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Waterstone Faucets to Host Contest

MURRIETA, CA — Waterstone Faucets, the Murrieta, CA-based plumbing products manufacturer, will host its inaugural design competition to recognize designers, builders and architects who feature the brand’s products in their residential projects, the company announced.

Entry is free and will be open through Nov. 30 to all Waterstone installation projects across the U.S. and Canada, the company said. Waterstone will choose four winners across four categories: best traditional kitchen design, best contemporary kitchen design, best mud room or laundry room space, and best bar or butler’s pantry space. Winners will receive a cash prize, a three-piece faucet suite from Waterstone and promotion across Waterstone’s marketing and sales platforms, according to the company.

“It’s always exciting to see how designers use our products to create inspiring spaces,” said Chris Kuran, Waterstone founder and president. “We’re looking forward to recognizing the immense innovation and creativity within the design community through our first Waterstone Design Contest.”

Information about entering the competition can be obtained by visiting waterstoneco.com.

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Key Trends in Safety & Wellness Design

Safety has always been a key component of the design and construction industry, but it has taken on added importance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ventilation and indoor air quality have been squarely in the spotlight, as has the need for accessibility, as many people were bringing relatives out of assisted-living facilities and nursing homes.

Even before the public-health crisis, however, clients were concerned about water quality in the wake of the Flint, MI lead-contamination disaster; about preventing falls as they or loved ones aged; about indoor air quality as smoke and ash rained down from nearby wildfires and, for those with respiratory or immune system conditions, about toxins in their home materials and furnishings. Those concerns have increased, as well.

All these factors, along with an increased focus on wellness design, has spurred a boom in real estate, design, remodeling, technology and new-home construction. What follows are the perspectives of eight professionals regarding the latest trends. They are:

  • National homebuilder Shea Homes’ Marketing V.P. Janet Benavidez;
  • New Jersey-based smart home technology integrator, speaker and author Ryan Herd;
  • Denver-based full-service interior designer Jennifer Lowry;
  • Maria Stapperfenne, CMKBD, a former president of the National Kitchen & Bath Association;
  • Colorado-based CMKBD Jan Neiges;
  • Shea Pumarejo, a San Antonio-area CMKBD;
  • Real estate broker Mauri Tamborra, with RE/MAX Leaders serving Colorado and California’s Central Coast;
  • Debra Young, a Delaware-based occupational therapist specializing in inclusive design and a certified specialist in environmental modifications.

Non-porous surfaces, like engineered stone, are increasingly popular with homeowners and design pros.
Photo: Caesarstone


There’s nothing like a natural disaster or global pandemic to make people feel less safe – and crave a feeling of security at home. “Health and safety preferences were already growing,” says Shea Homes’ Benavidez, “but the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated homebuyers’ interest in wellness.” This extends far beyond germ reduction to what the building executive calls “emotional, financial and physical wellbeing.” She cites a recent study showing technology, better-equipped kitchens and sanitation as the most desired home features.

Real estate professional Tamborra agrees. “We have noticed heightened interest in technology-based solutions,” she comments. Pre-pandemic, fewer clients were discussing air filtration or indoor air quality, she adds. All types of safety and wellness features that make child-raising or eldercare easier are being discussed now, too.

Design clients are all safety conscious, albeit with different concerns, says designer Lowry. For young couples, it’s about parenting, especially with bathroom choices of tubs, shower sets and the like. For seniors, with some now home from nursing homes or assisted living facilities, falls are the biggest consideration.

Occupational therapist Young has seen an increase in interest in universal design since the pandemic began. “Some features have certainly gained in popularity due to how the pandemic has changed our daily habits and routines,” she reports. With more multi-
generational households and greater interest in cooking, she’s seeing an increased focus on accessible kitchen storage and appliance placement. She’s also seeing interest in accessibility, antimicrobial low-maintenance surfaces and smart-home features that increase safety and convenience.   

