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Trends can form based upon a response to a situation or event, prompting a shifting style perspective. This year is no different, with so many changes in work and home life taking place, and supply chain issues impacting availability. Adjustments to lifestyle and our surrounding environments have taken place as well.
Leading the charge are trends in the kitchen and bathroom space that prioritize comfort and solutions. To get a better pulse on design trends in the kitchen and bathroom, we reached out to industry experts to provide more detail and direction.
Industry veteran Judy Kimble, director of sales and marketing |kitchen & bath for First Supply Co., (firstsupply.com) describes what she sees from her wholesale distribution firm headquartered in Madison, Wis. First Supply owns 19 stores in the upper Midwest; 15 Gerhard’s Kitchen & Bath stores and four Kohler Signature Stores.
Karen Needler is the principal/owner at The Coveted Kitchen, (covetedkitchen.com) a luxury showroom in the Chicago metro area. The company delivers creative kitchen, bath and whole house renovation design and solutions to homeowners, contractors, and builders – both regionally and nationally.
Brent Brake is the director of luxury sales at Dellon Sales Co., (dellonsales.com) a full-service manufacturer’s representative firm specializing in marketing, sales and distribution for various manufacturers of plumbing supplies and related products in metro New York, northern New Jersey and upstate New York.
COVID-19 changed the way we live and work - as the home became the new office, affecting design and flow. What design trends for the kitchen and bathroom do you see in 2022 that accommodate having more time at home?
“The entire residential category has benefited from the side effects of sheltering in place,” Kimble says. “Pre-COVID-19, people dreamed of a new kitchen or bath, and those dreams turned into reality tenfold with homeowners having a new perspective in how they want their homes to function and feel.”
What became apparent during the pandemic is the need for customized spaces as more individuals spend more time at home.
“For as long as I can remember, the trend in kitchen design was an open concept space,” Needler explains. “As homeowners are spending more time at home with others, the need for separate rooms for activities (office, exercise room, music or kid’s homework room) has become vital.”
She notes that the open kitchen concept is not disappearing, it is becoming more specific.
“There is a trend toward more separate common area spaces, and this is impacting the overall size of the kitchen/great room area,” she says. “As the kitchen continues to be the gathering space, now more than ever, it needs to be versatile, providing a multifunctional space. For example, an island that doubles for food prep or a homework table that incorporates a charging station in a drawer.”
Brake adds: “Kitchens are multifunctional living spaces, with multiple islands or one multifunctional island creating distinct work zones allowing for many functions to co-exist without interference with one another.”
The trio agrees that bathrooms are becoming a place to retreat.
“It’s the ‘Staycation Spa Space,’” Needler says. “The primary bath often incorporates personalized amenities such as a larger suite with separate spa-like showers. This would include multiple showerheads, steam, freestanding tubs, heated shower bench seats, heated floors, LED-lighted medicine cabinets with charging stations, music, aromatherapy, smart toilets and the ability to control all these personalized features from an app on your phone.”
What kitchen trends do you see in 2022?
“In the upper Midwest, farmhouse style — white siding, shiplap and black windows — are still the mainstay, driving black faucets and black light fixtures to complete the look,” Kimble states.
In addition, she sees a trend in countertops. “The evolution has gone from granite to quartz, and now porcelain — with its advantages of superior heat resistance, lighter weight, fade-resistance, and price,” she says.
On the other end of the spectrum are the emerging trends of color and patterns. “Overall, the look is toward a bolder design,” Needler says. “Navy blue has found its way into many kitchens in the last few years, and now pops of other colors are present everywhere in kitchen designs. Greens are big — and gorgeous!”
Brake agrees about the pop of color and the current focus of biophilic design — an approach to architecture that seeks to connect building occupants more closely to nature.
“Green represents nature, harmony, growth, renewal, royalty, and refinement — and homeowners love the shade!” she notes. “You can always depend on the green color to evoke a feeling of calm and provide the perfect balance of boldness and versatility.”
Brake expounds on bringing natural finishes into the home: “The main idea of the current design trend is what I call ‘The Outside on the Inside.’ Kitchen cabinets and vanities made of earthy wooden stains, green or yellow tones, wood countertops to finish islands, and hammered copper sinks and range hood to accent the design. There is no reason these should be left outside.”
Finishes also are changing with the times. “Mixed metal finishes and materials with patterns and textures are trending,” Needler explains. “Patterned backsplash tile with bold, natural stone countertops such as Arabescato (marble), and textured surfaces such as hardware with knurling, wood-textured cabinetry, and leathered or honed countertops are trending.”
Sustainability also is a focus. “If you’ve wanted to layer in more natural elements, try sustainable and eco-friendly items,” Brake notes. “Bringing in hand-made tiles in materials such as terra-cotta and cement is a great solution for adding a little more soul to your space.”
