Every summer at the Southeast Builders Conference in Orlando, architects, builders and designers get together to trade ideas, spot trends and talk about what's coming up. Here are some products and ideas from this year's session that you'll be seeing in the marketplace soon.
7 kitchen trends:
+ Fireplaces in the kitchen.
+ Round kitchens.
+ Laminate or solid-surface kitchen counters with tile edges.
+ The homey, rugged, rustic look: Distressed, flyspecked and weathered woods that look as if they've been around for a while. Faded-looking colored wood. Prepare yourself for the return of knotty pine.
+ Oven "towers": two ovens set into the wall, one atop the other, at heights that eliminate lots of bending. Often one is a convection/microwave combination, the other a conventional oven.
_ The built-in look for refrigerators. They're 24 inches deep so they don't protrude six inches beyond the countertop. They're likely paneled to match the cabinetry.
+ Custom range hoods: stainless steel, copper, brass.
History of the kitchen cabinet
1970s through early '80s: Plastic laminate surfaces.
Mid-'80s: Eurostyle. Almond cabinets with oak pulls and butcher-block tops.
The early '90s: Mauve and gray, peach and teal. White "has been here, it's going to stay, but it's not the trend of the future," says Vesta Merenda of Innovative Design Consultants in Sarasota.
What's coming: Light woods _ maple and ash, lots of pickled looks, moving to more medium tones. Farther around the bend: cherry, dark hickory.
"A positive or negative buyer decision is made within 20 seconds of walking in the door."
_ Quincy Johnson, architect
Look for . . .
+ The growing importance of wood floors in Florida homes.
+ In dining rooms, patterned tile floors instead of area rugs.
+ More emphasis on the breakfast room, where we eat most of our meals.
+ Smaller tubs and bigger showers with multiple sprays ("human dishwashers," Winter Park interior designer Betsy Godfrey calls them).
+ Built-in or recessed media centers.
+ Multiple TV monitors for the news- or sports-crazed.
+ Lower ceiling heights "to humanize the space," Godfrey says.
+ Room for the grandchildren _ and pets, the equivalent of kids for empty nesters, says Orlando architect Don Evans.
Word of the week
HAZING: No, not making life miserable for the new kid. It's a finishing technique that involves brushing white paint or stain over a wood finish, then wiping it off to leave behind a faint dusty trace. It's supposed to make the furniture look old and weathered. You'll pay about 15 percent more for this finish, which is also known as liming. Also available: a coffee haze, which leaves a brown trace. You'll find this on kitchen cabinets as well as furniture.
Room with a viewpoint
Builders are always giving extravagant names to the spaces in their homes: the good-morning room. The grand room. The ale bar.
We're going to name a room here today: The Sam's Club room. Credit goes to Elaine Farrington of People's Gas.
And what is this room? It's the storage room builders have finally figured out how to incorporate in their homes. At long last, a place for all our stuff: the bulk purchases from the discount club (hence the name). Suitcases. Computer boxes. Christmas decorations. Winter clothes. All the things that would go in the basement or the attic if we lived in parts of the country where the homes had those spaces.
One good example: Hannah-Bartoletta's Oxford II model at the Bayou Club in Pinellas. On the first floor, there's a storage room _ 6 feet 5 inches by 10 feet 6 inches _ between the garage and the kitchen that could be the world's greatest pantry, or a wine cellar. On the second floor, a 9-by-13-foot room that houses the air handler and an optional water heater offers more storage space. (And don't miss the storage space under the stairs.)
More good storage: the wall of pantry cupboards and closets in Ryland Homes' St. Charles model in the new village of Copperleaf, also at the Bayou Club. That's on Belcher Road between Park Boulevard and Bryan Dairy Road in mid-Pinellas.
"Follow the logic of practicality," Boca Raton architect Quincy Johnson urged his audience earlier this month at the Southeast Builders Conference in Orlando. "Empty nesters and retirees want storage."
So do the rest of us.
GLAMOUR GRILL: Vermont Castings produces a stylish line of bright-colored porcelain-enameled wood- and gas-burning stoves for the inside of your home. Now they're offering a similar gas barbecue for deck or patio with a 30,000-BTU burner. It has glass shelves and a three-position rotisserie. Heat dispersal plate is molded to resemble charcoal. It's $1,199 at A Plus Fireplaces and Supplies in Port Richey, (800) 282-1117.
DOOR SECURITY: Steel blades at the top and side of doors slide into strike plates in the MacLock 2500 Blade Locking System. This replaces a deadbolt's single stress point with more than60 inches of steel-to-steel surface contact between door and frame that is designed to make it harder for intruders to kick in a door. The system _ for prehung doors only _ also minimizes warpage and improves weather seals. Price: About $300. This will be available through Teepee Doors in Ocoee, (407) 877-3322.
IT JUST LOOKS WRIGHT: Wood door imported from Sweden would win the approval of Frank Lloyd Wright. It's about $255 (without handle and lockset) from Adoorable Inc. (part of Helmet House Corp.) in Vero Beach, phone (561) 562-0866.
BEST OF BOTH: Here's a new alternative for countertops from Wilsonart International. This "solid-surface veneer" is an acrylic product [-inch thick that is applied to a substrate (such as plywood or particleboard) the same way laminate countertops are installed. It offers the look of expensive, thicker solid-surface materials at a cost 30 to 45 percent less than conventional solid surfacing, the manufacturer estimates. (That puts it in the area of $35 a linear square foot.) It comes in 12 designs (eight patterns, four solids) and can be used with many custom edge treatments. Scratches can be buffed out and seams are inconspicuous, the manufacturer says. For a brochure, call (800) 433-3222.
DYNAMIC DUO: Bendix is introducing its Soft Line front-loading washer-dryer combination into the Florida market. It requires no dryer vent to the outside. The manufacturer says it uses 60 percent less water than top-loaders, as well as less detergent and bleach, and claims it is gentler on clothes. It dries clothes by blowing hot air on them at high speed. A condenser collects the steam that forms and disperses it down the drain. There are many other brands in the front-loading washer market, but Bendix is apparently the only manufacturer of the washer-dryer combination, which is aimed at the condo, apartment and boat market. Cost: about $1,295. More information: Gulf Central Corp., (800) 282-3892 in Tampa.
Colored tile creates a ruglike pattern in the dining room floor at the "Palm Beach" model by Arthur Rutenberg/Custom Craft Homes at Villa Rosa in northwestern Hillsborough County. Specialty tile work such as this replaces area rugs.
This "Mesa" door style in bleached white, by Canac, looks as though it was weathered by the wind and desert sands. Rugged, rustic looks like this are popular, designers say.