Kitchen and Bath Trends: Where Remodeling Dollars Go
July 1st, 2005


July-August 2005

The home remodeling business is booming! According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), $224 billion was spent on remodeling in the US in 2004. That’s a remarkable increase of nearly 500 percent since 1990! And, according to the Alliance to Save Energy, kitchen remodeling alone can recoup 70-90 percent of the cost when the home is sold.

The increase in remodeling may be correlated with consumers who view their homes as an expression of their personal styles and individuality, according to Ryan Abruzzo, marketing and product manager at TileAmerica!, Ludlow, Ma.

“A house is like a like a wardrobe. Remodeling trends always begin with fashion, and then trickle down into the home decor market,” says Abruzzo. “Consumers are spending more money decorating their homes, and what we’re seeing is that they are choosing materials and designs that are “in.”

Transforming Kitchens and Baths into Personalized Havens/ From utility to entertainment

Lifestyle trends drive much of remodeling’s current fever. Homeowners are paying more attention to the kitchen and bath, which previously were considered strictly utilitarian areas, according to Abruzzo. And they aren’t just modernizing or updating—they’re restyling. Kitchen spaces are increasingly entertainment areas, and even house home offices. Bathrooms continue to adopt more luxurious, spa-like appointments.

John Babcock, design director of Kitchen Views in Newton Center, Mass., a full-service remodeling firm, agrees that, “Kitchen and bath remodeling has really become somewhat of a ‘fashion’ industry.”

Babcock points out that as the home’s entertainment spot, kitchens are decorated in more detail. With the detail comes more daring. People are getting away from beige and white and moving more towards color. Many of these are bright and cheerful, and very contemporary. Orange, for example, has made a major comeback and is a very trendy color today. Also, metal and matte finishes combined with exotic woods have piqued the interest of homeowners nationwide.

“Consumers are taking more risks as kitchen and bathroom design is more about standing out rather than fitting in,” says Abbruzo.

Tile and stone play a big role in bathroom décor, as homeowners seek to create more of a relaxing haven than solely a functional space, adds Abruzzo. For spas, people opt for natural stone as it provides softer, soothing colors which also give a sense of space and openness.

Mayan Metzler, president of MyHome, a full service design, remodeling, renovation and construction firm in New York City, notes a growing interest in mosaics. “We are installing a lot of mosaics of all types,” he said. “There has been a bit of a move away from marble, while Jerusalem stone is a big stone trend. Generally, the very natural ‘look’ (that is, stone with tumbled or acid-washed surfaces) is still very popular in all stones, with more travertine and limestone being used.”

Tile in any material drives the design

“Tile is the best thing that ever happened to the kitchen and bath remodeling industry. It has unlimited application potential and comes in countless varieties to create a more personalized style in the home,” says John Yates, owner of Maine Kitchen Design (MKD) in Yarmouth, Maine.

Marcio Muller, national sales manager with Eliane USA, porcelain tile manufacturers, reports that the porcelain tile sales have tripled in 2004, compared to 2003.

“The use of ceramic and porcelain tile is as popular as ever. We have definitely seen an increase in the usage of porcelain and ceramic tiles in the remodel segment,” said Muller. “Ceramic tile provides sophistication, durability, ease of maintenance, and for those reasons it has become a product of choice when remodeling. We are now seeing new applications, new areas, the use of upscale products, decorative products and customized installations.”

Porcelain, ceramic tile and decorative metal tiles for borders, inserts, and backsplashes are also growing in popularity with homeowners.

This is something that Mario Klappholz of Ceramic Consulting Corporation has noticed as well. His firm represents a

company called Creative Metalized Products. The company offers tiles with artistic designs that are a fraction of the weight of solid metal. The solid metal veneer can be specified in bronze, brass, copper, silver or pewter that is only 1/32 of an inch thick. The surface treatments include an aged look with green or blue patinas, iron rust, satin and high gloss finishes “Metal tile has made a major comeback in America,” Klappholz stated. “In the l’30s and l’40s, you’d see it used in elevator banks and sometimes as ceiling tile. Now, it is a major design component, which is being widely used as a focal accent element specified in combination with other surfacing products.”

Glass tile is one of the fastest growing trends. (Editor’s note: See The Choice is Clear: Glass Tile in the May/June issue of TileDealer) More and more homeowners have decided to use glass tiles because of their unique design options, ease of maintenance and the fact that they are totally non-absorptive.

“We have seen a great increase in the amount of glass tile specified for remodeling,” said Ann-Britt Malden, creative marketing director of Hakatai Enterprises, a glass mosaic tile importer and distributor, based in Oregon. She said that the blending of glass tile colors is on the rise.

Granite countertops—from slabs or tiles—have become a given in renovated kitchens. Patrick Perus, vice president, marketing and development for Polycor, the second largest supplier of natural stone in North America, notes, “Granite ranks second only to diamonds in its degree of hardness, may be specified in myriad surface finishes, is extremely damage-resistant and is basically stain resistant, as well. When cared for properly, it can last a lifetime. It’s a great material for many aspects of remodeling.

“Many people,” continued Perus, “are choosing granite tiles that match their countertops, for flooring field tile or as accents within a field of other hard surface flooring materials.”

Tile Dealers Embrace Remodeling Boom

“Dealers can embrace this [tile] trend to make their showroom feel like a nice, high-end home,” says Yates. “For example, I’ve enhanced MKD by adding exotic tiles of all types to floors, walls, showers and back splashes.”

This fall, Yates also plans to unveil MKD’s new showroom expansion, which adjoins its present location. The space will include a completely functioning, gourmet kitchen with a stunning curved wall covered with glass and ceramic mosaics and a fully operating master bath built entirely out of multi-colored glass mosaics.

“This will create a showroom with the requisite ‘wow’ factor for my end users,” says Yates. “I also look forward to watching my clients ‘try on’ the showroom’s new gourmet kitchen and master bath to determine if these will ‘fit’ into their own wardrobe!”

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