“I am seeing more contem-porary, but it is with woods,” agrees Terry Schwartzman, senior designer, Kitchens Southwest in Scottsdale, AZ. “It’s a warmer contemporary, and it’s not glossy.”
While Dalton notes that designers are still doing mostly wood cabinets in her region, “they take on a cleaner line, with less ornamentation,” she comments. “For a while we were using a lot of the onlays and corbels, but today the lines are cleaner and made to look a little bit more like the more contemporary cabinets.
I’m doing a little bit more contemporary design now. I’m still doing a lot of traditional, but now it’s more of a transitional look,” she comments.
“Here in Naperville, a suburb of Chicago, we’re seeing a push toward more contemporary and away from traditional to cleaner lines,” reports Jessica Gomes, designer for Casa Bella Design Center, in Naperville, IL. She adds that this trend was unexpected. “We have a fairly new showroom, and while we have a few traditional displays, it has been our contemporary ones that have been the biggest pullers.”
Still, many designers report that traditional still has strong roots in kitchen design. “If I do 10 kitchens, maybe half of one is contemporary,” reports Krengel. “Even though customers come in and ask for contemporary, it’s not really contemporary.”
Robin Rigby-Fisher, CKD, CBD, president, Pegasus Design, Inc., in Portland OR notes that some of her older clients who are in a higher income bracket are purposely embracing the older traditional look. “A lot of young people are moving into the downtown area and are doing much more contemporary looks, and older clients are trying to fight that trend,” she explains. “I think people who are stable and who have had their money for a while are leaning more toward the very, very elegant traditional look. I’m putting chandeliers in kitchens like crazy!”
Regional design preferences are often driven by consumer desires and personalities.
For instance, “if it’s a first-time home buyer, typically they’re going to try to be trendy,” remarks Krengel, “sometimes to the detriment of it 10 years from now.”
Anna Maria Vona, v.p. at Carmana Designs in Philadelphia, PA notes that her customers are going for very high drama with regard to their kitchens. “People are going for very sleek, modern, urbane, jaw-dropping, make-your-friends-green-with-envy looks,” she notes about the Philadelphia area.
Her firm did a ribbon-striped African mahogany kitchen for a granite/marble showroom, and “everybody wants this kitchen because it’s so dramatic,” she comments.
Wendy Hall, CKD, interior designer, Home Valu Interiors, in Urbandale, IA would like to see consumers design their kitchens in keeping with the architecture of their homes, but she doesn’t see that in her area of the Midwest. “I think that’s kind of sad,” she remarks.
Instead, “they see what their friends have, and they do what’s hot and what people talk them into.” She also notes that sticking with the home’s style is usually more expensive, “and customers will say they don’t think it’s worth that much more to try to be specific to the style of the house.”
One of the ways people are reflecting their personalities as well as depicting their region of the country is through the use of color and tile.
“Because of the desert environment, we still get requests for softer colors, such as sage green,” offers Schwartzman.
Huddleston notes that, while her region of New England is fairly traditional, her firm is doing a lot of custom color right now. “People are looking to do unique things in their own homes,” she comments, noting a slight trend in purple as an example. “We’ve done five kitchens with purple custom painted on the island or some accent pieces. It’s fun for us, because it’s not really considered traditional.”
“For a while, we were very reluctant to use color in the parts of the home that were going to remain there for a long time,” comments Dalton. “Designers would encourage people just to use color in their wall colors or wallpaper or accessories. But today, people are a little more likely to use color in areas that are to remain, such as the granite countertops and the tile and things they won’t be replacing readily.”