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Remodeling? These 7 design trends are heating up kitchens

Is a new kitchen on your to-do list this year? If so, you’re probably asking yourself many questions. What appliances and features do you need to cook the way you want? What finishes will give your kitchen the appearance and feel you are seeking? What sort of design will allow you to move freely between tasks, cooking and entertaining?

Chances are, you’re looking to strike a balance between function and style. Kitchens tend to be the hub of the household, where people tend to gather to eat and socialize. Due to the costs and amount of work involved, remodeling isn’t an every-year project. It’s important to think hard about your habits, needs and lifestyle, as well as how well the kitchen will look in the years ahead.

So, what are the current kitchen remodeling trends and must-haves? We spoke with three designers – Amy Ahearn, Decorating Den Interiors of Williamsburg, Va.; Gloria Graham Sollecito, Artful Kitchens, West Palm Beach, Fla.; and Susan Serra, Susan Serra Associates, Huntington, N.Y.; –

to find out what their clients are looking for and what trends may lie ahead. Here’s what they had to say:

What’s cooking? Multi-function and healthy options: Remodelers want options when it comes to cooking. “More than one oven is practically de rigeur in the higher-end home,” Ahearn says. “You must have two ovens, if only for two holidays a year.” Dual wall ovens are popular. “Multi-purpose appliances are in demand,” Sollecito says. “For example, a double oven that also has steam or microwave cooking.” Homeowners are also looking for ranges that offer built-in sous vide capability. For some of Ahearn’s clients, it is a must-have. “The introduction of sous vide or steam into ovens is a signal that healthy methods of cooking have become a strong trend,” Serra says.

For cooktops, most are going larger, and induction cooking remains popular. “People are definitely asking about induction,” Ahearn says.

The homeowner’s choice in major cooking appliances depends on their cooking habits, Serra says. “Those who do light cooking want value and reliability first and foremost. Those who cook regularly may be more concerned with pure function or both aesthetics and function.

Amy Ahearn, Decorating Den Interiors of Williamsburg, VA

Stainless still leads, but black stainless shows life: “Stainless steel, like white kitchen cabinetry, has been a key player in kitchen design since the late eighties,” Serra says. “That’s staying power, compared to many trends in kitchen design that have come and gone.” But traditional stainless isn’t the only finish catching the eye of remodelers. Ahearn says black stainless is popular with younger clients, and Serra reports that dark gray, black and charcoal stainless finishes have come on strong in the last few years. AHAM research shows that 67% of three-door bottom mount refrigerators shipped in 2018 were traditional stainless, and 19% had black stainless finishes. For side-by-side refrigerator models, 57% were traditional stainless and 7% were black stainless. Among dishwashers shipped last year, 51% were stainless and 9% black stainless.

So what’s to come? “I think stainless steel will morph,” Sollecito says. “It may get lighter, darker or warmer, but it’s here to stay. My clients prefer it, with their only concern being fingerprints and cleanability. Manufacturers seem to be addressing that issue with smudge- and fingerprint-resistant finishes.”

Paneling: While appliance finishes are an important contributor to a kitchen’s look, many homeowners opt to conceal their appliances with paneling. “The larger trend in kitchen design is a less utilitarian look and a more connected look to surrounding rooms,” Serra says. “Appliance panels allow small kitchens to have a visual flow, which helps to make the kitchen look a little more spacious and less usually busy. I’m seeing more appliance panels, particularly refrigerator panels, that have a highly personalized design – unique materials, colors and patterns. It’s a very exciting trend.” In very high-end kitchens, Ahearn’s clients tend to opt for fully integrated refrigerators, she says. “It will be paneled, flush with the cabinetry. You won’t see hinges, because they use articulating hinges. It’s a fully custom look.”

