Tile Trends 2013

There's more to share on my trip to Coverings, the tile design trade fair, showcasing tile trends, stone, artisans, processes and more.

Along with more insight on what I saw at Coverings is another collection of inspiring tile via the slide show I put together with images I took from the show floor. And there will be more, as the best is yet to come, but in the meantime, you'll love these tiles!

Often, when I am going home on the plane from a design event, rather than flip through a magazine (after all electronic devices need to be turned off) I take that time, from the gate up to 10,000 feet, to write in my Moleskine about what information stood out to me, for future reference. As I look at my little notebook, here's what I noted about trends (but first, take a look at some beautiful tile!)

Trends spotted:

  • WOOD (tile), wood and more wood
  • Wood tile that is super rustic and stunning!
  • Wood tile that is incredibly realistic thanks to advanced technologies
  • Wood in lighter tones as a peripheral trend
  • Long planks of wood tile
  • Wood, conrete and stone looks trending
  • Very large format, even larger than I observed at last year's coverings show
  • Large porcelain slabs by many manufacturers designed for paneled surfaces including kitchen countertops
  • Very THIN tiles - definitely the new way to produce tile
  • Fun patterns, geometrics, playing with shapes
  • Microbial and recycled content
  • Salvage, urban, metallics
  • Vintage, inspired by nature
  • Pop and subculture references
  • Damask!

A few of these trends were noted in my previous post on tile trends, but there are quite a few more discoveries I have added here. 

Tile technology has been rapidly advancing and by that I mean tile is manufactured much lighter in weight which saves much energy especially for imported materials, in many cases the materials are much more green than ever before, and although there was an abundance of grays and wood design stories, there is also an enormous amount of real creativity and original design. Fresh vintage/retro is also still a story, but probably the biggest story is the microbial effect where the tile actually cleans the air! Learn more here from Crossville's latest introduction. 

I have more fabulous tile to show you - just wait - you'll be shocked at what's to come!

Tile Trends 2013 - Tile of Spain

A couple of months ago I traveled to the Coverings show to see 2013 tile trends first hand. Coverings is an American showcase for all things tile. The design fair was held in Atlanta. I attended at the invitation of the Coverings show officials, a great opportunity. 

While I have many, many images of tile from the trade show, some of which I will feature in the near future, I'd like to start my coverage (overdue!) with a few of the tile companies who are members of the Tile of Spain trade association. Here is a slideshow which features my images from the show floor!

Following are trends that I have identified at the show that are true for Tile of Spain as well as trends which were seen throughout the show.

  • As travel is on the rise, homeowners want to replicate a travel experience with tile textures and patterns that bring back their favorite place
  • Art Nouveau has surfaced as a trend many like due to its unique design elements, not quite traditional, not quite modern
  • Mid Century Modern continues to gain interest in the marketplace
  • Popular colors are mid range warm gray and neutrals (no surprise there!)
  • Warm tones - cream, beige, camel, brown and red are rising. Emerald and blue are important in North America this year.
  • Metallics with their warmth, patina, and age add personality
  • Vintage design helps homeowners connect with a meaningful period
  • Salvage such as brick, rustic wood and stone remains very popular
  • Inspiration from nature and accompanying natural textures seen in stone and wood, particularly with more pronounced texture and grain is increasing in popularity
  • Subculture motifs from graffiti, classic art forms, pop culture, industrial are a strong peripheral trend
  • Tiles are very thin and are produced in ever larger sizes 

In addition to these trends, the refreshed traditional tiles such as Spanish and Moroccan looks continue their innovations, producing exciting new designs.

I have many more images which I will share with you in the days ahead!


KBIS 2013 - Top Kitchen Trends

The kitchen and bath industry show, known as KBIS, just ended in beautiful New Orleans. I take this annual pilgrimage each year (maybe this was my 22nd or 23rd annual show) to see new products, learn new things, see friends and otherwise, just immerse myself in the world of kitchens for 4 days.

While the kitchen show has decreased in size, there are always fantastic products to discover as well as trend dots to connect. After all, kitchen design IS fashion for the home! It's not work for me, it's all about discovery.

I sat down after the show, this week, and went through my images (over 500) and put together a comprehensive slideshow on what I believe to be the coming trends this year and beyond. You can flip through the slideshow below, but to see it full screen, follow this link on KBIS 2013 Top Kitchen Trends

I have a list of trends I spotted in slide #11, but the big takeaway for me was this: We are moving toward "The Practical Kitchen". Practical is good - it's efficient, it's easy access, it's simple, it makes sense.

So many products were designed around a practical point of view. This also means easy to use and easy to clean. Of course, this design concept can be said to be closely connected to Universal Design, and in fact, it is, but for those who may not be familiar with that term, they will surely see a pleasant and sort of, people/ergonomic-centric focus in new products from many brands, large and small.

Consumers may not even realize some of the products were made to make life easier, as so many products were also so good looking, and that's just fine. When you consider that knobs are back (what could be easier than turning a knob), matte finishes are emerging, storage aids inside cabinetry are being designed to enable even easier access than ever before, with lighting in the kitchen designed to illuminate anything at all that needs to be lit, I can report that life in the kitchen just got BETTER.

There were some stand out products for me, which I will put together in a post in the near future, but trust me, this slideshow gives you as comprehensive a look at KBIS as I think you can find!

Here's an image I took while in New Orleans, and I'll have to do a post with some of my images. Talk about design inspiration? Just take a walk in New Orleans!

