kitchen trends

Coastal Living Kitchen Design co-owner Judy Fortuna, of Ship Bottom, shows off their Beachy Kitchen design model at the store in Northfield. The shore look is still crucial to kitchen design, with white cabinetry and blue accents popular, and islands with accent colors, co-owner Richard Fortuna says.

Danny Drake

Home shoppers take a hard look at kitchens when choosing one house over another, and local kitchen design and remodeling shops can give home sellers an idea of what is desirable.

Joe DiCicco, co-owner of the Cabinet Shop in Cape May Court House, said white cabinets are continuing their reign as the preferred look along the shore, now with a simpler look.

“A Shaker door, in white, is pretty much what we sell on the islands,” said DiCicco, of the Dennisville section of Dennis Township. “I call it a Shaker door. It has a recessed panel rather than a raised one, for a lighter, summery, vacation kind of look.”

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On the mainland, kitchen creators and remodelers are more likely to prefer stained wood. “I think cherry’s coming back a little,” he said.

Richard Fortuna, co-owner of Coastal Living Kitchen Design Studio in Northfield, said more homeowners are selecting cabinet doors with a little bead detailing on the edge of the frame, “a more traditional style you’d see in your grandma’s day.”

He agreed that painted white finishes — cottage white, pure white — remain extremely popular.

That makes accent colors in the kitchen more effective, including on dinnerware, placemats and seating.

“We’re seeing accent colors on the banquet or island in the kitchen, and one that’s really popular is a driftwood finish,” said Fortuna, 48, of Ship Bottom. “A driftwood island up against a cottage white kitchen is a very period look, from an older era.”

Blue remains a popular accent color, especially at the shore, and now especially a faded blue almost like denim, he said.

“We’ve had a lot of success with a driftwood blue color that we developed. It has a sun-aged look to it but it’s still very fresh,” he said.

DiCicco said customers are choosing counter-depth refrigerators that don’t stick out, and higher-end kitchens now often have warming drawers.

“Wine coolers are also quite popular now, especially on the islands for the guests, and there will be small refrigerators in the serving or beverage areas of island homes,” he said.

Fortuna said he’s also seeing more refrigerated drawers “and more ice makers going into kitchens the last two years than the last 20 years combined.”

High-end, high-functioning appliances are preferred, but most customers are price-conscious now, too.

“They often split their budget between semi-commercial, semi-professional appliances and runner-up models with sharper price points,” he said. “They might want a Viking or Wolf stove, but they might go with a KitchenAid product that has an industrial look to it.”

Last month, Melissa Dittmann Tracey of Realtor Magazine listed eight trends in kitchen design for 2013, with the help of

- Modern styling, with simple lines and big, open spaces

- Appliances that are tucked away, even into the kitchen island

- Abundant lighting, and the arrival of under-cabinet LEDs

- Oversized kitchen islands that also serve as a social center

- Neutral colors, with bright color accents

- Professional ranges and induction cooktops in gourmet kitchens

- Decorative range hoods with built-in lights

- Backsplashes of glass or mosaic glass tiling

A survey by the National Association of Realtors reported in January found that 60 percent of the cost of a major kitchen remodeling was immediately added to the value of the home, slightly more than bathroom remodelings or roof replacements.

DiCicco said granite is still the overwhelming favorite for countertops, but a manmade material, called engineered quartz, is making inroads.

Typically made of 95 percent mineral quartz and 5 percent resin, engineered quartz countertops are a little more expensive than granite, especially now that imports are bringing the latter’s price down.

“Granite is porous, so you’re supposed to put a sealer on it every six months, and most people don’t,” DiCicco said. “Quartz isn’t porous.”

Fortuna said the key ingredient of a kitchen’s success is designing it for the actual uses the family will make of it.

“What’s important is when a customer comes in, they have a lot of ideas and some direction, but to quantify the style and look, that’s really the designer’s job,” he said. “We generally produce a minimum of two plans with several options.”

Interviewing the homeowner will provide such crucial information as the size of the family, whether the focus will be cooking or socializing, whether there will be cocktail or food parties, and the family’s storage needs, he said.

“If you don’t know the whole pictures, it’s going to be hard to hit the bull’s eye with the design,” he said.

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