Earlier this month I attended KBIS, The Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, (The Kitchen and Bath Industry Show) to preview and report on the 2018 kitchen and bath trends. KBIS is a design highlight of every year, as manufacturers in the kitchen and bath industry put on their best game and pull out all the stops.
This year, one of the highlights was moderating a panel on a subject that is so relevant today: “Where Design Meets Tech”. Three industry leaders provided invaluable insight: Scott Koehler of Dream Kitchen Builders, Ryan Herd of 1 Sound Choice, and Patti Johnson of Patti Johnson Interiors. What an honor it was to moderate a discussion with these knowledgable and well-respected industry experts. A spirited and informative discussion was had and every point that was discussed, was evidenced by what I later came across on the KBIS show floor.
The 2018 Kitchen and Bath Trends
So, what are the 2018 kitchen and bath trends? Honestly, there are too many to mention in this blog post, but I’ve done a quick recap of the trends that I found to be most relevant:
- Accent on Layered Lighting in the Home
- Connectivity in the Home
- Health and Wellness
- Voice Control
- The Dark and Moody Kitchen
- Low Maintenance/Maintenance-Free Surfaces
- The High Style Designer Kitchen and Bath
- Universal Design
ACCENT ON LAYERED LIGHTING IN THE HOME
Lighting has always been used to serve a function – to illuminate spaces within the home. However, in recent years, with this year more evident than ever, lighting has become an integral part of the design in the home. Now lighting is just as much about form as it is function. Accent lighting, task lighting, ambient lighting – different layers of lighting add to the overall aestheic of the home.
While in Orlando to cover KBIS, I learned that my friends from the Modenus Blogtour group had an exclusive tour and reception scheduled at The New American Home, and I did what I often do – I crashed their party. I am not one to miss out on an opportunity to preview the newest in residential construction, technology, and design for the home, and each year I am always impressed and inspired by what I see at The New American Home, so I did what I had to do!
And what do you know? Lighting was used throughout The New American Home in a number of ways, creating a well orchestrated and layered lighting plan. In-cabinet lights, toe kick lighting, back-lit bookcases, an under-lit staircase, soffit lighting – lighting was not an afterthought but rather a key consideration in the design of each space in the home, both inside and out.
Back at KBIS…Scott Kaminsky, PR Manager for Häfele, demonstrated how the Häfele Loox lighting system works in conjunction with Häfele Connect and can be integrated into the home and controlled via a smart device. Notice the compartment with the guitar on the right towards the end of the clip!
Now available in the Android and iOS app stores, the Häfele Connect app allows users to easily bring smart home technology to their home and work spaces. The app allows for real-time, programmed and customizable control of all Loox LED lighting fixtures and components through an easy to navigate and intuitive interface. Whether on a Bluetooth enabled tablet or smartphone , the Häfele Connect App will make all current and future Loox LED installations smarter and more functional.
CONNECTIVITY IN THE HOME
We are now connected to our homes via our smart devices more than ever. In this post I will only touch upon a few things that caught my attention while at KBIS, but honestly, “Connectivity in the Home” is one topic that deserves a post all its own, because tech and design has been the hottest topic of conversation at every trade show and design event, and it is only going to become more relevant in the years to come.
Thermador Home Connect
Thermador was one of the most talked about vendors at KBIS, where they debuted more than 300 new products – the largest launch in Thermador history. Thermador also introduced the Thermador Connected Experience by Home Connect , an industry-exclusive app that connects the luxury consumer to exclusive personalized content and customized product guidance that assists with appliance functionality and maintenance, helping them to get the most out of their Thermador suite. Home Connect is a powerful open platform that works with partner platforms such as IFTTT, Amazon Alexa, Amazon Dash, and Nest, to name a few. Home Connect is the only platform in the connected kitchen that is rolled out for all product categories and across multiple brands.
The new Freedom® Induction Cooktop boasts the largest fully usable cooking surface on the market within its class. The consumer can achieve more, while smart, intuitive features that allow for greater control and ease of use. Available in 30” and 36”, the intuitive cooktop automatically recognizes the size, shape, and position of cookware on the surface and only heats up the surface area that comes in direct contact with the cookware.
Cooktop Hood Sync allows the Freedom® Induction Cooktop and matching hood to communicate with one another to synchronize turning on task lighting and ventilation. When activity is detected on the cooktop surface, the range hood has the ability to automatically activate lighting and ventilation. These are great features for a cook to have in the kitchen, but what I believe is the most important reason for WiFi-enabled appliance, is the ability for remote diagnostics, oftentimes diagnosing a major problem before it happens, which allows any issue that is diagnosed to be attended to right away and averting costly repairs and service calls…preventative medicine for kitchen appliances.
