Kitchen and Bath

Kitchen and BathSometimes, the big, splashy home design trends you see in the slick pages of magazines don’t always translate to the Spanish moss-framed homes of the Lowcountry. And while the rest of the country follows the latest trends in designs and products, the South has often simply followed its own sense of style.

“In the southern marketplace, it’s more traditional,” said Lora Donoghue, president of the Carolina Chapter of the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). “In the northern marketplace, it’s more contemporary.”

Kelly Hughes of Designing to Sell, a home staging business, said today’s market is different than it has ever been.

“The market is more for the person,” Hughes said of the latest trends. “People are more practical. It’s not always about aesthetics, but about the way you live.”


Donoghue said she’s never experienced a color trend quite like this. “People are talking about white coming back, but I haven’t seen indicators that it’s actually coming,” Donoghue said. “Every year, we know the colors. What I’ve been feeling and seeing in the marketplace this year … it’s strange. There’s nothing really dominant.”

According to the NKBA’s annual design report, drawn from a survey of designers regarding the key trends of 2010, the Shaker style is seeing a surprisingly strong resurgence. Shades of whites and off-whites will be the most common kitchen colors, while brown, beige, and bone hues also are popular.

Hughes said she’s also seen a return to basic, neutral palettes with an emphasis in natural and organic materials — which, in a down economy, are easy to find and easy to accessorize.

Kitchen and Bath


In the North, kitchens and bathrooms are using more contemporary cabinets made of laminates. But in the South, wood is still tops.

“A lot of people are going to the rustic, eclectic look,” said Hughes. “People are going with a lot of economical material and using  recycled items, such as old pine.”

Cherry remains the most popular wood for kitchen cabinetry, followed closely by maple. As for the finishes placed on those cabinets, medium natural, dark natural, glazed, and white painted will all be common.

“What I’ve seen mostly is the simple, clean, classic look,” said Hughes. “They are thinking long term — not going with big trends. People are going with classic look, so they can make small changes. For instance, they can always repaint.”

But cabinetry is not only about making a statement. It’s also about functionality.

“A lot of times, homeowners are looking for ways to function better for the family,” said Donoghue.

Typical cabinets are 30 inches high. But Donoghue said she’s seeing homeowners extending the cabinets all the way to the ceilings. They’re also building shelves on un-utilized wall space.

Hughes said homeowners aren’t using racks to store their spices. Instead, they are storing their spices in pull-out drawers by the oven.


National Kitchen & Bath Association experts said white and neutral tones are in. But what if you want a little variety in your home? Take into consideration the meaning behind colors before you paint:

Warmth, love, anger, excitement, desire, courage

Cheerfulness, low cost, enthusiasm, creativity

Attention-grabbing, comfort, liveliness, cowardliness, hunger, optimism

Peace, professionalism, loyalty, reliability, honor, melancholia, boredom, coldness

Power, royalty, sophistication, luxury, mystery

Conservatism, traditionalism, intelligence, serious

Relaxing, confi dent, casual, reassuring, nature, earthy

Elegance, sophistication, formality, power, strength

Cleanliness, purity, newness, peace



Ceramic and porcelain tile are the dominant flooring materials in bathrooms this year, while natural stone is also proving popular. Hardwood flooring won’t be seen in bathrooms this year, according to NKBA.

However, Hughes said homeowners are keeping the natural flow of hardwood flooring by continuing it into the kitchen. She also has seen homeowners using subway tiles, an inexpensive trend that has been around for some time.


flooring materialsFor bathroom vanity tops, granite is remains king, but quartz and marble are also becoming popular options. For kitchen countertops, granite continues to be the most popular choice. Granite is a timeless selection for many homeowners because it resists heat, stains and scratches.

Many homeowners are enhancing the look of granite by intermingling mosaic glass tiles in kitchen backsplashes and around the fireplace, Hughes said.


