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10 Trends to Watch in 2018
Local professionals predict the year’s top trends for kitchens and bathrooms.


May 2018

Photo courtesy of Callen Construction

Kitchen cabinets and islands

White cabinets are still popular but we are noticing more toned grays and rustic wood. On the walls many clients are asking for open shelving in place of wall cabinets. We are also seeing more contrasting or complementary island tops to perimeter tops. As far as sinks, look for a farm sink with a single basin. We are installing more stand pipes instead of air gaps, which cleans up the countertop. Other popular items being included in kitchen islands are wine coolers and microwave drawers. French door wall ovens are not only a stylish choice, but they’re also great in limited spaces because you don’t need room for a conventional door to fold down in front.

— Mike Slawnikowski, M Design Build Kitchen Technology

Technology continues to change the way kitchens are designed today. Charging stations for electronics and touch sensor faucets are becoming standard items in every kitchen remodel. The next step is synched appliances that uses Bluetooth technology to do things like automatically turning on vents and lights when the cooktop is in use. Bluetooth is also being used to control oven functions remotely with your smartphone. Speaking of smartphones, touch-and-swipe controls like those on your iPhone are coming to the cooktop. No more nobs or buttons; just drag your finger around the arc to adjust the heat for each zone. And GE is reportedly working on a series of appliances that will synchronize cooking times for the microwave, range and oven so that everything is finished and ready to serve at the same time.

— Mike Slawnikowski, M Design Build

Floors and tiles

Hardwood is still king, wood plank is in, floor tiles are getting bigger and we are seeing more mixing of patterns. When it comes to color, matte finish is the newest trend to follow. Bamboo is big, especially strand-woven bamboo, which uses the inner fibers of the bamboo plant and is engineered to be twice as hard as traditional bamboo flooring. Other popular materials are reclaimed wood, cork and concrete (while) pebble stone tiles are great for bathrooms. No matter what flooring a client chooses, more of them want to include a heating element. What was once the domain of the bathroom, heated flooring is being installed in more areas of the house.

Photo courtesy of Elements East

Bolder colors

Pops of dramatic color are making their way into otherwise neutral parts of the house. In kitchens, a bold color, like bright blue, is an obvious place to be understandably unexpected. Whites, grays and stainless steel are beautifully offset with a bright colored stove or bright tile backsplash. Pretty pastels are happening as well. They can be an easier way to accent a neutral environment while still adding a touch of personalization.

— Meg Hopkins, owner, Elements East

Aging in Place

The number one trend continues to be enhanced accessibility accommodations. In the last several years, homeowners have had an increased focus on aging in place. Now more than ever, those looking to buy are looking for a universal design with ease of access. Specifically, these remodeling projects include widening hallways and doorways and enhancing safety in bathrooms.

— Paulette Sodemann, designer, Callen Construction

Better Basements

While the majority of homeowners desire a finished basement, current trends are pointing to going the extra mile with a basement remodel. This means more than just waterproofing and laying down flooring. Basements are being renovated to include all the amenities of a home’s main levels. A small kitchenette in the basement is becoming very popular, as is a full bathroom. In addition, a basement is a perfect place for a home theater.

— Paulette Sodemann, designer, Callen Construction.


Granite has been a top seller for quite some time but quartz is now the number one seller. As much as we love natural stone, quartz is a surface we love just as much. Quartz countertops are popular because not only do they come in an array of colors and styles that can resemble natural stone, but they’re also well loved because of their durability and carefree maintenance. If you’re about to start a project with any countertops consider using quartz. It’s durable, has incredible finish options and it’s fresh. Quartz has a vast array of selections, including those that mimic natural stone. In the case of a Carrera marble, a quartz would supersede the benefits of marble as it is much more durable.

— Jeanne Jarecki, Gerhard’s Kitchen & Bath Store, Whitefish Bay

High-Tech Toilets

For years Japan has been the undisputed leader in high-tech toilets, with other countries seemingly OK with retaining the same mechanism for decades. But homeowners are starting to get interested in a bit of tech in their toilets. The 2018 high-tech toilet will see things like seat warmers, automatic lid openers and slow-close features, an adjustable air dryer, built-in deodorizers and so on. Some even have speakers and a wireless music player that automatically turns on when the lid is opened and shuts off when the lid is put back down. Kohler, for example, now offers a multifunctional toilet called Numi. Compatible with Amazon’s Alexa technology, you can ask it to do things like lift the toilet seat, prepare the bidet or even play songs from your stored playlists. It is not just the toilet that is going high-tech either. The entire bathroom will see a few innovations in 2018 like smart showers that automatically know your preferred temperature and can turn on your favorite tunes during shower time. Or you can add a small fridge within your bathroom cabinetry to keep medicine and drinks cool.

—  Cori Miller, Kohler Signature Store, Milwaukee

Photo courtesy of Elements East

Smaller Bathrooms

 For many homeowners, their dream bathroom is inspired by those luxury magazine pictures with enormous double tubs, his and her cabinets, and expansive marble flooring. But in recent times, some have discovered that smaller bathrooms can be just as great. The 2018 bathroom interior design trend will be toward smaller bathrooms with a focus on efficiency and small-scale luxury. The secret to making small bathrooms comfortable, and not cramped, is the efficient use of available real estate. Every inch must be put to good use. You will see freestanding single-person tubs starting to get more popular. Smaller but artfully designed toilets and smaller uniquely designed sink bowls will also begin to make a presence in the bathroom. Other companions to scaled-down bathrooms include space-saving walk-in showers, more shelving instead of cabinets and large floating vanities to increase the perception of space. The bathrooms are also being decked out in wall patterns or interesting floor graphics that make the room feel bigger.

— Steven Miller, Gerhards Kitchen & Bath Store, Whitefish Bay

Brass is Big

Brass has been making its way into the trends for quite some time and the world has finally fallen head over heels for it! Yep, you read that right. Chrome and satin still reign supreme if you want to keep it classic, however, shiny brass is back in a big way. Not ready to commit? Yet another trend is rose gold. You can’t go far without seeing its marks and we are not complaining. This trendy metal finish can be used in quite a lot of features. From faucets to lighting to rivets and even appliances, this trend is sure to bring the look of luxury into your space.

— Sara Keeton, Gerhard’s Kitchen & Bath Store, Delafield  

This story ran in the May 2018  issue of: