While high-tech features and new long-lasting materials continue to transform ocean home kitchens and baths into ever more efficient and nuanced spaces, there is another exciting movement afoot: balancing the convenience of technology and brilliant finishes with the allure of nature.

Leading coastal architects, interior designers and home product innovators are creating beautiful interiors that now flow naturally to their breezy outdoor settings, dramatically blurring the line between inside and out and delivering an entirely new family living experience.

Other designers are using more organic color palettes of blues and greens to suggest nature’s subtle tones and textures, along with modern metallic accents for that much-desired pop of visual interest.

Here, 12 industry experts predict the hot new trends and what’s in store for oceanfront kitchens and baths in 2017 and beyond.



A Window of Opportunity

What do windows have to do with kitchens, you ask? At NanaWall, an award-winning leader in bi-fold doors and operable glass wall systems, windows provide the link – and often erase the boundaries – between indoor kitchens and outdoor living spaces. “We’re seeing homeowners reinvent the heart of the home by creating an open floor plan that flows naturally into the outdoor dining area for social gatherings,” says Matt Thomas,?the firm’s marketing manager. “This not only brings in fresh air and ventilation while cooking, but helps to blur the line between inside and outside to provide the ultimate in entertaining spaces.” Thomas says coastal homes are often located in beautiful yet hurricane- prone regions, which used to require protective shutters. “Now, more homeowners are using aluminum-framed and hurricane-approved folding glass wall systems, specifically designed and engineered to perform in harsh climates,” he says. “This way, homeowners can create spacious and comfortable indoor/outdoor kitchen settings for everyday use and entertaining without worrying about their safety.” nanawall.com


Top New England architect Patrick Ahearn is also extending kitchens – and the room’s natural way of drawing people – with separate spaces that are chic and warmly welcoming. In one of Ahearn’s recent designs, a beautiful kitchen has what he calls a “resting area” that allows the cook to be social with guests. The trend, he says, is making kitchens even more “the nucleus of the house,” especially when located close to the home’s outdoor living spaces. Ahearn, who has offices in Boston and Martha’s Vineyard, is also taking full advantage of the latest high-tech appliances, such as steam ovens and fridges with one-inch size gradations for a perfect fit. As Ahearn says, “These trends are changing how we view the coastal kitchen.” patrickahearn.com


Featuring deep blue and green hues in her clients’ luxury kitchens is a natural for leading interior designer Lori Dennis, based in Los Angeles. “These colors really connect with the ocean and sky outside the kitchen windows,” Dennis says. Author and star of HGTV’s Real Designing Women, Dennis also takes full advantage of new products, such as 3-D backsplash tiles and LED lighting, which, she says, is “extremely energy efficient and coming down in price.” She constantly scours the market for new advances in appliances, such as the commercial-grade Freddy blast chiller. “It provides careful freezing and thawing,” she says, and is a must for any passionate coastal home cook. loridennis.com


Kitchen appliances are much more than functional assists today, says Beatriz Sandoval, director of brand marketing for Thermador. “The type of appliances?a homeowner selects makes a strong statement about who they are as a design enthusiast and how they entertain,” Sandoval says. The longstanding company is seeing a rise in unique refrigeration configurations and personalized kitchen solutions, such as its Culinary Preservation Columns, which can be designed as an entire refrigeration wall in a single room. “We’ve even seen beverage centers put in guest rooms or placed within the master suite, which allows additional storage for beverages, high-end makeup or certain medications that need to be refrigerated.” thermador.com


With rippling waters, open skies and swaths of colorful vegetation, waterfront homes are blessed with nature at its best. True Refrigeration, an industry leader in luxury kitchen appliances, reports more coastal homeowners are heading outdoors for socializing and meals. “We’re seeing a definite?trend toward creating outdoor kitchen spaces for hosting beachside evenings with friends and family,” says Steve Proctor, the firm’s director of sales and marketing. Proctor says savvy homeowners are looking for UL-rated outdoor refrigerators (safety tested to receive the endorsement of Underwriters Laboratories) and clear-ice machines that can easily be integrated into an outdoor entertaining space and hold up under any environment, including saltwater spray and coastal storms. “Although stainless steel has a bad reputation for rusting in the ocean air, 304 stainless steel has a higher nickel content,” Proctor says. “This helps to resist oxidation and withstand pitting.” true-residential.com



