Top trends from the Architectural Digest show

Dan DiClerico
March 25, 2014

The Architectural Digest Home Design Show, which took place March 20-23 at Pier 94 in New York City, isn't like other trade shows. There are more five-figure espresso machines, more examples of Lucite décor, and more snippets of Italian overheard as you meander through the maze of booths and displays. But despite the rarified air, there are plenty of trends that are likely to find their way into mainstream design. Here are five to watch from the editors and market analysts at Consumer Reports.

Colorful finishes. High-end appliances have been available in colored finishes for years, but the trend seems to be gaining traction. The Italian manufacturer Bertazzoni told us that 10 percent of its ranges are now sold in one of its bold hues, including the featured Arancios. BlueStar appliances also had a very vibrant booth, centered on a 48-inch gas range in Radiant Orchid, Pantone’s 2014 Color of the Year. It’s one of 750 colors now offered by the Pennsylvania-based manufacturer. And we liked Miele’s latest hue, Truffle Brown, which was displayed on several wall ovens.

View photos

Compact appliances. Since the show skews toward an urban market with often-limited kitchen space, the latest compact appliances were on full display. For example, brands such as Liebherr, Miele, Sub-Zero, and Viking offered a variety of column refrigerators, freezers, and wine chillers in 18, 24, 30, and 36-inch widths. These streamlined appliances can be mixed and matched or installed alone, providing incredible design flexibility. We also saw a lot of 24-inch-wide steam ovens—perhaps the hottest cooking appliance of 2014. More designers are installing these compact speed cookers next to a 24-inch-wide coffee center, creating a horizontal run of appliances that’s well-suited to galley-style kitchens.

Simplified designs. “The pot filler is dead,” declared the architect Erica Broberg, during the New York Times-hosted seminar Kitchens & Baths Transformed. Though the statement got some gasps and pushback from pro pot fillers in the crowd, we’re clearly seeing a simplification of design elements in the kitchen and the bath. This was evident in the exceedingly clean lines on many appliances, including a Jenn-Air dishwasher with an integrated panel that included a faux-cabinet drawer, making it disappear completely.  

View photos

Wide planks, weathered finishes. Wood floors continue to migrate throughout the home, even to kitchens, where they give interiors a unified look. As the trend continues, plank preference seems to be getting wider. We saw many beautiful wide-plank specimens, including a variety of 7-inch boards from Manhattan Forest Products ranging from antique pine to golden oak. If you prefer an engineered product, consider one of the wide-plank offerings from Pianeta Legno Floors US.

Hand-scrapped flooring and distressed finishes are also still popular, adding warmth and a sense of casualness to a room. Plus dings tend to blend in and seem like they’re part of the look, a plus for families with young children or pets. Ligne Roset furniture was displayed in a room setting featuring weathered wood walls. One caveat—a little of this look goes a long way, even if you live in a beach house.

Still more shades of gray. Though appliances are taking on bold hues, the surrounding décor is staying very neutral. We saw myriad shades of gray and gray/beige (also called greige), including kitchen cabinets from Rutt Handcrafted Cabinets and rugs from Nourison and Nasiri. Gray and greige stone floors and countertops are also in fashion, as are wood walls with a warm, driftwood finish. Even the inside of a refrigerator prototype, by Viking, had a gray finish.

—Consumer Reports

More from Consumer Reports:
Low cost alternatives to high end appliances
5 signs the house you want to buy is a money pit
Washer and dryer features that save loads of money

Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers or sponsors on this website. Copyright © 2006-2014 Consumers Union of U.S.