The Housing Scene

Larger, Bolder Kitchens On the Way

Buyers of new homes will soon be seeing larger model home kitchens with darker, bolder colors, especially when it comes to their appliances.

According to a study by Houzz, a leading platform for home renovation and design, the “great room” feel of the kitchen will soon be even greater. The study covered some 2,700 homeowners who are either planning a kitchen makeover, recently completed one, or are in the middle of one.

But those are remodels. This brings up a legitimate question: What does a remodeled kitchen have to do with a brand-new one? The answer: Builders pay attention to survey findings like these so they can stay up-to-date on kitchen trends and remain ahead of the curve.

One trend? Black stainless steel. According to trade publication Builder, black stainless is the hot new color, with more and more range and refrigerator manufacturers adding the finish to their lines. KitchenAid was the first to introduce the finish more than a year ago, and now Electrolux, Kenmore, LG and others are following.

Black stainless steel is said to be so versatile that it goes with almost any other finish, design style and color. Whether you opt for a modern farmhouse look, a contemporary commercial feel or something more traditional, the finish works.

“Black stainless steel appliances have a modern, neutral tone,” Miranda Valentino of Electrolux told the magazine. “This means they mix and match well with both bright, vibrant colors and dark, muted accents, and can easily blend into existing design styles.”

LG spokeswoman Taryn Brucia told Builder that the finish “elevates the traditional stainless steel look with a satin-smooth, warm and sophisticated finish for both a modern and timeless aesthetic that pairs beautifully with any kitchen style. Its sleek finish elevates the versatility and sophistication of kitchen appliances.”

Houzz found that millennials, in particular, gravitate toward black stainless steel, with 9 percent of respondents age 25-34 choosing the finish. That’s three percentage points higher than the 55-and-older group. And more and more builders are looking to break into that younger demographic.

Another trend new buyers are likely to see is more pantry space -- sometime much more. Elizabeth Hagie of the Maryland-based Builders Design calls them “Super Pantries,” and they can be customized to fit any buyer’s lifestyle and budget.

Much like the trend of larger showers a decade or so ago, reports Hagie, this trend is popular with builders because it permits them to showcase additional cabinet or shelving options. And buyers seem to be gravitating toward upgrading the pantry in order to keep a clean, welcoming look in the entire kitchen.

In some cases, the traditional pantry is simply larger, allowing the owner to store extra snacks and perhaps a beverage fridge. But in others, it can occupy an entire room, often hidden behind a kitchen wall, that permits the owner to hide the giant countertop mixer, coffeemaker and other small appliances.

Says Hagie: “As the kitchen continues to be the entertainment hub of the home, this customizable space is a trend that will only grow in the years to come.”

Looking into the future, the Consumer Technology Association estimates that by 2022, a typical new home could contain a startling 500 smart devices. The CTA’s chief economist, Shawn DuBravac, thinks the adoption of broadband and Wi-Fi technology is akin to the adoption of electricity and indoor plumbing years ago.

Companies are cooking up some wild devices, and the kitchen is the hotspot. At a Berlin trade show recently, Grundig unveiled a marble “hob.” Using projection technology, an ordinary induction hob is transformed into an intuitive work surface, allowing users to completely control appliances from a single surface point.

Samsung’s family hub refrigerator is a sophisticated multitasker. Its Wi-Fi-enabled touchscreen lets you manage and purchase groceries, pin photos on an HD screen on the exterior door, and post, share and update calendars. Three interior cameras snap photos every time the door is opened and closed so users can remotely see inside.

High-tech isn’t limited to large appliances, either. Take the Egg Minder, which wirelessly connects to your phone to tell you how many eggs you have on hand and when they start to go bad. Or the GeniCan, a trash can add-on with a sensor that reads the bar codes of items when you throw them away, then adds them to a grocery list.

Meanwhile, Paris-based designer Arik Levy has partnered with Spanish surface manufacturer Compac to create a marblelike kitchen that is stain- and scratch-resistant. Called Mineral Gravity, the conceptual kitchen is made from a synthetic material that resembles marble, but is much more durable.

“Everything’s better than natural stone,” Levy told Dezeen, a London-based design magazine. “This is unbreakable and unscratchable and nonporous. Marble will break and it will scratch. If you spill a glass of wine on marble, you can say goodbye to your table.”

More like The Housing Scene