Design Diversity 'Rules the Day' With Homeowners

Design Diversity 'Rules the Day' With Homeowners


That's the view of a team of global product merchants (GPMs) and product managers associated with the 52-store EXPO Design Center chain, the upscale retail initiative launched by the Atlanta-based Home Depot. The project managers and GPMs recently released their views on home design trends, based on visits to international trade shows and contacts with consumers.

In the kitchen, Shaker-style cabinetry is in high demand, EXPO product managers and GPMs observed, adding that "sophisticated styles" in dark mahogany finishes will be mainstream in the next few years.

"The boom in stainless steel appliances (which, EXPO officials said, still has not peaked) is driving consumer interest in darker woods, which balance well with stainless appliances," observed Armin Deutsch, EXPO's global product merchant for kitchens.

"To further soften the futuristic look kitchens took on a couple of years ago, a backsplash in green, blue or another muted color is an important design ingredient."

Deutsch also noted that granite countertops remain extremely popular. "While polished black granite has a stronghold, consumers are seeking more unique etched or honed granite styles and unlimited color choices," Deutsch noted, adding that he sees the engineered stone countertop category also "growing rapidly."

Also among today's key kitchen trends is a move by consumers toward unique built-in appliances, including narrow refrigerators, indoor grills and steamers, and wok burners with single- or dual-fuel choices.

In the bath, the "at-home spa" trend that started a few years ago is "practically commonplace," according to EXPO officials. In-demand products, they say, include shower panels offering adjustable body sprays, electric towel warmers, sauna systems, whirlpools and hygienic products such as bidets and electronic faucets.

Other key home design trends, according to EXPO officials, are as follows:

  • Blues and greens "are sure bets" for consumers interested in integrating nature and water themes into their homes. "These blues and greens are not pastels," said EXPO official Scott Mitchell. "They are distinct colors sky blue, indigo blue, apple green and turquoise. Bringing the outdoors inside the home will become a major theme, with the use of more wood and stone, as well as nature-influenced designs on fabrics, lighting and accessories."

  • Upcoming products "will have much softer, feminine lines and the look of hand-made quality with lots of contrasting materials," according to Mitchell. "[There's seemingly] a rebellion against the mass-produced look and a desire for more unique, artist-inspired pieces," he said.

  • EXPO merchants noted that it's an "eclectic era" for homes, with design "diversity ruling the day" and a strong American undercurrent making its presence felt. Mission, Southwestern, Colonial and lodge styles are the broad trends, replacing the recent dominance of Asian and Middle Eastern styles, they said, adding that stripes, animal prints and nature-inspired motifs are popular accents. EXPO officials also predicted that a "more sophisticated Southwestern style will emerge," blending American Indian, Spanish and European styles.

  • For hard-surface flooring, wider planks and rustic woods are much in demand, as are darker tones, bamboo flooring and exotics like Brazilian cherry. The earth-tone shadings of antiqued tumbled stone, or the more intense palette of slate tiles, are being sought to harmonize with nature-inspired design themes.