Solid Kitchen Trends in a Shaky Economy (excerpt from interview)

It seems that we’ve been asked to work on a number of Kitchens lately, and these are the trends we’re noticing as they relate directly to the current economic situation.

With the economy worsening, but with hope at a high due to a new Administration and spring coming just down the road, what is the forecast for kitchen design in 2009?
The forecast for Kitchen design in 2009 includes timeless (not trendy) design, energy efficiency, and environmental responsibility. As has been the case for the past few years, sustainable materials, environmentally friendly finishes, and energy star appliances are top of the list.

How does this mix of fear and hope play out for those who are planning a kitchen renovation?
The mix of fear and hope seems to play out in color, accessory, and appliance choices. Clients are making choices which will endure throughout the life of their home, carefully considering function and durability. Overly adorned and embellished trims and moldings are gone, in favor of simple, modern looks which are at the same time not too commercial looking or overly sterile.

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And, these conditions being only 4 months or less old? Previous trend watchers who published a forecast for 2009 before September could not have predicted our current situation.
Despite a nagging sense of fear, consumers still have a sense of expectation and style. While being more cautious, our clients are still expecting high style and quality, even more so now, as clients understand their Kitchen will need to last a lifetime, or contribute to the resale value of their home.

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What are consumers now looking for?
The most desired element for our clients is storage, storage, storage. Clients who were possibly “upsizing” a year ago, are rethinking how they can make their current space work more efficiently. Perhaps because we typically work with Manhattan clients, appropriate and abundant storage is at the top of everyone’s list. Cabinets with special and specific features, such as pull out under-sink drawers which accommodate cleaning supplies, etc. are mandatory. Wine storage is also often required as an integral part of the kitchen. SMART technology is something we’re providing more of for busy professionals. Software allows the client to start the oven from the office, or convection-cook dinner from their iphone in the taxi.
Energy Star certified appliances are must-haves, as clients are now more conscious of electricity usage and bills.

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What about quality? What type of quality do consumers now want in their materials?
Our clients want convenience and quality. Granite countertops are yesterday’s news, as we’re now using stain-resistant, anti-bacterial products such as Caesarstone to give a sophisticated look, with a maintenance-free finish. As environmental concerns have been raised about granite’s radon levels, savvy clients are seeking viable alternatives. Environmental concerns also have clients requesting low-VOC cabinet finishes, with formaldehyde free components.

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Is a professional designer important to hire?
A professional designer is a must, when attempting any project as in-depth and specialized as a Kitchen. A designer has the resources and experience to advise you on the best available products, materials and appliances for your kitchen. A designer can protect you, by making sure your vendors are charging you appropriately and giving you what you need and want, rather than what’s going to make them the most profit. Beware of Kitchen Design Centers which claim to offer “free” design services, as these places typically only carry certain manufacturers, and charge a hefty mark-up on their goods to cover their design costs. A good designer can also help you choose a good contractor, and work on your behalf to make sure your project ends up looking like what you expected it to.

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