“Since the pandemic began, everyone has become somewhat of a germaphobe!” declares designer Pumarejo. “Kitchens and bathrooms are the first places that come to mind when we think about germs, and clients are definitely looking at ways to stop the spread and kill (them).”

This has spurred growth in the popularity of antimicrobial surfaces and technologies for countertops, lighting, ventilation and flooring. Nonporous porcelain and quartz (now including outdoor options) continue to trend, and specialized technologies that kill germs of all kinds in kitchens, bathrooms and living areas are gaining in popularity.

Products and technologies that kill airborne viruses and other germs have accelerated with scientific evidence that COVID-19 is mostly spread via aerosolized transmission. Some contractors and builders are adding antimicrobial functionality to their residential HVAC systems. Some fixture companies are adding it to their product lines, and research is continuing on UV-spectrum technologies that are safe and effective for occupied spaces.

Also showing up on the safety front is heightened demand for power generators. Anyone who lived through Texas’ winter outages can appreciate this concern.

“Losing power has gone from being a temporary nuisance to a work and life-stopping event,” Young comments. “More of my clients have become interested in ensuring that their daily activities are not interrupted by a power outage.”


One of the biggest growth areas for home safety is smart-home technology. It’s showing up from front entries to garage doors, with plenty of kitchen and bath features in between.

“I believe the pandemic has pushed technology 10 years into the future,” says technology integrator Herd. “The pandemic has also made us more aware of our environment, inside and out, more health-conscious, and more concerned for our well-being.”

The designers, builder and realtor agree. Young sees it in her practice as well, working with clients and their remodeling teams. On a whole-house level, she’s seeing increased interest in lighting, video doorbells and temperature control.

Shea Homes has introduced two home wellness packages with air filtration, water filtration and touchless faucets, Benavidez says. Resale buyers are looking at wellness tech, too, real estate broker Tamborra notes.

“We have noticed heightened interest in apps on smartphones and tablets to control everything,” she observes. “Installations of remote window treatments have also been of increased interest, especially for elderly family members who benefit from the automation. Our clients with children also appreciate the hands-free element for added safety.”

“Every age group has a different need for technology,” Herd comments. For seniors, as he and Young agree, it’s often about safety. Not having to strain or climb to close a window shade helps prevent a fall, and video doorbells help them see who is at the door from a safe spot at home. Smart toilets let seniors enjoy the benefits of hygiene without stepping into a tub.

Induction cooktops and connected hoods that deliver the right ventilation level increase kitchen safety.
Photo: Bosch Home Appliances


Smart technology helps in kitchen spaces too, the professionals all say.

“The number-one concern in the kitchen is fire,” Herd points out. Smart appliances can alert you to a burner left unattended and remotely turn it off. Induction cooktop sales are also steadily increasing, in part because of safety considerations; they are much less likely to be the cause of a fire or burn.

Smart new ventilation hoods that pull smoke and gases out of the air by syncing with paired induction cooktops for the right performance level also add safety to a kitchen. Smart faucets that let homeowners access water without spreading viruses or food-borne contaminants serve a similar function. These aren’t new products; they’re just increasingly interesting to home buyers and homeowners.

Young sees changing trends in microwave placement, locating the appliances more frequently “at an easier and safer reach range below the counter, either integrated into the cabinetry or using a microwave drawer,” she reports.

Safety can be stylish with integrated grab bars.
Photo: Ponte Giulio, pontegiuliousa.com
Wellness by Design (Tiller Press, 2020)


Bathrooms are another potential injury and illness zone, particularly for seniors.

Herd, for one, is seeing growth in voice-control tub and shower features to add safety in these spaces. “Enabling our aging loved ones to ask Alexa to fill up the tub with 80-degree water or to turn on the shower allows them to be a bit safer from bending over and having a fall in the bathroom,” the integrator points out.

Designer Stapperfenne is seeing “mainstream acceptance” in toilets with bidet functionality. These also add an element of bathroom safety by eliminating the need for often-risky tub visits for personal hygiene tasks.