Susan Serra, Susan Serra Associates, Huntington, NY

Zoned refrigeration: Who has time to dig through the refrigerator for that special snack or drink? Zoned refrigeration, smaller refrigerators reserved for certain types of food or drinks, has been a trend for several years and will continue to be popular. “There is definitely a preference for zoned refrigeration in larger kitchens,” Sollecito says. “That is not new. What is new is that manufacturers are catering to that need more than ever with refrigerator drawers, columns, etc. in a variety of sizes.” The trend is breaking out of the kitchen, where many homeowners prefer it to store fresh produce as well as beverages, Serra says. Some are putting refrigerators into master bedrooms and family rooms, rental suites, or spa areas. “I see baby boomers being a market for adding this convenience in their home and the high-end consumer in general,” Serra says. “The middle-to-upper-end segment is also thinking of zoned refrigeration.”

Gloria Graham Sollecito, Artful Kitchens, West Palm Beach, FL

Beverage stations: Various types of beverages are getting the royal treatment during kitchen remodels. “People are incorporating coffee stations, and they are very serious about it,” Ahearn says. How they go about it depends on their budget. Higher-end designs might be plumbed or built-in with restaurant-grade espresso machines. The trend goes beyond coffee. “Smoothie stations are the new thing in beverage centers,” Sollecito says. “They incorporate under-counter refrigeration, prep sinks and perhaps a lift-up door to conceal the juicer.” And don’t forget wine. “Wine storage is huge,” Ahearn says. “In the high-end kitchens, they want to show off their wine collections. The beverage trend isn’t limited to high-end remodels. Ahearn reports dedicated beverage refrigerators being incorporated into mid-priced remodels as well.

Connected features are slowly showing up:  The designers we spoke with reported mixed levels of interest in connected kitchens. Ahearn sees some interest among her younger clients. “They want to be able to control their appliances from their smart phone,” Ahearn says. “Their refrigerator tells them what to buy. They want to be able to turn on the oven and set it to a certain temperature and time, or tell when the oven is on and they’re not home so they can turn it off.” Sollecito sees the most interest among Millennial homeowners, particularly in voice control and touch-free options.

Portable storage: You’ll want to incorporate into your new kitchen easy access to the portable appliances you use regularly, and the popularity of portable appliances like Instant Pot, Vitamix and air fryers makes portable-friendly design elements a must.  “A shallow pantry that sits on the countertop may be ‘home’ to several small appliances,” Serra says. “A separate tall cabinet just for small appliances and equipment in lower drawers can be a featured furniture design.” Sollecito always designates a cabinet for small appliances, or storage near the kitchen. “The mixer lift accessory is great for those heavy portable appliances,” Sollecito says.

AHAM’s Top 5 Posts of 2018

Let’s take a moment to revisit our most-read posts from 2018 while the year is still fresh in everyone’s mind. We covered a wide range of topics, from pet safety to counterfeit water filters. That variety is evident in our top posts of the year.

We are grateful to our readers – thank you for taking the time to click, read and share our content last year! Without further ado, here are your favorite pieces from 2018.

Is your water filter counterfeit? Keep your family safe – learn to spot the signs of counterfeit water filters.

Looking for fall allergy relief? Your humidifier or dehumidifier could help! Air cleaning products are more popular now than ever – learn how they can help ease allergy suffering year-round.

Cool Off with a Room Air Conditioner – Readers turned to AHAM’s expertise this summer for help with choosing the right air conditioner.

Tips to improve and maximize air cleaner performance – Make sure you’re getting the most from your air cleaner with these tips.

5 questions to ask before buying a used appliance – These key questions will make you an informed buyer.

All Mixed Up: 6 Facts about Stand Mixers

The stand mixer is a kitchen workhorse. While stand mixers are probably most commonly associated with baking and sweet treats, they are equally useful for kneading bread dough and whipping up a batch of mashed potatoes for dinner. Stand mixers are likely to dwell in cabinets when not in use, though a range of colorful finishes can also make them into an eye-catching design element in your kitchen.

Stand mixers have a long history that goes back more than a hundred years. The first stand mixer, which held 80 quarts, was developed for bakeries in the early 1900s. A smaller model for home kitchens was developed soon after.

