Meg White is the former managing editor of REALTOR® Magazine.
At the combined International Builders Show and the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas last week, REALTOR® Magazine picked up three key trends to watch for in the coming year and beyond.
Designers and builders are starting to realize this foodie thing isn’t just a passing phase, and many are thinking about how best to serve a growing niche in kitchen design.
“Think about different questions to ask home owners about their food acquisition,” says Judith A. Neary, principal of Roadside Attraction Design Studio LLC in Vashon Island, Wash. “Do you have a garden? Do you do canning? Where do you store that? I have to have these conversations with them. We’re trying to plan a kitchen solution for that.”
These changes are also reflected in appliances, with foodies demanding high-temperature cooking options—in excess of 700 F. There’s also been an increase in interest in induction cooking, which heats pots using strong magnets, according to chef and author Jan D’Atri.
“I don’t think the technology was there before. Now it is, and it’s a great option.”
D’Atri also predicts high-end consumers will soon expect newer cooking options, such as the combi ovens (a steam and convection oven rolled into one) instead of a traditional second oven.
But small changes can make a big difference in the foodie kitchen of tomorrow, too. “It’s all about being really thoughtful about the things that are going to make a difference,” says Karman Hotchkiss, executive editor for Better Homes and Gardens’ Special Interest Media. She notes that a niche within the larger foodie niche, the “baker’s kitchen,” often includes a surface with “little divots for bringing eggs up to temperature. That’s really thoughtful.”
This year’s show was buzzing with talk of smart home technology. But builders and designers were also told to be cautious in their embrace of emerging smart home technology.
“Be careful about who you hitch your wagon to,” says Jacob Atalla, vice president of sustainability initiatives at KB Home. He notes that there are a lot of relatively unknown companies serving up new home technology products, and there’s no guarantee how long they’ll be around or how well their products will work. “There could be some disappointments in the future, so we shouldn’t rush into it.”
Chad Davis, senior director of digital media at the National Association of Home Builders, says that while this new technology—which includes products that control a home’s HVAC, entertainment systems, and appliances from the cloud—is overhyped and destined for a reality check, that doesn’t mean that it’s not here for the long haul.
“You’re going to hear in the next few years, ‘This didn’t work. This is a disappointment.’ Don’t buy that,” Davis says. “This is a fundamental shift in what is going to happen with our industry.”
Which colors are residential designers gushing over most?
“Warm Stone is my new favorite paint color,” says Kay Green, president of Kay Green Design Inc. in Winter Park, Fla., of the Sherwin-Williams neutral shade. “Chocolate brown is the new black and gray is the new beige.”
Stephanie Moore, principle of Moore Design Group in Dallas, agrees. “Everything in color terms is going more gray,” she says, though “white is huge in this industry now; I didn’t think it would ever come back.” Moore suggests using light, medium, and dark elements when staging to implement these trends in an eye-pleasing way.
Gray has been popular for a while, but Green says there’s been a change in how grays are fitting into the residential color palette.
“Now we’re using it with teal and straw yellow,” she says. “It’s a much more interesting color than it used to be.”
One color trend that surprises Green is the popularity of avocado with millennials.
“I’m thinking, ‘Why are you so excited about this color?’” She says she later realized that it was a generational thing: “It’s because they didn’t have a refrigerator that color growing up!”