Thoughtful Integration – Kitchen & Bath Design News

Workflow and productivity in the kitchen often revolve around the sink space, making the selection of sinks and faucets a pivotal decision in the overall design of the space. 

Jay Beaumont, director of sales and marketing for Lenora Group, based in Hillside, IL, says that he often remarks that the kitchen sink is the “Rodney Dangerfield of the kitchen” because it doesn’t get any respect, with selection often given little attention. But, as the most used piece of equipment in the kitchen, he adds, kitchen designers should give careful attention to how the sink area will be used during sink and faucet selection.

Dawn Robinson, marketing director for Bocchi, based in Alpharetta, GA, stresses that the sink and faucet play a major role in kitchen design, as one point of the classic “kitchen triangle” linking sink, cooking space and refrigerator. “[The sink] is key to a functional kitchen and elemental to keeping a cleaner home, but it can also be a beautiful statement piece. The increased demand for colors and deeper, more functional basins testifies to that,” she states.

“The biggest trend is towards workstation sinks that feature integrated accessories,” Robinson adds. “Accessories like cutting boards, colanders and roller mats that seamlessly fit onto the sink not only maximize efficiency, but create a more functional and even sanitary workspace as well.”  

Kitchens are being used more now as people remain at home much of the time, and consumers want a personalized look. This has led to the use of more distinct finishes in a range of colors. 

“Consumers want to feel as though their home is a relaxing retreat,” observes Eveline Simard, principal industrial designer at The House of Rohl, headquartered in Irvine, CA. “A survey we conducted over the summer found that 58% of homeowners want to be able to showcase their personal style within their kitchen, whether that’s through faucet intricacies, materials or colors.” 

In addition to personalized workstations, other top kitchen sink and faucet trends include coordinating finishes throughout the kitchen, a rise in touchless technology, and attention to sustainability issues. So say manufacturers recently surveyed by Kitchen & Bath Design News.

Multifunctional Workstations

Sinks that are large enough to accommodate myriad demands making food preparation and clean up as easy as possible are a top trend, manufacturers say.

Ruben Gonzale, national sales manager for Ruvati USA, based in Austin, TX says, “Homeowners are moving away from double bowl sinks towards large single bowl sinks because of the space and versatility they offer.” Workstation sinks with built-in ledges on the front and back of the sink enhance functionality, he adds. “Accessories such as cutting boards, colanders and drying racks sit and slide on these tracks, allowing you to do a lot of the prep work right on top of your sink. When you are done using the accessories, you can lift them out and move them out of the way. Some of our large workstation sinks come with dual-tier ledges – two levels for the sliding accessories, giving you more space to use and store the accessories.”

“I haven’t seen a kitchen yet that has enough counter space,” Beaumont reports. That’s why integrated accessories, and sinks large enough to accommodate them, are a top demand, he stresses. The trend began with standard sink sizes, but has shifted towards much larger options – up to 4′ and 5′ ledge sinks, he adds.

Jean-Jacques L’Henaff, leader, LIXIL Global Design, Americas based in Piscataway, NJ, agrees that more and more space is being dedicated to these prep/cleaning stations. “As we continue to eat more in the comfort of our homes, the kitchen continues to be the hub of the home. This trend can be found in homes that have two full-size kitchen faucets at a long workstation sink, which allows two people to use the sink at one time and allows full reach of water for cleaning the entire sink,” he says.

“People expect more from their kitchen sinks than they used to, and by accessorizing their sink, they can do more,” states Mark Webster, v.p. – sales and marketing for Karran USA, based in Vincennes, IN. As far as faucets go, he remarks, the industrial look of these workstation sinks has led to increased interest in commercial-style faucet design with high arch, open-coil spout designs.

Jason McNeely, senior brand manager, AXOR/Hansgrohe at Alpharetta, GA-based Hansgrohe, Inc. says that, in addition to sinks that have integrated options, faucets with different types of water flow – such as water for washing vegetables, and both purified and carbonated water – are being used. People are looking for one well-designed fixture that can do it all, he explains.