Today, 43% of consumers report owning a stand mixer, according to AHAM research.

Whether you look to your stand mixer for baking, dinner or everything in between, take a look at these facts about stand mixers to see how your mixing habits and mixer stack up!

Desserts, out of the box: Stand mixer owners really like their cake and muffin mixes. In fact, 82% use their stand mixer to make those mixes at least once a month. They enjoy their brownie mixes too, with 60% reporting that they mix up a batch at least once a month.

Dinner (or lunch) is right behind: Mashed potatoes ranked right behind cake, muffin and brownie mixes among the most popular uses, with 53% of stand mixer owners saying they used their mixers to make mashed potatoes at least once a month.

They are used regularly: Stand mixers are used about four and a half times per month. Four percent of owners use them every day, and 31% use them at least once a week. They’re used for an average of 19 minutes at a time.

Mixers are multi-purpose appliances: A stand mixer isn’t just a mixer. Many models come with a variety of attachments that give the mixer various capabilities. Some of the more common include mixing beaters, dough hooks, whipping beaters, and smaller-sized beaters. Less common are meat grinder, juicer, pasta making and ice cream-making attachments.

They make users feel like pros: Nearly half (48%) of stand mixer users say the appliance makes them feel like a professional baker. More than half (62%) describe their stand mixer as a professional-style unit.

What’s your favorite recipe to prepare with your stand mixer? We want to try it, so share it in the comment section or with us @AHAM_voice on Twitter!

The Hidden Dangers of Counterfeit Water Filters

Online shopping makes it easier to run errands, saving us time and often money, too. As a savvy shopper, you know that a too-good-to-be-true price on a designer purse, shoes or sunglasses probably means it’s a fake; but did you know other unsuspecting household products you use daily could be counterfeits too?

Counterfeit water filters are rampant online, disguised as certified filters with trademark violations, fraudulent and misleading labels and importantly, alluring price tags. Here’s what you need to know so a potentially harmful counterfeit filter doesn’t end up in your online shopping cart — or home.

Water may look, smell or taste fine, but human senses cannot always detect microbial and organic contaminants lurking in the water that can seriously harm our health and wellbeing. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) conducted tests to find out how counterfeits stack up to certified filters.

Using the standard that certified filters are tested against for consumer safety, three independent labs performed tests to measure counterfeit filters’ efficacy at removing lead, cysts and other contaminants from water during the stated shelf life of six months. Additional testing sought to make sure contaminants weren’t being introduced into clean water. Here’s what the tests revealed:

Lead

Labels on counterfeit filters claim to reduce lead in water to meet the NSF/ANSI 53 standard. Of the filters tested, only two out of 18 filters successfully filtered out lead for the full six-month refrigerator life of the filter. In a separate test of 14 filters, eight filters failed before half of a typical lifetime in a refrigerator. Every single counterfeit filter failed to perform at twice the typical lifetime, which is a requirement since many consumers often forget to replace their filters or don’t have a ‘replace filter’ light on their fridge, resulting in use them well beyond the suggested six-month time frame.

Cysts

NSF/ANSI 53 standards require filters to reduce the presence of cysts (cryptosporidium parvum oocysts) by 99.95 percent. To allow for a margin of error, AHAM lowered the bar to a 90 percent for its test. Even with the lower standard, seven out of eight counterfeit filters failed to removed 90 percent of cysts, despite labels claiming they would. An eighth filter was removed from testing due to clogging.

Extraction Test

Per NSF/ANSI standards 42/53 4.1, filters should not introduce new contaminants above the allowable limit. The test checked for 159 different contaminants that can be found in water, such as volatile organic compounds, semi-volatile organics, other semi-volatile organics, regulated metals and nitrosamines.

After uncontaminated water sat in 46 counterfeits for three 24-hour periods, ten separate compounds were found over the total allowable concentration. In other words, the filters introduced these contaminants – elements such as arsenic, ethanol and octane — into clean sample water.  The chemicals are consistent with those leached by non-food grade plastics.