Dining Tables & Chairs At AD Show 2013

An important part of any kitchen design, both aesthetically and functionally, are the dining table and chairs. They assist in sending a message about the kitchen's style, formality, comfort level and more.

As current trends continue to move toward an appreciation of natural materials and interesting textures, here is a collection of cool, new dining tables and chairs I spotted at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show

Important considerations when purchasing a dining table and chairs for the kitchen are:

  • size and shape based on lifestyle needs (does it need to expand?)
  • maintenance of table top
  • color, texture, materials coordination
  • comfort
  • formality/informality
  • adequate space for movement around the table and chairs
  • style relationship to kitchen and surrounding rooms

All images below are by me, and the brand names are below the images.  Enjoy!

By Karkula

By Palo Samko

By John Eric Byers

By Tucker Robbins

By: Wud Furniture Design

By Antonio Manaigo

By Work & Design

What a design statement a table and chairs can make!

Gloss + Color Blocking Kitchen Design Trends - LivingKitchen 2013

Continuing my (enthusiastic) march toward sharing the many trends that I spotted at IMM Cologne's LivingKitchen, today's two trends which I saw quite well represented are:

  • Gloss cabinetry
  • Color blocking in cabinetry

Cool, right? They definitely are two hip trends, often mixed up with other kitchen design trends that I listed in my first post on this show.

There is no doubt that nearly every European cabinet manufacturer puts their most creative foot forward in an effort to present eye-catching displays - and it certainly works, like a magnet to design lovers! Well designed, tasteful, cabinet designs are very enjoyable to see, and to learn from too - always, to learn from. Part of the learning process is to look for design attributes which "speak" to you, adding to your global (as in overall) view of design. At some point soon, I will share what I discovered that spoke to me personally. 

To my eye, these kitchens are uncluttered, which gives an opportunity for a design to be fully appreciated. While I would not say these trends were mainstream, they were quite prominant.




Of course, committing to color could be risky, depending how it's designed into the kitchen. If designed into the kitchen in a way that could be temporary, which is possible, it could be an easy "out" to replace one section of cabinetry, should you get tired of it. In that scenario, put that chartreuse section of cabinetry in the garage, basement, or other area to add to household storage needs.

Some design decisions are the type where, once you are on the "other side" of the decision, which happens during installation, you don't always know exactly how you will feel. That's surely where a design professional can reduce the anxiety by providing expertise and drawings to work it through as completely as possible. I definitely think many of these designs are innovative, bold, and worthy of study. 


Wood Texture Kitchen Trend - IMM Cologne LivingKitchen 2013

Texture, designed into many of the kitchen displays I saw at LivingKitchen two weeks ago in Cologne, Germany, was front and center as a trend. It showed itself in various forms, but the movement was clear - Europeans clearly want warmth in the form of wood grain, whether real or faux wood.

This specific type of texture was shown in walls, backsplashes, cabinet doors and countertops. It was also seen in flooring, which I will be covering separately.

The kitchens were warmer in their overall feel than the last time I was at this show, yet, interestingly, and here is an important point - European cabinet manufacturers show texture in a very modern way as opposed to designing in heavily textured wood with more of a country feeling which we are familiar with here in the U.S.

The new European kitchen designs are using textured wood in a straightforward way - plain (mostly flat, sometimes raised small squares in a modern pattern) and simple. When you add flat, simple, doors, modern accessories and appliances, no amount of heavy texture will move the design toward the next level of warm and fuzzy that we are used to seeing in the U.S. - you need paneled doors and other design elements to go down that road.

Nonetheless, the added texture seen in the kitchen displays does contribute to a sense of comfort, warmth, and a casual nature to the design.

Below are images which illustrate the various ways texture was used at the LivingKitchen show. I've turned the color saturation down quite a bit to more clearly show these textured areas. This was a mainstream trend!

What do you think of this trend and how it's used? 

Kitchen Cabinet Trends - IMM Cologne LivingKitchen 2013

SO! Now the fun part starts as I begin a series of follow-up posts to my initial breakdown of kitchen design trends I spotted while at IMM Cologne LivingKitchen a couple of weeks back. The first category to focus on is cabinetry style. Without further ado, the gorgeous images!

Cabinetry Style 

Below: Without equivocation, neutrals remain the stronghold of today's cabinet finishes. White painted or laminate cabinetry, light woods (more than I've previously seen in the past several years) and greige dominate. Black cabinetry is well on the periphery, as are dark wood finishes.

What do you think of these styles? Due to this image-heavy post on just the first kitchen design trend noted, I'll leave it here for now and will be covering all of the trends noted as quickly as possible!

Kitchen Design Trends At IMM Cologne - LivingKitchen 2013

As I get settled in to closely study the nearly 1800 images that I took in a 3 day period at the fabulous IMM Cologne's fabulous LivingKitchen trade fair, I see that this first post needs to simply be an overview of the trends that I spotted. The images that I captured of the stunning displays at the show demand multiple posts, an expanded visual documentation of these trends-coming next. 

I will also be spreading the image love throughout my other social channels, so please follow me here: The Kitchen Designer blog - right here! Sign up for the feed top right or via email, under my picture on the sidebar:   Twitter  +  Google+  +  Facebook +  Pinterest (Pinterest will have both blog images as well as lots of new images from my hard drive). I'm barely beginning to add those images, so check back.

