NKBA Reports Top Kitchen & Bath Trends

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The NKBA's 2016 Design Trends Survey explores the top 10 trends in kitchens and the top 10 trends in baths, as well as a compilation of other new developments.

NKBA Reports Top Kitchen & Bath Trends

Photo: Mike Tuell, Tom E. Lutz, AKBD

March 14, 2016

While wood paneling, popcorn ceilings, and shag carpeting remain a memory of the 1970s, some other trends from that era may be making a return.

The National Kitchen & Bath Asso­ciation (NKBA) released its 2016 Design Trends Survey, consisting of responses from 450 NKBA members from across the country on which materials, product types, and design styles in kitchens and baths were most popular during the past year. At the International Builders’ Show (IBS) in Las Vegas in January, a panel of experts discussed the report.

“We’re seeing a lot of retro color kitchens being requested,” New York City-based designer and NKBA K+B Insider Young Huh said at the IBS panel. “Things that hark back to mid-century and to the 1970s: oranges, light blues, blue-greens.” Huh said that whites and grays are still popular as well, and that bold colors are best used as an accent in backsplashes, sinks, and stoves.

The report explores the top 10 trends in kitchens and the top 10 trends in baths, as well as a compilation of other new developments.

For kitchens, builders and customers want simple designs with clean lines and less ornamentation; multi-toned cabinetry—often a light-and-dark com­bination; and the look of wood flooring, whether it’s actual wood or wood-look ceramic tile. Pocket doors, pet spaces, and built-in coffee stations and wet bars are also popular.

Most importantly for homeowners, kitchens must be wired for technology. Docking and charging stations, flat-screen TVs, desks, and small home-office zones are increasingly being integrated into kitchen designs. “The hub of the home is the kitchen, and homeowners want to be completely connected,” Huh said. “That includes incorporating smart appliances that make meal preparation and entertaining easier.”

Universal Design is a dominant theme for new bathrooms. Aging-in-place amenities are important, as Baby Boomers age and multigenerational housing becomes more common. “Universal Design has come a long way from institutional grab bars,” Patricia Davis Brown, an NKBA K+B Insider based in Vero Beach, Fla., said at the panel. “Manufacturers recognize the demand for smart, aesthetically pleasing Universal Design choices that make the space feel like home.“

Along with grab bars, no-threshold showers, raised vanity heights, and chair-height toilets are in demand. Other bath trends include freestanding tubs, polished chrome faucets, open shelving, built-in storage, undermount sinks, and luxury-style features such as radiant floor heating, TVs in mirrors, and master baths with coffee bars and microwaves.

Consumers also want easy-to-maintain surfaces, Paloma Contreras, an NKBA K+B Insider and interior design blogger, said during the discussion. “The greatest luxury in the world is time, and it adds greatly to homeowners’ quality of life if their own bathroom provides a spa experience.”

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