What’s gotten into consumers these days? While neutral color schemes dominate kitchen décor, 60 percent of the hundreds of design professionals interviewed by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) said they’ve recently created kitchens featuring two different colors. Homeowners, they say, are becoming more comfortable with bold colors, contrasting textures, and unconventional lighting solutions. Why? These designers are pointing to the popularity of the home renovation Web site Houzz.com with inspiring consumers to break out of their comfort zone and try new things.  This departure from “safe” (i.e. boring) aesthetics also marks a new age in kitchen renovation: designing for the residents’ individuality versus resale.

This daring attitude has been noticed by lighting manufacturers for the past two years as installing a series of pendants began to replace the standard kitchen island fixture. For years, lighting professionals have tried to convince homeowners to expand their kitchen lighting choices beyond the recessed fixtures installed by the builder — and finally they are paying attention. Thanks to the guidance of forward-thinking interior designers, home improvement programs/channels on TV, shelter magazines, and Web sites such as Houzz, consumers are more comfortable with expressing themselves decoratively.

At the recent Lightovation show in Dallas, manufacturers tapped into the idea of large fixtures and lanterns being hung in a series over kitchen islands. The same idea is also being applied to dining rooms, with the era of one large fixture over the dining room table giving way to the possibility of hanging two smaller fixtures instead.

This is not to say that the more conservative and traditional homeowner has gone away. They are still there, and depending on where your showroom is located, they may be your best customer for a long time yet. However, times and perspectives are changing. Take a cue from the décor trends presented in this issue to see how manufacturers are accommodating this new mindset. Within your own showroom, be sure to implement some of these unconventional looks as vignettes to help inspire consumers seeking something unique for their homes. 

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