Handyman: Kitchen, bath remodeling have evolved

Glenn Haege
Special to The Detroit News

Kitchen and bathroom remodeling is so popular the industry has its own national event, the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show. And each time I attend, I wonder if most homeowners are buying these types of showcase products.

Jill Johnson, manager of the KSI showroom in Ann Arbor, (734) 388-4691,, said typically items at these types of shows take a few years to become popular in our area, if at all.

“Most of our customers have a more conservative style for their kitchen, so a lot of the things you see at the Kitchen and Bath show aren’t in demand here,” Johnson said.

Her counterpart, Brooke Schall, a designer at KSI Kitchen and Bath in Macomb Township, (586) 789-9421 agrees that trendy isn’t necessarily the focus for her customers in Macomb County.

“People watch HGTV and see all this new technology, but we aren’t seeing a demand for that yet,” Schall said.

One area that customers seem to be interested in for bath remodeling is custom showers.

“Most of them are updating homes built in the ’80s and ’90s that had a traditional tub and shower, which they don’t want today,” Schall said. “Instead, they want a large walk-in shower and even want more than one shower head. I had one customer tell me he wanted a shower like a car wash with body sprays all around him.”

Johnson said seated showers with hand-held shower heads are also popular, and Delta ( makes a dual-function two-in-one shower head that features both an integrated shower head and hand shower that can be used separately or together.

Kristen Andrews, corporate showroom manager for Infusion Kitchen and Bath, (248) 624-6905,, said technology is becoming more popular in the toilet category.

“We are starting to see more interest in intelligent toilets like Kohler’s Numi with an integrated bidet, especially among older people who want to remain self-sufficient,” Andrews said.

Andrews said her most popular bathroom product is the Choreograph collection from Kohler, ( a shower wall system made from composite material that is easy to install and resembles tile, granite or marble without the grout lines that are hard to keep clean.

In the kitchen, Andrews said Kohler touchless faucets are a hot item, especially among people who cook and want to be able to turn the water on without touching it so they don’t spread bacteria from uncooked food.

Updating the cabinets is a big part of any kitchen remodel, and KSI’s Schall said people are replacing their old oak cabinets with white, gray or true brown colored cabinets.

Johnson agreed that white is the most popular color choice at her Ann Arbor showroom, and the style is transitional with cabinets that are usually plain with solid flat wood doors. “I have a white kitchen display in our showroom and customers immediately go to it when they walk in,” Johnson said. “The white or gray flat finishes on cabinets really is a classy look and very popular.”

The lighter white or gray colors are also popular with countertops, but granite is no longer the favorite. Johnson said five years ago, it was 70 percent granite countertops and 30 percent quartz, but today that has reversed. Both Schall and Johnson said the biggest reason for the transition to quartz is the wider variety of color options and that quartz is much easier to maintain than granite. Infusion’s Andrews agreed that quartz is her most popular countertop item, and the nonporous aspect also makes it more sanitary for people who cook.

While surfing the internet and looking at all the pretty pictures are fun, it’s especially important to visit a physical showroom and talk face to face with experts whenever you are planning an update to your home’s kitchen and bathrooms.

For more home improvement advice, call “The Handyman Show With Glenn Haege” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to noon Sunday. “The Handyman Show” can also be heard on more than 135 radio stations nationwide.