Don’t roll the dice when it comes to shopping for your family’s refrigerator filter. Only purchase filters sold by a refrigerator manufacturer that stands behind its products. For a complete list of trusted filters and more information about the report findings, visit FilterItOut.org.

Make food safety part of the plan during July 4th and summer celebrations

Your summer party guests will thank you for the tasty food, your hospitality and the great memories you have given them. They might not thank you for being meticulous about food safety, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Safety is a real concern with summer cooking, especially if you are doing your cooking, eating or serving outdoors. Cases of food poisoning, which affects about 48 million people in the U.S. each year, tend to peak in the summer.

Just like any holiday or get together, much of your cooking success during a July 4th or summer celebration is determined by how well you plan. Food safety should be part of that planning.

Food safety starts with your refrigerator and freezer. You can start by making sure they are in good working order. Freezers, particularly in hot, humid weather, can be prone to frost buildup, which can be a drag on performance. Fortunately, it is easy to prevent. Your refrigerator may have to work a bit harder to keep food cool in the summer, so make it as efficient as possible by keeping the coils free of dirt and dust and properly arranging the food inside. Keep your refrigerator between 37 and 40 degrees.

The temperature of foods is important from storing to cooking to serving. A digital thermometer is a valuable tool to ensure you are cooking foods thoroughly, regardless of whether you’re cooking with an indoor grill, cooktop, oven or outdoor grill.

The U.S. Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) suggests these safe cooking temperatures for popular summertime foods:

Ground meat: 160 degrees for beef, pork, veal and lamb, 165 for turkey and chicken.

Fresh beef, veal and lamb: 145 degrees. Allow to rest three minutes before serving.

Fish: 145 degrees or until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork.

Shrimp, lobster, crab: Cook until flesh is pearly and opaque

Clams, oysters, mussels: Cook until shells open

Both hot and cold foods can quickly creep into what the FSIS calls “the danger zone,” (between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit), when bacteria are most likely to grow. Keep hot foods above 140 until they’re ready to serve, and keep cold foods refrigerated until they’re ready to serve. Serve cold dishes on ice when possible. Don’t leave foods out for more than two hours. Are you serving food outside in hot weather? Cut that time to one hour, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends.

If you’re doing your summer party potluck style, keep track of who is bringing what so you can plan for safe storage and serving. Make sure there is enough space in your refrigerator so you can put the dishes in there when your guests arrive if you aren’t planning to cook or serve the dishes they bring immediately. Are you out of space? Keep a cooler of ice on hand with a digital thermometer to monitor the temperature. Store your drinks in a separate cooler to avoid opening it frequently and raising the temperature.

Don’t reuse the dishes you used to transport raw food outside to the grill. Put them in the dishwasher as soon as possible to avoid reusing them accidentally.

Whether you are cooking indoors or outdoors, paying careful attention to food safety while planning and celebrating will help you worry less and focus more on what’s important: giving your guests great summer memories.

Unfiltered: How a California man ended up with a counterfeit water filter


As the old cliché goes, you get what you pay for. Sometimes, you get even less.

It’s hard to pass up a good deal. But when you’re shopping for replacement refrigerator water filters, it’s important to buy from a reputable seller. Otherwise, you may wind up with something that, aside from its outward appearance, is anything but a filter.

That’s what happened to Shawn Neely, an Oakland, Calif. software developer, when it came time to replace his refrigerator water filter.  Neely, a self-described sophisticated consumer, generally shops online outlets like eBay in search of deals on filters. That worked well until August, when he noticed that the two replacement water filters he had purchased from an eBay seller looked a bit different.

“They were a lighter weight,” Neely said. “The molding of the plastic looked a little more translucent. Everything had slightly rounder edges.” There were stickers on the filter as well, which seemed to cover the brand name. He noticed differences in the packaging, too. “There were typographical errors and the fonts were different.” Neely noticed the differences because he had ordered the same type of filters before. He knew something was off.

