Modern, functional, colorful and tech-ready.
Those are the bywords from the kitchen and bath industry’s showcase exhibition in Chicago. Thousands of innovative and cutting-edge products on display will soon vie for attention of homeowners itching to remodel or build a kitchen or bath in keeping with the latest trends.
The rooms are polar opposites in today’s home. The kitchen is a revitalized, all-powerful entertainment and gathering center. The bath, however, is a private getaway loaded with creature comforts.
What’s new in the kitchen? Clean linear lines and contemporary styles are in, as are flat-screen TVs, sound systems and Internet access. Abundant systemized or concealed storage is good; clutter is not. Appliances are smarter with colors branching out beyond immensely popular stainless steel. Flat-panel cabinetry, sans corbels, and carvings and bulky hardware will be in demand.
Kitchens make a statement while supplanting formal living and dining rooms at the head of the entertainment hierarchy.
“I would say the kitchen is becoming more important than it has ever been,” said Kate Flaherty of Luxehome in Chicago. “It’s part of a relaxed lifestyle and I think having all the bells and whistles is important and also means status. A $10,000 refrigerator is to kitchens what a Cadillac in the driveway was 30 years ago.”
Sure to impress guests is LG’s refrigerator with 15-inch LCD TV screen. On the screen pops up custom weather forecasting, a recipe bank, uploadable photo album option and calendar with alarm setting.
Also hot on the cooling front was Gaggenau’s narrow, counter depth modular refrigerator column you can put most anywhere in the kitchen.
Induction cooktops, including a super-slim 15-inch model from Thermodor, are targeted as alternatives to gas stovetops. Electromagnets rapidly heat only the pan, meaning the cooktop remains cool to the touch.
De’Longhi introduced a narrow, 24-inch Italian-designed gas cooktop.
Narrow — and sometimes lowered — appliances are popular with single homeowners, those with disabilities or those with small kitchens. For the nostalgic crowd, Elmira showed a turn-of-the-century replica gas range in black.
Of course, with all that high-end cooking going on, you can remove lingering aromas with the new vent hoods. GE served up a bowed tempered glass canopy powered by a four-speed fan. Halogen bulbs in the canopy illuminate the cooking surface.
You’ll need to clean up after kitchen chores. Wave your hand in front of the Technical Concepts soap dispenser sensor ($300) for a squirt of hand cleaner. Hand washing is also easier beneath the LCD light that rings the spout of KWC’s novel “Eve” faucet. Models start at $725.
Faucets with distressed metal finishes, including oil-rubbed bronze, match well with darker elements such as counters, flooring and appliances.
Veined hard woods emerge as countertop options to stone or composites. Craft-Art’s spalted wood — treated to encourage veining as the tree grows — starts at $120 per square foot. Spalting also appears in new flooring versions from Amtico.
Minimize treks to the ‘fridge or oven with under-counter cooling or warming drawers. Great for storing cold snacks for the kids or keeping h’doeurves or casseroles toasty.
Where kitchens are crowded, baths are intensely personal spaces. Luxehome’s Flaherty says homeowners indulge in spa amenities once limited to the elite and wealthy. Deep soaking tubs, walk-in showers with multiple shower heads, his and her lavatories and heated flooring now grace the better bath.
Look for deep, rich Tuscan and rustic finishes on bath hardware. Brushed nickel remains popular as Price Pfister debuted the high-arced Amherst bath faucets.
Chromatherapy lights were shown in a number of bath applications. BainUltra’s Amma air-jet bath, large enough for two people with heated backrests and chromatherapy lighting, retails at $4,365.
Bath fixtures are also now designed to provide more comfort for users with disabilities. Some stools have been raised to 17 inches to meet requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Sinks have also been indented for easier access.