Home Design Trends for the Coming Year

What does the new year hold for design trends? Houzz.com recently predicted ten trends that it expects for 2021. Many of the trends are popular because homeowners in the Upper Valley and across the United States are working from home, schooling from home and continuing to spend most of their days at home.

One trend that we expect not only to continue but also to grow is the multifunctional kitchen. The kitchen is no longer just an area for preparing and eating meals or a central gathering hub. The kitchen now serves as a home office, classroom, study, catering center and refuge. We expect an increasing number of homeowners in the Upper Valley to be attracted to new kitchens that offer defined areas for baking, meal preparation and snacking or doing homework.

As homeowners in the Upper Valley are spending more time in their kitchens, they have discovered the need for both functional and aesthetic lighting. Sconces fit both bills. Not only can sconces make a distinctive fashion statement in your kitchen, but they are also an excellent source of task lighting to illuminate a range, the sink area or an island.

Similar to kitchens, bathrooms no longer serve utilitarian purposes. COVID-19 has emphasized health and well-being, and homeowners in the Upper Valley are discovering they can convert their master baths into wellness centers and personal refuges for rest, relaxation, and a place to wash away the stresses of the day.

Remote work and school are not expected to end anytime in the near future and should continue through most of 2021. Homeowners in the Upper Valley are expected to look to talented designers to create nooks and dedicated spaces for home offices, work nooks and back yard space that can double as a work area or classroom.

Open floor plans that were declining before the outbreak of COVID-19 are expected to continue to wane into 2021. Family members in the Upper Valley who found themselves having concurrent video conferences quickly discovered the downside of not having walls. Open space is not going away entirely; however, an increasing number of homeowners in (insert name of service territory) are drawn to sliding doors, interior windows and partitions that can create private spaces.

Backyards are being viewed in an entirely new and exciting light. Homeowners in the Upper Valley understand the benefit of extending living and working space to outdoor areas. We are seeing designs that include enclosed decks, backyard cottages and even accessory dwelling units that serve as home offices, fitness centers, yoga studios, classrooms and wellness centers.

Color schemes expected to trend in 2021 are shades of brown that include warm taupes, beiges, sand and other earth tones. White continues to be the dominant color for kitchens and baths. Adding a splash of brown as an accent color helps to warm a space.

Homeowners in the Upper Valley that want to expand their space’s functionality should consider large-format rectangular tiles. Larger format tiles make a smaller space look larger, and they have fewer grout lines, which means less cleaning and cleaner lines. Tile styles that are expected to trends in 2021 include herringbone, stacked and brick, predicts Houzz.

If you want to make your home more functional and more beautiful, please give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit our showroom either virtually or in-person at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.

The Effect of COVID-19 On Design

COVID-19 has transformed the traditional residence into a multifunctional space that serves as an office, gym, bar, restaurant, school, hospital and home. Working and schooling from home have had the most dramatic impact on the notion of home and will undoubtedly impact future new home design.

It is safe to say that most parents and children would prefer traditional in-person learning instead of virtual schooling at home. Similarly, many people who are working from home would rather be at an office. They miss the face-to-face interaction with their coworkers and the quiet space for focused thinking, and most homes do not have the same access to support and technology available in offices.

The immediate impact of COVID-19 on home design is a desire for a larger kitchen for several reasons. Most families cook more at home because they either can’t or don’t want to dine out. A recent National Kitchen & Bath Association Design Trends 2021 study found L-shaped designs with large islands that can function as dining tables, desks, and other services are likely to dominate near-term trends. Nearly two-thirds of respondents stated that the most popular layout was the open floor plan involving removing walls to open the kitchen space to other rooms.

The most popular design style was contemporary, cited by 58% of respondents, followed by transitional at 53% and organic/natural at almost 50%. The latter was the 9th most popular style in last year’s survey, reflecting that an increasing number of homeowners want to connect with nature and expand living space to the outdoors.

Nearly 70% of kitchen renovation projects in 2020 have involved medium-sized spaces between 150 and 300 square feet. White and off white remains the popular kitchen color scheme cited by 47% of survey respondents. Other popular color schemes include beige/bone and blue reported by at least 35% of respondents. Lighter colors were also the top choices for countertops and backsplashes, and quartz remains the most popular countertop material, cited by 78% of respondents, followed by quartzite at 29%.

