NKBA Contest Winners Reflect Homeowner Preferences

by bkrigbaum@solagroup.com

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ — The most current and forward-thinking design trends in kitchens and baths are being reflected in the winning projects of the 2011 National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) Design Competition, the Hackettstown, NJ-based trade association asserted last month.

In releasing details about the winners of this year’s design competition, the NKBA pointed to distinct visual elements and color, unique design details, personalized products and materials, and an architecturally artistic approach to proportion as being among the strong themes seen in the nearly 500 entries received in the annual competition.

Winners were announced during the recent Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in Las Vegas. Among the design trends reflected in the winning projects, according to the NKBA, are the following:

Commitment to Color: Clients and designers are making strong commitments to color. The relationship with color was introduced into a winning design by Jennifer Gilmer, CKD, of Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath, Ltd., in Chevy Chase, MD, through a back-splash of back-painted glass in a carrot orange, representing a color that’s smooth and fresh, and refined enough to pair with contemporary exotic wood cabinetry. A tangerine, mango and carrot color family was incorporated into the palette.

Tactile Appeal Through Textures: The use of actual and implied texture offers a tactile and visual feast. Lines, colors and patterns can act as either a point of interest or a mellow background. The textured touch is apparent in a winning design by Aimee Nemeckay, of Chicago-based Susan Fredman Design Group, through an oversized glass mosaic tiled rug inset into the limestone floor, creating the effect of a textured and patterned area rug. A quilted effect was created using custom-made glass tiles, adding a shimmering surface to the shower wall. 

The Attributes of Glass: The NKBA said it is seeing glass glimmering throughout kitchens and baths this year. In a winning design by Kirsti Wolfe, of Kirsti Wolfe Designs, in Bend, OR, lighted panels of Mica art glass incorporated into the design of the volcanic stainless steel hood, the window in the door and a glass tiled backsplash act as pops of color and light against the warmth of wood while also helping to provide cohesion.
Freestanding and Angled Tubs: Large free-standing tubs are front and center in bathroom design, and in a winning master bath retreat designed by Susan Klimala, CKD, of The Kitchen Studio of Glen Ellyn, in Glen Ellyn, IL, the tub is centered and visible through French doors leading to the bedroom space. Rounded, rectangular and angled tubs are specified as an artistic accent that also provides a soothing soak. Whether situated on stones, wood flooring or a low stage of sorts, the freestanding soaking tub is an integral part of many master or main bathrooms.

Espresso and Chocolate in Cabinetry: Silky hues of chocolate and espresso can be incorporated into kitchens ranging from contemporary to traditional. An example is the winning kitchen designed by Melissa Nierman, of Rutt of Los Altos, Los Altos, CA. Natural finishes – absent glazing, distressing and overall pomp and circumstance – are now found in many kitchen designs, as simple chocolate browns act as the smooth and understated partner to brighter accents.

Walk-in Pantries: With the introduction of greater amounts of open wall space, and less in the way of wall cabinets, the need for a larger separate pantry has been sparked. Open plan kitchens are requiring alternative pantry and storage solutions. The grand scale of a kitchen designed by Sheila Off, CMKBD, of Signature Woodworks, LLC, in Gig Harbor, WA, allowed for a walk-in pantry designed for use as a working pantry. Sinks, dish storage and food storage can be incorporated into pantries that are entirely integrated in appearance into the space, and serve as a transition from one room to the next.

Detailed Ceilings: A sophisticated design created by Jodi Hook, of Klaff’s, Inc., in Danbury, CT, features a rustic touch that relies on traditional architectural features paired with sleek contemporary finishes and materials. The rough-hewn barn beam ceiling is beautifully detailed, and although newly created, it appears as if original to a comfort-worn space. The ceiling is highlighted by cable-strung lighting, which lights the textures and natural intricacies of the rough wood.

Natural Elements: A refined, rustic southwestern powder room designed by Lori Carroll, of Lori Carroll & Associates, in Tucson, AZ, is a perfect example of the use of natural elements in design. An agate slab became the foundation for a bathroom space that’s as unique and distinct as the elegant stone itself. Translucent crystal formations within the rock are highlighted by backlighting that sets off the smoky grays, brown and icy white.

A Tiered Approach to Proportion: The concept of stacked components and graduated overlapping heights was brought to a new level of sophistication in an urban kitchen designed by Tia Moras, CMKBD, of Lonetree Ent. Ltd., in Vancouver, BC. Varying heights of the island surfaces, an elevated and overlapping dining countertop and a statuesque pantry cabinet create asymmetrical proportion, while complementing the cityscape outside the windows. The tallest point of the pantry, thickness of the countertops and the dining surface resting effortlessly on the prep and cook surface convey a proportionally tiered balance to the space.

Inlaid Flooring: Variations of inlaid flooring are being incorporated into many new kitchen and bath designs, including a winning design by Mark Allen Schag, CKD, of Allen Cabinetry & The Counter Top Shop, in Mansfield, OH. To accommodate the wet environment in Schag’s French style master bathroom, a new wood-look ceramic tile combined with natural travertine was used. Each piece was hand-fitted and angled to mimic the look of a real parquet floor. French carved cabinetry legs draw attention to the stunning floor.

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