New styles from European fixture and cabinet companies emphasize modernity and functionality.

Trends in color, style and functionality are driving product choices in kitchen and bath fixtures. And the desire for a more contemporary look — even if it’s transitional — is making European products more popular.

Italy’s SMEG offers iconic retro-style ranges and refrigerators in shades ranging from vivid orange and lime green to light pastels.

Color Code

In the kitchen, white still anchors the palette, and splashes of bold color appear in a variety of ways. Italy’s SMEG offers iconic retro-style ranges and refrigerators in shades ranging from vivid orange and lime green to light pastels. For a unique faucet, consumers are looking to BLANCO’s ALTA Compact, which mixes accent colors with metal to complement a countertop and backsplash.

And just when manufacturers were ready to retire polished chrome, they discovered it’s been making a comeback in the kitchen and bathroom. “Polished chrome is having a renaissance,” says Maria Stapperfenne, manager of Tewksbury Kitchens & Baths in Whitehouse Station, N.J., and president-elect of the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Satin nickel and stainless are still popular as homeowners move toward a more contemporary style. Snaidero has chrome and stainless finishes that resist fingerprints, which can be a big problem for people with children.

Open Style

The trend in decluttered spaces — which offer a sense of calm — has brought easy-to-clean, flat-faced cabinets, plus refrigerators and dishwashers hidden behind cabinet fronts. Modern design’s clean lines have led to floating, open shelves and more glass.

PRNewsire/Laufen photo

The bathroom is similar with the rising popularity of floating vanities and toilets, plus freestanding sinks and tubs with open floor space. Laufen offers the freestanding washbasin, and its ILBAGNOALESSI One collection has complementary accessories, such as a towel hook, toilet paper holder and shelf towel holder. Lacava, Villeroy & Boch and other manufacturers have freestanding tubs that look sculptural.

Universal Design

Open floor plans emphasize the kitchen as the home’s center, so the space needs to accommodate everyone. Universal design is slowly making its mark through varied counter heights, touch-to-open cabinetry (Snaidero has several styles with handle-free designs), lever handles and easy-to-use faucets.

In the open kitchen, movement around the sink needs to be easy and free. Hansgrohe’s new products have extra-long hoses and a shower spray. (The water is more aerated, like it is in the shower.) The open kitchen also emphasizes energy conservation, and many of Blanco’s products include a Calgreen water-saving feature, which meets California’s water-conservation standards.

European style triumphs in function-oriented bathrooms, too. Stapperfenne says she sees the European “wet room” fashion coming here. Kids, pets, those with mobility issues — everyone likes how easy a zero-threshold shower is to use. Duravit has a sleek new flush fitting shower tray that offers watertight drainage. Grohe offers shower heads and body sprays in many shapes and sizes, plus systems using digital technology.

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