When renovating or building a new home, keep your kitchen simple and elegant, but pamper yourself in the bath with extravagant showers and designer fixtures.
The kitchen and master bath are two important places of the home - the kitchen is a place of energy where family and guests gather, while the master bath can be the opposite, an oasis of calm in an otherwise busy world and house.
As with all design choices, every homeowner has different preferences, but a few trends are influencing the kitchen and bath markets.
Cheryl Tufts of 3W Designs Inc. in Concord has noticed that, while homeowners continue to create beautiful, sanctuary-like master baths, kitchens are becoming somewhat less extravagant.
"Clients are still looking for large kitchens," says Tufts, "but they are being built more for family life. It's not so much about the 'wow factor' for other people - it's more about value for the family."
In a recent kitchen renovation by Tufts and 3W, everything but the hood over the cooktop was ripped out and replaced. Though the kitchen was essentially redone from scratch, the end result is sensible, though still updated and beautifully designed.
Gone are the outdated shuttered oak cabinet doors, replaced with cherry ones that reach the ceiling to create an open and voluminous feel. The tile was replaced with hardwood and the counters with classic granite. The appliances keep to an entirely stainless steel look - all in all, says Tufts, it's a lovely kitchen and the homeowners "didn't go nuts" with extras.
These clients and many others, says Tufts, are doing their homework on appliances. In the end many are choosing large items such as refrigerators and stoves based on criteria such as high consumer ratings and energy efficiency over perhaps the more trendy and expensive options.
Many homeowners, adds Tufts, are much less concerned about resale - it's all about creating a kitchen that will last and works for the family.
In master bathrooms, says Tufts, clients are still looking to indulge themselves; however, gone are the big Jacuzzi-style tubs. These days, she adds, it's all about the shower.
"People are still going all out in master baths," says Tufts. Pictured above is a recent shower designed by Tufts that features two sets of multiple shower heads, glass doors with louvered panels, a seat and a steam unit. This shower is about much more than just getting clean - it's a place to relax and rejuvenate.
At Standard of New England in Portsmouth, you can find the next level of showers turned into home spas. Vedana, by Bain Ultra (pictured on page 30), offers five different therapies - heat, color, sound (you can plug in your MP3 player), aroma and light.
Something like the Vedana unit, says Amy Thompson of Standard of New England, falls into one of two schools of thought when it comes to master baths - the spa or retreat experience versus the more practical focus on function and value. Both, she adds, are current master bath trends.
Many homeowners are researching bathroom fixtures, settling on classic items like basic chrome faucet. "People are thinking about what's right for them, and about what's smart," says Thompson.
Still, there is no shortage of luxurious showers to choose from.
High-tech elements like the Vedana, adds Thompson, are growing more popular as options like multiple shower heads are starting to decline. Instead of using the large quantities of water multiple shower heads require, the Vedana unit, says Thompson, is about indulging all your senses. From light to help ease the winter blues to heat to release toxins and colors to soothe away stress, it really is like having a spa in your home.
No matter what school of thought you fall into, whether you're looking to build a retreat or something a little less extravagant, there are plenty of local options for you to pick from. NH
3W Designs Inc.
7 Henniker St., Concord
Standard of New England
100 West Rd., Portsmouth
139 Daniel Webster Hwy., Nashua
The Granite Group
(for Kohler products)
Locations throughout the state
Granite Group N.H. showroom locations:
6 Storrs St., Concord
152 Epping Rd., Exeter
37 Amoskeag St., Manchester
248 Gonic Rd., Rochester
22 Exeter Rd., Rte. 150, South Hampton
This article appears in the January 2009 issue of New Hampshire Magazine