Painted wood cabinets were the most popular door material, followed by full wood grain. Flat-panel slab is the number one door style for cabinets, followed by recessed panels. Floor to ceiling cabinetry and walk-in pantries tied for the top spot for most popular storage solutions. Deeper and lower cabinets were also popular storage solutions.

Technology use in the kitchen continues to grow. Dedicated spaces drawer for charging phones, laptops and mobile devices were the number one desired technology feature cited by 63% of respondents. Seamless video communication was the second most popular technology option, followed by emergency refrigerator power and detection devices that alert homeowners to water and gas leaks and power failures. Also popular were voice-activated lighting controls.

As COVID-19 will continue to impact how and why we use our homes, a professional designer can help you and your family design beautiful, healthy and functional spaces. If you would like to explore how you can improve the living experience for your family, give us a call a 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit us either in-person at our showroom 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.

Keys to A Healthier and Environmentally Efficient Kitchen

Health and wellness are top of mind among homeowners in the Upper Valley, and many of our clients have expressed interest in creating healthier spaces in their homes. Key components of kitchens, baths that contribute to a healthier and more environmentally efficient home include:

  • Material quality
  • Airflow
  • Effective lighting
  • Thermal comfort
  • Comfortable movement throughout the space
  • Acoustical comfort

Cabinets, paints, hardware, countertops, floor and wall coverings and other materials you select for your new kitchen can contribute to a healthier space and lifestyle. We specify paints, glues, cabinets, and other materials with low to no volatile organic compounds for clients who want a more environmentally friendly and sustainable space. VOCs are chemicals found in many products used to build and maintain homes. Once the chemicals are in the home, they are released into the indoor air we breathe. Natural wood cabinets, stone countertops and glass backsplashes are all environmentally favorable.

A healthy kitchen needs adequate airflow and ventilation. The ability to provide fresh air and create cross-breezes from open windows or doors contributes to a healthier kitchen as does a properly sized vent hood or fan that meets your range and cooking style needs. Clients that want to be on the cutting edge may be intrigued by an interior garden that grows vertically, also known as a living wall. Another healthy kitchen option is to create indoor herb gardens or strategically locate herb planters. Living walls and interior plants help reduce stress, improve air quality, enhance creativity and absorb sound, among other benefits.

Healthy kitchen design also accounts for the way you and your family cook and eat. A healthier kitchen should contribute to a healthier lifestyle that includes the use and consumption of fresh ingredients from an outdoor garden, living wall, indoor plants and herbs. Refrigerated drawers near the stove can help to keep foodstuffs fresher for longer periods. Open shelving, glass containers, glass-front refrigerators and glass-front cabinets showcase foodstuffs and can encourage you and your family to consume more wholesome foods than processed packaged goods.

Lighting can make or break how your kitchen looks, feels and functions. Natural light from windows, doors, skylights and other sources contributes to health and well-being. The use of lighting controls, dimmers, switches and motion sensors can help boost your productivity and energy and enhance your sleep quality.

Thermal comfort is another crucial component of designing a healthy and environmentally friendly space. The use of smart thermostats, heated countertops and floors and a tight building envelope around a new kitchen keep the area toasty in winter and cool in the summer in an environmentally responsible way.

A new kitchen should allow all users to effectively and safely navigate the space. The three main areas of a kitchen referred to as the golden triangle comprises storage areas, including the refrigerator; the cleanup area, including the sink; and the cooking area, including the stove. The sink should ideally be located between the refrigerator and the stove to ensure a comfortable and unencumbered traffic flow and efficient use of the space. Each leg of the triangle should be between four and nine feet, and the total distance of the triangle should be between 13 and 26 feet to promote safe and easy navigation throughout the space.

Comfort also is derived from clean lines and a sense of calm that results from uncluttered countertops and islands.

Acoustics are the final element of a well-designed healthy kitchen. Noisy dishwashers, appliance motors, clangy sink bottoms and surfaces that enhance sound disturb what otherwise is a peaceful kitchen. Eliminating unnecessary noises is part of a healthy design that homeowners in the Upper Valley welcome and deserve.

If you want to learn more about additional design elements and strategies to promote a healthier and more environmentally efficient space in your home, give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.

Withstanding the Test of Time

Fads and trends come and go. Many homeowners in the Upper Valley can remember when avocado-colored kitchens were all the rage or when pastel paint dominated design thinking. While it is tempting to look at what’s trending when renovating your kitchen or bath, our showroom advises selecting products, styles and color schemes that can withstand the test of time.

