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Style Magazine

Style Files: The Future of Design

In my latest trend research with the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), several ideas bubbled to the surface. We discovered that form is following function in a whole new way, accommodating not just actual use but serving the way different generations, individuals, and family units design their home space—especially kitchens and baths. Here, we share the four overarching themes that emerged.

Open-plan kitchens are inviting, cozy, and warm.


Connected Living
It’s easy to assume that “connected living” means connected devices, Wi-Fi-enabled products, smart appliances, and home theater. But because the world has become so “connected” in the technology sense, it’s important to emphasize the connection among people, too—something most of us crave now more than ever. Homeowners want their kitchens to promote human interaction—and the connected devices, appliances, and systems will be in place to serve that end. Open-plan kitchens will be inviting, cozy, and warm—perhaps to take the edge off all the tech—and will need to work for different styles and skill levels of cooks. For 82%, inclusion is important, especially with visibility from the kitchen to other parts of the living space. Other top priorities? Spaces that are conducive to entertaining and the need for strong Wi-Fi and Internet connection to call up recipes, cooking inspiration, and instruction.

Open-plan kitchens are inviting, cozy, and warm.


Simplified Living
The days of tchotchke-filled rooms are becoming a thing of the past, so appropriate storage becomes key. Some 80% of respondents said minimizing clutter, cleaning, and a sense of organization is a critical design request; 69% want their bathrooms to be an escape; and 61% design spaces for easy meal prep—think plenty of countertops, easy access to tools and ingredients, and non-congested layouts. This includes utilizing cabinetry that organizes more in less space and specifying low-maintenance material choices or commercial finishes and fabrics that are easy to clean and long-wearing.

Among the top design solutions are non-slip flooring or tile in the bathroom, tub, and shower.


Living in Place
The concept of “living in place” works for everyone—today, tomorrow, and for multiple generations living in the same dwelling. Among designers and architects, 67% expressed the desire for clients to remain in the family home as the top factor influencing this type of design. This was followed by 65% who said ensuring the bathroom is a safe and comfortable space for all generations, and 59% saying kitchens that are safe and easy for all ages and skill levels to use. Among the top design solutions are non-slip flooring or tile in the bathroom, tub, and shower; putting a seat in the shower; and zero-clearance shower entry or no doors, wider doorways, and attractive, non-institutional-looking grab bars.

Healthy lifestyles include a deeper connection with nature via maximum views to the outdoors.


Healthy Living
Finally, the fourth major influence, which is becoming increasingly crucial in today’s environment is healthy living. Healthy lifestyles include a deeper connection with nature via maximum views to the outdoors, taking advantage of morning light, and balancing circadian rhythms with lighting; wide, zero-entry doorways to outdoor areas; selecting natural materials, like warm woods, natural stones, and reclaimed woods and metals; and quite significantly, according to the research, healthy eating.

To meet these needs, design solutions for the kitchen include more refrigerator space and flexible cool drawers to accommodate fresh produce, meats, and dairy; giant sinks to clean all of that produce; integrated areas to prep meals; and recycling and composting centers. In the bathroom, health and wellness elements include body jets in the tub or shower, aromatherapy, a sauna, chromatherapy, and shelves for candles. Some even cited a float tank for sensory-deprivation therapy among elements promoting the bathroom as a spa-like place to escape, relax, and heal the body.  

by  Kerrie L. Kelly, FASID

Kerrie L. Kelly, FASID, is an award-winning interior designer, author, product developer, and multimedia consultant helping brands reach the interior design community. / 916-919-3023