Kitchen and bath trends shift like the tides: one year, nature-inspired themes are in demand, the next, sleek, contemporary industrial designs are hot. More than 100 designer/members of the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) recently participated in a survey to reveal design trends that are expected to take hold this year. These trends were then compared with the dominant trends reported in a similar survey conducted in 2009 by the NKBA. The results show a shift in tastes in everything from cabinet wood species to color palettes.
Color & Style
The way designers are thinking about the big three design categories – Traditional, Transitional, Contemporary – may be seeing a shift toward a more specific way of looking at kitchen styles, according to surveyed designers. Shaker styles began to experience gains in 2009 and gained momentum in 2010. At year’s end, Shaker had supplanted Contemporary as the second most popular style used by NKBA member designers. The percentage of respondents who designed Contemporary kitchens fell to 48%, while Shaker rose to 55%. The only other style to see a rise in 2010 was Cottage, which registered 21% of designers surveyed.
Traditional remains strong: the style was used by 76% of designers in the fourth quarter of 2010, although that number represents a drop from the same period in 2009.
There is projected to be a shift in the materials used to compose these styles, as well. At the beginning of 2010, cherry wood was specified by more NKBA member designers for use in kitchen cabinetry than any other wood. NKBA research showed that 78% of designers has used cherry in the final three months of the year compared to 64% who used maple. The trend is projected to turn upside down, with maple surpassing cherry.
Granite and quartz are projected to retain their number one and two spots in the countertop materials category, with solid surfaces emerging as the clear number three. However, while laminate dropped from 21% to 17%, solid surfaces rose from 14% to 25%. Butcher block has seen a rise from a niche inclusion into regular use, with 12% of respondents reporting specifying it. Use of marble also doubled in the final months of 2010 to 14% from 7% of designers the year before.
Dark finishes have overtaken medium natural, glazed and white painted cabinetry finishes to become to the most specified finish at the end of 2010, a position designers anticipate will continue throughout 2011. Medium natural fell to 48% from 53% at the end of 2009; glazed fell to 42% from 53%, and white painted was specified by 47% of designers surveyed, a two-percentage-point drop from the year prior.
Light natural and colored painted finishes remained steady, with about one-quarter of surveyed respondents reporting that they have specified these finishes. Distressed finishes were the big loser in 2010, used by just 5% of designers.
The shying away from distressed and other “daring” finishes toward darker, more safe tones mirrors what the NKBA is reporting for the overall color palettes of the 2010 kitchen remodel.
“Homeowners seemed to be afraid of color as 2010 drew to a close,” according to NKBA officials. “The use of every color except beige and gray was either flat or down across the board from a year earlier. Even neutral browns have been deemed too bold by many clients.”
While brown tones were used by 50% of designers in the final quarter of 2009, that figure dropped to just 42% in the last three months of 2010. Whites and off-whites dropped only slightly, from 62% to 59%, while grays increased from 10% to 16% and beiges and bones rose from 46% to 55%. The only other colors to be used by at least 20% of designers were bronzes and terracottas, which remained flat, used by just one-quarter of the designers surveyed.
A Place for Everything
While wine refrigeration, once a hot item, appears to be on the decline, places in the kitchen for unchilled wine storage is seeing a surge. While only 39% of surveyed designers incorporated wine storage areas into their kitchens at the end of 2009, that number climbed to 51% as 2010 came to a close.