Jillaine Burton, a project analyst in interior design for Kohler Co., in Kohler, Wis., has worked in the fashion industry and as an independent project designer.
RM: Let’s talk about 2011 home design and residential remodeling trends.
JB: There are some strong concepts going forward:
- Universal design — meeting the needs of the most people possible in a given project — is key.
- [Products such as grab bars] have come a long way in the last few years. They are practical yet pretty and they incorporate different finishes and styles.
- We’ll be seeing more multiple-height countertops, roll-out shelves, the use of drawers instead of shelves, drawer appliances, and appliances under the counter.
- The idea [of the kitchen as “command central”] has been around awhile but will be reinforced by people desiring to spend more time at home, having friends over ... The kitchen is a prime living space and not a utility space.
- Self-expression is key: It’s not the idea of keeping up with the Joneses. It’s “What I like will drive my decisions and that’s all that matters.”
- Sustainability is still important but it’s paired strongly with style considerations.
- Value-engineering: What’s gone on the past couple of years has changed the way everyone thinks at every income level.
RM: What other forces are influencing design? JB: Fashion. What’s in this year will show up in the home industry. For example, you can thank Kohler for the avocado greens and oranges and bright, eye-popping colors of the ’60s that became the harvest golds in appliances and wallpapers of the 1970s.
RM: What materials will be available?
JB: Metallics, animal prints. A lot of animal prints are showing up in home décor in furniture and tile. Leather is classic, and it’s been really strong in fashion in the last couple of years. You’re seeing it show up in the home market not just as furniture — leather tiles, for instance. Silestone countertops has a leather finish with the teeniest suggestion of leather. There is leather cabinet hardware, leather trim on lighting.
Large-scale prints on dresses or tops have shown up in wall coverings, tile, and are really pushing forward trendwise in tile as the tile industry shifts toward larger tiles … in sizes like 16 by 20. These can be a wall covering and not just in your shower.
At the other end of the spectrum will be mosaics with tiny tiles, lots of colors, and small patterns. There’s not as much in between, from a trends standpoint.
RM: How about flooring?
JB: Wood floors are still very strong and run the gamut. Price points [may determine] what will be more popular. Cherry has been popular; it’s light but takes dark stain well and is very hard. It’s accessible to the middle market.
Wood choice can depend on what part of the country you’re from. Here in Wisconsin there’s a lot of oak, and people are turning away from that; it’s oversaturated. Now it’s maple or cherry in flooring or cabinetry.
In the upper market there are a lot of exotic species and handmade materials.
RM: And for cabinets? JB: There is a little bit of a trend away from wall cabinets. People are also shifting back to a pantry-type situation where [cabinetry is] not visible.
We’re also seeing tall cabinets that can be called pantry cabinets. Instead of a run of wall cabinets, there might be two utility-type pantry cabinets. You get more storage out of them and have more open wall space.
In homes where you can’t afford to give up wall cabinets, you can deal with them differently. Maybe not all the doors are wood. Maybe you use glass doors to make it lighter and airier. Cabinets can be different heights so you don’t have a solid bank of cabinets. You could also have some open shelves, for example.
There is a resurgence at two ends of the spectrum: dark woods … but now paired with variations on white for a clean, contemporary look. The other end of the spectrum is a return to whites and creams … in the cabinetry itself.
And there are painted woods as well as lacquered doors with high shine. A lot of trends are coming from Europe. You can create that same [European] feeling with a light cabinet that’s Old-World looking with ivory or marshmallow color with some glazing on it.
The Shaker door style is a real classic making a [comeback]. It can look very contemporary and clean. [At the same time,] Shaker-style cabinets can be used to keep the integrity of style of older houses.
—Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.