Can a kitchen be sexy? Can a bathroom be dramatic?
The answer is yes, and it’s what home builders and buyers are looking for. That’s why smart homeowners are adding value to their homes with simple, affordable projects in these two rooms that bring out the drama and showcase the sex appeal.
The latest trends in kitchen design recognize that your itchen is not simply a utilitarian room where meals are produced but the gathering place. It’s a real family room and the walls between the kitchen, dining room and family room are coming down — a trend that’s here to stay.
Color the cabinets.
Kitchen cabinetry is experiencing a metamorphosis, looking more like fine furniture than a mere storage space for cups and plates. This doesn’t mean you need to rip out the cabinets you installed just a few years ago. Reach for a paintbrush instead. Dark, high-gloss stains can show off gorgeous hardware. If you have glass-fronted cabinets, consider painting the shelves and the back of your cabinets a rich or vibrant hue. Choose an accent color for a kitchen island or separate section of cabinets.
Use vintage hardware.
Who says kitchen (and bathroom) hardware has to come from the hardware store? Scour antique shops and flea markets for furniture handles and knobs — or go online to www.anthropologie.com. In the same way a simple black jacket can go from ho-hum to va-va-voom with a change of buttons, your cabinets can take on a whole new look with the right accessories.
Get crafty with the counter
If cabinetry is becoming furniture, then kitchen countertops are becoming dining tables, with sleek marble and granite surfaces. Exotic stone can turn your countertop into a virtual work of art. Forget Uba Tuba and that repetitive granite; today is all about movement and color variation. Options include exotics and super white granite that looks like marble. And don’t stop at the countertop: For a sleek, professional look, continue your stone surface on your backsplash with decorative mosaic tile. The new smaller natural stone tile can be used to create color, design and drama.
Layer the lighting
Overhead lighting is definitely not sexy. While you need good task lighting, today’s best kitchens have layers of lights. Add a pendant or chandelier over your island. Use small lamps on countertops, and install some under- and over-cabinet accent lights. For the easiest upgrade of all, install a dimmer. (In fact, use one for every overhead light in the house.)
Hide the appliances
While stainless steel appliances continue to be popular, especially for their resistance to fingerprints (that means you, families with young children), many kitchen designers are opting for wood fronts on appliances that match the rest of the cabinetry for an integrated, built-in look. Consider changing it all to eco-friendly materials such as sustainable bamboo or wheat board. While you’re at it, replace leaky faucets with water-conserving ones and look for Energy Star-rated appliances.
Create a real hearth
Centuries ago a fireplace in the kitchen was a necessity for roasting and grilling; now it can create a cozy nook for a cup of tea on a rainy day. But today’s throwback hearths are complemented with the latest technology, as more flat-screen televisions and iPads are taking up residence in kitchens. You may not be able to get Ina Garten into your kitchen, but at least you can watch “Barefoot Contessa” as you cook.
Start from scratch
Perhaps the biggest trend in kitchen design is the totally customized kitchen. Whether you love wine-tasting, coffee bars or making your own pizza, create your kitchen to accommodate your passions. If you entertain a lot, then include two dishwashers — a highend model for daily family use and a second under-the-counter commercial dishwasher for heavy loads. Turn an unused hallway or closet into a spacious walk-in pantry. If you’re a baker, make room for a slide-out butcher block and a built-in bread bin.
Splurge on a scene-stealer
If your budget doesn’t allow for a “sky’s the limit” kitchen renovation, consider splurging on one big-ticket item, be it a granite countertop, a farmhouse sink or a professional stove. A scene-stealer like that will allow you to save on other items without losing design impact.
Every women’s magazine will tell you that your bathroom should be your spa-like sanctuary. But with a busy household, how often is that realistic? Here’s how to use the latest in bathroom design trends to add a little serenity to your “sanctuary.”
Keep your feet warm
An icy cold bathroom floor is decidedly un-Zen-like. Radiant heat, while it may feel luxurious, can provide comfort at lower thermostat settings, so it can actually be a cost-saver. And speaking of saving money, consider water-conserving toilets, low-flow showerheads, and tankless water heaters — which can cut energy use in half, as they only heat water as needed.
Think outside the tub
Bathrooms are expanding in size, either through new construction or remodeling projects. Like kitchens, people are spending more time in bathrooms, and the trend is to add more flourishes you normally see in a family room, including gas fireplaces, furniture, armoires for storage, TVs or sound systems and chaise longues. Antique bureaus can be transformed into bathroom cabinetry. And above-counter sinks are the latest in bathroom design, providing both function and style.
Rethink the standards
Porcelain and ceramic tile are no longer the obvious choices. Instead, designers are opting for a more modern look, using tiles in mosaic, glass, slate and stacked natural stone paired with travertine. Finally, don’t be afraid of the dark — white is not the only option for bathrooms. In fact, in smaller spaces rich dark shades of cranberry, navy and hunter green can make the walls recede.
Make simple changes now
You don’t have to have a huge bathroom budget to freshen the space. Here are three quick and easy changes that will transform any bathroom into a retreat in less than an hour: Thick new towels, a dimmer switch, and a lock for the bathroom door!