Dealers Mull Future of Home Technology, Design

Kitchen & Bath Design News recently posed the question to dealers and designers in the kitchen and bath industry: “Where do you see technologically integrated kitchens and baths heading in the future?” Following are some of the responses KBDN received:

“I think that wiring homes for wireless networks and home office systems, and having proper power to homes [are going to be key concerns in the future]. It seems that we’re doing everything we can to be connected because we all live such active lives. For example, I work from home and most of my clients also work from home, so they are over our shoulder all day long. They have the flexibility to keep in contact.

The part that troubles me is figuring out how to get an enormous painting to disappear in the kitchen ceiling to conceal a flat-screen television over a fireplace where it never should have been in the first place. From a technical perspective, we also might see an issue with technological products having problems with reliability.

Ironically, it seems the more advanced the technology becomes, the less reliable those products become. Therefore, the higher the performance of the appliance, the more critical the [reliability of the] components of that product become, in my opinion.

We really don’t need to be at the level that we’re at for everything that we’re doing. I worry that certain items may not be right for every high-end kitchen or bath. However, from a designer’s perspective, I would not want to give up the technology, either. I certainly don’t want to go back to the days of putting a piece of trace over an outline of the room and taking stabs.”

Steven M. Levine, CMKBD, president
Euro-Plus Design, Inc.
Madison, CT

“A s baby boomers age and the next generations come up, there will be much more of a demand for everything to be computerized. People can call up their oven and turn it on, but I think [this type of technology] will be even more common in the future. Depending on the budget, the options are nearly unlimited. Clients can watch the news in their bath each morning, and there are kitchen countertops where you can read your computer-generated recipes on the countertop.

Young people are growing up with these things and [are more comfortable using that technology]. If they are willing to pay for that technology and want it available, then we will make them happy. Is it helping the overall design? I don’t know. But I am not the average customer.”

JoLynn Johnson, CMKBD, president
Crystal Kitchen Center
Crystal, MN

“I have found that a lot of those things – although neat and innovative – attract men more because they are much more intrigued by the technology and interested in taking the time to get into that. Men love mechanical things. I don’t know how quickly it is actually going to become part of the mainstream, if it ever really will.

I think one of the reasons is that it needs to become affordable to the masses. I go into some of the everyday appliance stores and I see some of these things – like a television on the front of the refrigerator – so maybe it is coming.

We also have to remember that each generation is more comfortable around computers and technology than the generation before them. It may be that, in the next five to 10 years, these things will be coming on board – although today it is pretty normal for people to wire their whole houses and do things that allow them to control the lights or drapery from one remote control.

It’s definitely coming, [and we will see more technology in the kitchen and bath] in the future.”

Alice Atkins McCoy, CMKBD, ASID Allied
Alice Designs for You
Jacksonville Beach, FL

“I think that [the growth of technology] is definitely the way things are going to continue to head, such as with flat screen TVs, or the communication with surround sound. So, within the home, people could have classical music in the family room or hip hop in the basement or whatever – all controlled from the kitchen.

As a designer, these products really help us out, but we also have to be in the learning mode. There is a lot of technology out there that designers need to know about so they can understand what they can or can’t do as far as heat resistance or how close you can put these things together. We have to remember that there are not a lot of codes out there. What happens, when these items are manufactured, the inspectors are not up-to-speed and continue to put their input into the design. This can make things complicated when you are designing cabinets for certain areas.”

Ray Gabler, designer/owner
OHI Design
Manassas, VA

“Computers used to be reserved for designated areas, such as for schoolwork. Now computers are being integrated into a whole-house environment. Everything is computerized, such as lighting or the ability to program ovens to start while you’re away.

In my opinion it is a natural evolution, and it’s important that the design remain aesthetically pleasing. Often people want the convenience technology brings, but don’t want to see it, [so we as designers must learn to incorporate technology without ruining the aesthetics of the space].”

Diane Bohstedt, designer
Cabinets at Danada, Inc.
Wheaton, IL