Soft contemporary is popular right now because “products in this style offer the clean, minimal look for which contemporary is known, but in a softer version that offers greater flexibility in what materials and products will work well in that same space,” says Nicole Wittwer, senior product manager for color at Kohler Co., in Kohler, WI.
Jody Rosenberg, national sales manager for the Sunrise, FL-based Sonia, has noticed a push for transitional, contemporary and modern designs across the nation. “Even in traditional areas, we have seen sleek lines and designs grow in popularity,” says Rosenberg. “For instance, sink curves are getting looser and more sculptural. I think, overall, people are more inspired by a clean, clutter-free space that favors contemporary style over being ornate.”
Some markets have seen a rise in the clean, contemporary products, according to Hal Weinstein, founder and president Xylem Group, “but transitional design still rules the day,” he adds.
Sink trends seem to be defined as much by personal taste as by any specific style. And just as with design styles, consumers are choosing to mix and match.
“We have seen pedestal sinks grow in popularity in the last couple of years,” reports Rosenberg. “However, instead of the traditional pedestal sink that is very formal, people are looking for clean, minimalist and modern pedestal sinks.”
Wittwer claims that “wading pool” lavatories are gaining in popularity for their look and functionality. “Wading pools possess the look of a vessel with the functionality/ease of installation of a drop-in,” she says.
Vessel sinks tend to make a stronger visual statement, while undermounts make for a cleaner look and easier clean up, according to Lord. “More attention is being paid to the drains in these sinks as well, as they are now designed to be much more integrated or even nearly invisible, making for a unique appearance and a clean, uncluttered look,” Lord adds.
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Whether it’s the psychology of the poor economy or merely a fashion statement, consumers are turning to that warm, comfortable feel when it comes to faucet finishes.
When discussing faucets, chrome remains the top-selling finish at Grohe, however, brushed nickel has now become a very close second. “We offer brushed nickel in most of our lines, of course, but another important finish in traditional/Old World designs is oil-rubbed bronze,” says Al DeGenova, director of marketing communications and training for Grohe, in Bloomingdale, IL. “Black and white are coming back into the bathroom; 20 years ago, these were top-selling bath faucet finishes and we’re seeing interest growing in these colors once more.”
Lord has also noticed that warmer finishes such as brushed bronzes and warm, brushed gold tones are starting to trend dramatically upward. “One of the appealing factors for these types of finishes is not only do they work on more traditional types of designs, but they also play very well on the clean, contemporary geometries of fixtures and accessories. Whether the bathroom space is contemporary or traditional, the color palette has continued to warm over the past several years and this latest trend of warm gold and bronze tones has found a nice balance between these two worlds,” says Lord.
While in architecture, nature patterns highlight the popularity of natural materials and colors inside and outside of buildings, Riley says that in the faucet arena, that translates into matte, brushed and distressed finishes.
Taft admits that chrome and satin nickel have always been top sellers, but now polished nickel is moving up in terms of market share. “While polished nickel has always been popular, it’s becoming even more popular because of the extra warmth and elegance it offers,” he says.
Whether it’s removing toxic chemicals or conserving water, consumers are more conscious than ever when it comes to sustainability and eco-friendly living.
“Water conservation seems to be top of mind for homeowners these days – as long as the perceived performance is not affected,” says Wurth. Water-saving faucets are growing in popularity with the encouragement of the EPA WaterSense program. By converting lav faucets to meet WaterSense requirements, water savings of more than 30% over the products they replace can be realized.