Prepare for a surge in grey colour schemes, transitional design and touch-activated faucets this year, according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association’s annual design trends report.
The eagerly anticipated yearly forecast, which was released recently by the New Jersey-based NKBA, is compiled from a survey of more than 300 member designers in both the U.S. and Canada. And, surprisingly, when it comes to several of this year’s trends, staid old Ottawa can boast that it’s already on the leading edge. Here are the highlights from the survey:
SHADES OF GREY
Soaring in popularity since 2010, chic grey is now the colour of choice in 55 per cent of kitchens and 56 per cent of baths. “It’s the new neutral,” says Giuseppe Castrucci, president of the Ottawa chapter of the NKBA and vice-president of sales and marketing at Laurysen Kitchens, which offers two shades of grey: pepper and a slightly lighter anise. “You can put almost anything with it: stainless-steel appliances or black ones, and you can go classic or über-modern with the design.”
When it comes to painted cabinetry, white is king, says the NKBA. It’s jumped from 47 per cent in 2011 to 67 per cent this year. Glazed finishes are being used on a little less than half of all cabinetry, up slightly from the past couple of years.
In both kitchens and bathrooms, transitional design – which blends classic and contemporary to achieve simplicity but without the severity of purely modern design – continues to edge out our former love affair with traditional. “Traditional seems to date itself,” says Sandra Gibbons, co-ordinator of Algonquin College’s Kitchen and Bath Design program and a founding member and current treasurer of the Ottawa chapter. In shifting to transitional, we’re showing our hunger for “something more progressive and a wow factor.”
Energy-efficient, long-lasting but still-expensive LED lighting is being specified by 77 per cent of the NKBA’s member designers, up from 50 per cent three years ago. Ottawa builders such as Minto, Urbandale, Tartan and Cardel offer LED lighting as an upgrade, although Card-el and Urbandale are evaluating the possibility of switching some standard fixtures to LEDs.
Quartz is now a close second to granite in both kitchens and baths, according to the NKBA. At Laurysen, quartz and granite are already running neck-in-neck. “We’re seeing more and more colours and patterns with quartz all the time,” says Castrucci. “Granite is just granite.” Speaking about trends generally, he notes the NKBA results can be American-centric. Canadians, for example, have long been into European-style cabinetry, whereas Americans are still making the shift from traditional. He also says that, thanks to the Internet, it now takes about six months for hot new trends from Italy to wash up on our shore, whereas it used to take years.
Glass backsplashes are all the rage, says the NKBA, leapfrogging from 42 per cent in 2010 to 64 per cent this year. Old hat, says Castrucci: “We had our run on glass a year-and-a-half, two years ago.” Increasingly, clients are asking for solid granite and quartz backsplashes to match their countertops. Porcelain tile, including tile with art details, remains a good seller.
Touch-activated faucets are now specified by 32 per cent of NKBA member designers. The price has dropped but Ottawa’s Preston Hardware, which carries the Delta line starting at around $450, says they remain a specialty item. Pullout faucets, which can run over $500 at Home Depot, remain the most popular type, according to the NKBA.
Satin nickel continues to be the popular finish for kitchen faucets, with bronze or oil-rubbed bronze in close pursuit. Polished nickel and chrome are increasingly passé. In the bathroom, undermount sinks remain No. 1. Integrated sink/ tops are edging up in popularity, growing from 35 per cent last year to 41 per cent in 2013. Ceramic and porcelain tile still lead in bathroom flooring. Designers told the NKBA that the average cost of their kitchens this year will be $47,308, down from last year’s $51,050. Figures for Ottawa are not available. However, no matter how much you spend, tastes remain individual, says Gibbons.
“It’s like fashion trends – if you didn’t like overalls, you didn’t wear them.”