2012 Kitchen & Bath Style Report

More than 350 designers took part in the 2012 NKBA Design Trends Survey to cite the materials, product types, and styles that they’ve incorporated into their kitchen and bath designs over the final months of 2011.

Photo By: Alise O'Brien

Photo By: Kai Arndt

Photo By: Bart Baldwin

Cherry Wood in Decline

Cherry wood has consistently been the first or second most popular type of wood for cabinetry, jockeying for the top spot with maple each year. However, designers are slowly shifting away from it. While 80% of NKBA member kitchen designers had recently specified cherry cabinetry as 2010 approached, that figure dropped to 72% last year and fell again to 69% heading into 2012. Photo courtesy of Wellborn Cabinet, Inc.

Darker Finishes

Natural kitchen cabinetry continues a steady move toward darker finishes. While light natural finishes have been recently specified by 30% of kitchen designers, medium natural finishes stand at 55%, with dark natural finishes at 58%. Two years ago, dark natural finishes were specified by only 43% of designers. Photo courtesy of Poggenpohl

Glass Backsplashes

Although glass remains a niche material for kitchen countertops, it's been recently used by more than half of kitchen designers as a backsplash material, rising from 41% a year ago to 52% now. This trails only natural stone tile at 60% and ceramic tile (including porcelain), which has been specified of late by some 74% of designers. Even at that high rate, ceramic tile backsplashes are on the decline, as they stood at 78% a year ago and 88% two years ago. Photo courtesy of ThinkGlass

LED Lighting

Energy-efficiency is clearly not a fad, but a real trend that can be seen taking hold in homes across the United States and Canada. Despite the higher initial cost, light-emitting diode, or LED, lighting is proof of this trend. Specified by 50% of NKBA member kitchen designers entering 2010, that rate increased to 54% the following year and has jumped over the past year to 70%. However, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) aren’t sharing in this trend. Although they use roughly a quarter the energy of an incandescent bulb when producing the same amount of light, measured in lumens, the poor color of the light they produce and the presence of mercury in these bulbs are keeping them out of newly remodeled kitchens, falling from 36% last year to 26% today. Photo courtesy of Lutron

Pull-Out Faucets

Pull-out kitchen faucets have become established as the dominant type of kitchen faucet. Designers are increasingly eschewing the standard faucet with a detached side spray in favor of pull-out models that integrate the two functions into a single unit. Viewing the large number of new pull-out faucet models at the NKBA's Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, it’s clear these units can be seamlessly incorporated into almost any kitchen design style. Photo courtesy of ROHL

Medicine Cabinets

The tried-and-true medicine cabinet had been swept aside in bathroom remodels over the past several years, replaced by decorative wall mirrors. However, as homeowners look for more efficient use of space, most designers are now turning toward medicine cabinets as an effective way to gain additional storage without having to increase the footprint of a room, attenuating the need for separate shelving, cabinetry, or other storage options. Photo courtesy of NuTone

Transitional Over Traditional

For the first time since the NKBA began tracking annual design trends, traditional is no longer the most popular type of design. In both the kitchen and the bathroom, transitional is now the most common style. While the traditional style has consistently been used by roughly three quarters of NKBA member designers in both the kitchen and the bath, that figure fell to 58% in kitchens and 59% in bathrooms this year. Photo courtesy of KraftMaid.

Solid Surfaces

A year ago, the use of solid surfaces was a key trend in the kitchen; this year, it's an even stronger trend, and one that impacts both the kitchen and the bathroom. In the NKBA's 2011 Design Trends Survey, the use of solid surfaces in the kitchen jumped from 11% to 26% from the year earlier. This year, that number has increased again, as solid surfaces have been specified recently by 30% of designers for use in kitchens. At the same time, while granite and quartz continue to be the clear #1 and #2 choices, their popularity has waned just slightly, with granite falling from 91% to 87% and quartz declining just a bit from 71% to 69%. Photo courtesy of Cosentino

Shades of Gray

When artfully incorporated into a space, gray color schemes can allow for very attractive, distinguished looks without overpowering a design—the key reason why gray is now used as the backdrop for the NKBA logo. In kitchens, gray was used as the overall color scheme by only 9% of designers as we moved into 2010, but that figure nearly doubled (to 17%) last year and then nearly doubled again (to 33%) this year. Over that time, the use of gray color schemes has risen just as dramatically from 12% to 21% to 40% in bathroom remodels. Photo courtesy of Benjamin Moore

Polished Chrome is Back

Supplanted by brushed metal finishes in the past, polished chrome is staging a comeback. After being specified by 34% of designers in kitchens last year, polished chrome has recently been specified by 52% of NKBA member designers in kitchens today. In the bathroom, polished chrome use has increased from 46% to 65% over the past year. At the same time, polished nickel is up from 17% to 25% in kitchens and from 28% to 32% in bathrooms over the past year. Photo courtesy of Kohler Co

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