Schmitt agrees that texture is another visible trend. “We’re seeing more realistic stone textures in the premium laminates, which is due in part to the advancement of laminate technology. As far as color trends go, we’re seeing more grey and white – in these colors and in the undertones as well,” she says.
Marquez adds, “While color is always in style, neutral colors are gaining popularity, with white as one of the most sought-after shades.”
Weadock agrees. “We have found earthy colors, such as amber and brown, have dominated the market for the last couple of years, but now we see white emerging as a way to create a sense of optimism and brighten a space. With the strong use of brighter, bolder colors in paints, fabrics and accessories, white offers a cleaner backdrop for these colors,” she says.
Color choices vary by region as well, say manufacturers. According to Morici, brown and beige countertops are still popular, but there is also a rising demand for white colors and modern patterns in the northeast regions.
Mandell says, “We’ve noticed an increased demand for colors and patterns that are less similar to granite, but are more monotone and modern with subtle design elements such as metallic flecks. Countertop designs are becoming sleek and understated. The use of tone-on-tone monochromatic colors for countertops in kitchens is likely to increase as traditional cabinet designs give way to subtle, modern cabinetry that integrates European design with American functionality.”
Another way to make a visual impact in the kitchen is to vary the edging and/or use a variety of materials on different layers of countertop surfaces that are used for different purposes. “The ‘mixing of materials’ can help differentiate these layers within the kitchen and add more visual interest,” says Weadock. “For example, a more neutral material/design could be used along the perimeter of the kitchen, and a larger-scale design would add a visual shift and focus on an island or work area.”
“Designers also are making a design statement by simply varying the thickness of a countertop,” says Chmiel. “With traditional countertops measuring between 1-1/4" and 1-1/2" thick, altering the surface to be thicker or thinner is an easy way to add visual interest.”
From Marquez’ perspective on edging, thin is in. “Thinner countertops (1 cm) are a trend we’ve seen in Europe for a few months and one we anticipate emerging in the U.S. Simple, thin countertops create a contemporary look for the kitchen that works in spaces of all sizes and a variety of layouts. Typically, homeowners and designers seeking this aesthetic will also use a flat edging with minimal detail, such as an eased edge,” he says.
Countertops are constantly put to the test. Not only must the look fit the feel of the kitchen, but the surface must also stand the test of time. “Kitchen remodels are expected to last long-er than ever, so durable, low-maintenance materials that still meet the needs of the family are key,” says Chmiel.
Paradiso says that durability is a given, with buyers expecting countertops to last. “Ease of maintenance has become a key factor in people’s selection, even over price, over durability, over product performance. They don’t want to have to scrub their countertop every day.”
Chmiel agrees. “The integration of an undermount sink in a countertop removes the raised lip of a drop-in sink, allowing for easier clean up of spills and crumbs,” says Chmiel. “With sink manufacturers introducing undermount options specifically for laminate, undermount sink usage will be even more prevalent in the future,” she adds.
Schmitt notes, “In the laminate countertop sector, people are achieving the look and functionality of the undermount sink paired with the laminate countertop products.”
“Integrated sinks are another feature that provides a smooth surface with easy clean-up,” says Weadock.