Single-handle, single-hole mount kitchen faucets can help meet this need, he says, taking up minimal counter space while still allowing for ornate accents.
Nowakowski adds that, as spaces get smaller, people’s needs change. Manufacturers, then, must look to create something that’s not only new but still functional, such as Webert’s 360° faucet that, rather than pulling out, rotates in every direction. “As space shrinks, you don’t need a pull-out that stretches three or four feet,” says Nowakowski.
The size and layout of sinks is also seeing some shifts. Howard says, “Typically, we are seeing a primary sink anywhere from 28" to 36" wide and a secondary prep sink, often in a different material. It’s a way to get creative and show personality in the kitchen – at least one of the two sinks is often handmade or artistic.”
While double bowls are still the most requested, single-bowl configurations are on the rise, says Fey. “The sheer work area of a large single-bowl kitchen sink cannot be denied,” he says, adding that double-bowl designs are trending more toward a 60/40 split than the standard 50/50, due to the more flexible work space.
Emens adds that unique shapes allow homeowners to move toward the single bowl without losing the comfort of the double-bowl shape. “Homeowners need a transition from the double bowl, which has become obsolete as far as utility but which still offers a comfort level and familiarity. Homeowners who feel they need that separation in the sink now have more options with multi-level sinks.”
Schrage says Kohler has learned through market research that homeowners prefer kitchen sinks with a unique basin shape, for both aesthetic and functional reasons. “While we continue to see large homes and even multiple kitchens, the unique uses of the space do demand specific functions from the sinks and faucets chosen,” she adds.
LIGHTENING THE LOAD
Working harder than necessary doesn’t top anyone’s to do list, and work in the kitchen is no exception. Consumers are looking for designs and products that make their jobs easier, and it’s up to designers to point them in the right direction.
Rottinghaus says consumers are looking for products that solve everyday problems like keeping the sink clean or organizing frequently used items around the sink. “When you think about it, a person spends a lot of time at the primary kitchen sink; whether cleaning, preparing or just rinsing, the tasks can take a lot of time,” she says..
Schrage adds, “The kitchen is a very demanding environment. It’s all about adding hard-working elements that seamlessly integrate into the product design so the space works better and looks better, too.” Products must be easy to use, she continues, and faucets with a pull-down design fit the bill, continuing to be a popular choice.
Fey also sees a rise in cutting boards custom-fit to the sink. “The added work space allowed by these increases overall efficiency in the kitchen, freeing up valuable counter space,” he says. Bottom grids are also being purchased more frequently, he adds, as they not only protect the bottom of the sink from scratches and dents, but can double as a colander and rinse station while keeping food off the bottom of the sink.
Emens adds that while there aren’t a lot of new technologies on the market, the re-tasking of existing technology, along with smart engineering, is key. “Designers should make it a point to look at accessories for sinks. We hear from designers all the time that customers pick a sink simply for an added feature like a drainboard, grid or capflow, something small that makes a big difference in lifestyle or ease of use.”
EASE OF USE
This necessity for easy-to-use spaces carries over into the conversation about Universal Design. Whether a remodel or new construction, with the rise of people staying in their homes longer, the aging Baby Boomer population and the increase in multi-generational homes, designers are constantly considering how to make the spaces work better for everyone.