Grohe Sense Guard
Sense Guard by Grohe is something I could have used this past summer when a pipe burst in my house and was not discovered until it had already caused damage to our living room ceiling and walls. Sense Guard monitors water consumption and in the event of a leak, will send an alert to your smart phone. In the unfortunate event of a burst pipe, Sense Guard can either shut off the water supply automatically or it can be set up to be shut off manually. It will send an alert to your smart device, keeping you abreast of the situation back home. Just think – shutting down a leak remotely before it becomes a flood and damages your home and belongings, saving the homeowner thousands of dollars!
Legrand In-Wall Wireless Charger
Wherever we are in the home, our phone is ALWAYS at arm’s length (at least in my home it is), so why not install this new wireless charger from Legrand, which is also equipped with two outlets and a USB charger. The wireless phone charging mechanism extends to the right side of the outlet, and even though it looks like it takes up two outlets, it only requires one. Now you can charge your phone wherever you are in the home without the use of unsightly plugs and cords. An iPhone 8 or higher or the newest Samsung is required, but soon wireless charging capability will be standard issue on every phone.
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
There has been a real push to promote health and wellness in recent years. Not too long ago, ASID (the American Society of Interior Designers) took part in research on how healthier buildings play a factor in increased well being and physical and mental health. This push for healthier buildings (low VOCs, sustainable materials, etc.) has also translated into interior spaces.
Thermador now offers 36″ wide column towers where the freezer and refrigeration mirror one other. With the Thermafresh system, the Chiller Drawer keeps produce fresh 2 times longer. The delicate produce bin, contained on the inside of the door utilizes a FreeFlow Cold Air System that protects from ethylene gas, keeping delicate produce fresher for a longer period of time.
In the bath, DXV’s Drop-In Airbath creates a stimulating bath experience designed for maximum relaxation and well being. A healthy body means a healthy mind, which results in increased productivity.
THE DARK AND MOODY KITCHEN
Last year at KBIS the industry bid adieu to the ubiquitous white kitchen with stainless appliances to make way for light to mid-value paint grade and grey, wood-stained cabinetry finishes in the kitchen. A year later and the shift to the dark side continues, as darker and moodier takes over, with black cabinetry and countertops and dark wood finishes now being the norm.
The crowds “oohed and aahed” over Liebherr’s Richard T. Anuskiewicz-designed Monolith Inception Kitchen, which oozed of luxury with high gloss figured fumed eucalyptus and aged bronze custom cabinetry, each with coordinated custom hardware. A matte black countertop and intricately detailed table with petrified wood stools completed the high-style, dark and moody kitchen.
Cabinet manufacturer Cabico also featured a darker, edgier palette in the kitchen with matte gunmetal cabinetry and black countertops with lighting used to draw attention to key areas. In addition to darker surfaces, the trend in gunmetal and matte black plumbing finishes also continues to be strong.
VOICE COMMAND TECHNOLOGY
With the rise of voice command smart devices and speakers, it was only a matter of time that our voices would also be used to perform simple tasks within the home. Alexa, Google Home, Echo, Apple HomeKit can now be used with Kohler’s Verdera mirror, using Kohler Konnect, Kohler’s new platform that allows the consumer to personalize their experience with KOHLER products through app presets, and automate everyday tasks in the kitchen and bath through voice-control.
The Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror also boats a motion-activated wayfinding nightlight for safety and convenience, and highly efficient LED lights for makeup application.
Google Home showed off the Google Assistant, which can be used to control devices within the smart home using simple voice commands.
LOW MAINTENANCE/MAINTENANCE – FREE
In years past, dark surfaces in the kitchen were avoided, as the darker the surface, the more noticeable the dirt. Anyone who has ever had a polished black marble or granite countertop can attest to this, as cleaning is a neverending task – definitely not for the homeowner with OCD tendencies. However, in recent years, honed/sueded natural stone, porcelain, and quartz countertops and surfaces have come on the market and fingerprints, streaks, and smears are not as noticeable as they once were.
Wilsonart, known for their line of high-pressure laminates, showed off Traceless™, their newest introduction to the Wilsonart family of products, that integrates fingerprint-resistant technology. With this technology, the demand for the darker yet low-maintenance kitchen is now a possibility with high-pressure laminate in darker, more fashion-forward colors.
