By Barbara Ballinger
ATLANTA—Traditional design is safe, secure, long lasting. It represents timeless appeal whether it shows up in sturdy cherry cabinets with elaborate corbels and fluting or old-fashioned-style freestanding white ceramic bathtubs with claw feet.
So, a plethora of contemporary designs at the National Kitchen & Bath Association’s annual industry show in Atlanta, which just ended Sunday, represented a big breath of optimism.
Concern that the stagnant economy would put a kibosh on modern styles in favor of what’s more familiar didn’t prove true. Yes, traditional design may have reigned supreme, but the buzz by many was over the sleek, swank tubs, showers, and toilet seats with lots of bells and whistles; the kitchen equipment in playful lively colors—blues, reds, and greens—that looked like they had been painted in an automotive shop; and elegantly simple bamboo cabinets with and without modern hardware.
Encourage your contemporary-minded buyers and sellers to watch for these—and other—selections:
- Contemporary design has edged into the Universal Design tub niche, with acrylic models that don’t look institutional and have lower thresholds to make them easier to use. (Here’s one example from Safety Tubs.)
- Frosted or clear curved shower doors with minimal or no frames can serve as a contemporary alternative to rectangular stalls (www.fleurco.com).
- A new line of laminate cabinets in four colors mimics modern wood doors but is more affordable and can appear even more contemporary with stainless steel banding (www.wellborn.com).
- Among the most modern looking and green materials for countertops are those constructed from glass (www.thinkglass.com) and smooth tinted concrete (www.chengdesign.com).
- Instead of tiny square glass mosaic tiles with an ancient Roman look, long, narrow glass tiles add 21st-century architectural cachet (www.daltile.com).
- Modern pulls continue to get bolder but now also bigger so they’re easier to grasp and look better scale-wise on oversized drawers and cabinet doors. Chrome and black designs fit the urban loft aesthetic (www.berensonhardware.com).
- Electric and gas fireplaces integrated into walls have that flat, modern built-in look and can be paired with a recirculating encased waterfall for more Feng Shui (www.napoleonfireplaces.com).
- White, black, stainless steel, and wood may still dominate kitchen equipment panels, but more personalized color is gaining attention. Some hues—blue water and slate green—imitate luxury car paint colors (www.dacor.com). Maybe retro avocado green and harvest gold will be next?
What contemporary styles do you think will grow in popularity?
Barbara Ballinger is a freelance writer for REALTOR® magazine.