“As we evolve, our homes should too.”
– Suzanne Tucker, one of the country’s leading interior designers.
Kitchens and bathrooms in the home were born out of the basic needs for food and hygiene. However, in the past few centuries the design and function of the modern kitchen and bath have grown to meet the personality of the family. The trends we see today are a reflection of where we are societally and technologically.
What was once a room set aside from the rest of the house, the kitchen has now become a gathering point and a focal room in most modern homes. Features such as large islands, walk-in butler pantries, multiple dishwashers and more functional and ergonomic kitchen design have become increasingly prevalent as families have evolved.
“When I was growing up, my mother was the entertainer and she would prepare the food in a kitchen tucked away from the rest of the home and present it to guests, already prepared and decorated,” said Scott Robinson, CEO and president of Robinson Renovation and Custom Homes, Inc., a full construction and design firm that both builds and renovates homes in the area.
“Today, preparing and cooking meals is part of the family’s fabric,” he said. “The kitchen is where our life happens. What we hear from most of our customers is they want a more open floor plan so that everyone can share the parts of their lives.”
Home improvements and technologies have also influenced bathrooms. Indoor plumbing, heated water and ventilation have moved bathrooms from the outhouse to inside the house, and the design and usability of the spaces vary with the needs of the family. Often the words “master retreat” or “spa experience” are used when discussing the modern bathroom.
Families are busier than ever and kitchens accommodate this activity, while bathrooms help parents and loved ones relax from their hectic lifestyles, Robinson said.
Design styles have become more modern and contemporary in the last decade, going away from the Tuscany look that dominated the design landscape over the past five to10 years, said Brad Fortune, CEO and president of Haile Kitchen and Bath, a full home design firm that also operates a retail space in the Haile Market Square shopping center.
“The biggest difference in home design and renovation is the shift to contemporary styles. Straight lines and clean design lend itself to using cooler colors like white, grays and soft blues. The white kitchen and bathroom is bigger than ever,” Fortune said. “But trends also point to contrasting white with opposite colors. For example, people are using contrasting color woods on a kitchen island to contrast the white.”
Homeowners increasingly use the term “light and bright” when they come in for a consultation, said Kelly Denski, sales room associate and social media manager at Quality Designworks, a complete design-build firm in North Central Florida.
“Customers are opting for their countertops and vanities to be an elegant light quartz with little to no detail in it, as well as white painted cabinets,” Denski said. “We mostly use shaker style (simple and minimalist) and lots of farmhouse sinks. People are going with looks that can be timeless versus wanting to re-renovate in five to 10 years.”
Trends also point to changes in the age of the population. As more baby boomers become empty nesters, they may opt for more functional design based on healthy aging, especially in the bathroom.
“I have had older clients who asked for their bathroom to have larger spaces for what may be needed in the future, like walkers or wheelchairs or ease of movement overall,” Robinson said. “Garden or spa tubs are being eliminated in favor of larger spaces for showers and bathroom necessities.”
Social media also plays a role in recent trends. No matter if it is kitchen or bath, homeowners have been influenced by online design blogs and television shows, especially those featured in Home and Garden Television (HGTV). These types of influences have their positives and negatives.
“HGTV has definitely helped add to the knowledge base of our customers, but they can also lead to unrealistic expectations,” Fortune said. “Shows with ‘quick remodels’ don’t spell out the requirements of time and labor that these types of projects require, or they may inflate what can be done at what price.”
Denski said HGTV has influenced people to consider redoing their homes in general.
“We often get people coming in and saying they want what they have seen ‘the brothers do’ and other references to their most popular shows,” Denski said. “It has made people more aware of what they can actually do with their spaces, big or small, and that renovations can be made even in the worst of starting conditions.”
Technology hasn’t just influenced the ideas and wants of the homeowners, but it has found its way into the home, as well. Smart technology allows homeowners to control the functions of their home, all from their smart phones or other devices. From applications that allow you to control kitchen appliances, to managing the features of your home shower, including temperature, lighting and spray, technology adds to homeowners’ comfort and ease of life.
“There is an app that will allow you to turn your oven on from your car so it’s preheated when you get home from work, or lets you look into your refrigerator while on a grocery run,” Fortune said.
In Florida, outdoor kitchens have become more elaborate as an extension of the home, Fortune said.
door spaces are now more than just a grill and a shelf,” he said. “A second kitchen has started to become more popular with dedicated outdoor kitchen cabinetry and more appliances to be utilized outside for cooking and entertaining.”
le are also opting for more wine and beverage storage options with a growth in dedicated wine cellars in homes. Additionally, homeowners are looking for less formal dining options and instead relying on large kitchen islands and large breakfast nooks taking the places of separate seated dining rooms.
What’s on the horizon? Bold color trends in cabinetry and sinks to contrast white cabinetry, more interest in brass fixtures in both kitchen and bath, and more texture and style in kitchen and bathroom backsplashes. Custom LED lighting options also continues to grow.
However, anyone who has been around long enough knows “what’s old is new again.” Trends will go away and come back, but Denski advises homeowners to choose “timeless” design.
“For achieving a timeless look, you can never go wrong with sticking to ‘light and bright,’” Denski said. “For cabinets, lighter gray tones or even dark blue hues as contrasting colors will always be in, as well as shaker-style doors.”
Robinson also said homeowners should not get too caught up in current styles and make their home look dated. Instead, choose what is most important to each family and keep cabinets and floors neutral.
“There are so many things to consider when thinking about a home renovation,” Robinson said. “Homeowners should be prepared to not be able to afford everything they may want, so they should choose what are their top priorities for a space and stay true to that. There is always a continual shift in trends, and if one of your aims is to have your ‘forever’ room, it may be better to use paints and décor to embrace trends so that they can be easily adapted.”