lighting, wall colors and wood tones. Colors from nature combined with others more synthetically blended are inducing a feeling of movement and motion throughout the room.
  • Soft Geometry: Rounded organic shapes can be seen in the edge of a counter or island top, an arch over an entryway or cooking hearth, the curved lines of a light fixture and well-placed, space-defining soffits. Softer geometry is showing up with fortitude in contemporary and traditional designs alike. The introduction of rounded islands and countertops carves a smooth-flowing traffic pattern throughout the room, while an appropriately placed arch will bring an overall softening to the more angular fixed features that are typical in kitchens and baths.
  • Space Subtleties: Fixtures once confined by location are now being incorporated into kitchen and bath designs in almost limitless ways. This freedom in the use of space allows designers to create design-driven room plans rather than those driven by necessity and space solutions. Floating vanities and wall-mounted toilets provide an unobstructed and spacious feel to a bathroom, while appliances that are stacked and positioned within islands are contributing to functionality in the kitchen by bringing together task spaces with the right appliances.
  • Design Framing: Designers are bringing artistic details to new heights. A seemingly simple detail, such as the use of a soffit along the ceiling or a width of wall space surrounding inset cabinetry, can call out the item being framed as a focal point while also providing visual balance to the room. The thickness of a countertop edge outlined by a higher countertop acts to highlight a unique material used in the surface. Balance in design is achieved through simply symmetry. Portions of a room can be treated as a piece of art, with a frame indicating its presence.
  • Varying Heights: Island tops, countertops and partial walls are being customized to the task performed there and the needs of the homeowners. Pairing lower desk and prep areas with higher breakfast bar surfaces provides convenient task-specific spaces, which fosters a greater level of family interaction within the kitchen. In the bathroom, this design concept not only provides function, but balances the space. Varying heights seen in the edge of a wood bar top or granite countertop serve as a beautiful counterbalance.
  • Japanese Influences: Japanese design can be seen very subtly in clean lines, open spaces and neutral color palettes with bold splashes of color in select areas. More apparent Japanese influence is showing up in designs across North America, relying often on one strong anchor piece of Japanese origin. Artwork, Japanese antiques and the traditional qualities of Japanese culture are at the core of some compelling kitchen and bath designs.
  • Art Integration: The introduction of a favored piece of art as the basis for a design – perhaps a framed painting or an antique sculpture – creates challenges, but also offers guidelines and solutions to color and material choices, as well as selections of theme. As artwork itself is personal to the owner, this presents an intimate quality to the space. This type of integration allows the designer to fold other aspects of the room around the treasured piece.

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