Color hit different at KBIS, the industry trade show for kitchen and bath products, organized by NKBA. Consumers apparently are reaching a new comfort level beyond safer neutrals, as they emerge from pandemic era restrictions.
Designers at the 2022 event, which took place in Orlando in February, agree that a more-liberated approach to color has taken root. As a result, distinct and even energetic hues, once reserved for smaller spaces like powder bathrooms, are drifting into kitchens.
Not that we haven’t seen color in kitchens before, but now it is playing more than an accent role. This is one highlight of important trends that will remain relevant for at least three years to come.
One of the sunniest displays was at the Fire Magic booth in the outdoor section. The modular cabinetry was from UK-based Vlaze. New to market and soon with a US presence, the company displayed its vitreous enamel pieces in a vivid shade it calls ochre. The finish is achieved by fusing powdered glass to steel at temperatures +800 degrees C. The edgy hue is a natural complement to more spirited summer fare in tabletop and furniture accessories.
But brighter (and more decoratively detailed) palettes brought a new excitement to kitchen vignettes. These spaces highlighted either colorful appliances, cabinetry, or both, often with a surprising mix of patterns in backsplashes.
Vendors like Café and others helped attendees envision the possibilities for such personal style. Thoughtful booths creatively demonstrated how to combine colorful appliances and cabinets, figured woods, textures, notice-me hardware and flashy backsplashes to achieve the energy the market is craving. This exuberant and free-spirited approach was both optimistic and inspirational.
At the same time, setting color loose felt like the perfect response to a continuing slide for sterile, industrial kitchens filled with stainless steel.
The story actually began with black. Matte black has taken the market by storm for the past two years or so. It is still going strong for companies like KitchenAid, where a number of matte-black appliances debuted. At KBIS 2022, black continued to evolve, with nuanced chalky looks on the edge of charcoal or more translucent versions.
Plus, black was more willing to share the stage with metal colors. Black teamed up with gold and/or silver tones on new cooktops, faucets and hardware at JennAir. Café showed a stunning kitchen with all-black cabinets, appliances and faucets. The setting featured a marvelous mélange of greens. It included Artistic Tile’s emerald and brass geometric backsplash and flame stitch ombre stove hood, a palm-y Pierre Frey covering in wall panels and a wide-striped, lime-painted floor. Accenting the appliances: burnished copper hardware (copper was hinting at a revival).
Kohler’s new Tone collection paired matte black bases with modern brass spouts, including a freestanding bath tap and a pull down kitchen faucet. And Pfister’s stylish Verve collection marries black matte widespread faucets with gold handles, a perfect example of how these two metal finishes can harmonize.
For appliances, black began migrating from the outside to the inside. JennAir showed the look best in a stainless-steel, side-by-side refrigerator that opened to reveal a dramatic black interior. At the Café space, a matte-black, French-door refrigerator had copper accents on clear shelving inside. This inside/outside approach is directional.
A big leap forward came from greens, a ringing endorsement of the biofilia trend. True Residential’s Emerald was an attention-getter a few years back, but now, Sage is an even more important introduction from this company and others. That mellow herbal green in cabinets was much more than a footnote. BlueStar debuted 10 different shades of green, shown in a variety of finishes and textures in a collection designed by HGTV star Alison Victoria. This reflects a similar European craving. At Supersalone in Milan in September, faucet manufacturer Gessi displayed dozens of shapely faucets, plus shower columns, in a range of greens including olive and lime, inspired by a tropical megamural behind them.
Exposure for blues was not far behind that of greens. Wellborn was among several companies spotlighting kitchen cabinets in this color family. And in a GE display, a luscious shade of cornflower drew eyes to modern cabinetry.The pressed Baltic birch doors were painted in Benjamin Moore Summer Blue 2067-5, set into taupey wood frames with recessed hardware.
Silestone’s Cala Blue is a sophisticated new mid-tone shade that is equally at home in kitchens and bathrooms. Part of its Sunlit Days series, it’s the brand’s first carbon-neutral collection. Colors in this fresco-look group, inspired by nature in the Mediterranean, include Posidonia Green, a sage-like hue, and Acrilla Red, evoking a red-cast clay. The timeless palette is equally suited to Tuscan villas, desert haciendas or urban lofts.
Beyond solid colors, patterns couldn’t help but get noticed–even when they were barely there. From subtle web-like designs on porcelain vanity sinks (ongoing at Kohler) to relief animal skins in metal (new from Thompson Traders), the surfaces spoke volumes.
Pattern wasn’t limited to the bath. It also made moves into the kitchen, providing options for interior designers and consumers who are no longer invested in monochromatic commercial-kitchen looks. Smeg, always willing to push the envelope on color and design, did not disappoint. Its collaboration with Coca-Cola added nostalgia via the classic Coke look and one version that evoked ‘60s pop flower art.
Not to be outdone, Samsung scaled up its Bespoke series, which includes artsy color block refrigerator options (including pink, clementine and sunrise yellow). Even cooler: a limited edition Bespoke 4-door Flex fridge in an abstract jungle print by artist Alex Proba. Or, send your original artwork for the ultimate in customization.