Positive news for the Kitchen & Bath industry

As the housing market picks up, the recovery has finally caught up to the most important rooms in the house. Good news! The steady stream of bad news about the decline of the housing market seems to have finally run its course. The latest and much-welcomed reports indicate that the economic pressures appear to be shifting. Homeowner spending is stabilizing, and there is a healthy and growing demand for kitchen and bath remodeling projects. Finally!

With the housing market on the rise, consumers are eager to embrace the newest looks, from fittings and fixtures to furnishings and hardware. Industry trend watchers report that consumers are seeking a more contemporary aesthetic along with products that are sleek, versatile and adaptable in use of space. As forward-thinking dealers, designers and manufacturers have come to realize, staying on top of emerging kitchen and bath trends is not only beneficial to our customers but also to the prosperity and longevity of our business. Here’s a look at the top trends leading the kitchen and bath design craze this year.

Micro spaces are living large

The micro home is huge right now, with tiny living quarters of 800 square feet and less regularly featured on the pages of top industry magazines across the nation. Naturally, small homes and sustainability go hand-in-hand as consumers realize that bigger is not always better and gain a new appreciation for well thought-out spaces that are the epitome of both form and function.

MTI Baths is offering this sophisticated buyer a wealth of possibilities never before available with compact tub designs perfect for smaller spaces that still provide a full array of therapy options. Their circular Halo 1 tub offers a deep-set design that allows for full body immersion without demanding valuable square footage. Available as a soaker or an air bath, the Halo 1 has a built-in seat for more comfortable enjoyment of a prolonged soak. The tub is constructed of MTI’s proprietary Engineered Solid Stone™, a non-porous mixture of natural ground minerals and high performance resin that is 100 percent solid and easy to maintain. And because approximately 65% of the material is organic, the tub is quite “green” with an upscale organic appearance.

Also ideal for smaller bathrooms is an amazing collection of solid stone lavatory tops and stands from Lenova. Sourced from beautiful natural stone deposits around the world, each sink is carved by hand and then machine-finished from solid marble or travertine and completed with a brushed stainless steel stand for a modern look. The proportions here are sleek and clean, while a concealed linear drain helps create a seamless design.

Victoria + Albert is known for its belief that a freestanding bath shouldn’t be a luxury for large space. Their classic-yet-modern ios Collection was designed with this point in mind. Its generous depth provides a restorative soaking experience (and even offers a double-ended design with room for two) but its overall footprint consumes relatively little floor space. Made from 100% ENGLISHCAST, a unique blend of Volcanic Limestone and high performance resins it is naturally white throughout. Victoria + Albert also knows that a key to small spaces is organization, thus they offer the Tombolo bath caddy as a beautiful way to keep bathing necessities at hand, including notches for two glasses of wine!

Traditional bathing is back

The time-honored tradition of soaking in a relaxing bath has never gone out of style. Classic tubs are more popular than ever as designers look for new ways to enhance vintage-era traits. From the exquisite slipper shape of Victoria + Albert’s New Traditional Drayton tub to the footed form of their Hampshire bath, today’s tubs are definitely finding inspiration in times past. Complete the classic look with an inspired faucet, such as Victoria + Albert’s Staffordshire 15. This wall-mounted system plays homage to the past with vintage-style handles, but keeps things modern with a sleek, metal hand-held shower and a choice of polished or brushed finishes.

And yet, there are modern interpretations to these classic designs that enhance their beauty and comfort. For example, MTI Baths offers many traditional tubs with a choice of vintage and modern feet options, as well as a choice of feet finishes. Their Melinda 10 tub has ball-and-claw feet that can be customized with a choice of over 200 hues of powder-coated finishes to create a truly unique look.

Integrated sinks: A counter revolution

Integrated sinks offer unparalleled design flexibility. Their simple profiles blend seamlessly into the most elegant of bath designs, providing a fixture that well performs the task at hand yet remains mostly behind the scenes. Integrated sinks are very now and modern, as compared to the more dated glass vessel basins and pedestal sinks. Still serving a utilitarian function, integrated sinks provide designers with new ways to maximize space and solve common design challenges.

