Webster believes that the vast array of stunning contemporary options lend themselves well to personalizing the kitchen, and he believes that “people are looking for more dramatic, contemporary styling versus the more standard designs. They want curves, angles and eye-catching designs.”
“Stylistically, contemporary designs are growing in popularity. Since a faucet serves as an expression of style without dominating a room, it’s a very good place for homeowners to try out modern designs,” concurs Burhans. On the other hand, Rohl says “traditional continues to be the overall design demand,” though he admits that “contemporary has a following with younger, more urban consumers.”
According to Consorzio Italy Export in Novara, Italy, “We still have great demand for traditional-style kitchen sinks. Contemporary styles and stainless steel are [also requested], but mostly for high-value kitchens.” While there is a small segment of the market that wants a fully customized sink, many manufacturers believe that these are impractical – and, with so many options available today, mostly unnecessary. As Webster sees it, “With the huge number of suppliers and the enormous amount of design choices available, the need for a fully customized sink doesn’t really exist.”
Ann Rottinghaus, program manager/residential markets, for Elkay Sinks & Faucets in Oak Brook, IL, agrees: “We feel as if we bring to market the shapes, styles and textures that Americans prefer, without having to specify a custom piece.”
But Rachiele, who only deals in custom sinks, has a different perspective. “It seems odd to have a custom kitchen without a custom sink!” Rachiele asserts.
Materials & Finishes
When it comes to material choices, stainless steel sinks are still hot, and manufacturers don’t expect this trend to peak in the near future. “It is a seminal, intuitive and familiar material; the ‘little black dress’ for your kitchen that never goes out of style,” says Ken Fey, executive director of Houzer Sinks in Somerset, NJ.
Rottinghaus has also seen a continuation of the influence of commercial-grade and -style steel in residential kitchens. “This trend reinforces stainless steel as a critical element to the overall landscape of the entire kitchen setting; the strength and integrity of steel quite beautifully complements the warmth and enduring qualities of the traditional American wood kitchen,” she says.
Burhans points out that while stainless steel clearly dominates, consumers are growing more discriminating in their tastes. “More innovative designs and features are being added to standard stainless steel products to make them more exciting,” he says.
But while stainless steel remains hot, manufacturers have also seen a rise in the demand for softer, neutral colors. Webster has seen a growing trend toward bisque sinks installed under natural-colored granite and engineered stones. Rohl points to a growing demand for the company’s Pergame (Biscuit) colored fireclay sinks, as consumers look to create a softer, warmer look in their kitchens.
As for faucet finishes, Morse believes consumers are also looking for finish options that reflect an Old World style, such as Delta’s Venetian Bronze and Aged Pewter. “These finishes offer more of a rustic yet modern feel to the room. It kind of softens it up a bit rather than having stainless, so you’re able to mix and match here,” she notes.
“Designs that complement the overall architecture of the kitchen are key,” says Rohl. “Solid brass in matching finishes to the other appliances or fixtures in the kitchen continue to be in high demand.”
Rottinghaus is noticing more demand for brushed nickel, as well as increased interest in a deep, rich-feeling faucet with darker color values. Consorzio Italy Export is seeing high demand for chrome and brass nickel finishes, with a surviving interest in old bronze and gold, as well.
And others note that stainless steel is also in high demand for faucets due to the desire to blend them with the look of the stainless appliances.
While sizes and shapes may vary, when it comes to style, undermount sinks are the most popular choice, according to manufacturers surveryed. That’s in part because of the clean lines they give, and in part because of the easy maintenance – a growing consumer concern as society becomes increasingly time-pressed.