PaintPRO, Vol. 6, No. 1
January/February 2004

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Other articles in this issue:
Solvent Regs in California
Gel Stains
Kitchens & Baths
Clarity With Colors
Drywall Primers
Rollers for Decorative Effects
Estimating, Etc.
Contractor Profile: Hester Decorating
Paint Industry News
Product News
Product Profiles
Painting Tips


PaintPRO Archives




Paint Color, Color Coordination, Kitchens
and Baths

Kitchens and Baths 2004. Unlike years past when certain color combinations — like mauve and gray — dominated the market, today endless colors and color groupings are being used. People see color as an extension of their personality.
by Stacey Enesey Klemenc

When it comes to what colors are “in” for kitchens and baths in 2004, the cup runneth over.

“They’re all over the map,” sums up Mary Lawlor, color stylist for Kelly-Moore Paints in San Carlos, Calif.

Kitchen, bath remodels
are big business

If you’ve been getting an increasing number of requests to help in the makeover of kitchens and baths, it’s not your imagination. “People are taking out their equity to make their present homes nicer. In short, renovation has become the new hobby,” says Mary Lawlor, color stylist for Kelly-Moore. “And people are focusing on the kitchen and bath. As a replacement for travel to exotic places, they’re creating resort-style living in their homes.”

The National Association of Home Builders reports that kitchens and bathrooms are getting overhauled a third faster than a decade ago. More and more people are into sprucing up the homestead, regardless of when they did it last. And they’re not skimping on the overhauls.

According to the “2003 Cost vs. Value Report” published by Hanley Wood L.L.C. in its Remodeling Magazine, people nationwide are spending a mid-range average of $10,088 to update an existing bathroom that is at least 25 years old. For an upscale bath remodel, that figure climbs to $23,544. In the kitchen, the national average to update an outmoded 200-square-foot kitchen is $43,804 for a mid-range project. An upscale remodel clocks in at $68,962.

Unlike years past when certain color combinations — like mauve and gray — dominated the market, today endless colors and color groupings are being used, says Barbara Richardson, director of color marketing for ICI Paints in Cleveland. “People see color as an extension of their personality. The bigger trend we’re seeing is that people are being more adventurous and are going for drama, fantasy or whimsy. They’re taking color and extending it out. They’re making the kitchen a destination rather then just a room because people gravitate toward that room more than anyplace else in the home.”

The wall space in today’s kitchen, Richardson continues, is usually very disjointed and much easier to paint than to wallpaper. “There’s a sliver here and there and not a bunch of chunky areas. People are using color to tie all those little areas together to help unify these spaces. When you only use white, you lose the opportunity to help create a cozy cocoon in the home.”

People also want colors in the bath that make a statement, she says. “It’s a destination, an environment where they want to spend time rejuvenating. They want their bathrooms to look more like beautiful spas.”

People are choosing “a lot of dramatic colors, but there’s also a move toward lighter, fresher, cleaner colors. Colors that aren’t heavily saturated and are neutralized a little bit. Colors that are heavy on the white,” Lawlor notes.

Aimee Desrosiers, director of marketing for California Products in Andover, Mass., agrees. “People want brighter, cleaner colors; nothing muted. Most are leaning toward nature-influenced colors reflecting things that are cheerful without being overly bright and brassy. Many have the perception that a cleaner brighter color denotes a cleaner surface.”

In particular, what colors?
For kitchens, colorists say the trend, in part, will move toward food-based colors. “The warm appeal of the dark reds, rich spice-tone oranges and the mellow hue of sage will be popular,” says Andrea Piontek, senior color stylist for PPG Architectural Finishes in Pittsburgh.

While white kitchens will remain common because they emit such a clean feeling, she continues, they “can appear sterile and cold. To compensate, any color can be used to accent the white to create a personal touch.”

Richardson says she’s also seeing warmer colors such as deeper-toned coppers and golds moving up the charts. Besides these bold rich colors for the kitchen, she adds, “Warm neutrals like beige, taupe or brown are very hot for 2004.”

In general, Piontek notes, consumers are seeking “feel-good” colors for the kitchen and bath. “Spa colors will be popular in the bathroom,” she predicts, “which may be attributed to blue’s visual connection to water.” It has a calming effect and emphasizes relaxation, while turquoise offers the warm appeal of the islands.

However, she adds, blue is not the best choice for a kitchen since it has a negative effect on the appetite. “But with all the emphasis on dieting today, this may be a positive attribute. When surrounded by blue, food doesn’t look very appealing. If you look to nature there are not any naturally occurring blue foods. Even blueberries are purple.”

Besides blues in the bath, the trim palette includes pretty rose tones, hues with a “pink cast that make your skin look good when it reflects on you,” ICI’s Richardson says.

“And we’re also seeing some greens, fresh looking greens with yellow infused into them,” says Desrosiers, whose company manufactures California Paints.

Zeroing in on the sheen
Although most people expect to see semi-gloss or gloss in kitchens and baths, that’s changing. “Flats are more common these days as many manufacturers have good quality flat finishes that are durable,” says Kelly-Moore’s Lawlor, adding that her company makes a flat enamel-like finish that’s scrubbable and stain resistant.

In addition to flats, people also are using more mattes in the kitchen and bath, say Desrosiers and Piontek. “They have a more luxurious look than they did in the past,” Piontek says.

“People are going toward the lower end of the sheen because they now can,” Desrosiers points out. “With the new paint technology, they can wash flat or matte walls with good results. Plus, a flat finish doesn’t compete with the stainless-steel appliances or granite countertops that are so popular today. It makes for a nice contrast.”

However, Richardson says, the more adventurous still want to go with the higher gloss surfaces, especially if there are broad walls. But be sure to forewarn them that imperfections show up more with high gloss. “It’s less forgiving than matte.”

Mixing and matching
Overall, when it comes to choosing paint, remember: “Consumers want to start having fun again,” says Piontek. “They want to make a statement” by combining comfortable wall colors with daring accents. “Color must supply more than color on the wall, it must fill an inner void.”

Lawlor adds that one interesting twist she’s been seeing in kitchens and baths is the use of metallic paint as an accent, a solid mass or as part of a faux finish.

The more complicated, rich looks associated with faux finishes have definitely found their niche in both kitchens and baths, Richardson says. “It’s not enough to just use a sponge technique. People want to see more layering of color, and texture plays into that. They want more depth and character. And the more you can embellish the colors, the more dynamic the end result becomes.

“When we [members of the Color Marketing Group] first talked about faux finishes years ago, many thought it would come and go. But we’ve found it’s not a trend; it’s a category. It’s here to stay.”


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