Ease of use is also an important factor, tells Abbas Poonawala, director of sales and marketing for Dallas, TX-based Isenberg Faucets. End users are concerned with the sprayer, and whether it will clean their sink. Their primary focus is on pull-out length, he adds, and consumers prefer anywhere from 18″-24″ pull-out capacity.

Harmonious Design

The appearance of the sink and faucet must coordinate well with the other fixtures in the space, such as lighting and cabinet hardware, manufacturers say. While stainless is still the top sink choice overall, matte black finish is on the rise. Matte black is a popular choice for faucets as well, along with brushed gold and other colors that add a dramatic touch to the design. 

“While stainless steel is the norm for these larger single-bowl sinks and workstations, a new crop of quartz composite offerings is adding extreme durability and great color options to this category. Matte black still remains the sink color of choice for those looking to add a colored sink to their kitchen,” notes Webster. “To add to this colored sink option, customers are leaning towards colored faucets. We are finding great interest from consumers in our matte black and gunmetal gray faucet finishes, as well as the brushed gold. They steer a bolder path than the traditional chrome or stainless steel finish options.” 

Robinson adds that the demand for matte finishes carries over to lighter colors as well. “Matte finishes for both faucets and sinks are selling out almost as fast as we can get them in…dark colors are still rising, but the matte look is popular with white as well as the darker blacks and grays.”

 “Many consumers are gravitating towards less traditional finishes and more dramatic options like matte black or brushed gold,” says Danielle DeBoe Harper, senior creative style manager for North Olmsted, OH-based Moen. “These finishes add a refreshed look to the kitchen sink and pair nicely with a wide variety of design styles.”

Gonzale notes that durability and low maintenance keep stainless steel the most popular material for kitchen sinks. The trend toward adding color to design has helped granite composite and fireclay gain popularity as well, he adds. 

Ruvati has developed a new method to add color tones to stainless steel, he reports, and offers these sinks with gold, gunmetal black and copper tones. “These sinks have the same durability and low maintenance as stainless steel, but also offer attractive colors to your kitchen palette. Brushed gold fixtures are very trendy now. Ruvati offers gold-tone stainless steel sinks that match gold color fixtures for a perfect modern kitchen,” he explains.

“Brushed gold and matte black are king right now in kitchen faucets. Those two finishes make up over half of the kitchen faucets we sell in our new and popular collections,” declares Simard. “Matte black goes with just about anything and provides a clean look, not showing many water spots. Brushed gold just makes a big statement and becomes a focal point in the room. We are seeing a lot of coordinating lighting fixtures and cabinet hardware to match that really ties the room together.”

L’Henaff adds that mixed and warm finishes, like brass, are popular. These finishes are also incorporated into other elements of design, he continues. “Many are requesting matching finishes extending to sinks, cabinet pulls, lighting, soap dispensers,” he states. 

Matte black and satin brass are the two most requested finishes for Isenberg, comments Poonawala, but they also sell a lot of colors, including crimson, greens, blues and grays. Customers are often trying to match their backsplash, he states, and think it’s fun to have that touch of color in their faucet finish. 

The range of finishes makes possible the desired personalization of the kitchen space. “When people have the ability to select their ideal finish combination or choose the style of faucet lever they love most, it allows them to express their own unique personal style and gives a sense of control,” DeBoe Harper remarks. 

Functional Centerpiece

Not only are sinks and faucets the work center of the kitchen, but they are also often the most prominent, attention-getting elements in the room. Like a centerpiece on a beautifully set table, the aesthetics of the kitchen sink/faucet combination can tie a whole design together. 

“As important as function is for the sink and faucet, so is dramatic design,” Webster states. “Customers are looking for something that stands out in both the sink and faucet.” 