Designer Neiges is adding bathroom safety by specifying antibacterial lights in her Colorado projects, she says. She first spotted this technology at the 2020 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in the Broan booth, she recalls, as the manufacturer showcased it as a new feature of its bath ventilation products.

Pumarejo is doing a lot of curbless showers in San Antonio, she reports. Linen textured slip-resistant tiles are also a go-to for her. Both she and Neiges cite wall-mount toilets as an easy-to-use safety feature for many clients. “These toilets make for easy cleaning with no grooves for germs to hang out,” the Texan designer comments.

“We’re seeing more interest in touchless faucets, automated toilets and automated soap dispensers in the bathroom,” designer Lowry notes. “Touchless lighting in the bathroom and throughout the home is also showing increased demand,” she adds, as is antimicrobial or non-porous surfaces in bathroom spaces.

Flip-down shower seats and integrated grab bars are also gaining favor, Stapperfenne comments. “Beauty, luxury and safety can all co-exist in the same space,” she adds. The designer looks for “items that look inconspicuous,” she says, like “corner and shower shelving with integrated grab bars.”


We have survived the pandemic, “but it has changed us,” Pumarejo observes.

“Clients are now asking for things like bulk pantry storage, home generators and even indoor hydroponic gardens that can grow your own food,” she notes. These all result from living through COVID and anticipating future potential challenges to the food supply and our ability to provide for our families, she adds.

“I, for one, don’t think it’s a bad idea to be more self-sustainable,” the designer opines. It’s definitely not a bad idea for the kitchen and bath industry to help achieve that goal, either.”▪

Jamie Gold, CKD, CAPS, MCCWC is an author, wellness design consultant and industry speaker. Her third book, Wellness by Design (Simon & Schuster), published September 2020.  You can learn more about her Wellness Market presentations, books, Wellness Wednesdays Clubhouses conversations and consulting services at jamiegold.net.

The post Key Trends in Safety & Wellness Design appeared first on Kitchen & Bath Design News.

Did you miss our previous article…

2021 Award Winners

“Less is more” was a phrase heard often during the judging of the 2021 Kitchen & Bath Design Awards, sponsored by Kitchen & Bath Design News. Six of the industry’s leading professionals gathered to assess the entries, and while all were struck by the beauty of the entries, they gravitated toward the designs that were streamlined, well thought-out and didn’t try to do too much within the space. 

The right details were also key to the winning designs. Clever storage tucked into niches, paneled appliances that deliver a more cohesive look and exceptional cabinets, lighting and hardware were among the elements that elevated the leading entries.

The best of design is what is being celebrated in the 33 spaces that have been named winners of the 2021 Kitchen & Bath Design Awards. Over 200 projects were judged in 11 categories: Best Kitchen Over $225,000; Best Kitchen $150,000-$225,000; Best Kitchen $75,000-$150,000; Best Kitchen Under $75,000; Best Specialty Kitchen; Best Master Bath Over $100,000; Best Master Bath $50,000-$100,000; Best Master Bath Under $50,000; Best Powder Room; Best Showroom, and Best Specialty Project.

The prestigious judging panel for the awards included:

• Peter Cardamone, Bluebell Kitchens, Wayne, PA

• Laura Giampaolo, Nu-Way Kitchen & Bath, Utica, MI

• Laurie Haefele, Haefele Design, Santa Monica, CA

• Sarah Kahn Turner, Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath, Chevy Chase, MD

• Linda Larisch, CMKBD, DESIGNfirst Builders, Itasca, IL

• Doug Walter, CMKBD, Doug Walter Architects, Denver, CO

Each of the projects was evaluated on multiple points, including: aesthetic appeal, functionality of the space, attention to detail, handling of unusual situations, originality, selection of colors and finishes, and overall impression. The judges also provided design feedback to all of the entrants.

The judging panel was pleased to see a departure from the ever-popular white and gray cabinets. “I actually loved the moody, dark, really dramatic kitchens, and the winners were the ones that had the dark and moody feel in contrast to the light,” stated Haefele. She noted the added use of natural woods, “which have a lot of warmth. Black kitchens have been around for a while, but integrating the lighter wood makes them less stark and more warm.”