As I look through the images, there are two main categories of design that come to the forefront for me. The first category is those companies whose sole purpose is to be on trend and second, those companies whose purpose it is to do their own thing without much, or less, concern for trends. BOTH types of design are extremely creative, but that word, "trend" can manifest itself in a tricky way if the entire kitchen design one puts in one's home in 2013 is solely based on the hot, new, trends. Like chocolate, trends are fun to indulge in, but an all chocolate diet (while enjoyable to dream of) will cause problems later! Don't trend-binge design! 

Since I also attended this show when it was last held two years ago, it's an interesting exercise to compare both sets of images that I took to get a better sense of how design has evolved in Europe. Here and there, I will be mentioning what's evolved since 2010. And, a thank you to the U.S. and German teams at BLANCO for inviting their U.S. Design Council members, of which I am one, to experience this show with them, providing opportunities for our group to bond as colleagues and friends.

Here are the 2013 Kitchen Trends I Spotted - Brief notes are below with more details/features/thoughts to come in subsequent posts! "M" means it's a mainstream trend throughout the show. "P" means some dots were connected throughout the show but it is not mainstream. "P+" means more than peripheral, less than Mainstream.


Cabinetry Style:

  • White (lots), light woods, and greige colors - NEUTRALS as a foundation - M
  • Use of texture/natural elements integrated into the design, whether in countertops, backsplash, or cabinetry, often driftwood-y looks, real or faux - M
  • More warmth in the designs overall than I found two years ago-definitely, added comfort - M
  • Gloss or glass combined with texture/more glass in general - P+
  • Color blocking - the color accent of choice for this show was orange! P
  • Blue/dark gray, usually medium to dark GE's new slate finish is on that one! P+
  • Warm, modern design overall - M
  • Usually soft contrast in coordination of material colors in a kitchen display, but sometimes bolder contrasts - P+
  • Use of horizontal lines in overall design (not new, but an important European design element) - M

Cabinetry Features:

  • VERY long drawers, lots of countertop lifts for multi-use (countertops/wall cabinetry/more) and as always-useful, very cool drawer inserts - M
  • Seemingly even shorter toekicks - P+
  • More cabinet cubicles than open shelves-often in unexpected places, always with lighting - P
  • As in 2010, lots of fun and playful geometry in cabinet design - P
  • Integrated benches to rest, sit, or display decorative or useful items - P
  • Tight/seamless appliance integration - M
  • Integrated handles or long, modern, pulls - M
  • Same countertop as cabinet fronts - P
  • Channels between drawers and under countertop - P+
  • Concealed close-like tall and wide sections  - P+
  • Open concept philosophy, considering a kitchen's design connection to surrounding living areas-very clear to me - M
  • Intersecting design elements - P+
  • Open cubicles designed into tall cabinetry for interest - M


  • Organic in nature via textural ceramics, hand carved wood pieces, real greens and other handmade items - M
  • A fair amount of skins seen on floors and benches - P+
  • Rather than pattern, accessories communicate the style and theme - M
  • Large in size (perhaps to call attention to the display since it is a trade show) - M
  • Lots of rail systems - attention to universal design, seemingly even shorter toekicks - P+


  • All thicknesses - super thin, thick, or in between - M
  • Different materials next to one another in a flush installation - P+
  • Patterned countertops - plaid, modern art, new designs (new look, not a trend) - P
  • Glass - P
  • Wrapped countertops - waterfall on each exposed side (not new, but it's still current and is SO chic) - P+
  • Lifts to raise/lower or conceal a cooktop - much more prevalent than two years ago - P+
  • Cooktops integrated flush with the countertop - P+
  • Built in dining configurations - M
  • Intersecting design elements - P+
  • Stainless steel with integrated/seamless stainless sink - P
  • Virtually no granite or marble - just simple, understated, tightly patterned surfaces - M


  • Simple, plain, continuous, whether wood, engineered stone, or glass - M
  • Sometimes a 1/2-3/4 height, leaving wall space below the upper wall cabinets - peripheral trend - P
  • Very little tile - M
  • Real wood or faux - M


  • Hoods - Look like lamps (not new, but getting nicer) - P+
  • Hoods - double hoods over cooktop - P+
  • Hoods - Integrated/toned down/hidden hoods and blowers - P
  • New, warm, greige mid tone to dark glass appliances - P+
  • Stainless/color mix (reminds me of Whirlpool ICE - P
  • All appliance types very seamless/tightly integrated into cabinetry - M
  • More white appliances seen - P+
  • Ovens concealed - as seen last time too - P+
  • Ovens as an important design element - M
  • Flexible, open, vessel placement (anywhere) on induction cooktop - P+
  • INVISIBLE refrigeration - M
  • Sinks & Faucets - matte, modern, quietly elegant - M


  • Doubles - double hoods, double light fixtures, double cabinets, other doubles - P+
  • Not much vintage/retro/industrial representation - a touch here and there but mostly warm/earthy/modern design - M
  • Occasional attempt at what looks like American Shaker - P

Cool Factor! - Images to come, for now, just descriptions (these are sometimes one-offs)

  • Countertop lifts 
  • Glass patterned countertops
  • Framed multiple ovens
  • Nearly invisible induction burners integrated into countertop
  • Choice of touch screen or knob controls
  • Plaid cabinets
  • Colored glass cabinetry applied as modern art (wait for the image)
  • Awesome, seen more than once, patchwork of wall cabinetry
  • Glass countertop, cabinetry and glass supports in one display
  • Loved the function of a glass sink surround
  • Glass drawer inserts
  • I'm sure I'll select more! 


