Kitchen, Bath Design Seen ‘More Modest’ in Face of Economy

WASHINGTON, DC — Without the rapid appreciation in home values experienced between 1995 and 2005, the design of kitchens and baths has recently been “somewhat more modest,” according to the results of a recent survey conducted by the American Institute of Architects.

According to the AIA’s “Home Design Trends Survey” for the fourth quarter of 2009, “functionality is now preferred to more and larger kitchens and bathrooms within U.S. homes.”

The Washington, DC-based AIA noted that survey findings revealed that households are placing a particular premium now on products and features that promote energy efficiency and adaptability in the use of space for seniors and those with accessibility concerns.

“The consensus is that homes will continue to be smaller on average than they were in the past decade,” observed AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. “But since kitchens remain the nerve center of the home, doing more with less space is a key consideration.”

According to Baker, integrating kitchens with adjacent family spaces remains a design priority, as does including areas devoted to recycling, pantries, computer workstations, and spaces for recharging laptops, cell phones and PDAs.

“Homeowners are [now] looking for water-saving toilets, radiant heated flooring and LED lighting options to manage utility costs,” Baker said.

He noted a gradual improvement to business conditions in the kitchen and bath remodeling sector, in contrast to other key construction sectors –including the move-up home market, the luxury home market, the townhouse/condo market, and the vacation home market – where conditions weakened in the fourth quarter of 2009.

According to Baker, the AIA survey revealed that more architects “say they’re seeing demand for home-remodeling projects, including kitchen and bath upgrades and home additions.”

The AIA Home Design Trend Survey is conducted quarterly among a panel of 500 architecture firms that concentrate on the residential sector.

A Number of Trends Seen Impacting Interior Design in 2010

Gilberts, IL — With a more optimistic outlook for 2010, many homeowners are starting to consider investing in their current home with interior design upgrades that reflect the emergence of several distinct trends.

So says interior design expert Christine Jurs, v.p. and senior designer of Advance Design Studio Ltd., a residential design-build firm located in this Chicago suburb.

“The great thing about design trends is that many of these looks have been gaining popularity over the last few years, which allows homeowners to now achieve an elevated level of design in their home,” says Jurs.

Among the key residential design trends Jurs sees for 2010 are the following:

  • Bringing the outdoors in. As far as a color palette goes, “look to natural tones such as jewel and earth tones,” Jurs says. “For pops of color, try a vibrant apple green or rich plum,” she adds, noting that for earth tones, “look to subtle ‘Grand Canyon’ colors of rich, muted golds and burnt oranges.”
  • Finding the beauty in imperfections. Natural and distressed elements will be a big trend this year, Jurs says. From distressed cabinetry to dark hardwood floors or stone flooring replacing carpet, “imperfections are another way to add character to design elements in the home,” she observes.
  • Using more than just paint to brighten up a space. For an updated color palette, there are more options than just wall color, Jurs suggests. “Achieve a new color palette with accents such as decorative tile or contrasting flooring and cabinetry,” she says. “A new look for the kitchen combines dark hardwood floors with white cabinetry for a natural brightness to the space,” she adds.
  • Retro takes over the bathroom. The comfort of the classic farmhouse is being incorporated into the bathroom, with dynamic retro elements such as freestanding clawfoot bathtubs, furniture-style distressed cabinetry and vanity pieces, according to Yurs.
  • Green continues to grow. Green design has become more than just a trend, but a standard practice in many design and build projects, Yurs points out. “While large design elements such as concrete and glass countertops and bamboo flooring continue to gain popularity, smaller green elements such as glass tile and energy-efficient appliances offer small cosmetic changes for homeowners to live a greener lifestyle,” she observes.