Two places where we tend to spend a lot of time and often long to fix-up are the kitchen and the bathroom. These areas take a lot of use and abuse from daily living. New window treatments, wall coverings and accessories are in order more often than other rooms. Suggest to your customers they consider sprucing up their kitchens and bathrooms this spring, and watch the add-on orders grow up with the spring flowers!
Style, Style, Style
Some hot new looks for kitchen and bath walls and windows this spring include these offerings for walls:
Stripes and plaids combined with solid or textured walls is a popular look for 1996.
A renewed interest in traditional patterns and styling results in wall coverings that replicate yesteryear's gracious beauty.
Borders - one, two or three to a room - are used in unusual and innovative ways. Combine these with simple or complex moldings for a richer look.
Country is bigger than ever, in any vernacular you please. Farm motifs, garden produce in freshly picked fruits, berries and vegetables, seed packets and catalogs are designs to look for in 1996.
Whites and off-whites freshen furniture and cabinetry, perhaps contrasted with deep historic colors or vibrant contemporary hues.
Casual comfort with sophisticated details. Sometimes the sophistication is disguised in naive, whimsical, almost cartoon-like motifs that are light, airy and fun.
One- and especially two-inch horizontal blinds of aluminum, wood or vinyl. Mini-blinds are an established classic, and the two-inch slat category has gained importance because the look is substantial and solid, yet sleek. White is the most favored color for blinds, especially where white is used elsewhere in the room as an accent color.
Softer looks - pleated, cellular shades and the newer soft shading products - ease the hard lines of cabinets, appliances and fixtures and provide a more relaxed interior. These products now are easier to care for and can work well in kitchens and baths.
Vertical blinds are practical choices where ease of cleaning is paramount, or where the customer wants to use the fabric of a wall covering in the window in a low-upkeep product.
Top treatments are bigger than ever and an especially good choice in kitchens and baths. From simple ready-made toppers to unusual and complex valance designs, today's windows seem not quite dressed without a room-softening valance at the top.
Overall trends for kitchens and baths:
Splashes of color and pattern help give the user energy and a positive frame of mind: in the kitchen to do the work there and savor the meal; in the bath to indulge in a bit of luxury during time used to unwind.
Neutrals and earth tones, suggesting the Arts and Crafts era, render a kitchen or bath in a mellow glow and soft, slower-paced sentiment. These color schemes focus on low-contrast colors, close in value and equally dull or neutralized.
Deep, complex hues and multifarious patterns, borders and fabric top treatments give a sense of heritage and culture to kitchens and baths - areas that have in the past been purely utilitarian - sometimes devoid of rich ornamentation. Three-dimensional patterns in document prints and classic motifs from historic Georgian and Ante-bellum homes enrich these new luxurious spaces.
Kitchens and baths have become larger, more airy or spacious and open to other rooms or areas. They are destinations unto themselves - beautiful places to work, relax and enjoy life.
Kitchen and bath decors are more finished with the addition of ready-made or custom accessories. In the kitchen, a little extra fabric and added labor can mean delighting customers with coordinated place mats and napkins, table runners or round skirts, and seat and back cushions. In the bath, matching window valance and shower curtains can be enhanced with towels appliquιed and/or ruffled or banded with the same or companion fabric. Some wall covering companies or ready-made bed covering sources offer these items as pre-made coordinates.
Be sure to consider custom accessorizing as a way to increase the overall sale. The customer will be happy to have a complete look. Never shy away from the suggestion of extras, and don't assume it is out of a customer's budget. One-stop shopping and shop-at-home is worth the little extra and assures quality and satisfaction.
Occasionally, a client or customer may ask you about remodeling the kitchen or bath. More people are interested in enlarging these spaces, upgrading cabinetry and adding new fixtures and state-of-the-art appliances. A good suggestion is to connect them with a Certified Kitchen Designer, with an agreement that you will help them with all the finishing elements: walls, window treatments and accessories.
The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) has available, as a modest purchase, a packet with a series of suggestions and can recommend CDK professionals in your area. For information contact:
The National Kitchen and Bath Association
687 Willow Grove St.
Hackettstown, NJ 07840
(908) 852-0033; fax: (908) 852-1695.
Karla J. Nielson, Allied ASID, IDEC, WCAA, is assistant professor of design at Brigham Young University. She is a practicing interior designer and has authored several books including Window Treatments and Understanding Fabrics. Nielson is a regular correspondent for Draperies & Window Coverings addressing the areas of fashion, education and merchandising.