“Everything sort of screamed to me that these were counterfeit,” Neely said. The seller was uncooperative at first, attributing the differences in packaging to high shipping volumes. Ultimately, the seller provided a refund. Neely sent the counterfeits to AHAM, who sent them to a lab for testing. The filters were tested to the certification protocol to which the original parts in Neely’s refrigerator were tested. The filters that Neely provided should have removed at least 92 percent of the lead from the test water. The counterfeits met the requirement initially but the amount of lead that was removed soon dropped dramatically, to an average of 73 percent over the course of the testing.

Neely was fortunate to notice the differences. Had he installed the counterfeits in his refrigerator, he likely would have ended up drinking unfiltered water, potentially exposing himself to harmful contaminants. The counterfeits could also have caused leaks or other damage to his refrigerator. Instead of using the filters, he contacted the seller to complain, and reached out to AHAM after coming across the website of the AHAM-led Filter It Out campaign.

“I didn’t realize at the time that counterfeit water filters were a thing,” Neely said. “I was alarmed to read about the filters cracking and leaking.”

“I learned a lesson,” Neely said. “Certainly, buyer beware. Be alert. They were much cheaper, probably half to a third of the price.” Neely says he’ll still look for deals online, but he’ll read reviews more closely. The seller he purchased the filters from had a solid overall rating, but a number of individual reviews that Neely noticed later raised some red flags. “If I had gone through the reviews more closely, I would have seen the complaints,” Neely said.

Have you purchased a water filter online that you believe may be counterfeit? Tell us your story. AHAM’s Filter It Out campaign is raising awareness of the serious problem of counterfeit water filters. Learn how you can find a trusted source.

Beat the dry winter air with a humidifier

If you need another reason to dislike winter, dry winter air is a good one. It can dry out your nasal passages, which can make it tougher to bounce back from a stuffy nose. The dry air can aggravate asthma symptoms and cause dry skin. Over time, it can also damage your wooden floors and furniture and hurt the health of your houseplants.

Clearly, if you can offset the dry air, you should. And a humidifier is your go-to appliance for balancing out the air in your home as you count the days until spring. If you are shopping for a humidifier, there are a few things to consider while you’re making your choice. We spoke with Lynne Hammell, marketing director at AHAM member Kaz, which manufacturers Vicks and Honeywell brand humidifiers, for guidance.

Size of the room

If you have an idea of where you’re going to primarily use your humidifier, it’s important to know the size of your room. If you buy a humidifier that’s too large for the space, you’ll not only make the room uncomfortably humid, but also create an environment favorable to mold and mildew. Too small, and your humidifier won’t be able to adequately humidify the space. Humidifiers designed for larger spaces will have larger water tanks.

Check the labeling of the humidifier, which should have information about how big a space the model is made for. Know the square footage of your room and choose the model that’s appropriate for the space.

Warm vs. cool

Appliance manufacturers produce humidifiers that can put out either warm or cool humidity. Your choice is largely a matter of personal preference, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using a cool-mist humidifier for children who are suffering from colds and the flu. However, both warm and cool-mist humidifiers will increase the humidity in your home.

Filter or no filter?

Filtered and filter-free humidifiers will both humidify the air. A filtered model will remove minerals from water before the water is put into the air. However, the filter will need to be changed regularly, possibly every 1-2 months.

Filter-free models, obviously, don’t require changing filters. But, you may notice an accumulation of minerals, possibly as a fine white dust, on the outside of a filter-free humidifier. However, some models come with demineralization cartridges, which need to be replaced periodically.

You’ll probably also notice a difference in the way filtered and filter-free humidifiers put moisture into the air. Filtered models are evaporative and use a fan to put humidified air into the room. Filter-free models put a visible mist directly into the air.