There’s a good reason why more than 50% of kitchen renovations feature white cabinets. White cabinets offer a blank canvas for the remainder of the kitchen. They provide a classic, clean look and match any design motif from European modern to traditional and everything in between. White kitchens are timeless; their reflective qualities can make a smaller space appear larger, and, due to their popular appeal, they help increase the value of your home at sale time.

Clean lines are another feature that can withstand the test of time. A contemporary kitchen offers a clean, stylish and uncluttered look and feel. Contemporary motifs pay homage to practicality because they focus on maximizing the use of available space and light, and that also can make a smaller space appear larger. When we design a contemporary kitchen, almost all appliances, even smaller ones such as coffee makers, are built into cabinetry. Countertops are left uncluttered, and many homeowners in the Upper Valley appreciate the fact that contemporary kitchens are easy to clean.

A well-designed kitchen is an organized kitchen. Lack of customized storage solutions is one of the most common regrets of homeowners in the Upper Valley after renovating their kitchen. We cannot emphasize enough the need to develop a storage plan for your new kitchen that addresses how often you cook, entertain, hold gatherings and use the space. A great kitchen must not only look out of this world, but it also must incorporate the best functionality that meets your needs.

An almost endless array of options is available to store cookware, food, utensils, countertop appliances, recycling containers and so on. A professional kitchen designer can custom design trays to exacting specifications that account for your kitchen equipment’s actual dimensions. Specifying trays for drawers to hold cutlery and kitchen gadgets to match the drawer helps avoid movement and keeps what you want in its place.

Customized storage solutions are not confined to a kitchen to make a home look, feel and function superbly. Bathrooms, laundry rooms, mudrooms and entryways all can make a home much more enjoyable if they are outfitted with storage solutions that meet your family’s needs and lifestyle.

Homeowners in the Upper Valley often ask us about colors. While splashes of purple, turquoise, yellow or green can become a focal point in kitchens and baths, we tend to favor palates that can withstand the test of time. In addition to white, these include blue, grey and cream tones.

If you are interested in creating a dream kitchen that will continue to be dreamy years after the renovation is complete, give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.

2020 Bathroom Trends

The demand for new master baths in the Upper Valley is increasing. Now that many families in the Upper Valley are spending almost all of their time at home, they have a new appreciation that a bathroom can offer so much more than function. A master bath can be a refuge from Zoom fatigue, a wellness center and a room to spend a few minutes devoid of email, texts and family members, all to yourself. That’s why the results of a recent 2020 Houzz.com bathroom trend study does not come as a surprise.

A Desire for a Makeover

Most homeowners nationally and in the Upper Valley want to change their master bath style when they renovate. The Houzz study found 69% of homeowners perceived their existing bath as projecting “an old and outdated look.” The primary reason homeowners in the Upper Valley want a complete makeover is to achieve a current vibe with clean lines. The most popular design trend is modern, favored by 20% of homeowners in the Houzz study, followed by transitional motifs (19%) and contemporary (18%). Traditional motifs were favored by 12% of homeowners, and 5% of survey respondents opted for a farmhouse design.

Health and Wellness Take Center Stage

More than 40% of renovating homeowners converted their master bath into a space for relaxation. 55% of Houzz study respondents reported that soaking in a tub helps them relax. Conversely, 54% of respondents enjoy taking long showers.

Shower appeal is growing. Nearly 50% of homeowners removed the tub during the remodel, opting for larger and multifunctional showers.

High Tech Fixtures

Nearly 50% of faucets and more than a third of toilets in renovated baths feature advanced technology that includes increased water efficiency and finger-proof finishes on faucets and self-cleaning toilet systems with heated seats.

Accentuated Spaces

Accent walls are hot in bath remodels in the Upper Valley. Nearly 40% of remodels cited in the Houzz study featured accent walls in the master bath. 19% of homeowners opt for an accent wall inside the shower; 18% placed an accent wall outside the shower. Using different surface materials, such as tile or stone, was the most popular method to create an accent wall in the master bath, followed by colors, patterns or textures that differ from the rest of the bath. The most popular accent wall color was blue.

Light Up Your World

80% of homeowners renovating a master bath improved their lighting, and that makes sense because lighting affects how a room looks and feels.

If you would like to create a personal haven in your home where you and your family can go to relax and rejuvenate, give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit our showroom either in person at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH or virtually.

A Tip of the Hat to Mother Nature

It is not surprising, given that many homeowners in the Upper Valley have been working from home and educating their children from the dining room table, that the colors of the year give a tip of the hat to Mother Nature.

