Would you spend top dollar for a high-tech toilet? Is your home so large that a walk to the kitchen to get a drink feels like an odyssey? Does your pet need a “special space”? For many homeowners the answer is yes — or “I wish.”
MarketWatch interviewed trend spotters and analyzed data from the National Kitchen & Bath Association to assemble a list of features that are catching homeowners’ eyes in 2016. Topping the list are items that personalize homes and make daily life in them more convenient, from quick-cooking pizza ovens to customized pet stations. Some of the trends are attainable for the average household, and others are definitely aspirational.
The following are eight stand-out features that the experts think we will want next.
Changing face of kitchen cabinetry
Cabinet designers are offering built-in compartments for all your kitchen gadgets and spices, as well as slide-out racks for pots and pans, said Stacy DeBroff, chief executive and founder of Influence Central, a company that works with brands on their social and digital marketing. At the recent Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas, she also saw high-up cupboards that can be lowered with the touch of a button. Deep lower kitchen cabinets are also popular, said Mitchell Parker, part of the editorial team at Houzz, a remodeling and design website that connects homeowners and home professionals. With traditional cabinets, “a lot of times, you are on your hands and knees to get out a big pasta pot,” he said. But adding deep pull-out drawers is a way to make kitchenware more easily accessible.
High-tech toilets with bidets, heating elements and lighting are, no doubt, still aspirational desires for many, but they’re starting to come down from their lofty price levels. One reason that techie toilets haven’t taken off more in the U.S. (which would likely further lower prices) is that they require an outlet near the base of the toilet, something that most homes aren’t equipped with, DeBroff said. However, adding an outlet in the scope of a larger bathroom remodel isn’t as big a deal, Parker said. A more affordable option: upgraded toilet seats, which can feature warming or bidet function
From steam ovens to warming drawers to kimchi refrigerators, homeowners are becoming more likely to install niche appliances in their kitchens, Parker said. Professional-grade appliances like pizza ovens that can cook a pizza in two minutes are even available now for home applications, said DeBroff.
Stainless steel still reigns supreme among homeowners — and that’s exactly why an increasing number of people are looking for different options in the kitchen, Parker said. “There is a subset of people who wants something different,” he said. “Manufacturers realize that and are offering different lines as an alternative to the same old stainless steel.”
LG offers black stainless steel, and Whirlpool offers a bronze finish, he noted. Other homeowners opt for a pop of color. “If you are going to sell your house,” DeBroff said, “you wouldn’t get a cobalt-blue fridge. But if you think you will stay around for a while … it adds a sort of specialness.”
Kitchens with white cabinetry are popular, but some people feel an all-white kitchen comes off as too sterile. That’s why some homeowners are going with two-tone cabinet combinations — perhaps a white or neutral for top cabinets and a darker color on the bottom, Parker said. Another trend: mix-and-match hardware, which might pair a stainless-steel sink and brass faucet to create an eclectic look, DeBroff said.
Many homeowners are ditching the technology in their living rooms, leaving them devoid of TVs and computer screens, and creating a relaxing refuge after a workday packed with screen time, Parker said. Others are finding ways to cover up the technology when it isn’t in use. That way, “people can read a book or have a conversation and not be tempted by a remote or TV,” he said.
More generally, there’s “a return to simplicity” in the home, with an emphasis on midcentury modern styles and farmhouse design, he said.
Special pet spaces
Half of the designers who participated in the National Kitchen & Bath Association survey said they had created special pet spaces in client kitchens over the last year. And a recent survey of Houzz users found that more than one-third of dog and/or cat owners made pet-related upgrades in the past two years. These upgrades include feeding stations, under-counter crate areas and places to store food and toys. Some are even going further, building pet stations in their mudrooms that are outfitted with pet shower areas, Parker said. At the very least, a simple tweak to the design of a kitchen island can create a place for the dog’s water, a move that can improve the quality of life for everyone in the house. With that special pet space, “you’re not kicking the water bowl, which happens a lot,” he said