The integrated counter sinks from MTI are especially versatile with their virtually limitless customization options for length, width, deck height and bowl placement. The concept is ideal for creating multiple task stations, filling small alcoves or awkward corners, maximizing narrow baths or designing around a freestanding tub. The Counter-Sink Dual Bowl adds an extra degree of practicality and reflects a very clean, contemporary design with transitional styling.

And while we’re on the subject of stylish sinks, Pyrolave brings a pop of color to the bath with a rainbow of brightly hued designs crafted from glazed lava stone. A designer’s dream come true, Pyrolave has the ability to “sculpt” countertop designs in sweeping curves or extra-long slabs and create integrated sinks or basins in nearly any configuration imaginable. Its extremely durable and non-porous surface makes Pyrolave particularly well-suited for high-traffic areas like bathrooms and kitchens. Introducing an unexpected element of color in an otherwise white color scheme is a welcome trend that is capturing the imagination of designers and consumers alike.

Sustainable and recycled

Sustainability is not a trend but an established way of living. More and more consumers are going green and putting a lot more thought into their product purchases. They are educated and very conscientious when it comes to environmental issues, but they also have high design standards ... so it’s not enough anymore to just be green.

The latest collection of knobs and pulls from Du Verre Hardware is sustainable hardware at its finest. Designed by Du Verre co-founder Gina Lubin, the Argyle Collection is crafted entirely from recycled aluminum. This simplified diamond-in-the-rough version will look great on cabinetry and furniture whether used as an accent or for an entire kitchen or bath. The Argyle Collection is offered in three finishes and four sizes of knobs and pulls. All Du Verre Hardware is compatible with LEED objectives.

The new water-saving Canto toilet from the American-owned and operated ICERA Group offers exceptional comfort and performance, including a chair-height bowl with elongated dimensions, a premium soft-close lid and super-quiet flush mechanism. Featuring Icera’s Hyperion flushing technology, the high-efficiency Karo is EPA WaterSense-compliant, using only 1.28 gallons per flush. Part of the St. Thomas by Icera line, the Canto features precision rim jets and a MicroGlaze non-staining, anti-microbial finish for an easy-to-maintain bowl.

The award-winning QuickDrain USA team has unveiled a new green product – ShowerLine Shower Pan – that is constructed out of 550 recycled 16-oz. plastic bottles. Talk about innovation! It’s this kind of out-of-the-box thinking that will continue to attract the attention of the consumers and the design community – and no doubt inspire continued creativity.

Hardware sets a new direction

Once the finishing touch to a bath or kitchen, hardware is now leading the entire direction of the space. Case in point – the new Steam Punk Collection from Atlas Homewares. Inspired by the turn-of-century Industrial Age with a touch of sci-fi style, the steam punk movement is known for its heavy emphasis on exposed pipe-work and liberal use of metal and interesting textures. Atlas has interpreted this into a series of pulls and handles crafted to resemble industrial plumbing fixtures. The new line is available in Brushed Nickel and two stylish new finishes, graphite – a rich complex grey and vintage brass – an unlacquered brass that never needs maintenance.

Atlas has also expanded its popular Dream Glass Collection by playing on the spa glass trend. The oh-so elegant Quatrefoil Knobs feature an intricately pretty pattern to add a pinch of posh to any room, while the new Cheetah Knobs add a fashionably funky look. The new Dream Glass Knobs measure 1.5" in diameter, the Cheetah Knobs have matte black fittings and the Quatrefoil Knobs feature polished chrome fittings. These whimsical patterns of fused glass mixed with cool metals create a look that will transform simple cabinetry into assertive expressions of style.

The trends described here are representative of a renewed spirit of innovation that seems to be sweeping through the kitchen and bath industry. As consumer demand continues to rise for the “latest and greatest” in new products and styles, I’m confident that we will meet and even exceed the public’s expectations with designs that are sustainable, practical, versatile and beautiful. Here’s looking forward to a bright future and discovering the next new trends! 

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