Top trends to impact kitchen and bathroom design over the next three years: NKBA

The National Kitchen & Bath Association 2021 Design Trends Research reveals the COVID-19 pandemic will have a substantial lasting impact on kitchen and bath design.

According to the Association, as homeowners spend more time at home, kitchens and primary bathrooms are getting larger, the volume of outdoor living projects is increasing significantly and there is a need for easy-to-clean surfaces, flexible living spaces and seamless technology integration for added convenience and peace of mind.

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

“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, NKBA CEO. “The kitchen has long been the heart of the home. But especially during the pandemic, it has emerged as the most prominent, multitasking room as well. We see this 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.”

Gas and induction cooking methods are nearly equal in popularity, with induction expected to replace traditional glass electric cooktops. The study also suspects ventilation hoods as the new decorative focal point in the kitchen.

Other emerging kitchen trends include matte and brushed finishes in stainless steel or black faucets with motion-control/hands-free or touch/tap. Quartz surfaces particularly in lighter colours, will continue to be the driving material for countertops, large-scale backsplashes featuring a solid slab or long subway tile, and mixing complementary colours and materials on perimeter countertops and islands. Technology with dedicated device-charging/viewing, seamless video communication,  and emergency power for the refrigerator are also expected to rise in kitchen trends.

Expected trends to emerge in bathrooms involve 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, voice-activated or hands-free faucets, and black and nickel in matte or brushed finishes.

The study suspects bidets and self-closing toilet lids will be popular among the bathroom trends, as well as floating vanities with integrated electrical outlets, charging capabilities and storage, and radiant heated flooring. Motion-sensor lighting,  temperature control, leak detection with mobile alerts and mirrors with integrated internet access are the technological integrations anticipated to emerge.

The results of this study are based on data collected in Q3 2020 from more than 700 design professionals in North America, representing industry segments including designers (52 per cent of respondents), showrooms, dealers, manufacturers, remodelers and architects. Of the respondents, 78 per cent are NKBA members.