Rigby-Fisher adds that people are having more fun with their kitchens, doing a lot more curves and different shapes. “It’s not just straight runs of cabinetry anymore,” she comments. “People are interested in creating something individual, so we’re playing with different door styles and doing variations on slab designs.”
Lifestyle also continues to dictate most of the regional design elements being incorporated into American homes.
“We have a lot of women who stay at home, and they like to cook, so appliances are really important,” reports Gomes, “and people have specific requests about what they want their appliances to do. We also have people who do a lot of baking, so they want to have specialized baking centers.”
Krengel sees a huge demand for kitchens with adjacent mud rooms or back entrances that will hold boots and jackets for the whole family. “Customers are requesting a space for each member of the family that can hold a purse, briefcase, backpack or kids sports gear,” she observes. “People want to keep the clutter out of the kitchen, but know that there is an area for gear. It’s a family orientation, and puts a high priority on organization of the family.”
Schwartzman notes that restaurants that are just wine bars are becoming popular in the Phoenix area, so there is a strong interest in incorporating wine coolers into the kitchen. Climate and weather-related issues also play a role in the choice of some of the amenities used in kitchen design.
With regard to appliances, Schwartzman notes that she almost never includes a grill with a cooktop. “With warm weather the majority of the year, people only grill outside,” she comments. “An inside grill is a big no-no.”
Lighting is an important element in the Pacific Northwest, because of the rainy and overcast weather. “We don’t have a lot of natural light – it’s gray a lot – so people want to see warmer colors, which is why wood works so well here,” comments Rigby-Fisher. She puts a lot of work into the lighting of a room, “because you can do a fabulous kitchen, but if your lighting isn’t good, forget the design.”
She adds that lighting is a particularly good area for people to add color to their designs. “People are really wanting to do neat light fixtures, really interesting fixtures, in their kitchens,” she comments.
Tile flooring is gaining ground in the Midwest, where in years past it has been a luxury reserved for only the higher end customers because of its cold surface. The advent of more affordable floor heating systems has opened the door, however.
“Because it tends to be cold here a fair part of the time, people are looking for surfaces that are warmer and have texture to them, rather than those that have a glaring, shiny surface,” comments Krengel. “Floor heat has allowed people in Minnesota to enjoy some of the beauty of the tiles from around the world.”
Whether design influences come from the house down the street, the cities on the coast or hotels half-way around the world, kitchen and bath designers are helping their customers make them their own.