Seeing “red” is a bad thing when it comes to emotions, but is now embraced in home décor. That same attitude is affecting another color: black.
Consumers are feeling confident specifying fresh colors in their appliances — a no-no in generations past when appliances were offered in “safe” neutrals that could be lived with for a few decades. Yes, there were the much-maligned Avocado and Harvest Gold finishes of the ’70s, but the bright pops of turquoise and crimson seen at this year’s K/BIS are definitely more fashion-forward.
For a long time, it appeared nothing was going to budge Stainless Steel out of the top spot for finishes. Then along came Black Stainless, a black-tinged steel that was better at concealing those pesky fingerprints. While black has always been a staple in clothing – it is the unofficial “uniform” of New Yorkers, after all – the black finishes that are appearing on plumbing fixtures and now lighting fixtures are of the matte variety.
Matte Black is a bold finish choice when you consider the decades of Chrome, Stainless, and Polished Nickel in plumbing and lighting fixtures. First there was the sprinkling of Brushed (i.e. not quite matte, but not polished either) metal finishes. Soft Rose Golds and even shiny Brass and Gold finishes have been creeping in over the past few years, but it seems they are now being overtaken by Matte Black.
As plumbing fittings go, so does the lighting. Matte Black pairs well with polished Gold, Brass, Chrome and makes a sophisticated aesthetic statement. The year kicked off with these combinations on plumbing fixtures and fittings at K/BIS, and was followed two weeks later on display at Lightovation, where Matte Black finishes on lighting fixtures (paired with gleaming metals) were everywhere.
Consumers seem comfortable with visual drama in a room, and this notion carries through with their preference for something different and not-so-basic when it comes to the configuration of kitchen and bath lighting. Not that long ago, kitchen island fixtures were nearly all linear. Now, there are more individual, oversized pendants being installed in groups of two or three over an island.
In bathrooms, there is a similar revolution. More decorative fashionable chandeliers and pendants are being specified in master baths instead of the basic circular flush-mount for ambient lighting, and elegant sconces – and even colorful pendants – are flanking mirrors as an alternative to the basic bath bar. Not that the vanity strip is going away, it too has morphed into styles that are more glamorous and statement-making.
It all comes down to a mass migration from the “basics” to designs that express a bit more of the fashion sense of the homeowners. In our Kitchen & Bath issue, you’ll undoubtedly notice this style shift. Retailers, don’t be afraid to take a bold step along with consumers and offer the unexpected along with your proven sellers in these categories.