Herreth feels that smaller kitchens offer a great opportunity to turn the countertops into an eye catching focal point, and she notes, “I think that in a small kitchen, you should add a pop of color or a bold pattern on a countertop and keep the rest more reserved.”
Of course not everyone is seeing a trend toward smaller kitchens. Marquez says Cosentino is seeing an increase in the average stone square footage used in most projects. He adds, “Layering different materials, finishes or colors in the kitchen can add an entirely new depth,” and he notes, “some consumers are starting to use a two-tone countertop design, selecting a product with more movement for the island and a solid hue around the perimeter.”
Hewing says that John Boos is seeing the trend toward multiple materials as well, where butcher block is integrated with stone/granite and other surfaces.
Durability & Maintenance
While the look of a countertop certainly impacts product choices, durability and ease of maintenance are just as important. “Due to the economy, we expect that the average life span of a kitchen may increase from seven years to nine or 10 years,” says Chmiel. “Understanding that kitchen countertops function as everything from food prep areas to homework hubs, we continually look for ways to create hardworking yet beautiful laminate finishes that maintain their original beauty over time.”
Interestingly, geography plays a role in the importance of durability, according to some manufacturers. As Warner explains, “People want a durable work surface in their kitchens. However, the demand for durability over beauty remains higher in the Midwest. On the East and West coasts, people seem more willing to sacrifice durability for [aesthetics].”
The Green Scene
Eco awareness also remains a key trend in kitchen design, and this is particularly true with countertops.
“Manufacturers and designers alike are paying more attention to producing and using more environmentally responsible products. I think it is not only important for the raw materials to be green, but also for the manufacturing processes to be environmentally friendly,” says Schmitt.
Pauwels concurs that green is on the rise, with consumers looking more closely into the impact of materials on the environment. “Most manufacturers tend to present a super green product but the reality is no manufactured material is completely green,” he says. “However, efforts are made to lessen [the impact of the manufacturing process] by working on the chain of production from raw material to delivery.”
Herreth concludes, “I think, in the near future, people will move away from countertops made exclusively from finite sources and look at ones that incorporate recycled components and practices.” KBDN