From a home design standpoint, kitchens and bathrooms are two of the most fun rooms – there’s a lot at play in these two areas, where form and function are quite interconnected. As humans, we need a place to prepare food and we also need a comfortable space for grooming. While satisfying those basic needs is standard, the design approach you take can vary a great deal.
Some families have enthusiastic cooks who require six burners and a place to store their vast wine collection. Other families buy prepared foods and often dine out, requiring only a basic cooktop and standard fridge. Some individuals are shower-only folks, while others enjoy a long soak in a large tub. For those considering a room re-do or new construction, we’ve checked in with local experts who know a thing or two about customizing your rooms and playing with current trends.
Kitchens are the expertise of Joey Edwards, President of Cameron Kitchen & Bath Design, a local design firm that has served the area for more than six decades. According to Edwards, stainless steel still rules the kitchen and American-made appliances from Whirlpool, KitchenAid, SubZero & Wolf are the preferred brands over “flash in the pan” appliances focused on electronics.
“In the world of top quality appliances, our clients want them made by companies who know kitchen appliances, not units made by a company whose manufacturing lines are 95 percent televisions and cellular phones but who are now dabbling in the appliance industry,” says Edwards.
Top recommendations for outdoor kitchens from Cameron include durable, no-maintenance cabinetry made of stainless steel, composite materials and natural teak woods, as well as outdoor appliances with high grades of stainless steel.
Stone continues to be a popular choice for countertops, including granite, quartzite, marble and quartz slabs. Select Stone carries over 300 colors of the oft-sought durable materials.
“As the foundation for kitchen décor we’re seeing neutrals becoming the new norm. Veining and patterns are also becoming increasingly popular. Texture is coming into focus as well with the options of polished, leathered and honed finishes,” says Arnold Molano, General Manager.
Playing with texture is a popular current trend and can take you in many different directions. At Nola Boards, Owner Mandy Simpson and her husband build and sell handmade wooden products for the kitchen, dining room and home bar.
“We’ve seen an increase in our clients wanting to mix their granite or marble countertops with a wooden island being its own stand-alone piece,” says Simpson. “Mixing cypress or other river and swamp reclaimed wood into your current structure isn’t difficult and can completely transform the space.”
According to Simpson, wooden countertops help bring a sense of warmth and depth to the kitchen. Nola Boards is also able to customize an array of features such as sunken cutting boards within the countertop that are easily removable for cleaning. “This allows you to essentially cut right on your countertop surface while protecting the rest of it,” she says.
When it comes to appliances, Randall Shaw, President of Nordic Kitchen and Baths, says many manufacturers are moving away from “pro” or industrial ranges and towards a more transitional look. One of Shaw’s favorite new appliances is the combination steam oven, which offers convection, steam and combination cooking. Some incorporate a vacuum drawer underneath for convenient sous vide cooking.
Contemporary whites and greys with textured wood finishes continue to trend in kitchen cabinet design, according to Shaw. He is also seeing an uptick in “transitional” styling, which incorporates elements of both contemporary and traditional design. He says a rising number of homeowners are opting for cabinet fronts on their appliances in contrast to stainless or white.
Cabinetry is a major factor in kitchen design and function, and more homeowners are seeking minimal-maintenance, eco-friendly materials, according to Kristen Mason Klamer, Design Principal at Mason•Ros architecture and design firm. Klamer notes a trend towards getting rid of upper cabinets and maximizing lower cabinet space. One way to do that is to use drawers instead of traditional swing cabinets to make items more easily accessible.
“We find this can really open up the space and provide opportunities for open shelving, more windows or even art in the kitchen where you wouldn’t have seen it much in the past,” says Klamer.
To maximize space in a small kitchen, Klamer recommends taking advantage of the tall ceilings found in many in New Orleans homes. When clients want upper cabinets, Mason•Ros recommends extending them to the ceiling, which can maximize storage for seasonal dishes.
Storage is always key in a kitchen a design. And while cabinets and shelving provide the main storage for the kitchen itself, some homeowners seek the extra storage of a pantry, wine storage, or other small off-the-kitchen room. Experts at Louisiana Custom Closets maximize the storage of these areas and can personalize just about any space.
Coffee is a staple in most homes, and the ways people make it can range from electric drip makers and Keurigs to a counter-top grinder and French press or even a large-scale espresso machine. As people trend away from countertop clutter, more people are adding coffee bars in their pantries, according to Owner Ann Wise.
New Orleanians love their wine and entertaining, so the local company has a great deal of experience helping organize and store your prized bottles and seasonal table linens as well.
And what about bathrooms? Tile and stone are often used here for flooring, backsplashes, tub surrounds and showers, so we checked in with Floor & Decor for the latest trends. Marble continues to be a highly desired material in bathrooms, but if you splurge elsewhere and need to cut your budget, Floor & Decor recommends convincing, marble-look porcelain as a cost-saving alternative. Looking for more ways to save?
”Lots of times, a little creativity with how you install a tile can really up the design impact without upping the price tag,” says Lindsay Swenson, Chief Executive Merchant.
Current tile trends include using large, shaped tiles such as pickets, hexagons and herringbone to create patterns on the floors and walls. Matte finishes on tiles and stones are popular, and more people are creating feature walls in showers using a statement decorative mosaic or tile that creates a lot of texture. Another creative application for tile includes installing it above vanity areas like you would wallpaper, up and around the mirror.
You would probably take a different approach to a powder room than your master bath, and Penny Francis, Owner and Principal Designer of Eclectic Home, points out that in today’s world, the cool powder room is the new selfie backdrop. She recommends having fun with your powder room design since you might be seeing it on social media.
“Lighting is the jewelry and can make or break the design. Scale is critical so we start by determining our size restrictions. Whether a suspended chandelier, sconces or a combination of both, look for the unexpected in the design for interest and conversation,” says Francis. ”Dimly lit powder rooms with the amount of lighting needed to freshen up is all you need here,” she emphasizes.
Other tricks Francis likes to use include wallpapering the entire space including the ceiling, which can make a smaller space seem larger by adding fluidity and blurring the lines between walls and ceilings.
“The same happens when you paint walls, ceilings and trim the same color and in a semi gloss or gloss finish. The high reflective value of the paint reflects light and makes the room appear larger,” she says.
New trends in master baths include more wet rooms wherein a tub sits in a glassed-in area with a curbless shower, according to Kristen Mason Klamer at Mason•Ros.
“It has been making our five-fixture master baths so much more efficient in layout and does lean towards a progressive European experience,” she says.
At Nordic Kitchen & Baths, Randall Shaw notes a rise in large rain heads for showers, sometimes as big as 30-by-30 feet. He also notes a rise in homeowners opting out of tubs in their master baths so long as there’s a bath somewhere in the home.
Cameron Kitchen & Bath Designs 8019 Palm St., 486-3759, CameronKitchens.com
Eclectic Home 8211 Oak St., 866-6654, EclecticHome.net
Floor & Decor Design Gallery 2801 Magazine St., Suite A, 891-3005, FloorAndDecor.com
Louisiana Custom Closets (985) 871-0810, LouisianaCustomClosets.com
Mason•Ros 250-8407, MasonRos.com
Nola Boards 519 Wilkinson St., Suite 105, 435-1485, NolaBoards.com
Nordic Kitchen & Baths 1818 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 888-2300, NordicKitchens.com
Select Stone LLC 733 Distributors Row, Harahan, 216-0110, SelectStoneLlc.com