April 15, 2012

Top 10 Trends in Kitchen Design

Kitchen remodels remain one of the most popular home renovations, in part because they still produce a notable return on investment for homeowners.

In May, the National Kitchen & Bath Association released the top 10 overriding trends that surfaced during its 2011 design competition.

There are many influences over what approach to take when remodeling a kitchen — from budget to space considerations and even what region of the country the home is located. With that in mind, local designers recently pointed out some trends for homeowners in the Boulder Valley.

Cabinet design

One of customers’ top demands is clean-lined cabinet doors in their kitchens, not ornate or decorative fronts, said Morgan Ferguson, a designer with Caruso Kitchens of Boulder. Margie McCulloch, owner of Boulder’s Red Pepper Kitchen, said, “There is definitely simplicity in cabinetry, but then there are a lot more accents in the kitchen.” Additionally, she is using more tall sections of pantry space for clients, she said.

Erin Sweenie, certified kitchen designer of Kitchens by Wedgewood in Louisville, said more and more clients in the Boulder area are interested in reclaimed wood, as well. That can be anything from beetle-kill wood to reclaimed walnut from Oregon and the Boulder area.

Cabinet color

Homeowners locally appear to be moving back into mid-tones for their cabinet color and using single stain. Ferguson said she is seeing a lot of alder wood for cabinet fronts, as well as some maple and cherry. Nationally, the Kitchen & Bath Association said dark colors such as chocolate or espresso are popular in extremely contemporary kitchens. And, Ferguson said that in classic kitchens, white still is a popular tone, although not the bright white of a few years ago, but more of a softer white.

Wedgewood’s Sweenie said that company has been selling a tremendous amount of red birch. “It is the center rings of the birch tree with a beautiful grain,” she said. “And it doesn’t darken over time like cherry can.”

Efficient appliances

Kitchen designers in the Boulder Valley said that clients routinely ask for efficient appliances. Red Pepper’s McCulloch said homeowners are using low-energy equipment and induction cook tops. “They have no wasted heat and are very efficient for our altitude,” she said. Customers also want low-maintenance, easy-to-clean appliances. Wedgewood’s Sweenie added that customers in the area want everything green — “appliances, lighting and water efficiency.” Both McCulloch and Sweenie said local homeowners are asking for places to stow their compost, as well. One possibility is adding a Compokeeper, a Boulder-made product that can mount in a cabinet or stand alone while storing compost in a sealed, odor-free container. Local and national designers alike say that owners of new and remodeled kitchens typically choose the sleek design of stainless steel appliances.

Countertops

When it comes to countertops, Ferguson said some local homeowners are coming back to granite and quartz. “With clean-lined cabinets, you still need something to pop, and it’s the countertop.” Kimberlee Smith, manager of the Boulder location for Capco Tile & Stone, said some customers are using granite slabs that have been honed, not polished, to give the countertop more depth and a more casual, weathered look. Additionally, Smith said more customers are opting for tile countertops that cost at least 50 percent less than some of the slab options. Red Pepper’s McCulloch said her customers are using porcelain tile as one of their countertop options, as well as engineered stone. And Wedgewood’s Sweenie is seeing customers mixing countertops — having one type of material for the larger countertop and another for the island.

Open spaces

Kitchen remodels in Boulder and Broomfield counties often involve knocking out walls and drastically opening the space. “It is really important for the kitchen to be open to the living space,” McCulloch said. “One of the things we do most with our remodels is remove walls. Kitchens are becoming much more a part of the living space.” Ferguson concurs. “Opening the kitchen is very important,” she said. “And with that, islands are getting much bigger.” Larger islands allow for more storage cabinets around the island or under it if the island is on stilts.

Lighting

Illuminating the kitchen space remains one of the most important aspects of kitchen design. Cheryl Gaiser, owner of Inlighten Studios in Boulder, said Italian hand-blown glass is one of the most popular choices. “It’s really a piece of art that you put a light behind,” she said. Gaiser added that some mountain homeowners are moving away from pendant or dropped lighting that might interfere with a view. In those cases, the homeowners might choose an Italian hand-blown trim that sits on the ceiling. One of the biggest mistakes people can make, though, is incorporating fabric lighting in a kitchen. “It attracts dust, grease and grime,” Gaiser said. “Stay away from fabric in the kitchen.”

McCulloch added that because kitchens are open to so much more of the home, lighting has a “high impact.” She also is using pieces of art in kitchen designs, including paintings, pictures and sculpture.

Tile

Accenting kitchen space with tile is ever popular. “How homeowners use tile is really across the board, depending on what look and style they are going for,” Smith said. “Subway tiles are popular, which are 3×6 or 4×6 tiles staggered like brick.” Additionally, she said, porcelain, stone and glass are getting more popular as an accent behind cooking surfaces and as a backsplash. A good deal of the tile choices are imported from Italy.

Caruso’s Ferguson said customers are getting more adventurous with their backsplash tile, often using more glass or mixing glass and stone.

Flooring

Not all local home remodels involve changing the floor. Designers say some customers decide to stick with their existing product and route funds to other aspects of a redesign. But if flooring is changed, customers choose varied options. Red Pepper’s McCulloch said wood is still very popular, and that depending on the light in the home, clients “either go really dark, like an espresso, or really light.”

Tile is also another popular option. And, McCulloch said, “It won’t wear out.”

If homeowners want the durability of tile but look of wood, Smith said there is a newer tile on the market that looks like wood and won’t warp or be damaged in front of a dishwasher or sink area. “And it can be heated,” she said.

Color

Both nationwide and locally, vibrant colors are being used in kitchens. The National Kitchen & Bath Association says designers and clients are making a commitment to color. Popular hues are in the tangerine, mango and carrot family of colors, especially for contemporary kitchens.

Red Pepper’s McCulloch said many clients use more than one color, as well.

Tiered proportions

In more urban kitchens, the concept of stacked components and graduated or overlapping heights has been a national trend, and Wedgewood’s Sweenie said she has seen it locally, as well. Often, an island will have another countertop overlapping slightly, and the second, higher surface is used as an eating space with high-backed chairs. And McCulloch said that in these more high-end, contemporary kitchens, clients are using aluminum as a finish around edges rather than stainless steel or wood, which can get damaged near sinks and surfaces with high water use.

Kitchen remodels remain one of the most popular home renovations, in part because they still produce a notable return on investment for homeowners.

In May, the National Kitchen & Bath Association released the top 10 overriding trends that surfaced during its 2011 design competition.

There are many influences over what approach to take when remodeling a kitchen — from budget to space considerations and even what region of the country the home is located. With that in mind, local designers recently pointed out some trends for homeowners in the Boulder Valley.

Cabinet design

One of customers’ top demands is clean-lined cabinet doors in their…

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