Contemporary style, technology are trends for 2015

Vicki Payne
The Charlotte Observer

I was one of more than 125,000 housing industry professionals who packed the Design & Construction Week shows in Las Vegas last month. I logged more miles than I care to recall during my four-day marathon. Still, I only managed to tour the Las Vegas Furniture Show, the National Association of Home Builders’ Show, and the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show.

The mega event also included the International Window Coverings Expo and the International Surface Event.

The big takeaway? The economy is in recovery — at least in the building and housing industries. The shows were packed, energy was electrifying and spirits were up.

Among the big trends: Contemporary styling and high-tech “smart” homes dominated each show.

It seems we want to control everything — from garage doors to energy systems — from anywhere in the world using smartphones. Thermostats that know whether you’re home or not and can adjust their settings accordingly are one of the features that Lennox displayed. Trane’s new heating and cooling systems constantly monitor interior temperatures to within one degree and adjust their operating capacity accordingly.

Imagine being able to lock and unlock your home, let in a repairman and watch him while he works. You would know when the system has been repaired, and you could lock up once the technician leaves. It’s all possible with today’s new “smart house” technology. These systems can be affordable and retrofitted to existing homes.

Contemporary design was everywhere. I’ve been watching this trend grow over the past three years. It started with home furnishings, and now the look is dominating the design and construction industries.

Clopay displayed the most innovative new garage doors I have seen in decades. The company’s stylish contemporary designs feature glass fronts as well as stainless steel and wood combinations. Clopay also showcased a sleek black door with a special paint formulated to stay cool in direct sun.

Interior and exterior doors are going taller, wider and more contemporary. Therma-Tru displayed 8-foot entry doors with an expanded glass selection that includes modern leaded glass and textured glass inserts with moldings and bold color options. Glass door walls that fold back for access to outdoor spaces were back again this year.

Kitchens and bathrooms are the bling of the home, and this year’s styles were sleek, minimalist and shiny. Glass was the overwhelming cabinet door material in this year’s kitchen displays. You might imagine transparent glass doors, but these were designed with solid colors and metallic backing. The doors had little or no hardware, and many opened and closed with just a touch.

Poggenpohl’s newest kitchen collection, designed by Porsche Design Studio, featured black cabinetry and a clear glass divider similar to an automobile’s windshield. The divider separates the cooking surface from the dining area without visually breaking up the space.

Wall-mounted cabinetry was the leading design trend for the bathroom. Kohler continues to expand its tub collection, introducing smaller sizes and free-standing designs with jet action. Ann Sacks introduced gold- and silver-leafed tile collections that add Moroccan-inspired glam to wall surfaces. Texture and color played a huge role in wall coverings.

It was an inspiring week in Vegas. If the crowds and creative materials are any indication of what’s ahead in building and renovation, it should be an exciting year for consumers.

Designer and home improvement expert Vicki Payne is host and producer of “For Your Home,” available on PBS, Create TV and in national and international syndication. Reach her at