What do you see as the newest faucet trends?
Touchless faucets provide ease of use, as well as water savings, and they are here to stay. “It’s safe to assume that we are washing our hands more these days,” Brake says. “Touchless faucets are a great option for residential or commercial designs requiring sanitation solutions.”
Faucet trends include more functionality as well as beauty. “Functional designs are hands-free and provide more sustainability as it relates to both manufacturing processes and day-to-day use,” Needler says. “Mixed-metal finishes are common. Matte gold tones continue to trend, and we are seeing more dark metals and copper tones.”
Kimble says: “Another trend I see is that kitchen faucets now include a soft spray for delicate food items such as berries, as well as incorporating ‘sweep’ —- targeting hard to remove food and grime.”
Contrast is making an impact., “Because of the current affair with matte black faucets and trims, the new trend of high-contrast spaces is stepping in,” Brake says. “A mix of black and white is an elegant and welcome tribute to a classic kitchen and bath design.”
What do you see as the newest bathroom fixtures and feature trends?
After the infamous run on toilet paper in 2020, there was a focus on what exactly a bidet is and what it does.
“The word bidet is no longer taboo but rather the expectation among luxury consumers,” Kimble notes. “It’s all becoming more desirable regardless of cost.”
Needler agrees and says high-tech options such as Toto’s Washlet may offer a bidet function, self-cleaning, heated seat, air blower and deodorizer. “These bathroom trends are supporting health and wellness,” she says.
And bling is still in. “Faucets are no longer functional-only; they are the jewelry for the room,” says Kimble.
On the functionality side, “concealed trap ways and easily removable toilet seats are a must-have,” she states.
Other functionalities and luxury desires are shower drying systems, such as the product Airmada displayed at the Kitchen & Bath Industry show in Orlando earlier this year. “What a fantastic product for homeowners who want both a steam shower and easy maintenance,” Needler says.
Health and wellness are a big part of life. What kitchen and bathroom remodeling trends do you see to take care of body, mind and soul?
“People want comfort and as our baby boomers age, jetted and air features in the tub are in demand again,” Kimble explains. “Digital valves allow one to enjoy a constant temperature, no longer a guessing game, and keep your shower less cluttered. In addition, especially here in Wisconsin, having a steam shower is the way to go. It’s heaven when it’s below zero outside!”
Natural materials such as marbles and quartzites are mixed with warmer tones and mixed textures to promote a home environment that is relaxing, calming and entertaining.
Needler sees the biophilic design principles continuing to trend. Biophilic design is defined by the International Living Future Institute as the practice of connecting people and nature within our built environments and communities.
“Mindful bathrooms and calming kitchen environments with better natural lighting and ventilation are trending,” she notes. “We are seeing more appliances integrating into the space in the kitchen, making the kitchen look and feel more like a living room. In the bathroom, large soaking tubs with all the bells and whistles such as aromatherapy, air bubbles, and large showers with natural light and multiple showerheads, rain showers, and steam are helping to create the at-home spa.”
“Health and wellness always were of great importance in terms of bathroom design, but in light of the past few years, the focus on it is more than ever,” Brake says.
Nothing says spa-like luxury like a walk-in shower. “This type of shower, separate from the tub, may feature built-in benches, larger than regular showerheads, thermostatic or pressure-balanced valves allowing users to set their temperature preferences accurately with at least one, and frequently up to three, large glass panel walls,” she notes.
Removable hand showers and side massage sprays are in demand now. Black finishes on these fixtures are the latest in color trends.
Brake points out that steam showers inspire comfort by using different therapies. “Chromatherapy and aromatherapy diffusers help you breathe easier; adding scents of lavender and eucalyptus invite relaxing thoughts,” she says. “They help you unwind after a long day, taking you away from your computer and to your tranquil spa.”
It all comes down to creating a nook of comfort for body, mind and soul. “These are the trends I see that my clients are craving: personalized luxury,” Needler notes.
Brake adds that another area of focus to keep an eye on is lighting, which more distributors and showrooms are carrying.
“While talking about design trends, we need to remember lighting!” she notes. “Right now, there is no need to confine chandeliers to living and dining rooms— they are showing up in bathrooms! This is another reflection on how much time people are spending at home and trying to make every room as luxurious as possible.”
One last item for the household? Don’t forget about your furry friends! Brake notes that peoples spend a lot of money taking care of their pets: “We all love our furry friends, and they love us back unconditionally. During the pandemic, more people adopted pets than ever before, and we incorporated their needs into kitchen design. This has resulted in window nooks, cubbies beneath the islands or under-sink cabinets that can be an ideal place to stash a pet bed.”
On a side note, I recently saw a well-known manufacturer advertising its sink positioned as an animal bathing station.
We are only limited by our imagination!