Retail Observer

August 2020

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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design of kitchens and baths is headed in various directions. Several ideas bubbled to the surface – from technology for the connected home, to health and wellness, to sustainability and recycling, to simpler, more streamlined environments. The research – Living Impacts Design – uncovered an interesting lifestyle and life stage evolution that is changing the impetus for certain design trends to gain traction. In other words, form is following function in a whole new way, accommodating not just actual use, but serving the ways different generations, individuals and family units design their home space – especially kitchens and baths. Four overarching themes emerged from the research. And while these themes are distinct, they are also very much intertwined: Connected living, simplified living, healthy living, and living in place. CONNECTED LIVING It's easy to assume the phrase "Connected Living" means connected devices, Wi-Fi enabled products, smart appliances and app-based and voice-controlled operation of faucets, lighting, security, audio, video and home theater. But especially because the world has become so "connected" in the technology sense, it's important to emphasize the connections between people – something most people are craving now more than ever. According to the research, homeowners want their kitchens to promote human interaction – and connected devices, appliances and systems will be in place to serve that end. Open-plan kitchens will be inviting, cozy and warm – perhaps to take the edge off all the tech. Kitchens will need to work for different styles and skill-levels of cooks – from those who love to experience and experiment with food, to time-stressed individuals, to multiple cooks, and sometime several generations all working in the same kitchen. Among all lifestage groups, 82% said inclusion is so important, especially with visibility from the kitchen to other parts of the living space. Other top priorities include spaces that are conducive to entertaining, and the need for great Wi-Fi and internet connection to call up recipes, cooking inspiration and instruction. Finally, a connection with nature – whether through big windows and expansive views to the outdoors, indoor gardens/herbs, or natural material selections. SIMPLIFIED LIVING The days of tchotchke-filled rooms are becoming a thing of the past, especially for Millennials who greatly value experiences over "things." So appropriate storage becomes a critical component of design. Some 80% of respondents said minimizing clutter, cleaning, and a sense of organization are critical design requests – 69% want their bathrooms to be an escape, and 61% design spaces for easy meal- prep with plenty of countertops, easy access to tools and ingredients and non-congested layouts so cooks, kids and guests aren't in each other's way. This includes utilizing cabinetry that organizes more in less space and specifying low-maintenance material choices or commercial finishes and fabrics that are easy to clean and long-wearing. LIVING IN PLACE The NKBA has devoted a significant effort to this topic of making spaces safe, comfortable and usable for all individuals and abilities. It's design that works for everyone – today, tomorrow, and for multiple generations living in the same dwelling. Among specifiers, 67% focused on the desire to remain in the family home as the top factor influencing Living in Place design. This was followed by 65% who listed ensuring that the bathroom is a safe and comfortable space for all generations, and 59% specified kitchens that are safe and easy for all ages and skill levels to use. Among the top design solutions are non-slip flooring or tile in the bathroom, tub and shower, cited by 86% of respondents – 81% put a seat in the shower. Aero-clearance shower entry or no doors, wider doorways and attractive, non-institutional-looking grab bars were cited by more than 73%. HEALTHY LIVING Finally we come to our fourth major influence, which is becoming ever-more crucial in today's environment: healthy living. Healthy lifestyles include a deeper connection with nature via maximum views to the outdoors, taking advantage of morning light and balancing circadian rhythms with lighting; wide, zero-entry doorways to outdoor areas; selecting natural materials like warm woods, natural stones and reclaimed woods and metals; and, quite significantly according to the research, healthy eating. To meet these needs, design solutions for the kitchen include more refrigerator space and flexible cool drawers to accommodate fresh produce, meats and dairy, giant sinks to clean all of the produce; integrated areas to prep meals, and recycling and composting centers. In the bathroom, health and wellness elements include body jets in the tub or shower, aromatherapy, a sauna, chromatherapy and shelves for candles. Some even cited a float tank for sensory deprivation therapy among elements promoting the bathroom as a spa-like place to escape, relax and heal the body. Additional details and a complete breakdown of the NKBA Living Impacts Design research is available in the NKBA store under "Market Research Reports" at AUGUST 2020 RETAILOBSERVER.COM 39 RO

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