Still Smokin’

Still Smokin’

Kitchen renovations even more popular during the pandemic

By Terry Troy

A funny thing happened when Governor Mike DeWine gave the stay at home order last spring. People not only stayed home, they also started to look around to see how they might improve their surroundings.

As one of the focal points of any home, people looked at how they might improve their kitchens, which has kept the home renovation market very robust, not only in the area, but across the nation.

In mid-August the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) and John Burns Real Estate Consulting (JBREC) released their Q2 2020 Kitchen & Bath Market Index, a survey of NKBA members involved with manufacturing, building/construction, design and retail, that rated the industry at 5.9 on a scale of 1 through 10. That put the industry a little stronger than 5.0 (or normal) for the second quarter, up significantly from the 4.1 rating of the first quarter. Better still, future conditions are rated at 61.9 out of 100, which means the industry should remain strong through the end of the year.

“Overall, with the pandemic and people staying at home more, there has been some increase in what people are doing,” says Andrew Glasgow, president of H. Glasgow Construction, a recipient of the 2020 National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) Contractor of the Year Award. “However, what they have been doing has been modified. They may not be putting on a new sun room, but instead focusing on some other area of the home.”

Andrew Glasgow, president of H. Glasgow Construction

Redoing a kitchen or creating a more comfortable work-at-home space have become top of mind for people dealing with the pandemic, says Glasgow. Not only are they working at home, they are also doing a lot more cooking.

“In the ‘50s the kitchen was a clean but basically boring space,” says Glasgow. “Then the kitchen started to grow into a hub for family gatherings. When houses moved to an open floor plan design, the kitchen continued to be the hub, but it also had access to wide open spaces where you could see everything that is happening from the kitchen.”

Kitchens being a focal point for home design is a lifestyle trend that will likely continue well into the years ahead.

“People are still enamored with their kitchens, and now even more so because they are staying at home and cooking more,” says Rebekah Calhoun, a designer with Meyer Brothers & Sons, and the current president of NARI’s Greater Cincinnati Chapter. “Today, our clients want a fresh look for the kitchen, but it has what we call a snowball effect on the rest of the home. The kitchen becomes the first step in revamping the entire home.”

Rebekah Calhoun, a designer with Meyer Brothers & Sons

That could mean changing out trims, casings and baseboards, upgrading door hardware or even painting the interior, says Calhoun, who is seeing an increasing popularity of interior colors such as navy, gold and matte black.

“We’re even seeing an increase of greens. Not the traditional avocado of the ‘70s, but more modern versions,” she says. “When you redo your kitchen you want to tie design elements of the kitchen to everything else in the home, and make the entire home more modern.”

Emerging kitchen design trends include quartz counter surfaces, “which look like marble but hold up as well as granite,” adds Calhoun. “A lot of people are also extending their hardwood floors into the kitchen.”

Calhoun’s clients are finding it much easier to remodel thanks to online resources, which have not only helped consumers define choices, but also made it easier and safer to do business during COVID-19.

“Technology makes it possible for everything to be done online, which is great, especially during the pandemic,” says Calhoun. “We’re still able to work as a team but we can also work from our own homes.”

“It used to be that years ago, you would go out to a client’s home with a book of photos of the projects that you had done and they would pick out the designs they liked,” says Glasgow. “But now, their choices are not necessarily completed but are better defined because the client may have spent some time in a peer’s home (which we call the Jones effect), or they have done a lot of research online.

“Today, you have a lot of people sitting at home and when they have free time, they look at different designs,” Glasgow adds. “So when they contact us for an appointment, they often know what they want. Then, we just have to use our expertise to bring it all together.”

One of the trends, especially with more upscale budgets, involves creating a complete entertaining and working kitchen, greatly expanding its functionality. And, of course, there is the whole concept of creating an outdoor kitchen and food service area for expanded patio and deck entertaining, especially in summer and fall months.

Expanding the kitchen’s functionality, “could mean creating a butler’s kitchen or a caterer’s kitchen where the client hosts events, uses the kitchen to set up and bring in food for presentation, and then has enough room for clearing away items for easier cleaning,” says Glasgow.

There are some new technological developments on the horizon, which will directly impact kitchen upgrades in the future, notes Glasgow. Through the internet of things (IoT Technology), smart appliances are now able to program functions— like ovens set remotely to pre-heat while you are on the commute home, or smart refrigerators detecting which items you’re running low on or even creating an online shopping list for you to pick up something at the store on the way home.

“Those new developments are not only going to make the entire kitchen more efficient, they will also impact kitchen design,” Glasgow says. “You’ll even soon see things like digital backsplashes.”

Which will take kitchen design to a whole new level. Want something traditional in a backsplash? Try going with a traditional black and white tile design. Like that picture of the waterfall you took while on vacation? It can be displayed on your backsplash or some other wall.

“I’ve already seen some prototypes, and you’ll soon start seeing some articles on it,” Glasgow says.

It all means that you’ll basically be able to change the entire look of your kitchen, simply by clicking on something you like. It’s a brave new world, where you’ll be able to increase the functionality of your kitchen, or change its entire design, in the blink of an eye.

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