Emmons believes the top choices remain so in part because most manufacturers offer a limited selection of finishes on their kitchen products. “Homeowners are looking for unique ways to express their individual design style, and having the ability to choose from a wide variety of finishes allows them to accomplish their design vision. Our brand is experiencing growth in finishes such as oil-rubbed bronze and antique nickel, which have traditionally been popular in the bathroom but are not offered by most manufacturers in the kitchen,” he says.
Michelle Gross, director of channel marketing and communications at the Racine, WI-based InSinkErator says her firm also continues to see satin nickel and chrome as the two top sellers, with oil-rubbed bronze third. “These sales trends mirror kitchen faucets for obvious reasons – people want their secondary faucet (instant hot water dispenser) to match or coordinate with their primary faucet.”
Home sizes are trending toward a smaller footprint, which sometimes means a smaller kitchen space to work with. Even when this isn’t the case, the space must be maximized. “Regardless of size, the kitchen plays a much more central role in today’s home, serving as not only the food prep area, but the living room, dining room, office and craft area,” says Garland.
Rottinghaus agrees. “We know that homes are shrinking overall; however, the space devoted to the kitchen typically is not. This reinforces the abiding value associated with the kitchen space, and the fact that more activities are moving into the kitchen, which requires valuable square footage to work even harder,” she says.
Lord says that variety in size seems to be increasingly important in the faucet market. “There is simply no such thing as ‘one size fits all’ for faucets. Many of our collections include a number of models designed for various configurations and spaces,” he states.
Emmons reports there’s a general shift toward kitchen faucets with higher profile spouts. “Taller spouts provide additional clearance for maneuvering large pots and pans around the sink area, improving workflow and efficiency,” he states.
In the high-end market, Emens has seen increased interest in smaller sinks, such as the firm’s 16" Precision sink. “Smaller kitchens with less counter space require a sink that’s more narrow so that there’s room for a faucet behind,” she says. “Delicate stone and marble countertops can be cut to fit this sink without getting too thin.”
With the rise in streamlined designs, a pull-out or pull-down faucet is becoming essential, eliminating the need for a separate side spray while offering convenience. “Pull-out faucets are continuing to grow in popularity,” says Paul Flowers, senior v.p. of design for German-based Grohe. “Homeowners are continuing to demand more choices in pull-outs as they are essential to any modern kitchen.”
Garland attributes the fast growing category of pull-down faucets to a number of factors. First, she says, consumers like the streamlined look, and the need to drill just one hole in a solid surface countertop, providing a sleek, clutter-free appearance. Additionally, she says, “once consumers try a pull down, they appreciate the greater functionality it offers.”
Awareness of the need for products that fit homeowners of every age and ability is on the rise, as well, and at the forefront of many manufacturers’ minds. “While Universal Design is, by definition, good design meant for any and all age groups, the resurgence of this design practice among the design community is increasingly important as the Baby Boomer generation ages and more families consider multigenerational households,” says Lord. As a result, he notes that Delta Faucet is placing a growing emphasis on touch technology.
Emmons states that aging in place and Universal Design are contributing factors to the increased popularity of pull-down faucets. “The lever handles on most pull-down faucets are ADA compliant and can be easily activated with one hand using an ergonomic single-handle motion.”
According to Garland, technologies for the kitchen focus on utility and ease-of-use. Things that make life simpler – such as improved pull-down technology, finishes that minimize cleaning and filtering faucets – are all key trends, she says.