  • LED lights for shelving, around cabinetry, in open shelf cabinets - M
  • LEDS een as a feature in color in appliances (not a trend, just something new)
  • LARGE lighting fixtures, oven seen in doubles over an island - M
  • Simple, rounded, modern shapes in fixtures, often in matte finishes - M


  • Lots of light, textured, natural wood, very light, very Scandinavian - M
  • OR, gray or white solid flooring of some sort, with no pattern, perhaps vinyl - M


  • Benches - M
  • Benches with cushions or skins - M
  • Modern design - M
  • Natural, matte, wood surfaces or matte stone tabletops - M
  • Fresh, modern, designs - M
  • Surprisingly, chairs are often matching or closely coordinated - M

This post is so long that I'm only going to show one image that I took from the show - shortly, LOTS AND LOTS OF IMAGES to illustrate my points above!!!

Leicht Display-Image by Susan Serra


Decorex 2011 – Blog Tour Kitchen Inspiration

As part of the fabulous Blog Tour 2011 group, founded by Veronika Miller of the equally fabulous Modenus.com website, our trip to Decorex, part of the London Design Festival, was simply fantastic, end of story. The creativity and innovation was such a joy to experience. Another type of joy was to see the way that classics, that is, materials or design, were updated to create a new aesthetic, a new definition of classic as well as modern. THAT experience = inspiration.

Here are some kitchen design elements that I found interesting at Decorex.

Below, cabinetry by Woodstock – who doesn’t love that name? Of course, the star is the fresh color, but I love the function too and the height of this taller cabinet.

woodstock kitchen

Below, also from Woodstock, the cool mix of light and dark neutrals. Notice, too, the subtlety of the rounded moldings. Love. Backsplash and styling – needs some love…

woodstock kitchen2

Below, gorgeous Dominic-Schuster mirror – could be a backsplash or wall area maybe? For pantry doors? Yummy! And it comes in a gazillion textures.


Below, a fabulous update of an armoire, bar cabinet, kitchen pantry, or breakfast room dish storage




Below, a GOR-juss dining table with Hans Wegner chairs by Isis Furniture

isis furniture

Below, Moroccan tile by Habibi (you are viewing the tile at an angle)


And, a quick shot of this very impressive gentleman who I know does something really important, but he’s also cute!


What’s your favorite??

London Design Festival, Blog Tour 2011 and Modenus.com

The 9-day London Design Festival and all its 300 events throughout the city commences today! In a few days, I will be on a plane to London with 18 other U.S. design bloggers to do nothing but observe, learn, interact with, breathe, and talk design. I am honored to be a part of this impressive initiative to bring US design bloggers to London. The concept to sort of comingle bloggers from the US and from the UK was that of Veronika Miller, founder of the design-rich website, Modenus. In a moment, we will hear Veronika's own words, as she describes the creative thinking behind BlogTour2011.
As a kitchen design professional, I am especially grateful to be included in this group. I have paid increased attention to the world of interior design, apart from kitchen design, in recent years having taken the time (and money) to travel to many design shows and events. As the kitchen is ever more connected to surrounding rooms and products and materials from surrounding rooms are finding their way into the kitchen, it is very important to be an astute observer of what's happening in interior design today. I will look for products, materials and design concepts which can be brought into the kitchen in a seamless way to create the "flow" that connected well designed spaces have. I just cannot WAIT to take it all in!
Here is some great information about Blog Tour 2011 and its fearless leader, Veronika Miller. Oh, and Veronika? She goes to an ENORMOUS number of design shows throughout the year. She may be one of the most knowledgeable people on interior design products and materials there is and that is no exaggeration.
Events in London just on one day!1. Veronika, how and why was this idea born, to bring US design bloggers to the UK to find design inspiration? 
Blog Tour was born, as are many good ideas, over a drink and some scribbles on a paper napkin. We had just created a very successful gathering for bloggers at Arch Digest Show in NYC in March at which bloggers kept telling me that Modenus should host blogger events more often. People see us as a hub for interior design resources so it was a natural next step to create something that would boost design bloggers' visibility whilst helping Modenus report from trade shows and design exhibits with content from select groups of bloggers. 

 It was a spontaneous moment between Troy Hanson at MMPI and Modenus which resulted in such a fun and inspired concept, something with a distinctly international tinge reflecting Modenus as a platform that is based in the US and the UK. So, over a few dirty Martinis in Hell's Kitchen NYC, BlogTour was born.

2. What are your professional goals for this trip; what does success look like?

Bloggers have an opportunity to immerse themselves in design inspiration, meet international designers, journalists and peers and flex their social media muscle to show just how much buzz they can create for an event or a brand. I think it's important to show that design bloggers can be very influential and professional contributors to digital media. Many of them should absolutely be considered as media partners for larger brands or design related initiatives.

Sponsors benefit from the immense buzz created through each BlogTour group prior to every event and by actually meeting bloggers in real life at their showrooms or at one of the exciting venues we've chosen to include in our itinerary. Making a brand visible through digital and social media is, of course,  very important but making it tangible through real life relationships is vital

Modenus was launched, and has grown, exclusively through social and digital media. BlogTour is a natural extension of Modenus and, as well as everything else, has further increased the visibility and reputation of Modenus in the US, UK and around the globe.

3. The agenda is so well rounded outside of the Decorex event. How do you hope these other opportunities for design exploration will inspire design bloggers?

