Pop Goes the Future: 2018 Kitchen and Bath Design Trends

Cindy Allen, Interior Design magazine’s editor-in-chief, shares kitchen and bathroom design trends, tips, and muses

Bathroom sink from Unsplash

Photo courtesy of Unsplash, Dan Watson

Bubbling with personality, Cindy Allen, one of the design industry’s leading influencers, was a keynote speaker at the 2018 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in Orlando, Florida this January. As editor-in-chief of Interior Design since 2001, Allen, who isthe only woman in history to be in her role, says there hasn’t been a more exciting time when it comes to design. The magazine, which celebrated its 85th anniversary last year, definitely has its finger on the pulse when it comes to documenting the interior design of homes, furniture, home accessories, textiles and architecture.

As a self-proclaimed “design junkie,” Allen lives and breathes design. “That’s my life,” she says. “I’m crazy for kitchen and bath.” Apparently, she’s not alone, considering the industry adds up to $6.24 billion of kitchen and bath products which were specified last year. Allen’s motto: Design really matters. In a wide-ranging keynote presentation headlined “Pop Goes the Future,” she spoke to design professionals about the top trends coming onto the scene in the world of kitchen and bath in 2018.

So what does this mean for new home construction, and kitchen and bath remodeling? One thing is for sure, there are plenty of options and Allen believes that you don’t necessarily need a huge budget to get something that you really love. Basically, it’s all about finding something you love and narrow it down to the essence of that something. For example, tile, paint color, wall coverings, and fixtures are all things to consider when creating an atmosphere that you’re proud to call a vital part of your home.

Allen’s on top of her game when it comes to trends. She also knows, as she says, important people in the design world. People that inspire her and many others to live their passion for designing things that have real meaning and provide a peaceful sanctuary in your home. The special person she views at the forefront of design is David Rockwell, an architect who has created legendary, high-impact restaurants, and cultural facilities. “He’s a renaissance man, a design hall-of-famer that’s lived his dream,” says Allen.

Rockwell’s leading firm, Rockwell Group, celebrates product design as a natural extension of its immersive environments. Growing up in a family of theater buffs, Rockwell’s not afraid to make a statement. His Bisazza Cementiles collection, Tonal, is extremely fitting for interior floors and wall. Hues of blue, grey, rust and “greige” consume the palette. The tiles are hand-made using high-strength cement that is blended with colored oxides. The tiles help create a expansive presentation of unique patterns to produce soft, tonal transitions, that coordinate with an existing space, or harken back to the architectural structure.

Rockwell is also a lighting genius. New home buyers should take his advice on creating a welcoming environment without harsh lighting. For example:

  • For multipurpose rooms, dimmers are essential, as they allow for flexibility depending on the time of day, event or mood. Plus, they save energy.
  • Choose your light source and determine how to diffuse it.
    Lampshades can make a huge difference when it comes to setting the mood of any room in the house. Take your low-wattage bulb to the store and sample it with different shades.

An example of David Rockwell's Bisazza Cementiles collection, Tonal, which incorporates a lot of colored tile. Photo courtesy of rockwellgroup.com
"Maze Indigo," an example of David Rockwell's Bisazza Cementiles design collection, Tonal, which incorporates colored tile. Photo courtesy of rockwellgroup.com

Another close friend of Allen’s is Mark Zeff. Hailing from South Africa, his design work in residential and hospitality has a global influence. Allen says his yin and yang design is what’s really interesting -- an essence of living well. He does amazing kitchens and bathrooms that have a strong industrial vibe. Zeff also has an innate ability to make things pretty. He uses a lot of black to temper things, and actually built a home in the Hamptons that he branded as “The Blackbarn,” and transformed it into the Blackbarn Cafe. For a well-balanced vibe in your bedroom you can follow Zeff’s influence in the following ways:

  • For a more pared down approach for an intimate-feeling bedroom, opt for new neoclassical molding and trims.
  • Low furniture and architectural profiles are yin, high profiles are yang. A mix of the both help create harmonious energy.
  • Blend soft and sharp: A room’s harsh elements (walls, furniture, and floors) can be softened with plush furniture or pillows.
  • Yin is represented by dark colors, and yang comes out with bright colors, so don’t let either color palette dominate your space.

Mark Zeff's shop, cafe and bar -- Blackbarn -- in New York City
Mark Zeff's Blackbarn cafe, shop and bar in New York City. Photo courtesy of markzeff.com, photo by Eric Laignel

Looking for other design inspirations in your new home? Check out the work of Patricia Urquiola, a prolific Spanish designer who works with a wonderful mix of patterns and materials. Her inspiration comes from the fashion world. Allen says, “Patricia has a knack for using color in a broad range. She’s a genius who loves color and off color, and making them mute out.” Allen calls that a, “quiet color.”

No matter what your color preferences are, it’s best to be honest with your budget before going to the builder’s showroom. For home buyers seeking to strike a color-and-pattern comprise, here are a couple suggestions:

  • If you appreciate lots of color, flow is best achieved by picking one hue as an integrated theme that runs from room-to-room. That can also be accomplished in the woodwork — door and window frames, baseboards, and molding at the ceiling.
  • When dialing up the pattern, it’s best to dial down the color to achieve a calmer, less chaotic effect.

Chairs designed by Patricia Urquiola for Andreu World. Photo courtesy of  www.patriciaurquiola.com
Chairs designed by Patricia Urquiola for Andreu World. Photo courtesy of  www.patriciaurquiola.com

These days, new home buyers are less afraid of being bold with their tile, paint colors, and wall coverings, according to Allen. “Dare when you can!” she says.

Whether you’re daring or not, one thing is important: Consider all aspects of your personal style, and how they will work with your color palette and daily rituals within your home. And, as Allen says, “Be excited about the world.”

Todd Ristorcelli is a freelance writer and contributor to NewHomeSource.

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