Products: Kitchen and Bath Trends

Sidebar trend reports published in Products, November/December 2017

Nearly 600 members of the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) weighed in on trends, and the verdict is in: Contemporary and transitional design are on the rise in kitchens and baths. One indicator of the growing contemporary aesthetic is a preference for minimalist cabinet door styles. “In general, I think people’s lifestyles are getting busier and, as a response, there is a search for simplicity that is reflected in tastes around personal space,” says Suchi Reddy, principal of New York-based Reddymade Architecture and Design. Other prevalent modern bath elements include undermount sinks; no-threshold showers; and concealing power outlets within vanities. Hiding outlets and tech features are a bit niche, but they’re gaining ground. “Technology is a big part of the rise of contemporary and transitional aesthetics,” explains Elle H-Millard, industry relations manager for NKBA. “Homeowners are adapting to the latest technology in both kitchens and baths, and both lend to cleaner lines.” 

Contemporary design is surging in the bath, but which colors complement the style? According to the NKBA 2017 trend report, white, off-white, and gray dominate. “Contemporary and transitional styles fully support the monochromatic palettes that use shades of white and gray,” says Stephanie Pierce, director of design and trends for MasterBrand Cabinets. She adds, “Black accent colors in hardware and faucets as a contrast or on either the surfaces or vanities are a nice way to create striking contrast in small spaces while maintaining the clean and airy feel often associated with both of these styles.” The report reveals that blues are emerging, with younger designers opting for violet and purple tones. “As the spa bathroom trend continues due to people caring more about the bathroom experience in general, colors like soft blues, greens, and violets translate really well—they invoke a sense of calmness,” says Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams. Gold and brushed brass are gaining ground when it comes to faucets, leading Wadden to believe that “deeper, darker hues in the bathroom are going to emerge. The combination of dark walls and golden and copper metals are really moving in, and the look is beautiful for the bathroom.”

The materials and colors dominating the cooking space are a lot of the usual suspects. White and gray are still among the hottest colors for cabinetry, but blue, black, and high-gloss are emerging. “We have certainly had requests for white and gray, and for high-gloss finishes, which is an interesting high-end traditional element re-emerging in the modern kitchen,” says Reddymade Architecture and Design Principal Suchi Reddy. The NKBA trend report says two-toned kitchens are on the rise as well. Similar to the two-color trend, there’s more mixing and matching of materials for various kitchen surfaces and accents. In particular, rustic and reclaimed woods are becoming more desirable. “Cabinets covered in natural materials and book-matched stone are among the spectacular designs we have realized recently,” says Reddy. “And we pair glass and stone frequently—stonecovered islands and back-painted glass cabinets are one of our favorite combinations.” When talking stone countertops, NKBA states quartz is still tops. “Quartz offers a beautiful aesthetic and a durable surface that homeowners find appealing. Lower maintenance is key for our busy lifestyles,” explains Elle H-Millard, industry relations manager for NKBA. Compact sintered surfaces are also getting noticed. “We are seeing monolithic materials such as Neolith, which come in large formats, becoming popular among our clients,” Reddy says.

A decade ago, the late architect Michael Graves raised awareness that designers could lead the way in improving accessibility. The movement may have started out slow, but universal design is now a hot topic. According to the NKBA 2017 Design Trends Report, universal design is on the uptick in kitchens and baths. A quick survey of the market shows a breadth of products and solutions that address limited mobility or ADA compliance, from magnetically attached handheld showers to French-door ovens. “The extra mindfulness won’t cost more, it will just provide a more effective design solution,” says Sacramento, Calif.-based interior designer and Certified Aging in Place Specialist Kerrie Kelly. Knee space in a bathroom, she explains, can accommodate wheelchairs but also makeup application; a shower bench can become a leg-shaving shelf; and roll-out shelves in kitchen base cabinets keep everything within reach. Kelly advises retrofitting some or all kitchen cabinets to include rollout components, varied countertop heights, and two-tier pull-down systems. “Almost every appliance today comes with countless features for a safer cooking environment without compromising aesthetics,” she says. “Our team’s top list includes induction cooktops, ovens, and refrigerators that have side-swing doors, and dishwasher and microwave drawers.” In the bathroom, Kelly points to barrier-free showers that result in sleeker, streamlined washrooms; lever faucets that are easy to operate for persons with arthritis; and adjustable showerheads.