London Design Festival is unique in that it offers 9 days of design events which are anchored by big trade shows like 100% Design, Tent London and just after LDF, Decorex. We've covered London Design Festival for several years now and know how inspiring British design can be and how important it is to focus not only on the larger brands but on the hundreds of creative artisans and artists who exhibit independently or at smaller venues or even through pop-up shops.

Designs can be over the top and  provocative and other times just beautiful and inspired but the point is that that, in my eyes, it is in those smaller shops and venues that great design trends are born. I think bloggers will take away a lot of inspiration for future blog posts or design work and hopefully benefit from the great personal relationships they'll be able to forge while in London.   

4. I know that I, as a design blogger, welcome opportunities to get up close and personal with manufacturers' products any way that I can. It's always a learning experience. I'm curious - what are the BlogTour sponsors' expectations and plans to interact with the design bloggers in an effort to showcase new design or technology in their products? 

We are thrilled and honoured every time a sponsor steps up to join BlogTour in London or any of the tours scheduled for 2012 because it is such a new concept but we realize they are seeing the same potential we're seeing.

Some of the sponsors will indeed be meeting us at  their showrooms or at a dinner venue in order to spend some time up close and personal with our American bloggers as well as some of the UK bloggers, while others appear to be quite happy to allow BlogTour to promote their brands through Twitter and other social media outlets to help them grow their own social media following. 

 Modenus has always worked with every vendor on a customized basis to meet their marketing and budget needs and BlogTour is no different...we listen and come up with a solution that will give them the type of exposure they seek. 

 Thank you to all of our BlogTour sponsors: 

BLANCO America
Samuel Heath
Victoria & Albert Baths
Achica Living
DuVerre Hardware
Spirit of Sports


Where else could this be but Vegas?KBIS is always a carnival of great product discoveries to be found, and this year, although much smaller, it was no exception. The exhibitors had their best game on to present products that are beautiful, highly functional, and classic winners. 

I took 800+ pictures (I'm a little obsessive when I go to a design show) so the ones I show in this collection are those that truly spoke to me and which I feel are worthy to share. Also, take a look at the products that I will be entering in an ongoing basis in our New Products section. You may also find some connections to my previous post on KBIS trends. Enjoy the eye candy!!

And don't miss my post in the fabulous blog, Design Milk!

Below: I love this hardware, it's just my style - sort of organic yet whimsical and modern at the same time Schaub Hardware
schaub_resize Below: Kichler always displays beautiful and innovative lighting at KBIS. Definitely worth a close look.  kichler_resize Below: Edgar Berebi Hardware - New to KBIS, this hardware company displayed true jewelry for the kitchen or bath! Unlike hardware I have seen before. Edgar Berebi_resize Below: Corian displayed their new colors in very interesting and creative ways at KBIS - Corian Spice Collection corian_resize Below: Custom hand painted wallpapers add a strength and vibrancy to any interior - awesome papers! Vahallan vahallan_resize Below: Wow-Perhaps you can tell that I was very impressed by all the beautiful hardware at KBIS, this year more than others. Love: Classic Hardware classic hardware_resize Below: Multi Media materials were the hot trend at KBIS - I would not expect a leg such as this to be a huge, mainstream trend, rather, a peripheral trend - so you're safe! Osborne Wood osborne wood_resize Below: The rounded relief pattern of Context, an eco friendly tile by Ann Sacks Below: Thompson Traders simply has stunning products - from hammered sinks to lighting, a real treat for the eyes Thompson Tradersthompson traders_resize Below: Enkeboll has introduced several new collections and metallic finishes! Enkeboll enkeboll_resize Below: The Nebula series by Silestone has depth and movement with an organic point of view Silestone Silestone Below: Beautiful hardware Giusti Hardware Giusti

KBIS 2011 - Kitchen Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas

Merrilat KitchenFresh from walking the show floor of KBIS (Kitchen Bath Industry Show) held in Las Vegas, following is an overview of my impressions of what's new, what's trending and why. 


The kitchen and bath show (KBIS) was smaller than last year, three years after the financial crisis, which was quite surprising to me and to other veteran industry attendees I spoke to. Those who attended their first, second, or even third KBIS, have no concept of how different a show KBIS has become since before 2009 (I've gone for about 20 years now.) To see the show even smaller this year, and the booths stretched out (wider aisles, etc.)  within the exhibit hall to achieve a perceived "fit", was obvious and a bit disconcerting, 3 years after 2008. 

Exhibit booths for major brands were drastically smaller, in probably all cases, often with little adornment (thank you Formica for a smallish but fabulously designed booth.) And, countless major national brands simply disappeared from the show floor this year. KBIS is a shadow of the show it used to be. The show program (a sort of soft cover book of conference schedules and exhibitor list) tells the story too -geez, was it small!!

That said, I would never not go. It (the basis of the show) is my world, the one I reside in every day. How can I not go? So, I go, and I'm still genuinely very excited to attend every year. Good for those companies who did display...I assume due to the show's size, they had quality visitors to their booths.


Without further ado, here are the major trend messages observed from the show floor! Visual examples will be forthcoming in future posts.

It's all about BROWN undertones - the whole spectrum from light, mid tones to coffee - brown finishes and often gray browns (more brown than gray) dominate cabinetry, new countertop introductions, tile, more. Black, at least in cabinetry, and white (as always), are in the mix....black as the new (yet classic) neutral for cabinetry?