The use of color for sinks, as well as sharper, linear design, catches the eye, he adds. “Unique finishes in faucets as well as bold designs that incorporate industrial design features all work together to create more of a feature than perhaps sinks and faucets were in the past.”

“With large sinks that are placed at the most accessible part of a kitchen cabinet layout, the kitchen sink is the first thing you notice as you walk into a kitchen. With farmhouse style and apron-front sinks, the sink becomes even more prominent,” Gonzale explains. “One of the most important parts of the overall kitchen design is to come up with a kitchen sink color, material and shape that perfectly complements the color and material of the countertop and cabinets, as well as the shape and layout of the kitchen itself.” 

“Sinks and faucets can be a highlight of a kitchen design,” Adam Horwitz, chief marketing officer at Speakman in Glen Mills, PA says. “A distinct finish like a brushed brass faucet can be a focal point when placed on a white or different color solid surface.” He adds that the sink area is critical to the design of the kitchen, since traffic moves through that area before and after meals, and all day long. “It has to be beautiful and practical,” he states.

“It’s common for homeowners to select their sinks and faucets early on in their kitchen design process, so oftentimes the rest of the kitchen is shaped by the material and finish of these items. The style of your faucet and sink can define the overall kitchen aesthetic and provide a main focal point in the space,” reports Simard.

“Faucets have always played a role as the ‘jewelry’ of the kitchen, and that’s why we are seeing such interesting trends in finishes and mixed finishes,” stresses L’Henaff. “What’s great is that beyond visual appeal, functionality has been added to faucets to make consumer lives easier as well.”

Touchless Technology

As COVID-19 remains a lingering concern, the demand for touch-free kitchen faucets continues to rise. 

“The past year and a half have had a lasting impact on sinks and faucets, and we’re seeing that technology is being implemented more and more into the kitchen space,” notes Simard. Their survey found that 53% of consumers would consider purchasing motion-activated or hands-free faucets to help reduce germs and cross contamination, she says. “This speaks volumes to how technology can support health and wellness in the home,” she adds.

“The higher concern for cleanliness is driving demand for touch-free faucet options in the kitchen,” agrees Horwitz. “There are some experiments with voice-activated controls as well, but consumers have not yet seen that as very important for their workflow,” he adds. “For now, they still seem content with the ease of use a traditional faucet provides.”

“Moving into the future, touchless solutions are on the rise,” stresses DeBoe Harper. “While devices with hands-free on/off activation have been around for some time, current products are taking this idea a step further, offering many more ways to control and personalize the use of a device without ever having to touch it,” she notes. “The pandemic has left many people craving warmth and comfort in their homes and looking to integrate innovative products and design trends that promote a healthy well-being.” 

McNeely observes that the sales of touch-free faucets has gone up and there are faucets that link to smart devices like Alexa, but adds that they are still a small portion of what’s being specified. “I do feel that, as the smart home category grows and becomes more common place and less expensive, so will integrated products like faucets and even showers,” he reports.

Building Sustainability

Another way technology plays into kitchen sinks and faucets is in how products are developed, manufacturers say. New technology allows for more sustainable practices, which are increasingly important to consumers. 

“Advances in technology mean that we can continue to reduce our carbon footprint and strive for zero waste in our production processes,” offers Robinson. “We recycle everything from product materials, to glaze, water, even heat from the kilns. It also means that we can use things like QR codes on our packaging that will immediately link customers to installation instructions and videos, templates and care guides in multiple formats and languages, massively reducing the amount of paper we need to print and giving customers a better experience. Without technology that wouldn’t be possible.”

New products also help reduce the use of materials harmful to the environment. “We are seeing that sustainability continues to play an increasing role in the home, especially in the kitchen when it comes to reducing and eliminating single-use plastics,” adds L’Henaff. “Many are incorporating performance products that deliver high-quality water for consumption from the kitchen faucet, [such as} water filtration, chilling [and] carbonation.” ▪

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