PodcastBuilding ProductsConsumer and Home Design Trends

The Invisible Kitchen: Whirlpool’s Consumer Trends before and after COVID-19

Dean Wehrli
Shelly Chen

Dean Wehrli

Shelly Chen

December 3, 2020

The kitchen is widely seen as the heart of a home. It is the place where families begin and end their days together and where hosts entertain their guests. If you want to know more about how this critical space is evolving, you need to listen to our latest podcast where Dan Clements and Jessica McConnell of Whirlpool joined us at our recent New Home Trends Institute Design Summit. Continue reading below to see some of their key insights. And since we recorded this prior to the pandemic, stay tuned for the post-COVID follow-up with Dan which begins around the 22 minute mark.

Featured guest

Dan Clements, Senior Director of Experience Design, Whirlpool

Jessica McConnell, Senior Manager, Color, Material & Finish Design, Whirlpool

The Invisible Kitchen

  • Open floor plans are not going anywhere, but they can create a sense of clutter and feeling of being overwhelmed. Homeowners increasingly seek a calmer lifestyle in their lives, in their homes, and in their kitchen.
  • Through the use of colors and design, kitchen appliances are now seamless and integrated; the kitchen is now “invisible” as appliances blend into the background. Whirlpool’s Black Stainless and Sunset Bronze lines pull in warm, wood tones and champagne hues, creating a harmonious look with the cabinets.

Color Trends

  • Attention is shifting from an appliance’s exterior to its interior. Colors are now designed to make food look more delicious. One example of this is a matte black color used in a refrigerator’s interior that makes what’s inside pop, inspired by jewelry boxes.
  • Bright hues are in style as people look to create personalized spaces—though with COVID colors may be shifting to more muted tones.
  • Green has grown. The color embodies vitality, energy, health, and wellness.

A Look into Their Crystal Ball

  • The presence of technology in appliances will become more muted. There is a “black-screen backlash” as that familiar shiny black glass look is now seen as distracting. Technology will remain, but its role will be more “behind the scenes” and predictive technology will become more advanced. Technology will be the “invisible butler” working in the “invisible kitchen.”
  • Panel-ready appliances will become more common. The trend has long been in the luxury space and will eventually make its way into mainstream design. This feature is especially helpful in smaller kitchens.
  • Refrigerators will shrink in size as the use of food delivery services increases and the need for high capacity appliances decreases. (And, no, COVID will not greatly impact this since refrigerators are about as big as they can get, though many of us will have more of them.)

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

  • There are a lot of cooks that go into making our kitchens. The various business lines in the home design industry need to work together more to deliver to the consumer what they really want, which is a cohesive home.

Post-Pandemic Trends

  • The comfort and functionality of the home has become even more significant. Homes serve both physical and emotional needs.
  • Homeowners are investing more in accent pieces and other customizations.
  • Color trends have shifted from bright hues to more soothing tones, which are comforting, inviting, and relaxing.

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About The Author

Dean Wehrli
Dean Wehrli
Dean helps housing sector clients figure out not just what might work and what might not, but why.
Shelly Chen
Shelly Chen
Research Analyst II, For-Sale
Shelly is responsible for working on various research projects as it relates to residential for-sale, including supporting our Burns Home Builder Analysis and Forecast report.

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