A recent national survey of kitchen designers conducted by the National Kitchen & Bath Association and luxury appliance manufacturer Thermador identifies several trends influencing today's kitchen design--from popular colors and finishes, to new materials, and even new technologies being incorporated by designers.
Andrea Burton, owner of Danville-based Kitchen Solvers of the Valley, said that even during tough economic times, updating this room is a good idea.
"The average return on a kitchen remodel is 85 to 112 percent," she said. "And all signs point to waiting it out in your home for a few more years."
Functionality and Layout
Today's households often function with more than one cook, so kitchen designs frequently incorporate multiple cooking stations such as a range and a wall oven, or a range and a cooktop. Appliances are also occupying islands to add cooking space. Additionally, prep sinks are showing up on islands or other locations in the kitchen for increased functionality.
Reports show that the average family of five spends 175 hours in the kitchen each month. Burton says families in the Tri-Valley are opting to open the space into a "great room" feel.
"More people are combining their living and family rooms with the kitchen and remodeling their kitchens into family-friendly rooms perfect for entertaining."
Style and Color
More than half (56.8 percent) of the kitchen designers surveyed said "traditional" was their most often requested type of kitchen design. However, designers identified contemporary and clean, simple lines as kitchen design trends to watch for.
For cabinetry, the top two most used finishes in kitchens are cherry and maple, while paints and exotic woods tied for third. This is a departure from the once-dominant oak cabinetry. Moreover, designers identify stainless steel as the top color scheme in today's kitchen designs, followed by beige and bone colors.
Stainless steel continues to lead the way as the most popular finish for appliances. However, appliances with custom paneling to match cabinetry are more commonly incorporated into today's kitchen designs. The appliances that most often receive paneling are dishwashers and refrigerators. Designers identified modular refrigeration, along with induction cooktops and speed-cooking ovens as one of the most exciting kitchen technologies.
When it comes to splurging on top-of-the-line appliances, consumers and designers agree they can be a great investment. Designers even say "dream" appliances rule over custom cabinets and special countertops.
Countertops and Backsplashes
The countertop material used most frequently is granite, and with unlimited stone colors and designs, it's highly customizable. However, another stone material -- quartzite, noted for its durability -- comes in a strong second. Additionally, the top three backsplash materials are tile, followed by granite and glass.
When designers were asked to name new trends to take note of, many identified new color applications. Specifically, greater use of color in cabinets was cited as an up and coming trend, as was the use of two-colored cabinetry and molding, and the overall bolder use of color.