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Kitchen and Bath Trends: Cooler Kitchens and More Practical Bathrooms

Posted October 11, 2015

It does not seem so long ago when cherry cabinets and tumbled stone were all the rage in luxury kitchens and bathrooms across the Triangle. However, long gone are the Tuscan-inspired color palettes and intricate cabinet details. Homeowners, now inspired by their Houzz and Pinterest resources, are leaning towards lighter, more contemporary designs in flooring, lighting, tile and cabinetry. Curious as to what these new kitchen and bath designs look like? Think clean lines, open spaces and shades of gray!

Cooler Kitchens

If you think back on your life, it is amazing how many of those flashbacks take place in the kitchen. This one room makes you reminisce of holiday baking, birthday celebrations and late night talks over hot tea or warm milk. It is no secret that the kitchen remains the hub of the home, a veritable catch-all for cooking, entertaining, organizing and school projects; however, those special memories are now being created in more open kitchens featuring lighter cabinets and an abundance of windows.



Photo courtesy of HHHunt Homes; Sterling Crest

Hardwoods, often a darker espresso or gray-washed color, add a rich elegance to the cooler, simpler interior and can be found throughout all of the common areas. While granite is still the more common choice for countertop space, this is mostly due to financial practicality. Quartz, though more expensive, is quickly becoming a fan favorite as it has less movement and more consistency.

“In our upper price range, our buyers are very interested in quartz,” says Debbie Powers, Marketing Manager for HHHunt Homes. “Since it can be expensive to have quartz for the entire kitchen, many are doing one material for the countertops and another for their island. The lack of veining in quartz contributes to the more contemporary trend so that the kitchen overall does not become too busy.”


The bump in price for countertops is a direct correlation to the craze of oversized islands in the kitchen. With regards to kitchen islands -“First of all, you have to have one,” emphasizes Burks Crumpler, Builder Representative for Chase Properties. “You can’t sell a home without it.”

However, size and shape of islands have also become very important. They now tend to be rather large and are seen as more than just an area to cut vegetables for dinner. Today’s island serves as the convenient space your entire family can gather as well as the perfect area for your entertaining displays.

Following the island theme of “bigger is better” are kitchen appliances, especially stoves and refrigerators.

“Kitchen appliances have a more industrial, restaurant-style look with wider, six-burner gas cooktops and vented hoods,” says Crumpler. “Regarding other appliances, not many people vary from the wall oven, wall microwave and standard dishwasher package but all remain in stainless steel.”


Photo courtesy of Drees Homes

Photo courtesy of Drees Homes

The color palette that is pulling this more contemporary, airy feel together is a range of whites and grays, again complemented with beautiful dark flooring and fixtures in brushed nickel or shiny chrome. “Gray is definitely the new color for the kitchen from the cabinets to the paint color and the flooring,” says Powers.

“Kitchen appliances have a more industrial, restaurant-style look with wider, six-burner gas cooktops and vented hoods,” says Crumpler. “Regarding other appliances, not many people vary from the wall oven, wall microwave and standard dishwasher package but all remain in stainless steel.”

The color palette that is pulling this more contemporary, airy feel together is a range of whites and grays, again complemented with beautiful dark flooring and fixtures in brushed nickel or shiny chrome. “Gray is definitely the new color for the kitchen from the cabinets to the paint color and the flooring,” says Powers.

Another design competing for attention in the kitchen is the farmhouse style which promotes an open shelving concept with deep, farmhouse sinks and oversized, industrial-inspired pendant lights.

Walk-in pantries are also topping the new list of “must-haves” for the dream kitchen. These generous storage rooms offer custom wooden shelving (no ventilated shelving found here!) and a variety of door options. While Crumpler is mostly seeing doors whose style matches the rest of the home, Powers has seen a variety of glass doors, with and without etched glass, as well as barn-door inspired pantry doors. House lights inside of the pantry that can be dimmed and shine through the glass doors add a touch of warmth to the new designs as well.

Not everyone of course is going with the cooler, more modern feel. Another popular option, especially for more affluent buyers, is an old world elegance theme which showcases decorative tile with a mother of pearl finish and dusty gold flecks.

Additional features that buyers are looking for in their dream kitchen include concealed trash areas, roll out trays, floor-to-ceiling cabinetry, large drawers, and pull out shelving. As Powers explains, “They want everything hidden!”

More Practical Bathrooms

I personally have always dreamed of having a luxurious bathroom, complete with a massive bathtub and a petite chandelier. As the baby boomers are retiring and rightsizing into their ranch plans and first-floor masters, we are seeing less desire for bathtubs in general but especially one in the master bath. A fiberglass insert tub/shower combo in a secondary bathroom suffices the need for a tub at all.

Stephanie Miller, Sales Manager for Drees Homes, confirms that the desire for a bathtub in the master is subsiding, especially a built-in tub with jets and a tile surround. “Our buyers will not delete it if it is in a home already built but it is no longer coming up as a priority for most of our prospects,” Miller says. “We are, of course, getting more requests for walk-in showers and free-standing, soaking tubs.”


Photo courtesy of Drees Homes; Briar Chapel

As the active adult demographic grows, features more practical to their needs are becoming prevalent in area design studios. Options such as spacious showers with bench seating and multiple water sources (standard shower heads, hand-held fixtures, rain shower heads, etc.) are extremely popular.

“We are offering master bath options with just a large shower and turning their tub area into additional linen closet space,” says Debbie. “People just love it!”

Walk-in showers and free-standing tubs are just two examples of the latest trends that are going in newly built bathrooms. As master suites continue to be a private oasis for the homeowner, choices are extending to vessel bowls, quartz countertops, music surround and television pre-wiring.

Color palettes and tile choices are also changing in the bathrooms, very similar to the looks being shown in the kitchen.


Photo courtesy of Chase Properties; Westvale

“Larger square tiles have gone away and are now being replaced with more rectangular, offset designs for both the floor and wall,” explains Crumpler. “Colors of both tile and cabinets are definitely falling within the cooler hues of whites and gray and are being accented by either brushed nickel or chrome fixtures.”

To continue reading this article and others, please visit The New Homes and Ideas website.

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