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Design Trends From the Best in American Living Awards and NKBA


Design Trends From the Best in American Living Awards and NKBA

February 25, 2021
BALA winner

On this installment of The Weekly, our editors sit down with the 2020 Best in American Living Awards judging chair and the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s head of research to bring builders the latest on residential design.

David O’Sullivan, president of O’Sullivan Architects and the 2020 BALA judging chair, says judges applauded detail-focused and practical designs, noting that stairs and windows are receiving extra attention this year.

What does O’Sullivan say builders should take away from the BALA entrants?

“A lot of people feel, ‘Maybe my design is not modern enough,’” says O’Sullivan. “But I think that we found some really nice traditional designs that we’re just done well and details paid attention to that we felt were award winners as well. [Builders] shouldn’t be worried that they’re doing traditional design or they’re not doing cutting-edge things or clients that are willing to pay them for super elegant one-off kind of things.”

Watch the full segment below.



Tricia Zach, head of research at the NKBA, says the association’s Design Trends 2021 study is the most frequently downloaded report from the NKBA and their most widely attributed report in industry and national publications. 

For 2021 and beyond, Zach says the pandemic has undoubtedly affected kitchen and bath design long term. More homeowners are opting for a simple, healthy, and connected living.

“We see, clearly, the volume of outdoor living projects has increased significantly as a result of COVID,” says Zach. “We’ve seen, because of cleanliness and hygiene, consumers are demanding those easy to clean surfaces and flexible living spaces to accommodate extra bodies in the home, whether they’re children doing online schooling, parents working from home, et cetera.”

Watch the full segment below.
Watch past segments here.


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