Maintenance and care

All humidifiers, whether warm or cool, filtered or filter-free, require regular cleaning and maintenance. Before you buy, take a look at the models you’re considering and think about how easy they might be to clean. Do they have detachable parts that can be placed in a dishwasher? Are there narrow openings that might be difficult to clean? You’ll need to wipe down the inside of the tank regularly, so make sure the humidifier you choose has an opening large enough to reach inside. Keep

The cleaning process will vary depending on the model, but in general, it’s a two-step process that involves descaling and disinfecting. Descaling breaks down any minerals that may have accumulated on the humidifier. Disinfecting will kill any germs that have built up. You’ll need bleach for disinfecting, vinegar for descaling, plus a cloth or brush. Follow the cleaning instructions in your humidifier’s use and care manual.

Keeping the humidifier clean is even more important if you’re using it to ease a cold, allergies or asthma, as a dirty dehumidifier can put contaminants back into the air.

It’s a humidifier, not a diffuser

People sometimes confuse humidifiers with essential oil diffusers. Never put anything but water into a humidifier. Oils or other substances can damage the humidifier’s tank and mechanical parts. Diffusers, which tend to be much smaller than humidifiers, and are designed to accommodate oils.

Color accents, more ovens and sleek finishes: Designers talk 2018 appliance trends

If you’re redesigning your kitchen, take time to think through what you’re looking for and the styles and finishes that appeal most to you. Your decisions will impact your living space for years to come.

Though trends come and go, it’s likely they’ll have an influence on your choices in appliance style and finish. And since you’re going to live with your kitchen and its appliances for several years, it helps to look down the line to think about not just what’s hot now, but what elements of your kitchen design and appliances have worked well for you, and what you’ll be happy with in the long term.

Those planning a redesign or remodel of a kitchen or those likely to purchase new appliances this year will want to read this. We spoke with three designers to get their predictions on the kitchen appliance trends that will dominate in 2018. Here’s what they had to say.

Alana Busse, Alana Busse Design, Simi Valley, California

Variety in finishes: Want to add some color to your kitchen? While stainless steel appliances remain popular, the days of having white, black or stainless as your only choices are in the past. “Now’s really an exciting time, because you’re seeing all these colors, Busse says. “Now, we’re seeing some new stuff. We’re seeing black stainless, and orange and red colors in ranges. Gold and blue are really big this year. Everyone wants their cabinets plain, and the appliances are kind of the bling, the showpiece. Nobody walks in and says ‘nice cabinets.’ They say ‘That range is amazing.’”

Wine chillers: People who are remodeling tend to enjoy their wine, but some more than others. Busse estimates about 70 percent of her clients who are remodeling their kitchens install some sort of wine refrigerator, often an under-cabinet model. “It’s normally about 24 inches wide, 24 inches deep,” Busse says. “It has the dual zones.” The client’s love of wine plays into the size of their wine chiller. Those that have the space and know their wine might install a full-sized wine chiller that’s about the same size as a regular refrigerator, Busse says.

Under-counter ice: Just like their wine, remodelers are also looking to keep their other drinks cold by having ice ready to go. They’re looking for under-cabinet ice makers and showing a preference for bar ice, Busse says. “Or, they’ll want pellet ice,” she says. “Some really like that if they’re going to do frozen drinks.”

Flat fridges: Homeowners are showing a preference for integrated refrigerators, Busse says. “When they’re closed, they’re really flat and in line with the cabinetry,” she says. “We see people buying stainless or paneling the refrigerator.” If a client goes for a black stainless refrigerator, they tend to get all their appliances in black stainless.

Steam ovens: Multiple ovens are generally part of a remodel plan, and steam ovens are popular requestes. “Everyone wants a steam oven,” Busse says. “Every client swears their food tastes better than ever before, from making meat and vegetables to reheating pizza.” Two ovens plus a microwave/convection oven are a regular part of remodeling plans. “If we can fit it, sometimes even a warming drawer.”

