Given the unabashed fascination Americans had for the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, it's no surprise Americans are also looking overseas for inspiration for their kitchens. Jennifer Foresman, senior manager of trend and design for The Home Depot, travels the world in search of the products and trends that will take hold in the United States. She shared her insights recently with several hundreds attendees at the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas.

What's Hot From Europe

  • Exotic wood cabinets with sleek laminate inserts that soften modern designs.
  • Exotic wood cabinets, like elm and Indian apple, dressed with a natural finish to let the wood's beauty shine. These woods also offer "an exotic look without an exotic price tag."
  • Cabinets made of oak, which Foresman said is "cool" again.
  • Painted cabinets in gray, taupe, and soft brown. Foresman highlighted lines from Decora and KraftMaid in gray and Martha Stewart in light yellow. But she noted: "White is by far the No. 1 color we see."
  • Shaker doors with rounded fronts for an updated look.
  • Islands or other work spaces created from furniture pieces.
  • Flush-mounted appliances.
  • TVs fully integrated into cabinet doors, vent hoods, ice makers, and other appliances. "Everything is being built for the iPod generation," Foresman said, showing off a Jenn-Air refrigerator with a touch screen.
  • Wireless connectivity so that homeowners can remotely log into their appliances from anywhere to start the washer or dishwasher, for example, during off-peak-power times.
  • Induction cooktops that are fully integrated into the countertop or that feature cooking elements that span the entire cooktop.
  • Vent hoods that are brightly colored or dressed in glass and that feature the latest LED lighting technologies. "They are becoming a show piece in the kitchen," the Home Depot manager said.
  • Sinks that are topped by cutting boards, including ones from Blanco and Elkay, that can serve as additional prep space or hide dirty dishes.
  • No-touch faucets and ones that indicate with LEDs lights the water temperature, including products from KWC and Franke that are sensible for families with kids, Foresman said.
  • What's Not Hot--at Least for Now Prep islands that, with the flick of a button, pop up out of the floor or that drop down or rise up from behind cabinets.
  • Work islands that can be wheeled from room to room.
  • Cabinet doors that rise up and down with remote controls.
  • Adjustable pieces on stationary frameworks that can be lowered or raised depending on the height of the home's cooks.
  • Ultra-quiet vent hoods, like those from Dyson and DeDietrich.
  • Refrigerators that contain all drawers and no shelves, like models from Neff.
  • Fully integrated cabinets and appliances.
  • Induction cooktops that have integrated woks so cooks can prepare a meal without pots and pans.
  • Countertops that feature rich textures, including sand-blasted stone, or very shiny materials, like stainless steel or metal-look laminates.
  • Faucets with ultra flexible spouts or ones in high-fashion colors.

Although many trends originate in Europe, the U.S. kitchen's role as the gathering place for the family and for entertaining is influencing homeowners overseas. "The kitchen was only used for food prep, not for social gathering," said Foresman,"but now Europeans say they are being inspired by American kitchens."
Jean Dimeo is editorial director for Building Products and