Anyone with a polished marble or natural stone countertop can tell you that anything acidic (lemon juice, vinegar, wine) is natural stone’s worst enemy. Anytime an acidic substance makes contact with a polished, natural stone surface, etching occurs and leaves a dull, white ring. Antolini, an Italian company known for their exotic natural stone surfaces has come to the rescue with Azerocare, a treatment that is applied to any one of Antolini’s stone slabs in Italy before it is sent to the US. Azerocare protects the stone’s polished surface for up to 11 hours after contact with acidic substances. This is a game changer for the industry and for the way the designer specifies hard surfaces for the active home that is prone to accidents. Stain resistance once came at a price, where perhaps the look was sacrificed for performance. With Azerocare, the only requirement is that the surface must be polished, and at this time, honed finishes are not a possibility. However, if a certain stone is used on both the counter and backsplash, a slab treated with Azerocare can be used on the counter and a non-treated slab can be used on the backsplash, as there is less of a need for stain resistance on a backsplash. To see the benefit of Azerocare in action, see below:
HIGH STYLE KITCHENS AND BATHROOMS
Fashion – forward styling is brought into the kitchen with cabinetry and appliances mimicking pieces of high-end furniture, complete with exotic woods, custom hardware and high-end metal cladding.
Below, a closeup shot of Richard T. Anuskiewicz’s Monolith Inception Kitchen which features figured fumed eucalyptus cabinets in a high gloss sheen to show off the beauty of the grain.
Belwith-Keeler, who this year is celebrating 125 years in business, has produced hardware that has graced the furniture of the most exclusive furniture brands in the business for many of those 125 years. I was especially drawn to one of their new collections, Firenze, which mixes Italian marble (either in black or white) with a choice of 3 finishes )polished nickel, oil rubbed bronze, and brushed brass, all in a choice of 3 styles.
The Firenze Collection by Belwith Keeler is jewelry for the kitchen, bath, or even furniture. But then again, these days the kitchen and bath are becoming less utilitarian and we are mixing elements from other more fashionable areas into the home into these spaces. The best thing about this collection is that we are a Belwith-Keeler dealer and the pieces shown will be available through our showroom. I can’t wait!
Range Craft throws a little bling into the kitchen with their Swarovski crystal custom hood. Not for everyone, but it is a first. At this time Range Craft is the only hood manufacturer to offer this option.
Ronbow‘s starburst backlit vanity mirror brings a little bit of fashion into the bathroom. Who needs a standard rectangle or round framed mirror when you can have a brass starburst…and backlit, too? The style of a formal piece of wall art for the paired with the functionality of back-light technology for the bath.
As our aging population is now opting to “age in place” vs. living in an assisted living facility or nursing home, the need for Universal Design has never been more relevant. When one decides to “age in place”, the home must be modified to accommodate the needs of the aging consumer. There was a time when a home outfitted for the aging in place looked very institutional, but now modifying the home can be done so stylishly as evidenced by what we saw at KBIS.
Elkay featured ADA-compliant kitchen cabinetry which allows access to the sink and storage area for the wheelchair-bound.
In addition, a low-depth sink is paired along with the cabinetry for better access to the bottom of the sink from the comfort of a wheelchair.
Vanity manufacturer James Martin exhibited vanities, ranging from 39″ to 60″ in width, which function as ADA-compliant vanities, offering the flexibility to also be used by other members residing under the same roof.
Not only do these ADA-compliant vanities not look like they are ADA-compliant, but they look like stunning pieces of furniture. Open the drawers and inside they offer amenities such as faux shagreen wrapped drawer dividers and in-drawer integrated USB and electrical outlets.
So there you have it – my quick recap of what I found to be the 2018 kitchen and bath trends seen at KBIS. Some other emerging trends: White appliances and sous vide cooking. Many of the trends seen are an evolution of what was seen inprevious years and we will see a continuation of these same trends next year. While we have come a long way with technology and how it is integrated into the home, it is still in its infancy. In the upcoming years this sector of the market will undoubtedly grow in leaps and bound, and I look forward to seeing where future kitchen and bath trends take us.
Stay tuned for more coverage from KBIS 2018!
Please note that this blog post on the 2018 kitchen and bath trends was sponsored by KBIS, Modenus, Thermador, Lixil/Grohe/DXV, and Wilsonart. However, as always all observations and opinions expressed are my own.