Continued from last week’s post….

Earth-Friendly Features Perhaps the hottest trend in kitchens and baths is the move toward sustainable products. But while more people are asking designers about going green, they’re “willing to stick their necks, and their pocketbooks, out only so far,” says Garvey, the 2008 grand prize winner of the Real Estate Staging Association’s national competition.

As prices drop on green products, it’s certain that green elements will become more widespread, says Trauthwein. This is especially true of sustainable woods used for flooring and countertops. Fast-growing bamboo is the eco-material of choice for cabinets and floors, but those who favor a more traditional look have started to explore eucalyptus.

“Eucalyptus trees can be harvested in 10 years,” says Tuttle. “The wood is very dense—like teak—and will take a darker stain.” He’s used “lyptus” wood for kitchen islands and custom hutches in baths.

“Most of my clients aren’t green purists, but they’re excited about adding green features like sustainable woods and recycled copper to their kitchens,” says Kepler.

Water-saving features are a prime way that kitchens and baths are going greener, says Acker, who believes that many more home owners today will opt for green products as long as they’re well-designed. Campos notes that plumbing fixture manufacturers are now exploring options that let consumers preset and easily alter the water volume and temperature in a shower to suit the task at hand—more water for washing hair, for example.

Another environmentally friendly option that saves trees and aids aging in place is a toilet seat that uses water and air jets for hands-free personal clean up. Deluxe models of products such as the Toto Washlet also feature heated seats, sensor-activated lids, and massage options.

Easy Eco-Upgrade: Change out a faucet to one with a built-in sensor; it saves water, and little ones never have to remember to turn it off.

Custom is King “People still want to invest in their homes, and we’re seeing anything standard and common—from oak cabinets to side-by-side vanity bowls—start to recede in popularity,” says Phyllis Markussen, chair of the Department of Family Studies and Interior Design at the University of Nebraska in Kearney. Even for mid-range homes, adding a few luxury touches to a kitchen or bath is common, says Tuttle.

Islands, in particular, are getting the feel of fine furniture with columns, toe boards, and moldings. Using different surfaces and finishes on counters or in the wall cabinets and the island are other affordable ways to create a custom feel in the kitchen. “As kitchens become larger and more integrated into the living space, people don’t want a monolithic feel,” says Trauthwein.

5 Kitchen and Bath Features Buyers Want Most

36% Separate shower enclosure in master bath

31% Eat-in kitchen

24% High-end appliances

23% Granite countertops

21% Kitchen island

Some of the same high-quality furniture elements—often in the form of custom hutches—can add a custom feel to a bath. “People often chose these additions as a way to personalize a room, but having one special item in a kitchen or bath also attracts new buyers,” says Tuttle.

Panels that blend refrigerators and dishwashers into cabinetry are another way to create a sense of quality. You can also get the look and feel of customization by building out the cabinetry around the refrigerators so that it doesn’t stick out into the room, suggests Eggerss.

Easy Customizing Upgrade: Add stylish pendant or chandelier lighting over an island or eat-in kitchen area.

Trends with Staying Power Although it’s helpful to know the latest trends, remember that design choices in kitchens and baths depend on both personal taste and how long home owners intend to stay in a home, says Garvey. Those who plan to sell in five years or less, should focus on personalized touches using paint, backsplashes, and accessories, she advises.

Still, many of today’s trends will almost certainly persist among the next generation of home buyers, says Yaprak Savut, an assistant professor of interior design program at East Carolina University, in Greenville, N.C.

The university conducted a survey of working adults between 18 and 31 years old and found that most are willing to pay as much as 20 percent more for appliances that can be customized with features like removable fronts and trivection ovens that simultaneously use thermal heat, convection, and microwave cooking.

Most young adults also said they wanted natural woods and stone in their kitchens, and 76 percent said they’re at least somewhat interested in having a greener kitchen. And since they prefer to cook for themselves and entertain at home, they want kitchens to be even bigger. For your sellers, it may be time to knock out that wall.


Rob Longo, Sales Representative    ABR, GREEN, RSPS    Magic Realty Inc.    805 N. Christina Street    Sarnia, Ontario