The lowdown on high-tech kitchens

Technology and mixed metals define today’s kitchens
What’s new in technology, mixed metals and storage (Photo: Alexander Kondriianenko, Dreamstime)

 

High-tech options for the kitchen abound. Nowadays, even the kitchen sink can go high-tech. With smart, wireless, touch-screen and voice-activated options, almost everything electronic can be programmed remotely. Many of the myriad features are still relatively new, but every year, more home owners choose high-tech kitchen appliances. According to the 2019 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Survey, 30% of consumers upgraded to high-tech appliances this year, while 25% did so in 2018. The most prevalent high-tech touch is wireless controls, a feature that’s almost doubled over the last year from 9% in 2018 to 16% in 2019, wireless is followed by a color touchscreen display (11%) built-in speakers (6%), built-in apps for things like recipes or weather (4%), and smart-meter connectedness (3%).

Technology is working its way into modern kitchens in other ways, too. In addition to the 60% of those adding a new television, a full half (50%) of your customers crave the convenience of a steady internet connection in the way of a kitchen docking or charging station. Docking/charging stations—especially if they’re built in and/or hidden—typically include various USB ports for the smartphones, tablets, laptops, smart speakers and other gadgets that make today’s world go round. Indeed, home owners are adopting home assistants (31%), wireless/Bluetooth speakers (29%) and even dedicated kitchen tablets (17%).

The sky’s the limit for clients with beefier budgets, who may be keen on exploring high-tech upgrades to refrigerators, dishwashers, microwaves, ranges and even range hoods, but even remodelers of more modest means will be interested in adding a smart speaker (quite handy for measurement conversions, setting competing timers, cocktail recipes and more) or USB port.

Metal mixtures spice up fixtures

In a word, kitchen hardware is getting bolder. Everything from drawer pulls, faucets, light fixtures and knobs are coming out in bold metallics. These details can easily be incorporated and swapped out, and the trend is especially focused on mixed-metal looks, as the majority (54%) of remodelers elect fixtures with different metal finishes.

Oil-rubbed bronze, pewter, brushed or satin black and gunmetal surfaces are particularly hot right now, as is mixing them with more golden-hued varieties like copper and bronze. For higher-end clients, copper is also experiencing a resurgence, with more home owners gravitating to copper-trimmed built-in ovens, fixtures or other elements. For those with a less expansive budget, however, strategically hung copper pots and pans inject just the right amount of luster.

Of the 46% of homeowners who stick with the same finishes throughout the kitchen, matte nickel surfaces—either brushed or satin—are by far the most popular, chosen by 44%. More traditional materials are on the way out, as only 13% opted for matte chrome, 11% chose shiny stainless steel, and a mere 8% upgraded to polished, ultra-shiny chrome.

To really nail this look, try incorporating two or three different metal finishes—using more can make the space can appear jumbled and cluttered. For a more understated aesthetic, upgrading one key fixture—such as a sink faucet, pendant light, or drawer pulls—is a great way to usher in a more contemporary style.

Feature-worthy faucets

When the water flows this year, it will be from tricked-out, often high-tech taps. With fabulous metallic surfaces and classic throw-back retro looks, statement faucets are a relatively easy and cost-effective upgrade. Indeed, Houzz puts faucets at the fourth most common kitchen upgrade, with 83% of home remodelers fixated on updating the faucet or other plumbing fixtures.

While dramatic and elegant faucets are wildly popular, taps are also becoming more functional. A full 57% of homeowners find high-tech faucets appealing, with water-efficient taps leading the way at 30%. Fingerprint-free surfaces were chosen by 24%, while another 22% upgraded to touch-only or touch-free units that help mitigate cross-contamination. Both single-color and temperature-display LED faucet lights attracted 3% of kitchen remodelers.

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