Loretta Willis, Loretta’s Interior Design, Atlanta

A personal touch: Willis encourages clients to add a design element that personalizes their kitchen, and that could be an appliance. “Featuring an appliance is a good way to personalize the kitchen,” she says. “That’s your color, you’re proud of it. If it’s offered in an appliance, go for it. A good designer can work that into the space.”

More burners, more ovens: Consumers want to be ready for any kind of cooking or entertaining situation, and they’re designing their kitchens with that in mind, Willis says. “Buy the largest cooktop your space can accommodate,” Willis says. “Five to six burners is ideal.” Second ovens are also popular, regardless of whether the homeowner is a serious cook. “Even if it’s not an everyday need for the homeowner, it’s a great resale feature,” Willis says. Induction is also gaining popularity as consumers look to shorten the time they spend cooking.

Commercial goes residential: Recent trends have residential kitchens incorporating elements that used to be the domain of commercial kitchens, Willis says. “Basically, you need two ovens. If you entertain, you want a warming drawer and at least two ovens. Maybe one can be a combination microwave/convection steam unit. Your stove top might not just be a cooktop, it could also be a grill. Many homeowners are also incorporating coffee stations.

Cool cooling: Homeowners are looking for additional cooling appliances beyond the traditional refrigerator and freezer. Kitchens, Willis says, are being designed in “zones.” “If you have kids, they might have their own zone—a pull-out refrigerator for water, soft drinks, or yogurt. I think you’ll need an entertainment zone, where you’ll have space for the wine chiller and beverages. It could be a second area for the overflow that maybe your refrigerator can’t accommodate.

Easy access to portables: Do you have a portable appliance that you can’t live without? Homeowners are building in coffee stations and keeping other portable appliances in mind during the design process, Willis says. “I love the look of a kitchen zone that’s just for a breakfast bar with built-in coffee appliances,” she says. “Then, I’m seeing the appliances you don’t use as often—the heavy mixers, the food processors—can actually be stored in the lower cabinet with a lift, a spring-loaded action on the shelving to bring it to counter height. “

Technology: Expect charging stations to become a regular feature of new kitchens. And while consumers are interested in smart technology, it will also require them to incorporate new habits to take advantage of the new features.

Toni Sabatino, Toni Sabatino Style, New York

Jewel tones, black stainless, and matte black: “The design industry will follow the fashion industry and we’ll see more jewel tones,” Sabatino says. “Ranges, in particular, you’ll see some statement colors emerging. Over the past year, we’ve seen things like turquoise. Color in a range is definitely going to happen.” Expect to see more black and black stainless in other appliances. “Stainless has been the go-to for sort of an authentic restaurant vibe,” Sabatino says. “Black stainless seems to offer practicality from a fingerprint standpoint, while playing off the black matte trend.” Color will also show up in other appliances. “I see more copper and brass warm tones for statement range hoods,” Sabatino says. “I find that either the cooking appliances make an impactful statement or not. They’re either understated or standouts.”

Garden City, NY: January 23, 2018— A kitchen redesign by Toni Sabatino Style. © Audrey C. Tiernan

Kitchens gaining steam: Multiple ovens will become standard in kitchens, and steam ovens are here to stay. Steam ovens tend to be popular with health-conscious consumers, Sabatino says. “A steam oven has that sous vide quality. When you reheat something, it doesn’t feel like a leftover. It gives a renewed freshness.”

Modularity throughout the kitchen: We’ll see more modularity in refrigeration and perhaps in cooking, Sabatino says. That means column refrigeration, undercounter refrigeration, and refrigerators with convertible sections that can switch between freezers, fresh food storage and wine. “We’re allowing options because more people are opting for fresh food as opposed to canned, frozen or boxed.”

Connectivity: Sabatino sees usefulness in connected appliances that can send signals and update appliances. Adoption may increase as new generations seek to remodel their homes. “I think that as the consumers who have grown up with connectivity become a larger part of the homebuying market, that segment is bound to increase.”