Are you thinking of expanding your kitchen? You’re not alone. Kelly Hughes of Designing to Sell, a home staging business, said she’s seeing more and more chef’s kitchens, kitchens for people who plan on spending a lot of time in front of a stove and cutting board.

This master culinary kitchen includes more of everything: two dishwashers, a big range stove with gas ranges, six burners instead of four, a large oven hood, pantry space and extra storage areas in cabinetry and drawers.

But don’t forget an abundance of counterspace with a large, study table (preferably butcher block) that can double as a work table and a dining table to be used for the casual meals or informal dinners. The counter nearest the table should be used as a bar and serving station (it’s a good idea to install a second sink at this location, since it will keep your family and guests away from the main sink you are working with). Your cabinetry should include a niche for your microwave and areas for your small appliances and tools.

“It’s all about making sure you have the right configuration to make the kitchen really efficient,” Hughes said.



HIGH-TECH BATHROOMSThe kitchen and living rooms aren’t the only places where high-tech devices can be found. Technology can even be utilized in the bathroom, think LCD monitors hidden in high-tech mirrors, electronically activated faucets, steam showers, body sprays and sensor-controlled fans and tankless commodes. Multi-jet shower systems have become very popular, with some even including hydro-massage with sound and vibration therapy. Many modern saunas even include music systems and reading lights so you relax while the heat helps release toxins from your body.

A special branch of holistic healing known as chromatherapy uses color technology in a spa bathroom. A warm, ultra-deep bath can be transformed with the touch of a button to include a full spectrum of dramatic color, from soothing to stimulating.

Other technological wonders include a rainfall shower head that frees up space in the shower while offering setting adjustments that range from “gentle rain” to “downpour.” Each setting provides different therapy for aching backs and muscles.

And once you’ve finished with your shower therapy, you can step out onto a soothing, warm tile floor. Heated bathroom floors are another spa element that not only  warm the feet, but fill bathrooms with floor-to-ceiling warmth.

A branch of holistic healing which
uses color technology in
a spa bathroom



HIGH-TECH APPLIANCES  Large oven ranges are being traded for standard-size ranges, with all of the technological bells and whistles, said Donoghue. “There is a lot more electronic control on appliances,” she said. “It’s more of a menu-driven application that guides you through recipes as you’re cooking.”Large oven ranges are being traded for standard-size ranges, with all of the technological bells and whistles, said Donoghue. “There is a lot more electronic control on appliances,” she said. “It’s more of a menu-driven application that guides you through recipes as you’re cooking.”

The culinary center allows the user to select the food items – for example, desserts, casseroles and breads – and then it takes over, guiding you through the cooking process.

“For instance, if you’re cooking lamb, it will walk you through whether you want to cook it rare, medium or well done. It makes recommendations for the type of pan and the oven calculates how long you should cook it. It also tells you how to prepare it and what rack to pit it on.”

Other trends include dishwasher drawers, which homeowners like for their convenience and their ability to wash small loads of dishes in each drawer, thereby saving water and electricity.

French door and freezer-bottom are the two most popular styles of refrigerators, and sideby-side refrigerators remain a popular option. Another refrigerator trend includes undercounter drawers and undercounter wine refrigerators.



MECHANIZED ACCESSORIESHomeowners are having fun with the rustic look by incorporating old parts of machinery, such as parts from trains or railways, and turning them into artwork on the table or wall. They’re also using chrome or wrought iron throughout their kitchens and bathrooms, Hughes said.

Perhaps more than ever, the most common color for fixtures will be white. Bisque and off-white will be the only other fixture colors at all common in new or remodeled bathrooms. For sinks, the most popular models will be undermounted, followed by integrated sink tops, drop-in sinks, vessel sinks and pedestal sinks.

Faucet finishes include brushed nickel, polished chrome and satin nickel, which also will be incorporated into many bathrooms, just as they had been throughout 2009. These faucet finishes will be followed by bronze and stainless steel.


Source: National Kitchen and Bath Association