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The National Kitchen and Bath Association’s (NKBA) latest trend report predicts larger bathroom sizes, less bathtubs, and smart technology to be big in 2021.

NKBA’s 2021 Design Trends report gathers survey responses from hundreds of designers, manufacturers, architects, and fabricators who forecast the trends of the near future. This year, the association surveyed 716 professionals to find the top design and product choices.

Check out what to expect from kitchen and outdoor living design in 2021 here.

Here are some other key takeaways for bathroom design:


QuickDrainUSA tub to shower

QuickDrain USA's linear shower drain

Bathroom Layouts

NKBA’s forecast for larger bathrooms mimics Houzz’s 2020 report on bathroom trends, which found homeowners’ biggest bathroom frustration is limited space.

A whopping 42% of professionals surveyed said primary bathrooms would become somewhat larger, meaning a 25% or less increase in size. Only 1% said bathrooms would become smaller, 32% said bathrooms would remain about the same, and 23% said bathrooms would become larger by 25% to 49%.

If homeowners do not opt for expanding their primary baths, professionals see an increasing number opting for a bathtub removal. While 60% of professionals see this as the most popular option, another 40% could see homeowners demolishing walls to expand a bath’s size. This tied with another 40% of professionals seeing homeowners connecting closets or dressing areas to their bathrooms to maximize space.

But for Millennials, or those aged 23 to 38, 59% of professionals believe connecting the closet to the bathroom as the most popular option. 


KOHLER moxie showerhead speaker

KOHLER's Moxie Showerhead + Speaker

Bathroom Smart Technology

Technology continues to be popular for every room of the home, but there are certain smart technologies best suited for bathrooms. These will grow in popularity over the next three years.

One professional told the NKBA that, “tech that is useful, that is helpful, but not highly intrusive (practically invisible) will be huge.” 

The top smart tech for bathrooms is predicted to be smart temperature control for both floors and showers. Water conservation technology comes in second, but remains close to both motion-sensor controls for lighting and leak detectors.

While one of the lowest on the list is preset lighting schemes for different times of day, designers see this being just as popular for Millennials as mobile apps that can start a shower.



Laufen modern small bathroom

Laufen's wall-mounted vanity

Bathroom Styles

By far, professionals expect to see both calming and clean bathroom design elements come to the forefront. 

This could be due to the pandemic, or even popularity of modern and contemporary design styles, which often feature sleek and crisp elements.

Contemporary design did take the top spot for most popular style over the next three years. Transitional came in a close second with 53% of professionals expecting this style to dominate, and 57% voting for contemporary. 

But the most standout style has to be organic/natural, which skyrocketed in popularity and claimed the third spot for most popular style. Millennials are expected to prefer this style too, according to the 66% of professionals who design for Millennials.

“Designs are evolving to include items from several different styles,” one professional told NKBA. “For example, a modern bathroom may have elements of organic design included, or a touch of mid-century. The blended styles are becoming more prominent and becoming a style of their own.”

Similarly to kitchen design, professionals are continuing to opt for whites and off-whites the most. Grays, blues, and beiges/bones come next. 


Scandinavian bathroom touchless faucet

Damixa's touchless Silhouet faucet

Bathroom Products

Professionals are looking for new styles and options for sinks, lighting, hardware, and vanities. They are enjoying the latest innovations from showers and technology solutions for bathrooms.

Smart toilets and bidets are the product impressing pros the most and grabbing their interest much more than any other product innovation, though technology solutions for faucets interest them as well.

Just like kitchens, quartz took the top spot for countertop materials in baths, specifically for vanity countertops. Lighter counter colors are predicted to remain the top choice among homeowners.

But when it comes to vanities, homeowners are predicted to enjoy more medium-tones and colors in a floating, or wall-mounted installation, and flat panel or slab doors.

The most popular facing materials for vanities are both full painted wood and full wood grain.

When it comes to hardware, homeowners will opt for decorative knobs and pulls rather than touch open doors or finger pulls.


Freestanding art deco bathtub dmx

DXV's freestanding soaking tub

Homeowners want the most out of their mirrors as well. Backlit, electrical outlets, and smart mirrors will dominate over the next three years.

You can say goodbye to pedestal sinks, according to the pros. Only 3% see homeowners wanting a pedestal sink in 2021 or beyond, but 77% see under-mount taking the lead. Sinks are also most commonly going to be white and made from either vitreous china or porcelain/cast iron.

More and more manufacturers have expanded plumbing finishes this year to include matte black, which is a smart move because pros expect matte black to dominate the faucet category in 2021 and beyond. The same goes for touchless technology. Both nickel and chrome finishes rounded out the top three, along with brushed and polished finishes.

NKBA’s survey responses found that no homeowner wants cold feet, literally. A whopping 77% of pros see heated flooring taking charge, along with ceramic/porcelain tiles to be the best bathroom flooring choice.

Lighting of all kinds remains key in bathroom design. More than 50% of surveyed professionals said lighting in mirrors, shower lighting, recessed lights, and sconces/wall lights are the best choices. Since these types of lighting vary greatly, it can be deduced that any effective lighting is the best lighting, meaning skip the pendant and chandeliers.

Lighting should also feature some sort of technology aspect when possible. This includes dimmer switches, motion-sensor lighting, or connected/voice controlled lighting.

Homeowners will most likely opt for a separate tub and shower, if not solely a shower. For around the shower, expect an increase in large tiles. Large tiles help minimize grout lines, which in turn helps with easier cleaning.

And while homeowners will more often choose a shower alone, there are specific design choices that will optimize a shower. Professionals expect homeowners to want clear shower glass, not frosted nor decorative. Clean, subtle, and barely visible linear drains will surge in popularity.

Ensure that two people will be able to fit into a single shower as well, says the pros. Zero-threshold showers are gaining momentum, but don’t expect them to overpower a classic swinging shower door by too much.

Special shower features will wow any homebuyer, from rain showerheads to steam, but accessible features are leading. Eighty percent of professionals say seats in showers will be the most popular shower feature, and 61% say grab bars will be.

If a homeowner does opt for a shower and bathtub combo, expect a freestanding or soaking tub to be their choice, specifically made from a composite, resin, or acrylic.