The KBDA Awards were judged by a panel of esteemed professionals in the kitchen and bath design community, including (from l. to r.): Doug Walter, CMKBD; Laurie Haefele; Peter Cardamone; Sarah Kahn Turner; Linda Larisch, CMKBD, and Laura Giampaolo.

“There was a ton of black mixed with naturals,” concurred Giampaolo, along with stone features. “It was very organic, with a lot of warm tones.”

“We saw a lot of moody tones, darker woods, the use of metals and metal paints,” added Kahn Turner. She noted that, while there were still several classic light and bright kitchens, the painted finishes were grays and mushroom tones – a softer, wispy palette.

Walter said that, while white is not dead, there were many shades of off white included. “Darker colors were very popular this year – dark green, navy in particular, and black,” he observed.

Larisch also noted additional combinations going on beyond the dark and light cabinets. “We saw mixtures of gloss and matte finishes, different pops of color, large windows with dark interiors, and different styles for hoods,” she offered.

But, she continued, “I just kept saying ‘less is more.’ Some designers tried to mix too many materials together and they just didn’t pull it off, versus other mixed materials that blended and seemed timeless.”


While Cardamone advocated for taking chances with design to stand out from the pack, he also stressed the importance of keeping things streamlined. “There’s a tendency to crowd an element like a tall refrigerator or place a wall oven next to a cooktop, with a hood squished in there. Instead, you should
let everything have room to breathe,” he stated.

“I’m excited to see people really embracing and stretching some of the cabinetry away from hoods and other things,” noted Kahn Turner. “Windows also give rooms a little more breathing space.” She notes the best designs “don’t try to cram as much cabinetry as possible into a small space, which can sometimes feel disjointed and a little heavy.”

Giampaolo agreed, noting that a few of the designs came across as forced, “like they were trying so hard to use the freestanding tub in the bath when there was no room for it. The designs that came off the best may not have had the most materials in them, but they were done correctly. They were sized, they were comfortable,” she explained.


“What separates a good project from a great project is attention to detail,” Walter stressed. He added that, sometimes, the judging between first and second place is so close, and what can make the difference is some small details. He was especially impressed by the dramatic hoods he saw, and the clever use of the sixth wall – the ceiling.

“I think we saw the cream rise to the top in the subtle details – the fit and finish,” concurred Kahn Turner. “Designers need to pay attention to the little things, such as pulling a cabinet panel forward so that it flushes out with the door, making sure that you have clearances, that your cabinets aren’t too spindly looking and narrow.”

The kitchens that stood out to Giampaolo were those that paid attention to unique details – finding usable space in otherwise unusable areas. “Some of the concepts with the hidden wine cubbies were amazing,” she offered.

“The ones that were outstanding were the ones that were unique and cohesive. They used textured walls. They used hidden storage units. They delivered multi-use designs, blending with the room next to it, making an entire space that you could eat, you could entertain, you could work, you could cook, you could do homework,” she added.

Haefele noted that, when first looking at an image, she knew instinctively when she liked it. “It’s when you really get into the details of the design that you can see why you liked it, that it’s so well thought out,” she reported.

Larisch stressed that the details need to be well thought out to make them work within the design, however. “The details need to make sense. You don’t want ones that are just randomly thrown in or had no thought process behind them,” she remarked. “You also need to take care of the details throughout the space and not miss an area. Every single part of that kitchen or bath should work cohesively through each turn.”

On pages 48-73, KBDN shares expanded coverage of the winning projects in the sixth annual competition. For more photos of this year’s winners, as well as insights from the panel of judges, visit www.KitchenBathDesign.com. ▪


Kitchens Over $225,000
Kitchens $150,000–$225,000
Kitchens $75,000–$150,000
Kitchens Under $75,000
Specialty Kitchens
Master Bathrooms Over $100,000
Master Bathrooms $50,000–$100,000
Master Bathrooms Under $50,000
Powder Rooms
Specialty Projects

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