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Clean Lines Embraced in Bathrooms, Kitchens

For this year’s edition of The Look, the Jewish Exponent spoke to interior designers across the area about the trends they’re seeing take off in 2019 when it comes to kitchen and bathroom design.

By and large, they agreed that the contemporary, European-style philosophy of clean lines and multi-functional spaces that reduce clutter are leading the charge.

“Excess is out,” said Tina Delia of Delia Designs.

Delia, an independent interior design consultant based in the Wanamaker Building, draws a line between this trend and the hit Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, a reality show following Kondo as she applies her vaunted Konmari system to cluttered, messy houses. Though not crediting the show completely with the trend, she said, it was at least worth mentioning as a factor. Her clients seem to want to hold on to less.

She’s begun to receive more requests for open shelving in the kitchen, in line with minimalist style that’s becoming more popular. Wider, deeper sinks are in high demand, along with color cabinets and black stainless appliances.

“People are being a little bolder with their appliances,” she noted.

Katy Lynn (of designs by Katy Lynn) noted that as well. More of her clients have begun to request colored appliances, especially when it comes to ranges. And like Delia, she’s been inundated with questions about larger sinks that can function as a sort of “work station,” she said. These types of sinks can include nesting components, including space for a cutting board, taking some of the clutter off of the counter-top.

“You can use it as more than a sink to wash your dishes, which is nice,” she said. As for the clean lines of the European style, she said, it’s not quite new — “It’s kinda been coming in waves,” she noted — but it’s only now that it seems to have gotten here for good.

Part of the reason for this, she believes, is that the kitchen has become more a showpiece for the home than in years past; though there are some controlled stylistic risks that clients are willing to take, going with a neat, mostly white style seems to do the trick for a lot of people.

Rachel Lucks-Hecht of Flow Bath+Kitchen Design Studio in Glenside concurred on that to a degree. There was a time, she said, when the kitchen was stuck in the back of the house; now, it’s being reconceived as a centerpiece, as a gathering place for family and guests, in a way that isn’t quite new, but in a way that had seemed to fade a bit.

“Everything old is new again,” she said.

Accessories in the sink have been a theme among her clientele as well. Sinks with colanders, drying racks and ledges within have taken off in popularity. Meanwhile, faucets, she noted, have gone from an afterthought to something you could almost center a room around, she said. Clients are going for “every finish imaginable,” she said. Almost everyone interviewed for this article mentioned gold’s roaring comeback for faucets.

“‘Oh, but my appliances are stainless steel!’ That doesn’t matter,” she added.

Marble countertops seems to be going out, but not because of its look. More people are opting for quartz, a cheaper material that can be made to look like marble but doesn’t require the same level of maintenance; for, say, red wine drinkers, she said, it can be a real pain to be thinking about the upkeep for marble as it relates to spills.

In a sense, less is more seems to be the new mantra for kitchens, as the look becomes more industrial, as opposed to the modern farmhouse look of a few years ago, according to Lucks-Hecht. Mixed metals and acrylics pop up everywhere you look.

Jen Laurens of Tiny Anchor studios has noticed the mixed metal approach, too.

“Now people are really doing more in terms of color,” she said.

Like Lucks-Hecht, she’s noticed the change in countertop material preference, if not in style. And like Delia, she’s picked up on the changes that have come with appliances.

“Stainless is still around,” she said, “but there’s more of a matte black stainless that’s taking hold.”

One interesting observation came with regards to the wood species of cabinets:

“Walnut and oak seems to be having a hot moment,” she noted.


Laurens spotted the trend mentioned by all the designers interviewed: an embrace of tech in the bathroom.

“A lot of people are embracing smarter technology,” she said.

For the bath, that can mean water temperature settings by remote or music settings for the bathroom. She’s even had clients request medicine cabinets with small TVs that replace their own reflections.

Like the kitchen, the bathroom is a place for clean lines, she said. Whereas the other designers noticed more of a demand for simple white subway tile in the bathroom, Laurens said she’s actually experienced the opposite, noting clients that wanted “more vibrancy” in their tile.

Though Lucks-Hecht felt the opposite way, she concurred on the clean lines point. The bathroom “is about luxury now,” she said. “It’s not just a toilet and a sink to get the job done. It’s now more of a place where people want to feel happy and relaxed more so than just functional.” That comfort often comes in the form of higher-end technology, like towel and floor warmers. Freestanding air baths are in; Jacuzzis are out.

That luxurious experience can come in the form of big rainheads and body spray showers, and even the occasional sauna. She noted a desire for the “least amount of framing possible” on shower doors.

Lynn concurred on the points relating to white subway tile and luxurious showers, adding that “brass is back” in a big way.

Delia said more clients seem to be requesting floating vanities.

“That’s been around for a little while, but more people are latching on,” she said.

Like Lucks-Hecht, she sees that clients look for a “spa-style” bathroom, as opposed to a more spartan, functional room.

That means people are willing to take some interesting chances. One recent client decided to put the vanity in front of a window in the bathroom.

“I don’t know that people are rushing to put vanities in front of windows, but that did happen,” she laughed.

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