Style and function continue to merge in the most popular room in the house.

Elkay's award-winning Mystic entertainment sink

In the modern American home, the kitchen remains the most popular location for entertaining and socializing, and that has given kitchen faucet and sink manufacturers something to think about.

This new “kitchen as theater” concept has paved the way for bold faucet finishes and styles, functionality redesign, a foray into new materials, and even a bit of fun here and there. This month PM takes a look at some of the hot kitchen trends your customers are asking for.

Multitasking At The Sink

In case you haven't heard, today's consumers want it all, and they're willing to pay for it. They want ease of installation, beautiful style, ease of use and complete functionality. Manufacturers reflect these wants and needs with broad product offerings to satisfy all lifestyles. Faucets and sinks are no longer just a means to an end of water delivery, they're now the showplaces to a kitchen's design. They can pull together a room through their finishes, sizes and styles, which are myriad, but they need to do more.

For instance, with consumer interest in water quality ever on the climb, the faucet becomes a health partner in the lives of its users. As in the recent collaboration of Delta Faucet Co. and PUR® Water Filtration Products, the new Simply PUR Water Filtration system delivers bottled-water quality through a stylish and versatile kitchen faucet. A separate standard or traditional spout coordinates with a variety of Delta faucets and kitchen décor.

All aspects of the three-stage filtration take place below the sink, which clears up deck space. Quick-connect and flexible hoses aid in installation, and ease-of-service is achieved through a light indicator on the faucet, which notifies the homeowner when the PUR blue filters need to be changed.

Moen offers its PureTouch® Classic to eliminate the need for the second faucet for filtration. It features an integrated fixed spout filtering system and a two-way push button control for water flow. An LED indicator light clearly advises when it's time to change the carbon block water filter.

Something else to watch for is the functionality of pull-down kitchen faucets. High-arc spouts integrated with a pull-down feature create an ease-of-use solution for consumers looking to minimize clutter at the sink deck, as well as perform tasks in an ergonomic manner.

That's Entertainment

For kitchen sinks, the trend toward installing secondary prep sinks maximizes overall efficiency for a working kitchen. Kohler Co. has performed detailed research into the lifestyles of its customers to design its latest offerings of sinks around the way today's homeowners live, work and entertain in their kitchens.

“More families are cooking as a hobby, and it usually involves more than just one person at a time,” says Andy Barber, Kohler's marketing manager - kitchen products. “Second sinks allow more people to work at the same time. Everyone can be given separate tasks without getting in each other's way.”

The emergence of “trough sinks” for entertaining as well as clean up bring a bit of pizzazz to a kitchen's décor, and consumers love a conversation piece.

“The trough sinks can be filled with ice for drinks or food presentation,” says Andy. “But they're also functional as a traditional sink and are used frequently.”

Color Makes A Comeback

You need only to look to the automotive industry to see that color is a driving force in manufacturing, says Barber. Consumers now can have their faucet and sink reflect their personality through the variety of colors and textures offered for the kitchen. The growth in the use of granite, solid surface and other organic materials as countertops has made way for more earthy and stone-type colors in sinks, such as Kohler's Black and Tan, Thunder Grey and Cashmere for its cast-iron product line.

Swanstone's new quartz natural stone kitchen sink is virtually indestructible, but offers flexibility. It is available in a drop-in or popular undermount design.

Faucets, too, continue to complement a more neutral and natural approach to design.

“While the market is eclectic,” says Les Petch, Kohler's senior product manager - kitchen faucets, “the hottest colors remain those that complement stone and organic finishes.” Brazen Bronze, Brushed Nickel and Stainless Steel are still top sellers. Complete kitchen color integration of appliances, sink, faucet and countertop gives consumers the seamless look they desire.