Pantone and major paint manufacturers have picked colors that are warm and comforting and reflect natural environments. These colors are expected to dominate fashion and home decorations in 2021.

If you are dreaming of a new kitchen or master bath and want to ensure that you are on-trend, consider the following color schemes that have received the nod as colors of the year:

Pantone’s 2020 color of the year is Classic Blue. According to Pantone, “Instilling calm, confidence and connection, this enduring blue hue highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era.”
Sherwin-Williams 2021 color of the year is Urbane Bronze, an earth-toned shade that provides the look and feel of mindful reflection and renewal.
The PPG 2021 color palette of the year is a trio of colors dubbed Be Well. The choices include Transcend, a mid-tone oatmeal-colored hue that draws on earthy influences and nostalgia; Big Cypress, a shaded ginger with persimmon undertones and Misty Aqua, a watercolor cerulean blue. According to PPG, the colors are designed to evoke feelings of compassion and comfort to address family and societal needs.
What color palate would make your dream kitchen or bath the talk of the neighborhood? Give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.

Make It A Family Affair

The role of the kitchen during COVID-19 continues to change. With so many homeowners in the Upper Valley working from home and/or with children attending school from home, many families are staying in and eating healthier. Additionally, in many cases, more family members are involved in preparing meals.

If you are thinking about creating your dream kitchen, the first question that a professional designer should ask is who will use the kitchen and how often? Kitchens that will accommodate multiple cooks are often a harbinger of family members cooking together, especially the kids. Cooking provides a blank canvas for your children to be creative, solve problems and build confidence, and it offers a wonderful opportunity to increase quality time together.

Cooking with your kids also can be educational. They can build math skills by understanding how many ounces are in a cup or how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon. Cooking with kids provides multiple learning and confidence-building opportunities.

Effective kitchen design for multiple cooks features at least three distinct work stations to prepare meals. There are clear traffic lanes from the sink, range and refrigerator, allowing more than one person to easily navigate the space without running into one another.

Another feature of a multi-cook kitchen is more than one sink. Typically, homeowners in the Upper Valley opt for a main sink near the cooktop or range and a prep sink in an island or other space. At a minimum, we recommend at least 30 inches of counter space on each side of the main sink and at least 48 inches between cabinets and/or appliances.

A minimum six-burner cooktop is ideal for a multi-cook kitchen because it allows two people to cook independently on each side of the cooktop.

If you dream of a new kitchen that can accommodate your entire family and provide more quality time with your kids, give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit our showroom at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.

What’s the Best Backsplash Material?

Backsplashes too often, unfortunately, don’t make it to the top of the priority list of homeowners in the Upper Valley when renovating their kitchens. Backsplashes serve both functional and aesthetic purposes. They enable homeowners in the Upper Valley to protect walls from grease, water and foodstuffs while providing opportunities to make a unique design statement.

No one material is superior to other backsplash options. Material selection often depends on style preferences and ease of maintenance. Here are the pros and cons of different backsplash materials:

Glass (Slabs or Tile)


Easy to clean
Resists heat and won’t be damaged from cooking
Endless options – almost every color scheme, style and design is available in glass
Customizable sizing
Enhances illumination because of glass’ ability to reflect light

Can be costly
Glass mosaics may not have long-term staying or stylistic power
May not be perceived as novel or unique

Natural Stone


Timeless look
Unique – no two pieces of stone look the same

Requires more effort to clean
Some cleaning products could cause the stone to discolor
Stones are naturally porous, which causes them to absorb water and stains. Therefore, stone needs to be resealed every two to three years or more often depending on the amount of cooking in your kitchen.
What you see may not be what you get. Because no two pieces of stone are the same, the sample you see in the showroom will vary slightly from the stone that is shipped.

What backsplash would enhance the look, feel and functionality of your new kitchen? Give us a call at 603-448-9700 to discuss or make an appointment to visit us at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.

