If home is where the heart is, then chances are it’s also where you wouldn’t mind implementing a few changes to make your surroundings more beautiful. According to projections released this year by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, national spending for remodeling and repairs to owner-occupied homes is expected to hit a whopping $580 billion in 2023. Hard as it is to know just how many of those big bucks will be spent in the HV, it’s safe to say that there’s a ton going on in the home improvement realm. We asked five of our favorite local interior design experts for kitchen and bath best bets.
All of our pros agree that sustainable design is top of mind for designers and clients alike. “Aesthetically, that translates into construction that opens kitchens and baths up to the outdoors by installing larger windows with fewer panes, and glass doors that lead onto a patio, deck, or garden,” says Jennifer Tampasis, founder of Jennifer Lynn Interiors. “Increased natural light and use of high-performance low-E windows and doors can significantly reduce energy consumption and save money.”
Plus, fusing sustainable design principles with an authentic, eclectic style can result in an environmentally conscious interior that perfectly reflects your personal taste, points out designer Brooke Lane of Brooke Lane Interiors.
Beyond the essential earth-friendly ethos, there’s a fantastic free spiritedness right now that’s the design equivalent of throwing open the windows to let in fresh air. “I’m seeing people in general want to have more fun,” says Nicole Fisher of BNR Interiors in Hudson. “With social media we see so much of the same thing—clients want to shake it up a bit, which I’m here for!” So are we.
Color Me Happy
All white or grey interiors aren’t the easy fallback anymore, says designer Meg Lavalette of LAVA Atelier in Franklin. “There was a giant uptick in color, even if only nuanced, that resulted from the pandemic.” Meaning, after a lengthy period spent primarily at home, people who were timid with color were more willing to branch out, especially warm neutrals. Per Fisher, “Earth tones have become neutrals, so greens, warm oranges, and taupe are all staples. Bold colors like aubergine, red and pinks are popping up as well.” Jennifer Tampasis cites blues as the hottest picks, followed by mossy greens. “White is a staple, but no longer a showstopper.”
See The Light
New lighting is a welcome way to bring the overall design trend of sustainability into the kitchen. For a distinctly fresh yet earth-friendly feel, design pro Lane advocates a layered approach. Think energy-efficient, smart LED fixtures, plus a couple of vintage pieces, rewired to today’s safety and environmental standards. With multiple light sources—and better yet, dimmer switches—you can easily adjust the lighting to suit varying tasks, times of day and moods.
Beyond the Pale
There was an era, until quite recently, when crisp white cabinets were all the rage, but not so much anymore, according to Lavalette. “Instead, the focus right now is on wood grains and tones, and on painted cabinets, especially saturated blacks and greens.” If you are going custom, designers encourage supporting local artisans and craftsmen who use sustainable practices. This adds a unique and authentic touch to your space with the added perk of a smaller carbon footprint.
Quartz countertops are both on trend and here to stay, says Tampasis. “Quartz is a hard, durable, and nonporous material that is essential for sustainability.” This engineered stone, which comes in a wide variety of colors and finishes, also checks the box for practicality, since it is reliably stain- and damage-resistant. Better yet, no sealing is needed. Universally well-regarded brands include Silestone, Caesarstone, and Cambria.
Elements of Style
Mixing metals is a key move to make sure a room “doesn’t feel too contrived,” says Lavalette, who loves bronze with polished nickel together. Tampasis admits that mixing metals “can make clients nervous,” but she encourages them to keep the faith. “Different metals can add an amazing curated look to your space,” she says. Two in her sights now and moving forward: Copper, which “adds instant luxury and pizzazz,” and, “Graphite Nickel, which is a step away from Matte Black and brings edgy sophistication.”
I’m all in on the trend of going bold with fun tile or wallpaper to bring joy.
“More and more, we’re speaking with clients about bringing back dining tables as the command center in the kitchen, instead of islands,” says pro decorator Maryline Damour. “Not only does a table provide extra space for meal prep, it also enables us to do what we all really want to do in the kitchen, which is congregate.” Plus, since many of us are still making time to hang out at home even post-Covid, a kitchen/dining combo can help create the feel of more space, according to Damour.
“Adding smart technology is essential in any new kitchen or bath renovation to give seamless control over everything including lighting, water, heated floors, ovens and more,” says Tampasis. Touchless appliances—faucets especially—with voice- or motion-activated features hold major appeal—as do dedicated areas where mobile and laptop devices can charge out of harm’s way.
Tampasis says homeowners are interested in co-opting or creating additional square footage for bigger primary bathrooms. The goal: a roomy, airy, spa-like vibe. “Removing the tub and maximizing the shower size to include lights, shower systems with multiple water streams, as well as a bench, all contribute to a truly relaxing experience.” Natural wood vanities and cabinets are top of mind Cane and wood pattern inserts are also a top aesthetic choice with vanities and cabinets.
Against the Wall
“Bathrooms are where we spend the most time alone, so I’m all in on the trend of going bold with fun tile or wallpaper to bring joy,” says Fisher. She went for both during a recent renovation to her Hudson home. “Clients are usually a little apprehensive about wallpaper in bathrooms, particularly ones where people are likely to take hot baths or showers. But with the heavy-duty bathroom glue pro installers can use, it’s really no different than paint,” she says. For an extra level of security, you can use a vinyl paper. Tampasis suggests grasscloth or faux grasscloth wallpaper for eye-catching, touchable texture.
Trying to maintain grout to avoid the dreaded creep of mold and mildew may soon drop off the to-do list for good. “I’m seeing concrete flooring in the bathroom specifically to avoid grout,” says décor whiz Lavalette. Another au courant way to circumvent having to deal with discolored grout: tadelakt, a waterproof plaster surface commonly used in Moroccan architecture for walls, ceilings, and floors. Made from lime plaster and applied as a paste, it can be labor-intensive to install. But the final result is seamless, meaning groutless, and extremely durable. Pigment can be incorporated to add color, but deep red is traditional. It has a rustic elegance that Lavalette advises further elevating with natural wood and refined linens.