Principles of Design

Sometimes life imitates art.

Indeed, the 40 finalists of the 45th annual National Kitchen & Bath Association Design Competition have proven that design creativity and a keen eye for space planning can turn even the most challenging spaces into masterpieces.

As in years’ past, the 2009 competition, dubbed the “Art of the Industry,” attracted a wide range of projects, with 678 entries from throughout the U.S. and Canada. Each design represents an opportunity seized, often with astounding results.

This year’s competition saw an eclectic mix of designs, from traditional to contemporary themes, and always with a unique solution at the heart.

Symmetry, stylish design solutions and the efficient use of space – no matter how limited it may have first appeared – were recurring themes, as the finalists found inventive ways to maximize square footage.

The winning designers also keyed into their clients’ desires for unique, personalized spaces by blending creativity and flexibility – an approach that not only satisfied their clients, but also caught the judges’ attention.

“The winning projects in this year’s NKBA Design Competition showcase the ability of NKBA designers to create kitchens and baths that are not only absolutely stunning, but also functional and forward thinking,” said 2009 NKBA president Suzie Williford.


This year, a panel of nine experts served as judges for the 2009 NKBA Design Competition, each of whom is a practicing kitchen and bath professional who has achieved the Certified Kitchen Design (CKD) and Certified Bath Design (CBD) designation and/or the Certified Master Kitchen and Bath Design (CMKBD) designation. Winners will be announced at the NKBA Gala, held at K/BIS this month.

Sponsors for this year’s competition include Sub-Zero, Wolf Appliances, Miele, Dal-Tile, American Woodmark Corp., GE, Rheem and This Old House.


The competition was again separated into 10 distinct categories, each showcasing some of the hottest trends in kitchen, bath and other-room design.

Design categories for this year’s competition included:

  • Category One: Small Kitchens (defined as having less than 35 sq. ft. of countertops)
  • Category Two: Medium Kitchens (defined as having more than 35 sq. ft. of countertops but less than 50 sq. ft. of countertops)
  • Category Three: Large Kitchens (defined as having more than 50 sq. ft. of countertops)
  • Category Four: Open Plan Kitchens (including Great Rooms, breakfast nooks and dining rooms)
  • Category Five: Powder Rooms
  • Category Six: Small Bathrooms (defined as having less than 55 sq. ft. total)
  • Category Seven: Large Bathrooms (defined as having more than 55 sq. ft. total)
  • Category Eight: Master Suites (which includes closets, dressing rooms, etc.)
  • Category Nine: Showrooms
  • Category 10: Other Rooms (home offices, dining areas, living rooms, etc.)

In the end, it was the ability of these finalists to combine the smallest details with grand design visions that provided each of these designers the palette with which to create modern classics.

For more about this project, click here.