Transitional cabinet door styles, the shaker door in various forms, and the soft modern style or a more simple traditional theme, was a focus for the kitchen and bath

Technology focused on quiet, soft, easy access, ergonomic design solutions for cabinetry

Multimedia - products mixing disparate materials for a fresh design statement...the theory that interesting texture can be a small price to pay here and there in the context of the cost of a whole kitchen remodel

Sinks - seamless integrated sinks and countertop solutions and sinks designed to perform multiple functions including doubling as counter space

Budget - Many manufacturers introduced a lower priced line or moved/modified existing products into a lower price point to provide expanded choices to their customers. Even luxury brands such as Artistic Tile, Corian, Dacor and others have discovered and introduced new ways to make their products affordable. This is an across the board trend and seen in product design with a focus on style, durability and longevity.

Tile - Tile is getting smaller and longer lengths in many cases with newly introduced high def imaging to create a truly authentic look. Many/varied glass accents. Tile continues its style story in the kitchen with softer/simple, often mosaic, designs that encompass expanded areas in the kitchen beyond the backsplash for a look that flows (example, surrounding a window to the ceiling)

Lighting innovations continue to focus on led and substitutes were shown for the typical incandescent light bulb design but with energy efficiency built in. Task and accent lighting keeps getting smaller and more flexible in terms of installation and design (lighted tile in a backsplash anyone?) even color of lighting available.

Cabinet hardware is focusing on additional warm finishes and styles with more visual weight to make a statement (bang for the buck theory and a good one). More soft modern styles and styles which are very modern, projecting significantly off the cabinet for its own statement, are trending. I also observed this in Germany in January at IMM Cologne.

Green - An effort to "go green" but not as prominant an effort as I've seen previously

Color - I did see quite a few products of neutral shades which had a soft green undertone, sort of a gray green. Otherwise, color, in its bold form, was hard to find! I observed it in pockets, certainly not as a dominant theme at the show.

Innovation? Not so terribly much this year as compared to other years. More repositioning/tightening of existing product lines and thinking more creatively in terms of budget products...which of course, is good news to many, many Americans, making the kitchen design process fun again for lower budgets.

This is my preliminary (but well thought through) report. After looking more closely at my 800 images, I may add additional thoughts. More to come!!

IMM Cologne - Living Kitchen Overview

The Living Kitchen show at IMM Cologne, held in Germany less than less than 2 weeks ago was kitchen heaven, purely and absolutely. The exhibits “told” many visual stories – whole stories, as the displays were large, some, enormous. I was a guest of Blanco (a bigger player in the global sink and faucet scene in terms of design and product presence than I realized) and was invited as a member of the Blanco Design Council. Here are some of the most compelling chapters in the book of today’s kitchen!

Chapter I Overview – The Living Kitchen was a very appropriate name for this show. Lowered “platforms” and varying levels for alternative living in the kitchen, a more “living room-like” aesthetic, the warmth of wood or faux wood, are a few of the specific features  which define this movement. Sinks and faucets are going along for the “living kitchen” ride and fabulous examples will follow. It is clear that style and function have met, fallen in love, and are planning for the future. Simply, it’s about living in the kitchen…see how:


Chapter 2 – Cabinetry designed as sculpture is a traditional strong point of European kitchen design but seems to take another step into integration with surrounding rooms, which is VERY exciting visually yet may also make that connection in a quiet and elegant way, the result of which can be a space which appears more expansive.


Chapter 3 – Appliance Integration and Technology – European kitchen design has always been the leader in integrating appliances (seamlessly.) Appliances, any type, are now fully concealed into cabinetry which replicates truly invisible cabinetry, and I would not even say they are integrated into pantry cabinetry; I would call it the built in closet look! In addition, exposed appliances are showing super seamless integration into countertop design.

One appliance which is not so much about integration is the hood – the hoods total transformation into a design element is complete. Whether your style is pretty, modern, super stylized or elegantly low profile, the hood is a wonderful opportunity to express oneself and I think that’s one of the feel good stories here!

Appliance technology is about energy efficiency, a variety of neutral color choices (very exciting to see) healthy cooking, and the ultimate: personal cooking flexibility-where would you like the burner positioned on the cooktop? And there’s more! A food preparation appliance that allows food to last in a refrigerator for 2-3 weeks – surely, a game changer! Examples to be shown soon!

Germany II 878

Chapter 4 – Natural real or natural faux materials – What this means is that natural wood grain rules…sometimes, the more textured the better, which adds visual interest, sometimes a little whimsy too. But, the story here is about an appreciation of nature in many forms.

Chapter 5 – Color - Well, the fun news is that the accent colors were clearly lime green. There were accents of magenta as well. The biggest color story was the greige, beige, mushroom neutral, which I have mentioned before. It seems that quiet and serene has spoken more loudly than color at this show, at this time. But, that is not to say that color was not present in bold, fun, ways. I'd say that its presence felt more focused than broad. I'd call it: "color optional." 


Sooooooo much more to talk about, all coming soon!!! Do you want to see more??

IMM Cologne - Kitchen Thoughts


I am writing this on the plane on my way back from IMM Cologne, the Living Kitchen trade fair in Cologne, Germany. I was a guest of Blanco, as were four other bloggers (Paul_Anater, Jamie Goldberg, Cheryl Clenendon and Leslie Clagett) who are also part of the Blanco Design Council. It was an AMAZING trip. Germany is rich, culturally, and visually beautiful, not to mention on top of its game, showcasing innovative kitchen design and that includes Blanco's line of products which were exactly on the mark for today's (interestingly, US) consumer.

So, I think the best approach might be to present my discoveries, impressions, and information in an organized way. I have just spent the last five hours of this flight sorting into categories, one by one, just around 2,360 images, taken over several partial days. THAT is a record for me!