Portable storage: People want easy access to their portable appliances, but don’t necessarily want them in full view all the time, Sabatino says. “One of my favorite solutions is the pocket-door tall cabinet, where you have power and the doors aren’t impeding use. You see more sliding or slotting doors in the urban environments.”

Connected appliances make their mark at CES 2018

It wasn’t so long ago connected and smart appliance features might have been considered novelties. Based on the appliances on display at CES 2018, connected and smart features have now evolved from concepts with potential to real solutions that, someday, consumers may not be able to imagine living without.

And despite the impressive evolution, there’s still the sense that manufacturers are just getting started.

Appliances shown at CES 2018 included products already on the market and those in development or near release. The innovations weren’t limited to major appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers and ranges. They’re also making an impact in portable appliances. Newer ideas, like robotic air cleaners that can sense the air quality in different rooms and go where they’re most needed, were also drawing attention. These air cleaners, exhibited as prototypes, can also follow preprogrammed patterns or be controlled manually.

Manufacturers touted the potential for connected appliances to improve household health and safety. This air purifier works with a smoke detector to turn on automatically when smoke is detected. It was shown as part of one of a number of complete smart home concepts, which exhibited both individual appliance features and ways in which the appliances can work together to provide additional benefits.

This electric toothbrush works with mobile devices to track brushing and uses sensors to monitor the user’s pressure and motion, signaling the user if they need to correct their technique or spend more time on a certain part of their mouth. It’s another example of connectivity’s potential to strengthen the contributions of appliances to a healthy lifestyle.

Connected features are also giving appliances a more personal touch. Manufacturers highlighted ranges and refrigerators working together to improve the cooking process through recipe generation and automated cooking functions. Some features also allowed personalization of dietary habits and goals. A connected refrigerator could take those dietary needs into account when it suggests a recipe.

So what’s next? Manufacturers continue to add features aimed at giving consumers more of their own time back. If you hate folding laundry, you might be interested in this laundry-folding robot, which could be the first of its kind.

What appliance innovation would make your life easier? Tell us in the comments below.

Read more CES 2018 coverage from AHAM.

CES 2018: Connected and smart features evolve

Just a few years ago, the concept of a “smart” or “connected” appliance might have meant some aspect of the appliance incorporated connectivity, or that the appliance could be monitored or controlled through a mobile device. Based on the appliances on display at CES 2018, it’s clear that smart and connected appliances are evolving quickly, and the capabilities of appliances are growing. The new features are removing layers from household chores like laundry, dishes and cooking, and appliances are gaining more of an ability to adapt to users’ habits and fit more seamlessly into their day-to-day lives.

Voice control, one of the standout features at last year’s CES, was again a mainstay in major appliances at CES 2018. Many are compatible with off-the-shelf virtual digital assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Some are even incorporating AI to learn your habits so they’re ready with the features you need. Laundry appliances can learn how you tend to wash your clothes and choose the most appropriate cycle, based on what you tell them and what you’ve done in the past. Connected features also allow you to keep a closer eye on your appliances’ performance.

The new wave of appliances accepts voice commands, but the appliances also “talk” to each other. Several manufacturers were showing ranges that work with refrigerators, with refrigerators suggesting recipes based on what’s available, and sending the oven temperature and preheating instructions to the range.

Functions that were once manual are now becoming automatic. This range hood  turns on automatically when it senses steam. You may have noticed it looks more like a monitor than a range hood. It’s another example of the multi-function features that continue to emerge as smart and connected appliances evolve. Using the screen, consumers can access other appliance controls and make video calls.

Connected and smart features also have the potential to build a stronger bond between appliances and health. This refrigerator works with an app to collect information about what you’ve eaten, the calories consumed, and your exercise patterns. It uses both to make suggestions based on available foods. Once you’ve made your selection, cooking instructions are sent directly to the range.

Refrigerators are also gaining the ability to assist with the shopping process. This model works with Amazon dash, so you can quickly re-order items when supplies are running low.

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