On The Surface

On The Surface

The newest trends in surfacing favor natural stone and stone looks, dramatic accent colors and unusual combinations of materials to create multi-use, more personalized spaces.

By Janice Anne Costa

Creative applications, such as limestone used on a hood, or cement with copper or wood inlays used on countertops, can add surface interest, creating even more opportunities for personalizing designs.

Additionally, granite and stone looks, subtle, earthy colors and large-particulate patterns remain hot, while a new trend sees dramatic splashes of color such as purple and tangerine being used as accents, according to kitchen and bath dealers and designers interviewed by K&BDN.

Material Choices
In the kitchen, mixing materials continues to appeal to consumers, in large part because, "People want to make the space more unique," according to Gail Olsen, CKD, and owner of the Torrington, CT-based Ducci Kitchens, Inc. Quite simply, she believes, "They don't want to walk into someone else's home and find something similar."

To that end, she says, "The most prevalent trend is the combination of products, rather than using one product throughout. I find myself doing more creative combining of products to get them to blend and play off each other i.e. granite mixed with Corian or wood surfaces."
The desire for mix-and-match surfaces is about more than just aesthetics, according to Beverly S. Dalton, owner of Bowling Green, KY-based Signature Kitchen and Bath, Inc. She notes, "I think people are looking more for multiple-use surfaces [to make the kitchen work better], and for that reason, they are mixing or combining multiple surfaces in the kitchen area. They are choosing solid surface
with granite or butcher block, depending on how they are going to be used in the kitchen. Stainless steel is also big in
the kitchen."

As for which materials they favor, Donna Iadarola, owner of Bee Custom Kitchens and Baths, div. of AJ Carpentry, Inc., in Boynton Beach, FL, explains, "In kitchens, everybody is going with granite. The next surface in line would be a quartz, such asĀ  the Zodiaq. The quartz products are really trying to come on strong and [we expect to] see a real trend toward the Silestones and Caeserstones in the future."

Dale Dillard, owner of Lubbock, TX-based Dillard Kitchen and Bath agrees: "More people are going toward the man-made stone," since some consumers are concerned about the porousness of granite and the possibility of bacteria growth if it's not sealed properly.
Pat Currier, CKD, and owner of Currier Kitchens and Baths in Amherst, New Hampshire, believes that, "Stone is still the number-one choice. A close second is [the engineered stone such as] Caeserstone. People are looking for something that requires little maintenance."
Tile was cited by many designers as a strong choice for traditional designs, particularly for backsplashes, while soapstone, glass and cement were also cited as possible options for those looking for a unique look.

As an upscale adventure pick, Iadarola says, "Stainless steel is coming in but that's for your more contemporary clients."

However, not all designers agree: Currier claims that, "Stainless is not big at all here."

While granite remains a big seller, Gail Drury, CKD, CBD, of Glen Ellyn, IL-based Drury Design, believes that, "People are getting away from shiny granite. They are going toward softer materials. Honed granite is popular and so is cement with copper inlays or wood inlays." She adds that, "People are putting wood tops in kitchens, too."

Many designers noted that solid surface is still a strong seller, but the consensus is that it's being seen more frequently in combinations, perhaps with granite or engineered stone on an island, and then solid surface on the countertops. However, Iadarola believes, "solid surface is going to come back [stronger than ever]. A man-made, versatile surface is just what people want."

In fact, versatility and easy maintenance were cited by many designers as the reason solid surface remains eternally popular. However, Lorraine Wallace, president of Lorraine's Design Studio, Inc., in Sebastian, FL, feels that solid surface is losing ground to natural stone due to "pure economics. Their prices are so close that people would rather step up to the granite."

Other natural stones are also gaining ground in the bathroom, according to Drury, who notes, "People are [increasingly] going to limestone and travertine in the bath. They are going to ones that have a lot of character to it. It's a very rough, mountain material."

Dillard sees increased interest in glass and stainless steel countertops in the bath, while Iadarola notes that, "We do a lot of solid surface in the bath. Cultured marble is very inexpensive, but it's becoming passe'. It's either a marble or solid surface that you're going to find here."
Drury adds, "We're still doing the shiny marble in the bathroom and some stainless steel tops."

From a functional standpoint, Wallace sees marble as a strong choice for the bath, since, "a marble that is resin-filled [is well suited for the bathroom because] it is impervious to everything."

According to Wallace, "What's really attracting the eye of many clients is this Riverstone finish, available in granite," which can be used in both the kitchen and bath. "It doesn't have a real shiny finish on it, and it's just beautiful."

Soft Colors
Most designers cite a continuing trend toward softer, nature-inspired colors. "Colors and patterns are getting more subtle and less dramatic in contrast," Wallace believes.

"They're very earthy," Olsen concurs. "We're not going to find anything that is very slick and contemporary. It's a traditional market. We're swinging toward earthy, natural, larger-particulate looks."

Dalton agrees: "Neutral colors and earth tones are hot. Not just the whites and beiges, but things that work well with a wide range of colors."

However, Dillard believes the market is seeing "more bravery in color. It's getting more contemporary. Tangerine is popular and so are sunshine yellows. And, of course, you'll always have your mauves."

Currier adds, "Some people are picking purple as accents. [But] there's not a lot of variation. Absolute black is popular, especially in slate and soapstone."

According to Iadarola, "It all depends on what Mother Nature is going to give you. Neutrals and black are popular. Black is used more like an accent. Uba Tuba black with gold flecks in it is quite popular."

Edge-y Ideas
When it comes to edge detailing, designers seem to be equally split between decorative choices and more simple, cleaner edges.
According to Currier, "The ogee edge is hot, but built up so it looks very substantial, about two inches or more. They want it to be substantial-looking and very decorative."

Drury agrees: "They are going a little more decorative, such as with the ogee edge."

Notes Wallace, "The focus on bull noses is greatly reduced compared to the large variety of ogee edges that are available."

But not everyone agrees that fancier is automatically better. According to Dalton, "Most of our clients are opting for more of the bull nose treatment. This keeps the edges on a cleaner line. A few years ago we were doing fancier edges, but [not so much anymore]." KBDN