Key New Trends Noted in NKBA Survey

by Autumn McGarr

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ — The COVID-19 pandemic will have a “substantial lasting impact” on kitchen and bath design, as homeowners spend more time at home. Kitchens and primary bathrooms are also increasing in size, the volume of outdoor living projects is rising significantly and there’s a need for easy-to-clean surfaces, flexible living spaces and seamless technology integration for added convenience and peace of mind.

Those are the key conclusions of new research conducted by the National Kitchen & Bath Association into the top trends in styles, features, materials and innovations impacting kitchen and bathroom design decisions over the next three years. The research findings, released late last year, are based on data collected in the third quarter of 2020 from more than 700 North American design professionals, including independent designers, showrooms, kitchen/bath dealers, manufacturers, remodelers and architects, according to the NKBA.

“We expect designs for both the kitchen and bath to continue trending toward a more modern, organic feel that is both streamlined and adaptable,” said Bill Darcy, CEO of the Hackettstown, NJ-based trade association.

“The kitchen has long been the heart of the home but especially during the pandemic, it has emerged as the most prominent, multi-tasking room, as well,” Darcy said. “We see this (trend) continuing, with more open-space concepts, an extension into multi-season outdoor living spaces, larger kitchen island hubs and increased functionality and storage to allow homeowners to cook, eat, work, home-school and play, all in the same vicinity.”

Aesthetically, design preferences in both the kitchen and bath will continue to be more contemporary and transitional in style, with added influence of a new leading trend of “natural/organic,” the NKBA reported.

“This combination feels more European in style and scale, with clean lines, minimal detailing, the warmth and texture of natural finishes and larger windows to bring the feeling of the outdoors inside,” the association said, adding that the influence of natural/organic catapulted into the top three design styles respondents expect to increase in popularity in the kitchen and bath over the next three years.

This is a significant shift from the NKBA 2019 study, where this same design style ranked 10th, association officials noted. Conversely, traditional design, which had been one of the top three kitchen and bath styles for more than a decade, is now anticipated to be one of the least popular.

The association, in a previous market report, had reported a palpable COVID-19-related increase in consumer demand for health and wellness products, including air purifiers, touchless faucets and water-filtration systems, as well as products that have antimicrobial features, from door handles and shower walls to countertops and window treatments.

Among other emerging kitchen trends:

  • L-shaped kitchens with large islands will dominate in terms of kitchen layout.
  • Gas and induction cooking methods are nearly equal in popularity, with induction expected to replace traditional glass electric cooktops.
  • Ventilation hoods will become the new decorative focal point in the kitchen.
  • Quartz, particularly in lighter colors, will continue to be the driving material for countertops.
  • Major technological trends will include dedicated device-charging/viewing, seamless video communication and emergency power for the refrigerator.

The study also revealed that the average primary bathroom spend over the past year was between $20,000 and $30,0000, with two-thirds of finished projects showing an increase in size over the previous layout, according to the NKBA. The most popular anticipated option for layout change is to remove bathtubs to increase the size of the shower. Other emerging bathroom trends will include larger freestanding showers to accommodate two people with zero-clearance entry, integrated seating and grab bars; larger-format surrounds with fewer grout lines; linear drains, and voice-activated or hands-free faucets, the NKBA said. ▪

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