Local professionals offer their take on the latest kitchen and bath trends.
Story by Tracy Dickinson
Featured in February/March 2020
According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), kitchen remodels and bathroom updates account for the vast majority of remodeling projects in the United States. And with an average cost of more than $60,000 for a kitchen and $10,000 for a bathroom, those are not investments you undertake without careful thought.
If either of these remodels is on your wish list in the year ahead, take some tips from area professionals for incorporating the newest trends in your dream project.
- Educate yourself.
“The popularity of online resources like Pinterest and HOUZZ and remodeling television shows has helped homeowners get a better idea of what they like and don’t like,” says Corey Gersdorf of AIM Kitchen & Bath. “This can really help the initial conversation between the homeowner and the remodeler, narrowing down the selection process and saving weeks of planning.”
Moehl Millwork’s Keelie Lawson says, “I find it very helpful when a client comes to me with photos and idea boards. It helps me get into the customer’s head and see their vision so we can pin down their ideas more easily.”
- Incorporate natural materials. Adding texture and the warmth of woods and stone can do more than update your look. “Natural or natural-looking materials add contrast so that there’s some interest and the design isn’t riding on one color or tone,” says Woodharbor’s Jill Lampe.
Gersdorf suggests adding wood tones with flooring. “In older homes from the ’30s and ’40s, refinishing existing wood floors adds character and restores those original hardwoods. In newer homes, a lot of homeowners are choosing prefinished hardwoods.”
Engineered hardwoods and luxury vinyl plank (LVP) floors offer the look of hardwoods with fewer maintenance concerns and lower costs than hardwood options.
- Make it yours.
No matter what the trends, your home should reflect your individual tastes and the way you live. The term “hygge” may be trendy itself, but what it represents is a centuries-old philosophy of designing for comfort.
“I’m seeing the ‘hygge’ trend growing here in the Midwest,” says Lampe. “It’s a Danish term for ‘hug’ and ‘comfort,’ and in design, it means creating a space that is reflective of you.”
“One popular remodel feature is replacing the big whirlpool tub with a spacious tile shower,” says Beisser’s Rob Walker. “In-floor heat is another great way to add comfort that’s always big with homeowners.”
- Think for the long term.
Even if you aren’t remodeling in order to age in place, planning for the long term makes sense financially as well as stylistically.
“Luxury walk-in showers, open floor plans in kitchens and baths, heated floors—these are all popular trends, and they can easily be customized to suit the homeowner’s tastes and meet current or future accessibility needs, too,” Gersdorf says. “You just have to plan ahead.”
Taking the long view can also give you a better perspective on the scope of your remodel. As much as you might like a particular trend, whether it’s that latest color or the current remodeling show fashion, it has to work in the home you have, and you have to love it.
“A lot of homeowners are looking for ways to update one room, like the kitchen or bath, without having to change the whole house,” says Lawson. “If you have a home built in the ’80s, you have to find ways to work with the golden oak or replace it all, which isn’t always an option. There are ways to do that—choosing colors that complement the oak, opting for flooring that brings out different tones in the wood.”
- Go overboard on trends.
Lampe explains, “No matter what your style, stick to a classic base and add trends in things you can swap out fairly easily, like furniture, hardware, lighting, and accessories.”
“You can add subtle touches to get the latest look,” says Gersdorf. “For example, if you like shiplap, consider putting it just on the back of an island, where it’s easy to update or replace later if you want to change the look.”
- Get boxed in.
Be open to new interpretations of old ideas. “Standard tub units, wire shelving in the closets, appliance garages—they all serve a purpose, but there are better ways to accomplish those tasks,” says Walker. “Walk-in showers, cabinetry-style closet storage, and walk-in pantries are much more popular now.”
Tile selection is another way to break out of the mold. “Large-format tiles are still the trend,” says Gersdorf. “We do a lot of transitional style remodels, and the 12×24 tiles work really well, especially with open floor plans. Using smaller tiles for mosaic accents and backsplashes in the kitchen or bath is a great way to add flair and still get the clean look the larger-format tiles offer.”
- Neglect color.
“Grays are slowly declining in popularity,” Gersdorf says, although neutrals still remain the dominant color scheme in both kitchens and baths. “The beige neutrals that go with just about anything are beginning to come back.”
Lawson says, “We’re seeing a lot of greens and blues. One cabinet manufacturer is even offering bold cabinetry colors like pinks, teals, and yellows, which I’ve seen used for islands or base cabinets or just one wall of cabinetry as an accent.”
- Forget the lighting.
“Technology has advanced to the point where there are so many different options,” Gersdorf says. “LED lights are available as can lights, recessed lights, pendants. Many are even dimmable, and the fixture designs can be expanding.”
Manufacturers offer LED fixtures designed especially for bathroom applications as well, from vanity lights to overhead and task lights.
Walker says, “Wiring inside of cabinets not only adds convenience, but it can be a great design feature to highlight display items or dishware.”
Kitchen and bath remodels are not just the most popular remodeling projects. They also offer the best return on investment. If you plan to stay in your home, that’s still the case. So maybe the best advice is this: Don’t go it alone; do find a design partner that can help create the kitchen or bath you’ll love for all the years ahead in your home. •
- Corey Gersdorf AIM Kitchen & Bath
- Keelie Lawson Moehl Millwork
- Jill Lampe Woodharbor
- Rob Walker Beisser