The Next Generation

Combining nature and modern accents, the next generation of the coastal bath is contemporary, unfussy and offers understated high style, says Naomi Neilson Howard, founder and CEO of Native Trails, the maker of luxurious bath fixtures and furnishings in San Luis Obispo, Calif. “Homeowners want to make a grand visual impression with a small ecological footprint, particularly in master baths,” Howard says. “This means incorporating special pieces – perhaps a standalone bath or vessel sink, crafted from organic materials such as recycled copper, concrete or reclaimed wood.” Polished copper or nickel sinks conjure the reflection of sunlight off the ocean, she adds. “These subtle textures and warm colors will instantly transport?you into your own seaside oasis.” nativetrails.net


When designers and product developers pull outdoor colors into a bathroom, one elegant counterpoint is?a gleaming, artful sink. Alejandra Thompson, founder and creative director of Thompson Traders, says copper pairs perfectly with nature’s palette. “We’re seeing an infusion of natural greens and blues into what has long been a neutral palette in the bath, and copper is such a beautiful fit with these new shades,” Thompson says. She is seeing a mix of design looks and styles, including midcentury modern and the classic spa aesthetic. The distinguishing factors are an eclectic spirit and textured finishes. “What never goes out of trend though,” Thompson notes, “is the fact that the bathroom remains everyone’s favorite home retreat.” thompsontraders.com


Ivonne Ronderos, owner and principal of DKOR Interiors in Miami, has seen big changes recently?in bathroom design. “Most of them pertain to size?and mood,” Ronderos says. “Owners are yearning?to recreate a spa experience in their own home.”?That desire has led to perks such as larger showers with features such as chromotherapy lighting, jets, benches and steam. But clients also want a light, open feel, she adds; for a sun-drenched coast, this may mean lots of white offset with natural materials such as wood, marble and porcelain. One star standout for 2017, says Ronderos, is large-format tiles. “They are bigger and better than before,” she says. “Tradesmen are cramming to learn how to install the tiles to accommodate a seamless look.” dkorinteriors.com


The ocean’s myriad colors are reflected in Gemstone Tile’s classic Turquoise Tile collection. The Arizona-based company handcrafts jewelry- quality turquoise from the Kingman turquoise mine. “There are close to 500 variations of?natural blue-green colors, a perfect palette for any coastal-inspired design,” says Carolyn VanCleave, Gemstone Tile co-owner. The tile is sturdy enough to work as a countertop, flooring or backsplash, and looks beautiful too. As VanCleave says, “It truly is jewelry for the home.” gemstonetileworks.com


Malcolm Davis, principal of Malcolm Davis Architecture in San Francisco, designed his first coastal home 25 years ago, so connecting interiors to water settings is elemental for him. Davis brings this strong indoor/outdoor sensibility to all his work. For one home in Northern California, whose owner is an avid surfer with a natural affinity for being outdoors, the architect designed an enormous skylight over the shower and rolling barn door over the tub. “You can feel the air and smell the garden,” Davis notes. “There is a simplifying, a paring down of this particular bath.” mdarch.net


Simon’s Hardware and Bath, New York City’s oldest hardware store, is a tried-and-true resource for decorative and architectural hardware as well as stylish kitchen and bath products. Hot picks for 2017 include modern designs with unexpected finishes, like bright paint-colored faucets from Vola and Fantini, and a collection by Kallista with finishes in bronze, black nickel and gunmetal, says the firm’s president Elias Chahine. Freestanding tubs – ideal for more compact spaces – are also continuing to trend. “The focus is on products that don’t overshadow beach views,” he says, “but instead add a pop of modern, stylish design and vibrant color.” simonsny.com


Jill Neubauer, a leading architect based in Falmouth, Mass., is making bathrooms more fun and functional this year with a simple change: one long sink. Whether it is for a primary family home or a summer getaway, to accommodate a couple or a gaggle of kids in one bathroom, a statement sink works beautifully. “A couple can get ready for their day side by side, and young siblings, cousins and friends can make memories while they wash, brush and laugh at one long, fun sink,” Neubauer says. “It’s like a party ready at all times.” jnarchitects.com


Image Credits: Photo by Saxton Holt/Photobotanic.