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At KBIS and IBS, new appliance and plumbing technologies capable of making life easier and just plain better sat alongside a crop of exciting materials, fixtures, and finishes that will push designs into new aesthetic territories. I spied plenty of great decorating tips and styling inspiration to steal, and I’m sharing all the highlights with you here so you know what’s worth paying attention to when you go to upgrade these hardworking areas in your home.
Designers have been pairing different finishes together for years now; it’s not uncommon to see a kitchen featuring a matte black faucet alongside brass lighting, for example, or copper pots hung over a stainless steel range. The latest way to mix materials? Within a single fixture or piece. Wooden accents popped on everything from the interiors of stainless steel refrigerators at KitchenAid to the teak and metal handles of the stunning The Frank Lloyd Wright Bath Collection by Brizo (the lavatory faucets are shown above), which is inspired by the iconic designer’s principles of organic architecture.
The hardware exhibited at the show also featured a lot of wooden and other material accents, too, particularly with the relaunch of Keeler Brass Company’s partnership with Monogram appliances, which boasts over 34,000 unique combinations of bases, stems, and handles in the solid brass-constructed, American-made range. At Emtek, ceramic, terrazzo, wood, and exotic stones made a major impact alongside various finishes of metal.
Pinterest declared 2023 the year of the luxury, spa-like shower, and I’m happy to report the plumbing and fixture brands were way ahead of the curve at KBIS. Kohler, in particular, presented their new wellness-minded brand, Sprig, which speaks directly to this trend by offering innovative aromatherapy shower infusion systems (with shower infusion pods) that are both retro-fit- and rental-friendly. Sprig launched with six scent blends that extend to other bathing products, including bath bombs and body/linen mists.
3. Induction is everywhere
Nearly every major appliance company touted a new induction top. Luxury Italian appliance house, Bertazzoni, led the category by adding onto its already robust induction offerings with the 36-inch induction downdraft cooktop, one of the industry’s first that doesn’t need a stand-alone overhead vent hood (making for very flexible installation applications), and a 48-inch induction range available in all three of the brand’s appliance series. Beyond the sleek aesthetics and energy-saving cooking power — the downdraft model is capable of heating up to 60 percent faster than regular cooktops — the practical benefits of induction, in general, are real, too: a super-easy-to-clean cooktop that’s cool to the touch even when you’ve got the burners on.
4. Laundering outside of the laundry room
Ventless 2-in-1 washer/dryer combos, like the GE Profile UltraFast Combo with Ventless Heat Pump Technology, which will launch this June, mean the “laundry room” is no longer confined to the basement (or wherever your vents have been in the past). Doing the wash may feel like less of a chore when you don’t have to transfer loads from machine to machine and you can place your laundry setup in a closet, say, right next to your bedrooms, or if you’re a smaller-space dweller, any spot where you can find a few spare square feet.
Sneakerheads and shoe fans can get in on the laundering action now, too. LG has plans to expand their Styler collection with the ShoeCare, a slender cabinet capable of cleaning and refreshing four pairs of shoes in just 37 minutes. They’ll also be launching the ShoeCase, a UV-light absorbing, rotating display cabinet that can keep your kicks and heels in pristine condition in between wears. Can you imagine an entire closet or office wall built out of these modular cases? Now, that’s a wow-worthy home feature!
Soothing colors never went anywhere, but if this past KBIS show was any indication, shades of blue and green will be coming on strong again in all the hardworking spaces of the home. Cafe showed their showstopping Emerald range, which will be out in market later on this year, while True Residential introduced their new finish, Bluestone, a serene blue with gray and lilac undertones that’s now available on all the brand’s full-sized and indoor/outdoor undercounter units.
If you’re looking to go even more neural, matte white offers another option. Showcased prominently around the aisles, these new white finishes subvert the rap this hue has traditionally gotten for being commonplace. The latest snow-colored appliances and fixtures are anything but ordinary.
6. Ovals, semicircles, and gentle curves
Curved silhouettes have been popular for a few years now, but I noticed half moon and oval shapes in many of the booths’ mock kitchens and baths. The shapely seamless stone backsplash in one of Cafe’s two fashion-forward cook spaces was visually stunning in its semicircular simplicity. You could absolutely try this idea in a bathroom on a sink walk, too. Additionally, many of the kitchen islands at the show sported rounded edges, which not only feels a little unexpected but also makes this high-traffic area a little easier to navigate around in terms of flow.
7. Statement smart fridges
When it comes to luxury refrigeration, personalization is the name of the game, especially in terms of the energy-efficient, paneled French Door-style machines dominating the market over the past few years. Samsung showed off a slew of new colors that can be used interchangeably on the front of their Bespoke fridges; they’re even launching a photo and artwork option called My Bespoke, which can turn panels into a favorite family photo or another personalized design. Dubbed the “party fridge” at the show, the MoodUP by LG STUDIO, has certainly earned that moniker. Its LED-powered panels can be changed different colors in real time via the brand’s ThinQ app — and set to pulse with the beat of a song — resulting in a dynamic display you and your houseguests can’t help but notice and smile at. Did I mention the refrigeration and ice making capacities are best in class, too?
Talk about contrast! So many of the fixtures, finishes, and building materials I saw sported truly unique textures that could work in either minimalist or maximalist settings — or in any space in between. Whether a glass vessel sink at Kohler or solid stone at Cosentino, fluting topped the textural trend list. A close second might have been what Emtek was calling “knurled,” a ridge-like texture that you can see in the brand’s Select Conical Knurled Knob.
Post-peak Covid, bidets are still a bathroom upgrade many people are looking to make in their homes. You can find them in all sizes, and you don’t have to buy a separate fixture — or brand new toilet — to make one work in your pad. Check out the Toto Washlet for more info on retro fit-friendly toilet seat bidets.
10. Small space solutions
Brands are catering to small-space dwellers even more these days, and that’s music to my ears. I already mentioned some of the tiny footprint cleaning and laundry solutions, but innovation is coming to the kitchen and bath, too. Take Duravit’s No. 1’s collection wall-mounted vanity, sink, and mirror shown here, for instance. Tons of style — and plenty of function — has been packed in these three pieces that can be installed on the tiniest stretch of wall. The trio would be perfect for a powder room or a small bath that you’re trying to squeeze a shower without forgoing all of the conveniences you still need for getting ready.