Southwest colors in a New York loft? The romance of Charleston on the coast of Florida? California chic in Minnesota? Designers are beginning to wonder just what is going on with kitchen and bath design these days.
In the past, design trends tended to be fairly regional in nature, and therefore relatively predictable. Contemporary styles were only found in metropolitan areas on the coasts, and traditional reigned everywhere else. Any new trends started on the coasts, and trickled slowly inland.
“The joke was always: ‘What is the trend for Minnesota? Well, the trend is what was on the coast five years ago,’” comments Lori Jo Krengel, CMKBD, president, Kitchens by Krengel, in St. Paul, MN. “We never had to be real visionary because it was just going to happen.” With the advent of the Internet, and the increase in continental and world travel, however, things are definitely changing.
“Trends definitely move across the country more quickly than they used to,” reports KBDN columnist Mary Jo Peterson, CKD, CBD, owner, Mary Jo Peterson, Inc. in Brookfield, CT. She notes, however, that the metropolitan areas and the suburbs are still “often at different places at different times.”
Krengel reports that consumers from all areas are asking for specific types of design. “Whether it’s a Tuscany flavor, a European flavor, an Asian-rim influence – people are finding things that appeal to them on a global level, and they’re bringing them in and wanting them to be applied to their little kitchen regionally,” she says. “As a designer, it’s fun.”
People are traveling more and they see things in other parts of the country and the world and want to incorporate those things into their own homes. “I recently had a woman bring a picture of a bathroom suite in a luxury hotel where she had stayed, and she wanted her bathroom remodeled to reflect that particular bathroom because she thought it was very relaxing,” Beverly Dalton, owner of Signature Kitchen & Bath, Inc., in Bowling Green, KY reports.
“I had a client the other day pay the builder a compliment by saying, ‘my husband said that coming home every evening is like spending time on a European vacation.’ It was the highest compliment I could have heard, because the clients take a lot of European vacations, and that’s what they wanted their home to feel like,” remarks Julie Stoner, ASID, CKD, president, The Rutt Studio on the Mainline, in Wayne, PA.
Heidi Huddleston, CKD, manager of the Manchester, NH-based Dovetailed Kitchens, adds that she also has clients who are travelers, and “they often ask us to incorporate elements from their European vacations.”
Missi Bart, CKD, principal at Renaissance Design Studio, Inc., in Sarasota, FL notes that many of her clients want something that no one else has, “something that is uniquely their own.” To accomplish this, they often look to other areas of the country and the world for inspiration. “We do designs based on looks from Provence, Hampton Beach, Tuscany, even Charleston,” she reports. “Charleston is an architectural style that you don’t see very often in Sarasota, but it’s starting to have more of an influence here – complete with the use of brick, vibrant room colors, chandeliers. It’s just a beautiful, southern, traditional look.”
“Travel is having an impact,” agrees Peter Collins, designer at Alure Home Improvements, in East Meadow, NY. “Regions such as Europe and Asia are so dynamic in their design, and those influences are spreading like wildfire in the Long Island, NY area.
Collins adds that, while there seemed to be reluctance toward contemporary in the region a while back, “it was that cold contemporary. But now, with the influence of the Asian minimalist looks and the stark Italian design, in combination with the warmth of wood and other natural media, they’re a lot more receptive to contemporary now.”