Island workstations, smart appliances, accessible cabinets, touch faucets, lighting innovations—the list goes on and on for what’s new in kitchen design! Eric McRoberts and Jessica Jack attended this year’s Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) to see the latest innovations and products that manufacturers are featuring, especially since their top picks are typically based on consumer demands, color trends and emerging technologies. The following are a few of our favorite concepts which can be applied to kitchens of any size.
Trend 1: Small Size; Big Convenience
Perhaps it’s no surprise with the current downsizing trend that appliances are following suit. There were many more options for streamlined models than we’ve seen in the past. This included 24 inch wide refrigerators, 22 inch wide microwaves, 18 inch wide dishwashers and drawer dishwashers, as well as specialty appliances like wine coolers. Despite the smaller sizes, convenience and style have not been compromised, as illustrated by the easy access of drawer dishwashers or refrigerators designed to blend in seamlessly with neighboring cupboards. With more manufacturers offering micro options, the pricing has been coming down and the diversity of options has been steadily increasing.
Trend 2: Improved Accessibility
A number of brands and design professionals presented programs and products designed to improve safety and deliver a better quality of life for anyone regardless of physical ability. Whether it’s all drawers, with various pull out options, base cabinets only or upper cabinets that can be pulled down, accessibility is definitely improving in today’s kitchens. Even some of the popular farm sinks provide easier access with a bit of built-in extra depth beyond the bottom drawer.
Trend 3: Finish Updates
White and bright is still popular but we’re also seeing bold colors, whether in the casework throughout the kitchen or pops of color in the backsplash tiles, countertops or a contrasting island finish.
While some may be reluctant to commit to an on-trend deep color for all of the cabinets, there are many “safer” options for having fun with color that provide timeless appeal.
Open shelving is definitely still a trend, but we are pleased to see more options behind glass that will alleviate the dust and food debris that can collect in this often busy workspace. Innovative lighting options for cabinets and workspaces provide visual appeal and flexibility based on user preferences.
Trend 4: Island Innovations
Islands are still popular, but there is an increasing diversity of function, size and styles. We found several models that acknowledged the need for space saving with practical workspace options and a few movable models. Waterfall countertops were a common sighting that we like for both their contemporary appeal and the practical reality that a waterfall counter in a durable material like granite or quartz is easier to keep clean and scuff-free than a traditional wood panel. A single level countertop will provide more workspace with greater flexibility in use and the waterfall edge can help to make the space look larger.
The island remains the “King of the Kitchen: and is both the focal point and the functional powerhouse of the kitchen, whether used for eating, entertaining, prepping dinner or working on homework.
Trend 5: Today’s Technology is Really Cooking!
Perhaps not surprisingly, technology is rapidly evolving to change the way we use our kitchens. Smart appliances are rapidly becoming the norm to provide yet another connection point to our social and information networks and a step-by-step guide for our food preparations. There are an increasing number of diverse touchscreens, cell phone applications and Google interface options available to assist home chefs.
Lighting innovation was also evident with beautiful statement fixtures over islands and LED lighting everywhere, in drawers where opening the drawer lights the drawer automatically, toe kick lighting, motion sensors to light the room for safety, and better lighting in appliances, to name a few examples.
This is just a sampling of the many new products and design ideas from this year’s show. Our team is excited to apply some of the innovative concepts that are viable options for our clients’ spaces!
Jessica Jack, IIDA, LEED AP, has 17 years of experience focusing on commercial interior design.
Eric McRoberts, AIA, is the firm’s senior design partner with more than 30 years of experience.
Blog Editor – Jodi Kreider, LEED AP
For more great ideas, Best of KBIS 2019 Awards celebrates the most innovative new products of the year.