My singular goal at any show is to size up products and displays quickly (for the most part) and be ready to shoot fast, really fast, even as I see people walking into the image I want to shoot. In a nano second, I know that a section of an image can easily be cropped, so there is no dilly dallying, camera in hand. As a result, speed and quick right brain visualizing gets me lots (and lots) of good information in my images. It's an obstacle course, and I love it!!

That said, I'm trying to do several things at once at the show...understand the products, the details, and the design, ask questions of those working at the booth...and move on! A veteran of 20 years of trade shows has made my particular process into a science!

Now that the images are categorized, I think (unless I change something later) I will do an in depth series on the following topics.

Here are the categories that we will be covering over the next few weeks:




  • Kitchen Living Show Overview-talk about trends
  • Appliances
  • Countertops
  • Cool and Uber Cool Kitchen Design Details
  • Dining Tables
  • Kitchen Stools (so fun to look at, I think!)
  • Drawer Inserts (wait till you see THESE)
  • Hardware
  • Overview of Kitchen Design Trends
  • The "Living Kitchen" Special Exhibit 
  • Sinks and Faucets
  • Color and Texture
  • Possibly flooring

Oh yes, and I really want to include a post on kitchens on a budget, as I have been inspired by some of the displays I've seen - let's just say, high design/low budget is SO doable and you've got to see how easy it is to achieve a fantastic modern kitchen.

If anything else comes to mind, I will adjust the agenda. What about you - what information are you interested in knowing??

I'm soooooooooo excited - it's great to feel that spark of excitement..many sparks in this case! (I took this image below while on the train from Dusseldorf to the Blanco factory in southern Germany - what views!)


IMM Cologne Living Kitchen - Germany, January 2011

A simple post with images to share of the Living Kitchen show in Germany. I am not able to elaborate more at this moment as time does not permit, but surely you can ooh and ahh at the images, no? I am here courtesy of Blanco America. I visited the factory and headquarters today. How do you say "7 patents" in German? I was beyond impressed AND inspired. Look at Blanco. SO-Just for you...

Lechner Countertops - Made of Glass - Trend Alert: sinks in rectilinear "boxes" sit atop countertops Another example of concealed ovens and I will be showing you others Love this cooktop and its grates - by Smeg Gaggenau's awesome booth - a factory type grunge look going on simple, elegant, and note the thin countertopos Clever storage, simple, clean lines, restorative neutrals And last, but possibly my "Best of Show for 2011": Last but not least, the cooktop that I BELIEVE will change cooking forever: Gaggenau's cooktop - put your pot WHERE YOU WANT...anywhere on the cooktop and the cooktop will respond. Image shows the pots at each side of the cooktop to illustrate the burner-less glass

Images From IMM_Cologne - Living Kitchen Trade Fair in Germany

Here are some random images I would like to share with you. Truth be told, I uploaded 1054 images yesterday evening...one day's obsession with kitchen design (what else would you call it?)

Fresh Update On White - Blanco Beautiful Sink - Indestructible Silgranite II Blanco Concealed Ovens Pop Up Backsplash Organizer Hafele Incredibly cool matching glass and cabinetry - Bosch and Alno Position your cooktop to where you need it! Hettich Very cool oven "framing? Lots more to come, LOTS!

Timeless Kitchen Design

It's a question which is being asked with more and more frequency as we want our kitchens to have as much design longevity as possible: What elements make up a kitchen design that translates into a timeless look?

The question comes to mind now as I think about my trip to Spain, from which I have just returned. I was invited to travel to Spain to speak about American kitchen design trends as a guest of Autokitchen, an exhibitor and partner of the SICI fair, at which I and my colleague, Roberta Kravette, conducted our presentations. 

Spain is amazing. Amazing IS the word! I have visited Spain once before, many years ago. Roberta and I took the opportunity to travel to Malaga, Ronda, and Granada, leading up to the SICI fair in Madrid. So, the word "timeless", as we traveled through these ancient cities, is the first concept to grasp in my consciousness as I write this first post on my experience in Spain.

The culture of Spain....the food, its landscape, the architecture and interiors spoke to me in a way that I did not expect. On the second day of photographing endlessly (my obsessive side emerges when I have a camera in my hands and over the course of 5 days, I took a good 1500 images) I felt "it." I saw centuries' old design elements that are perfectly in sync with today's modern kitchens and interiors. The patterns, the flooring, the tile, the colors, the decorative details from ages long past are without question the foundation of a timeless style.

Is this a new concept in design? Decidedly not. Being up close and personal with authenticity is a sort of nudge to stop and observe ancient design elements (which look awesome when observed in situ rather than in a store with flouresent lighting mixed with contemporary items) with today's perspective. Short of visiting old and ancient cultures in person, I'd highly recommend these at-home treasure hunting activities as your road map to inspiration and authenticity:


Visit Museums

Look Carefully at Old Paintings To Observe Decorative Details

Find Books in Your Area of Historic/Cultural Interest (example)

And, Of Course, Google Image and Text Searches (example)

Most of all...take your time and research to find what speaks to you!

I have much more to share about my trip to Spain, including the purpose of the trip...my invitation to speak at the SICI (kitchen show), a request for a meeting in Madrid (via email) by a lovely Spanish couple which was REALLY a treat (I met with them), and the many beautiful things I saw at the kitchen show. More soon!!!

Here is an autokitchen image...no, it's not a photograph, it's a rendering!

