Kitchen and Bath Designers Say Clients Value Function and Flexibility
Function is of the utmost importance to clients when choosing specialty appliances, say kitchen and bath designers recently surveyed by KBDN.
“Homeowners are really looking for function. Clients with specific functional needs that have to be addressed – especially families where more than one person engages in the preparation of the meals – are more likely to add specialty appliances,” notes Heather Alton, president of New England Kitchen & Bath in Londonderry, NH
Alicia Valair, CKD, Allied Member ASID, and principal of Lifestyle Design Interiors in Slidell, LA agrees. “The overall design of the kitchen is dictating aesthetics, yet a client’s choice of appliances is first determined by function,” she says. “Consumers purchasing specialty appliances are looking for innovation regarding function, aesthetics and – even more importantly – convenience.”
Designers confirm lifestyle is an important factor in the selection of appliances. “Lifestyle has a lot to do with what type of appliance they use,” says Jeremy Pfaff, v.p. at The Kitchen Showcase in Centennial, CO. When people choose specific products, such as wine refrigeration, warming drawers and coffee appliances, Pfaff says they are more likely to use them, because these are specialty purchases made specifically with their lifestyle in mind.
These types of appliances also require extra thought; while everyone needs a refrigerator or an oven, a built-in coffee maker is a choice, and that means it’s usually highly valued by a client or it wouldn’t have “made the cut” as part of the remodel.
“Lifestyle choice is paramount when deciding on an appliance purchase,” Valair concurs. For instance, “Clients with lifestyles centered around entertaining may purchase outdoor kitchen appliances, wine storage units and numerous small appliances,” she states.
“Homeowners are very busy, and would prefer to cater to their families rather than clean their kitchen,” Alton adds. This contributes to the popularity of “hidden” appliances, which she has seen particularly with regard to microwaves. “Microwaves are the number one appliance clients do not want to visually see in their kitchen. More emphasis goes into “hiding” them than any other appliance,” she observes.
Pfaff has seen a great increase in the desire for the integrated look, as well. Even if homeowners don’t have the budget for a true built-in, he says, they desire the built-in look in refrigeration.
Valair says consumers are also seeking features that reflect the principles of Universal Design. “These appliances are purchased because of their ease of use and adaptability into a kitchen design, aesthetics and ‘lifestyle’ appeal. All family members should be able to use the appliance…that’s Universal Design,” she says.
Pfaff has seen demand for double ovens, warming drawers and, quite often, specialty refrigeration either in the kitchen, bar or butler’s pantry. Point-of-use is important with specialty appliances; the idea that clients can have what they want where they use it is part of the whole customization trend that remains so appealing to consumers today.
“I find there is much more emphasis placed on beverages such as wine, beer and liquor storage than ever before. Coffee/espresso makers are the number one specialty appliance on the rise,” Alton adds.
“Sleek and built-in coffee machines are still on top of the list for upscale kitchens,” Valair agrees. In addition, she notes combination convection ovens and steamers are popular, since they enhance the cooking experience by offering options while increasing speed.