Kitchen & bathroom trends gaining a new perspective

By: Denise Deveau

Any real estate guru will tell homeowners that a kitchen or bathroom upgrade is always a smart investment choice. Whether it’s a faucet or sink upgrade, new intelligent features, or an addition that pushes sustainability efforts, there are plenty of options for contractors to offer customers.

The best part is, your clients don’t have to choose between style and functionality, because manufacturers are delivering both. Even the latest garbage disposal and filtration units are more streamlined and easier to install than ever before.

Here’s a look at some of the trending highlights this year.


The In-Home Generation Gap

Distributors are seeing an uptick in equipment for outfitting multigenerational homes with everything from attractive safety bars to zero threshold showers and walk-in tubs. “Homes are being built to house up to three generations,” explains Diana Di Carlo of Desco Plumbing and Heating Supply. To address this, some equipment manufacturers are designing their lines to fit a homeowner’s desired aesthetic and needs without looking like a medical device.

“We’re seeing big trends in living-in-place and multi-generational homes, where there is more integration and sophistication in plumbing, accessories and access that are suitable for mainstream, particularly for higher end products,” Isabel Carvalhana of LIXIL Canada (Grohe and DXV) adds.

Di Carlo predicts demand will grow over the next three to five years. “It will be a necessity, more than a desire.”


The Finishing Factor

When it comes to finishes, colours are taking centre stage for those interested in looking beyond the conventional white on white or stainless steel look.

The latest sink offerings are geared towards solid surfaces and colours, says Jason Boyd of Dobbin Sales. “Manufacturers are expanding lines of colours every year. This year Elkay Quartz Luxe started with red, then jubilee blue and are now adding mint green to their sinks. Some have interchangeable apron fronts to match.”

Even stainless steel manufacturers are showcasing colours. Zomodo, for example, now offers stainless steels sinks in black, gold and bronze finishes.

Commercial designs are also making their way into homes, from pulldown kitchen faucets with the look and feel of commercial pre-rinse units, to concrete and white enamel sinks.

“The most noticeable commercial trend is the popularity of the commercial spring faucet with power boost and clean features,” says Garry Scott of Moen Canada.

Matte black and gold fixtures continue to dominate, although manufacturers are now finding ways to change things up by blending finishes such as matte black and gold in their newest lines.


The Bathroom Scene

In the bathroom, porcelain finishes are taking a spin on the colour wheel. “It won’t be long before powder pink bathrooms are happening again,” Di Carlo says. “Colours are coming back in a big way. We’re seeing a lot of it in chinaware. Some manufacturers offer more than 190 colours for their porcelain fixtures.” While matte black and gold fixtures still reign supreme, rumours are that flat white may make some headway this year, she says, pointing to new shower fixtures from Rubinet and Baril. “That could be the next big thing.”

Dominic Giordano from Taps, a Wolseley Showroom, says matte tub exteriors are gaining momentum.

This year could also see the rise of the bidet. The pandemic is driving renewed interest in bidet retrofits and one-piece units, according to Marlon Thompson of LIXIL Canada (American Standard). “They can pay anywhere from $99 to $2,000, depending in the feature sets. Right now, we’re seeing a run on the lower price point items.”


Convenience and Luxury

Among the many recent innovations in the residential plumbing space are spa showerheads from Moen that use atomization technology to reduce water consumption while enveloping the user in comfort, and the commercially inspired Glass Rinser from Delta. It releases high-pressure water jets to instantly clean glassware – from baby bottles and wine glasses to water bottles and travel cups.


Sustainable Thinking

Environmental sustainability is becoming a key selling point for homeowners. Take the garbage disposal, for example.

Once besmirched with fictional tales of danger in horror movies, consumers are beginning to understand how safe, and beneficial, they are, says Di Carlo. “The myths around the dangers need to be dispelled,” she explains. “They are environmental heroes because they save food waste from going to landfill, and are becoming essential kitchen appliances as much as a stove and fridge.” Residential offerings include products from InSinkErator and Moen.

Homeowners are also increasingly looking to filtration innovations to reduce water usage, reports Carvalhana. “Water optimization and sustainability look to be among the strongest trends. Transforming water through filtration will grow more and more in the future.”

This includes the integration of multiple water types into a single point of delivery. For example, the Grohe Blue single-lever faucet sparkling water system dispenses still and sparkling filtered water, as well as regular unfiltered water from the same faucet, reducing water waste and plastic.

American Standard also has a faucet line that delivers filtered water at the touch of a button. “The great thing is that you don’t need filtered water for washing dishes or cleaning the fish tank, so you’re not wasting the filter cartridge,” says Thompson.