Is a Kitchen Design Trend Always A Trend?

I received an email from Jenney and this is what she is asking:

"I am buying a new house. I am planning to have the kitchen counter in white and cabinets in dark brown, but I am afraid the trend will go out of style. what do you think? what is the most classic color for the kitchen?"

What strikes me is that you are calling it a trend. I don't see white countertops and dark brown cabinetry as a trend, at least not a strong trend, possibly a mini trend. But, more importantly, I feel this combination of colors can be considered classic.

The finishes you are talking about are neutrals, even the dark brown. It is a natural finish for cabinetry, and if the rest of the kitchen is designed and decorated in a classic way, as opposed to integrating all the latest design ideas from magazines, catalogs and web home design sites, then you're safe. You needn't worry about your kitchen being pigeon-holed as a trend.

As far as what is the most classic color, of course, white is classic. Most brown wood stains in the medium to dark tones are classic, and some medium to light tones in wood stains. Remember the pickled maple light stains in the 80s and 90s? They were a strong trend, very strong. But, I see that having been a trend partially because those pickled maple/oak colors were an unnatural color for the wood. If these are the colors you like, take note of the above advice, and I'd say, go for it!





KBIS Kitchen Trends 2008

Kbis%20Kitchens-14.jpgOh, it occurred to me that I took images of all these kitchens at KBIS to show you! I think you will see a good deal of modern design as well as dark, rich, browns. You'll also see a common thread of lights, such as creams, and browns, combined. I thought that was interesting. I did not see the same amount of black cabinetry that I did last year, although it is still seen.

I was able to get some very good shots without people in them, and, short of a few shots that are, well, cockeyed, my new camera did an excellent job! The Idea Center kitchens by Meredith, will be up soon. Enjoy it! And, Happy Mother's Day!

KBIS Kitchen Slideshow

KBIS 2008 Kitchen Trends

ann%20sacks.jpgI touched on a few things in my glam.com post, but, before I show you more products, I want to talk a little more deeply about the trends I saw at the show. Here's what I observed...and I walked the show with a heightened awareness to just observe, put together puzzle pieces, listen, compare, look, and learn. I won't single out products here, I'll just give you my impressions. Look for examples as I show you specific products soon.


ECO-themed issues, displays, products or any combination thereof, collectively, WAS the 80,000 ton gorilla at the show. It's everywhere. It's shouted from the rooftops (I wish I had taken a shot of Sears' booth). It's the biggest marketing message of all. It's seen in the displays, in press releases, and is on all the KBIS attendees minds and in their words (at least everyone I spoke to.) I took a 1/2 day seminar on green kitchen design, so I guess it's something I'm attuned to as well. Most companies "get it" and are on board the green train, wherever it's taking us. I mean, what can be bad?


However, that said, beyond the message, in reality, it DOES look like many companies are making special efforts to embrace new technologies to make their products more energy efficient. I've seen more leds than ever as substitute lighting in various (mainstream) products compared to previously used, less efficient, lighting. Appliance companies are actively promoting increasing energy efficiency. Gas cooktops are more energy efficient. An energy efficient hood, which I do believe is the first one to be energy star rated. An effort for faucets to deliver less water out of the spout, but not sacrificing pressure. The mainstream companies are responding bigtime.


I cannot predict our economic future, but I can tell you that glamour in the kitchen is very much alive and well! Maybe, it's like having one last dance on the Titanic, who knows, but, wow, baby, many products for the kitchen are ALL DRESSED UP! To me, it's an edgier, riskier point of view that these mainstream (and smaller) companies feel comfortable "going for." Good for them. It's about time! Shine, shimmer, glass, leds, some color (not a whole lot) and you've made a statement.


SO much at the show was brown...and various shades of browns, and different browns together in whatever materials amuse. Brown metals abound still, in hardware, hoods, sinks, faucets...Brown was really the king at the show. Deep, rich, stains in wood cabinetry were absolutely the norm in most displays I observed. And, I'll tell you this...if it wasn't deep, rich browns, it was browns with white accents.


Don't listen to those who say stainless is on its way out, just because browns are everywhere. Browns are not everywhere, not in appliance finishes. In other products, yes. I hereby declare that stainless is a classic finish. Yes, I'll go out on a limb on this one, and if I'm wrong about that, well, I've been wrong once before, so my record is good. ;) 


As mentioned a bit above, technology is doing amazing things in products. It is creating beautiful patterns in tile, it is creating beautiful solid surface patterns. Yes, solid surface, thanks to fresh, new, patterns, probably as a result of enhanced technology, need to be looked at again. And, yes, I do mean Corian. It was gorgeous in some displays. But, more than that, technology is giving us so many choices in how we use our appliances to get what we WANT out of them. Technology is helping to give us time back in our lives, it's organizing one's life in the kitchen. I see more technological leaps this year than ever.


Appliance companies are stepping up to provide us with even better looking appliances. Also, appliances that cook or chill in far healthier ways than ever before. In more sizes and configurations than ever, and the continued introduction of smaller, niche, products to answer those quirky needs and desires of consumers. There are just more choices, let me say it like that!


The artisan touch was huge, in tile, big bold, patterns in hand crafted tile. Artists designed sinks, even in mainstream companies, hoods, interesting countertops, and more. The combination of matte and shine, texture and smooth, coexist and create a more personal expression. Natural materials...everywhere. If not real, then the look of nature. In cabinetry, countertops, hardware, sinks, and more...Mother Nature is surely the Queen this year!