Design Delights

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ— Vibrant colors, transitional styles and natural influences were the hallmarks of the top kitchens, baths and showrooms of 2010, as reflected by the designs that were named finalists in the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) Design Competition. The competition honors the best kitchen, bath and showroom designs of the year, with this year’s competition bringing in nearly 500 entries from all across the U.S. and Canada.

“The NKBA, along with our sponsors, is proud to offer member designers from across the country the opportunity to be recognized for their level of skill in applying innovation and creativity to kitchen and bathroom design,” noted NKBA president David Alderman, CMKBD.

Indeed, innovation abounded among the finalists’ designs. From Asian-inspired spaces that paid homage to Feng Shui principles to French Country and hacienda-style kitchens to a tropical-themed pool house kitchen, the finalists in the kitchen categories took their inspiration from all over the globe.

The top kitchens also showcased a wealth of materials, including bamboo, mahogany, alder, hickory, oak, maple, granite, marble, limestone, quartz, travertine, glass, copper and stainless steel, among others. Sustainable designs and products were in evidence in many of the designs, as the kitchen and bath industry moves toward creating a smaller carbon footprint.

In the bath, designs ran from Bali-themed and garden-inspired spaces to industrial spaces showcasing concrete, simple black-and-white geometric designs and all-out luxury spas.

Neither did the winning designers let limited budgets get in their way, with budget-conscious designs sharing the spotlight with their more high-end counterparts.

But even aside from challenges dictated by budgetary constraints, the designers had their hands full, seeking to fulfill needs that ran from the functional to the aesthetic, with requests ranging from family-friendly spaces and better lighting to wellness-inspired spaces.

The designers got creative, whether that meant enhancing a windowless powder room with an illuminated bamboo-front cabinet or incorporating an octagonal island to provide a multi-sided work area that also provides good Feng Shui energy. Regardless of the style or available space, the designers looked for innovative applications of materials that would enhance not only the look and style of the space, but the homeowners’ overall quality of life.

A diversity of styles was on display, especially in the showroom category. Here, top designs ranged from an elegant bath display to an ultra sleek and modern kitchen display full of high-gloss finishes and European design influences to an art nouveau cabinet display chock full of beautiful, hand-carved details.

While the designs showcased a host of notable style trends, safety and ergonomics were also key considerations, the NKBA said.


Entries were judged in five areas, including safety and ergonomics, elements and principles of design, design planning, creativity and presentation.

Entries were evaluated by a panel of 10 judges, all of whom are Certified Kitchen Designers and Certified Bath Designers or Certified Master Kitchen & Bath Designers. Judges for this year’s Design Competition included: Tony Hunt, CKD, CBD; Marie Lail Blackburn, CMKBD; Dustin Stehr, CKD, CBD; Jeannie Fulton, CKD, CBD; Sharon L. Flatley, CMKBD; Mary Jo Peterson, CKD, CBD, CAPS, CAASH; David H. Newton, CMKBD; Daniel J. Lenner, CMKBD; Blue Arnold, CKD, CBD, and Claudia F. McCabe-Cort, CKD, CBD.

The winning designs will be announced at the Design Competition Awards event on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 during the NKBA’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Sponsors for this year’s Design Competition included GE Monogram,, Kohler, ServiceMagic, This Old House and Waypoint Living Spaces.


This year’s competition was divided into nine categories, representing key trends in kitchens, baths and showrooms. The top three designs in each category were named finalists.

Design categories for this year’s competition included: Category 1: Small Kitchens (defined as having less than 35 sq. ft. of countertops); Category 2: Medium Kitchens (defined as having more than 35 sq. ft. of countertops but less than 50 sq. ft. of countertops); Category 3: Large Kitchens (defined as having more than 50 sq. ft. of countertops); Category 4: Open Plan Kitchens (including Great Rooms, breakfast nooks and dining rooms); Category 5: Powder Rooms; Category 6: Small Bathrooms (defined as having less than 55 sq. ft. total); Category 7: Large Bathrooms (defined as having more than 55 sq. ft. total); Category 8: Master Bathrooms, and Category 9: Showrooms.

Descriptions and photos of the 27 Design Competition finalists can be found on 2011 NKBA Design Competition.