The Effect of COVID-19 On Home Design

What will home design look like through the remainder of this decade? The Wall Street Journal recently asked hundreds of interior designers to peer into their crystal balls to identify the trends that will dominate home design from now until 2030. Here are some highlights:

Homes will tip their hat to mother nature. Natural light, open windows, small balconies and terraces and skylights will pay homage to nature and provide more opportunities for homeowners to experience the benefits of natural light, fresh air and green spaces.
The popularity of open floor plans will wane. This trend started before COVID-19, and homeowners are beginning to want defined spaces that separate work from home. That does not necessarily mean more walls or enclosed spaces. What it does mean is that there will be distinct spaces separated by interior windows and strategic sightlines.
Millennials will move to the suburbs, which, in turn, will result in home design and amenities will become more urban.
There will be an expanded emphasis on health and wellbeing. Instead of having a fitness room, homes will feature yoga studios, meditation rooms, steam rooms and infrared saunas, among other amenities and systems that allow family members time to reflect and recharge their batteries.
Furniture goes on a diet. Sofas and other furniture will become thinner and more compact.
Handwashing increases permanently. The Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 is responsible for the creation of the powder room and the popularity of easy-to-clean white subway tile. Look for COVID-19 to result in vestibules and mudrooms that include sinks and package and shoe storage spaces.
Multigenerational households make a comeback. The high cost of housing and independent living will result in more multigenerational households with separate spaces or even in-home apartments for parents and adult children.
Design softens. Hard edges in design will give way to curved countertops, walls and woodwork to provide the look and feel of harmony and warmth.
Increased investment in quality pieces rather than inexpensive pieces whose price tag is directly related to quality or indistinguishable design.
Work from home will be the norm, and defined spaces will be designed to respond to this trend. Also, there will be multiple venues within a home and outside that enable family members to work from home, participate in video conferences and charge devices.
If you would like to assure that your next kitchen, bath or renovation project is on-trend and can withstand the test of time, call our showroom at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit us in person or virtually at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.

Priorities, Priorities

As more and more homeowners in the Upper Valley continue to work from home, they realize that their home is not working for them as well as they would like or need. As your family spends more time at home, the kitchen has taken on a more prominent role as a multifunctional space.

We’ve received numerous calls from homeowners in the Upper Valley interested in updating what currently exists. Certain elements of a dream kitchen should be at the top of everyone’s priority list regardless of space and budget. At the top of the list should be a combination of beauty, aesthetics and superb functionality. You should smile every time you cross the threshold, and every time you use your kitchen to prepare meals, eat, help with homework, chat with friends and neighbors or simply spend a few minutes for yourself.

The key priorities for any new kitchen should include:

  • Adequate storage
  • The right light
  • Appliances that cater to the families’ desires and lifestyle
  • Proper ventilation
  • Island or peninsula
  • Everything else, including the kitchen sink
  • A superbly designed kitchen is an organized kitchen. There is a direct connection between storage capabilities and functionality. That’s why when we design a new kitchen, we ask homeowners in the Upper Valley to inventory everything that they currently store in their kitchen, curate duplicative items and identify items they use rarely as opposed to those that are employed daily. Knowing the utensils, dishes, small appliances, glassware, cooking accessories and other items you use in your kitchen enables a kitchen designer to develop a customized storage solution for your unique needs and desires.

Lighting can make or break how your kitchen looks, feels and functions. Effective lighting illuminates a space in layers using different components and strategies to paint the final picture. Layers of light contribute not only to the functionality of the kitchen but also to its design and beauty. A savvy kitchen designer knows how to employ ambient, task and accent lights to enhance a new kitchen’s beauty and functionality.

Appliance selection should match your lifestyle. For homeowners in the Upper Valley who like to cook, the cooktop and oven are the two most used and hardest working appliances. Make those two appliances priorities.

Range hoods serve two valuable roles. Functionally, they remove smoke, grease and odors from the kitchen. Aesthetically, they can provide a focal point that sets the tone for the entire space.

Islands or peninsulas are requested by 99% of homeowners in the Upper Valley and for good reason. Islands provide extra countertop space and storage. Islands can double as dining tables, homework desks or a place for an additional sink, cooktop or dishwasher.

Sinks and sink areas are often an afterthought or minimize their importance. Too often the choice of the sink is left to the countertop fabricator that often agrees to provide a sink at “no charge.” Typically, the fabricator’s selection is the least expensive option available. Why would you want to put a $25 sink into a $50,000 kitchen? Plus, doing so misses multiple opportunities to enhance the functionality of your sink area. Today, manufacturers offer workstations that convert the sink into another space to prepare meals. These workstations include colanders, cutting boards, drying racks, bowls and other meal prep tools and utensils.

How can you identify the top priorities for your dream kitchen? Give us a call at 603-448-9700 or make an appointment to visit our showroom either virtually or in-person at 105 Hanover Street, Lebanon, NH.