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What’s in, what’s out in kitchen and bath remodels

  • Published Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, at 2:22 p.m.

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Kitchen and bathroom remodels remain among the most popular home projects in the Wichita area, Wess Galyon of the Wichita Area Builders Association says. Here are some of the trends that are being seen nationwide in those two rooms as Wichita approaches its Home Show at Century II next weekend.

The bathroom

Planning to remodel a bathroom this year?

Some people are thinking shower, but not tub. And people are bringing in the light – lots of it.

Those are two of the trends that turned up in a recent survey on bathroom remodeling projects by Houzz (www.houzz.com), a home design and remodeling website and phone app. Houzz invited its newsletter readers to share their remodeling plans, and 7,645 responded, said Liza Hausman, the company’s vice president of community and marketing.

One of the trends is what Hausman called the “amazing shower.”

Showers are getting bigger and more elaborate, she said. More homeowners are installing two-person showers with multiple sprays, sometimes outfitted with accessories such as seats or shower heads that simulate rain.

Apparently some homeowners are making room for a bigger shower by eliminating a tub, which Hausman finds surprising. Forty-three percent of respondents said they’re choosing to forgo a bathtub, even in the master bathroom.

The older the homeowners, the less likely they are to want a tub. Maybe they’re opting for accessible showers that require more space, Hausman speculated.

Those showers are almost always enclosed in all glass, especially in the master bathroom. Frameless glass is popular, with 54 percent of homeowners choosing it for the master bathroom and 37 percent for other full baths in the house. Glass block is out, Hausman said, but shower curtains are still showing up in 10 percent of master baths and 33 percent of other full baths.

The preference for glass enclosures is probably related to the popularity of light in bathroom remodeling projects. People are bringing in light in abundance through windows, skylights and even shower heads with LED lights that seem to change the color of the water, she said, and clear glass enclosures let that light shine through. Hausman said maintenance wasn’t raised as an issue by survey participants, so apparently people are willing to squeegee their shower enclosures religiously – or else, she said with a laugh, they’re willing to live with the water spots.

Other trends the survey revealed:

• Only 25 percent of homeowners will enlarge their bathrooms in the course of remodeling. Most are making do with the space they have. Hausman said that follows the trend of homeowners rejecting mini-mansions in favor of houses that are more reasonably sized but well-appointed.

• High-efficiency toilets are an almost universal choice at 91 percent. Traditional two-piece toilets are still the most popular, but many younger homeowners are choosing wall-mounted and tankless models.

• For those who choose to install a bathtub, 33 percent are going for free-standing tubs, and 23 percent for spa or jetted tubs.

• Fifty-five percent of homeowners are opting for double sinks in the master bathroom. That’s a more popular choice among homeowners 45 and older (58 percent) than those 25 to 44 (45 percent).

• Brushed nickel and polished chrome faucets are still popular at 26 and 24 percent, respectively, Brushed bronze was the least popular option, at 2 percent.

• Fifty-two percent of the respondents will not be hiding a master-bathroom toilet in a separate room or behind a partition. That could be because younger homeowners have smaller homes, so they don’t have the space to do otherwise, Hausman said.

The kitchen

What does your dream kitchen look like?

Sleek and modern – or Old World charm?

Your age offers a clue as to which look tantalizes your visual taste buds, according to another Houzz survey.

Based on more than 7,800 responses, the survey showed a distinct, age-related progression, with the youngest homeowners (ages 25 to 34) most likely to describe their style as contemporary or modern and the oldest homeowners (ages 65 and up) most likely to describe their style as traditional. The shifting point appears to be the mid-40s, with traditional the top choice for homeowners over 45, and contemporary the preferred look for those under 45.

“The younger generation isn’t so taken with trappings, and don’t want palatial homes to take care of. They want a simpler, cleaner, uncluttered life” – expressed in a desire for simple, clean-lined design, said Minneapolis interior designer Mary Rossi.

Homeowners undertaking kitchen makeovers are seeking a transitional look that combines elements of traditional and contemporary design, said Charlie Simmons of Charlie & Co. Design Ltd., Minneapolis. A blended style allows homeowners to update the look of their kitchens without clashing with the rest of the house, he said.

He still frequently designs projects that are “traditional, bordering on historic preservation,” he said, even for some young clients. But he’s also seeing increased interest in modern style.

Opening up

Some elements of contemporary kitchen design, such as open-concept floor plans, are now so widely popular that they’re being incorporated into the majority of new kitchens. In the Houzz study, 77 percent of those surveyed said their new kitchens will be open to other rooms.

Light, bright colors and materials are also widely used in kitchen projects. The most popular color schemes are soft and neutral, chosen by 75 percent, with bright and colorful chosen by 14 percent, and bold and dramatic colors by 11 percent.

White and off-white remain the most popular colors for cabinets. “People love the white kitchens,” Liza Hausman of Houzz said.

Granite and quartz are still the top countertop materials, and when younger homeowners opt for granite, they’re more likely to choose a matte finish than a shiny, glossy one, Rossi said.

Solid-surface countertops, such as Corian, also are making a comeback, according to Simmons. “This is not your mom’s Corian,” he noted.

The material now comes in a greater array of thicknesses and is being used in new ways. In a recent remodel, Simmons topped a large kitchen island with bright-white Corian that also cascades down the side, offering a clean, unbroken expanse of white that reflects light.

“It’s so bright and cheerful,” said Abby Powers, owner of the house.

But with two school-age boys, Powers wanted to warm up the kitchen with walnut-stained wood cabinets and darker wood floors. The space combines different hues and materials, she said.

With the room completely open to the family room, “we wanted it to look more like furniture pieces, not like a kitchen,” she said. “It’s kind of a risky thing to do, mixing white and dark and medium, and stainless steel, marble, Corian and brown Caesarstone. There’s a lot of stuff going on.”

Mix-and-match

Many homeowners today are taking a similar approach, according to the Houzz survey. “The trend is toward more mix-and-match surfaces,” Hausman said. Homeowners are still choosing stainless-steel appliances but increasingly combining them with white or colored appliances, or appliances integrated into cabinetry.

“Stainless is still strong, but the trend is away from all stainless,” she said. And many homeowners also are mixing countertop materials, choosing one surface for the island and a complementary surface for the other countertops.

Contributing: Akron Beacon Journal and Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

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