According to Jessi Lowry of Bath Classics Showroom in NY, in the bath, there seems to be a trend toward custom showers, with styles leaning toward clean lines but not ultra-modern. And, she points out, “The focus is mostly on ease of cleaning.”
Linda Rainey of Sierra Plumbing Supply agrees that “easy to clean and maintain” is atop the short list of many Gen X and Y consumers.
From a layout standpoint, functionality is also a key consideration. Colorado architect Doug Walters believes that Gen X and Y want “totally open and integrated kitchen/living areas. “Tear down the walls!” is what I hear…loft living comes to the suburbs.”
“They are looking for integrated areas of the home, multi-function spaces that are easy and comfortable to use, for instance, a secondary kitchen sink that may serve as a prep or a bar area,” adds Joanna Barker of Inspirations Interior Design Inc. However, because personalization is also important to these generations, she notes, “They are also more likely to choose a striking feature because it’s fun, like multi-color LED lighting.”
As far as green concerns, these generations tend to care passionately about the environment, designers say, however sometimes, these desires are at odds with their budgets. According to Ned Smith, of the CT-based Ned Smith Construction, LLC, “Given the economic climate that persists, the Gen X and Gen Y homeowners would like to invest in ‘green’ products…that is, until they see the prices of these products. As with ADA products, the minute the designation is attached to these products, the price is elevated.”
A Different Approach
Generation X and Y consumers also approach the sales process differently, according to many of the kitchen and bath dealers interviewed.
“Generally they do more homework first before even approaching a designer, and are choosing to visit an architect first. Trend-wise, they want to deconstruct what it means to have a kitchen at all, and work to find out how much real estate to use up in their space,” explains Steve Livingston of the CA-based Livingston Interiors.
“For example,” he continues, “in New York, generally the kitchen can be quite small, but is perfect the majority of the time if you are just ordering out. A sink, small fridge and microwave can suffice. So even if the open plan room can accommodate a large kitchen, they are choosing a design layout that makes practical sense rather than using up living space for a show kitchen. They will spend time analyzing new materials and want to be the first to try out or even beta test new products.”
Part of the interest in technology comes from a lack of fear. While older homeowners sometimes distrust technology and question how well it will function, “They [Gen X and Y] have more confidence in digital options, such as digital shower valves,” according to DaLomb.
“Gen X and Y are looking for quality and value, and they often do extensive research before or during the purchase process,” adds Howard Frankel of the NY-based Central Plumbing Specialties Grande Central Showrooms of NY. He concludes, “They are also more apt to consider integrated electronic elements to enhance their experience.”