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Look Closer

Matching cabinet pulls and knobs with faucet fixtures and towel bars can be an effective way to tie different elements of a room together. Photo by Moen.

The right elements in the kitchen and bath help sell a home.

It's no secret to builders that kitchens and baths sell a house. More elusive are the elements and design details that will help sell those kitchens and baths. Keeping up with the latest design trends will help make sure your next spec goes fast, while your next custom job provides homeowner pleasure — and plenty of referrals — for years to come.

Of course, it's often the fixtures you choose that make an impression in these rooms.

"Hardware in a kitchen or bathroom is like jewelry," says Meg Caswell, the home design television personality of HGTV fame. "Everyone notices your jewelry, so you can’t ignore hardware in the kitchen or bath. It's a very important part of the equation."

In fact, according to a recent Houzz.com survey of the home design site's members, 49 percent of homeowners want upgraded fixtures and features. In the bath, that includes rain and multiple showerheads, along with LED showerheads and lighted vanity mirrors. Other preferences included silver-toned, brushed nickel and bronze faucets over gold and brass.

"I always splurge on the faucets and fixtures because not only are the higher-end options beautiful, they are also usually highly functional," says Jenna Pizzigati-Coppola, owner of Pizzigati Designs in New York. "The smaller items like the fixtures, faucets and hardware are also the best way to pick a specific style and stick to it throughout the room."

Matching the built-in sink soap dispenser and cabinet knobs and pulls to the faucets is another favorite subtle move to tie a room together. Moen offers matching elements for many of its fixtures.

Younger homeowners are more likely to go for larger bathrooms with curbless showers without any doors, according to the Houzz Bathroom Trend Study. Designers echo that appeal: "Doorless showers epitomize luxury," says Bobby Vickers, executive vice president of Brennan Enterprises in Dallas. When there are enclosures, frameless glass is now the way to go, as opposed to curtains or glass block. For bath cabinetry, white is the finish of choice, followed by medium and dark wood tones.

In contrast to the idea that bigger is better in the bath, when it comes to the kitchen, size doesn't matter as much as layout does.

"Most people don't want a larger kitchen, but they do want a feeling of space," according to the Houzz Kitchen Trends Study. "Islands are part of that plan."

In fact, 61 percent of homeowners prefer to have an island in the kitchen, while 77 percent favor kitchens that are open to other rooms. Other favorite elements are still stainless appliances — with more and more homeowners favoring high-end, chef-style stoves, double ovens and induction cooktops — and granite or quartz countertops. For flooring, hardwoods and tile are just about tied as top contenders, while the top materials for backsplashes are tile and glass.