design awards judges

The judges of the 41st annual Master Design Awards accepted a difficult job: Review and score hundreds of entries across 22 categories. They completed the laborious assignment, presenting gold, silver, bronze—and sometimes honorable mention—awards within each group. The judging board this year included (as shown above from left to right):

Craig Durosko, founder/chairman, Sun Design Remodeling Specialists Inc., Burke, Va.

Jessica Miller, AIA, founding partner, Lark Architecture, Chicago, Ill.

Michael Menn, principal architect, Michael Menn Ltd., Northbrook, Ill.

Jeff Titus, general manager, Titus Built, West Redding, Conn.

Jennifer VanderBeken, co-owner/general manager, VanderBeken Remodel, Tulalip, Wash.

Sean Gallagher, owner, Sean Gallagher Design & Dovetails Joinery, Eatonton, Ga.

We caught up with the judges after they finished their scoring to ask them about the trends they saw during the design competition. Here are their responses:

Durosko: We’re seeing a lot of different cabinet colors. Going away from one cabinet color [and using] a base kitchen cabinet color, and then accent cabinets are different feature walls in different colors. So many different materials that are being added into the kitchen—a different backsplash trowel, backsplash, trowel going all the way up the walls. A lot of really nice, large islands bringing the family together. I would say one of the big trends I see in the kitchen areas is opening up two adjacent rooms; a lot of family rooms being open to the kitchen, a big island, people taking walls down, bringing more natural light into this space.

I’d also say with the kitchens, more opening up to the backyard, more connection to the yard, whether it’s glass or windows or folding doors, to connect with the outdoor eating areas and open up the views. As far as some trends in the bathroom, I’m definitely seeing larger showers. curbless showers, easy access, much more accessibility in the bathrooms—grab bars, very wide access and open areas. Again, more natural light, maybe stealing from adjacent closets or bedrooms to open up the bathroom a little bit more. A lot of a freestanding tubs and large showers, less tub decks. A lot of those big tub decks have been pulled out and maybe a freestanding tub put in with a larger shower.

Miller: I always hesitate to jump on or point out trends, per se, as I’m working with my clients [because] it’s all about personal decisions and their own home. But some things that jumped out in some of my favorite projects over the past couple of days were, I really enjoyed some of the projects that incorporated more traditional style. And I would say, in my own work, I tend to be more on the modern contemporary side. So it was really nice to see a lot of traditional renovations that were really respectful to the original home and things like that. Those projects stood out to me.

Also, there were a lot of really good attention paid to finer details and things. Those jumped out: a really good focus on some nice design elements or special moments in a project. Kitchens and baths, [I’m] seeing a lot more of a sort of multifunctional space, especially Lincoln bathrooms, with a combination of wet room with the bath and the shower in one zone. A lot of good things in kitchens with really intricate, concealed storage. I saw a lot of great kitchen solutions kind of moving away from the open storage and much more built-in and incorporated things.

Menn: [I’m] still seeing a lot of white kitchens, even though this year we’ve probably seen more kitchens with color in them. But white is still there— it might not be a trend—but we’re still seeing white kitchens. [Also] seeing a lot of juxtapositions in additions and remodeling where, if the house was vintage, they’re putting on very contemporary and vice versa. So those are two of the biggest trends I saw. A lot of use of mixed materials; designers, architects and remodelers have been mixing materials, adding wood to exterior as that might have more masonry outside.

Titus: The white cabinets still proved true, holding the test of time; but definitely we continued to see grays and even dark blues coming into the cabinetry. I think our traditional styling cabinet is still there, lots of inset and overlay doors. But I would also say a lot—at least in this year’s applicants—a lot of contemporary or modern styling in the cabinetry. We saw a lot of live-edge things, so either stone or wood.

It was interesting to see the stone in live-edge; I don’t think I had seen that before. [As far as] bathrooms, slipper tubs seem to be really common. I didn’t see a lot of built-in spot tubs or anything like that; but stand-alone slipper tubs, lighted mirrors and just LED lighting in general, whether it’s under-cabinet lighting or under shelf. Outdoor spaces [were incorporated in] almost every project.

VanderBeken: First of all, the projects were amazing. It was so fun to see the variety and see all the different ideas that people have and the craftsmanship that goes into it. It’s fantastic. Some trends that I remember from the amazing array of projects are outdoor living spaces continuing to grow and be even more inventive. It’s just amazing what you can see and what you can do outside, no matter what part of the country you live in, which is very exciting.

White kitchens are going to be a classic staple that will be around for a long time [and] you always will see those. But you see them with a bit of a twist, whether they have accent, a tile that is exciting or various colors of islands or other cabinetry. But the white [kitchen] is a classic for people. I also [saw] a lot of brass fixtures or gold-toned hardware, and that was beautiful and really neat to see. I know people love midcentury, but sometimes their home isn’t conducive to that, so they bring in a really neat light fixture or hardware or something to bring that in. And I think it’s really tasteful.

Gallagher: I think what stands out most in my mind is the return to craftsmanship that we’ve seen. I’ve seen so many great entries this year that really show an attention to detail and attention to materials and finish that has been lacking [in the industry]. I see that coming back to the [forefront] and I’m really glad to see that trend. I’m seeing a lot of open shelving in the kitchen and more use of texture on countertops. I’m glad to see the return of the brass finish as being trendy once more. I think that just adds a classy touch to any kitchen design. QR

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