NKBA Selects Year's Best Designs

Through the years, studies have shown that design trends shift toward simpler styles and muted, neutral colors during a down economy, with bright hues and more personalized choices returning only when the economic outlook begins to brighten.

If this year’s finalists for the National Kitchen & Bath Association’s Design Competition can be used as an indicator for the economy, the future is bright indeed.

Bold colors – whether used as an accent or as a mainstay in the space – were everywhere. When neutral tones were used, there was an energy to them that has not been seen in a while, with rough-hewn edges, honed and pitted surfaces, and interesting character throughout.

Individual personal style was reflected in many of the designs through the use of custom cabinets, sinks, faucets, tile and accessories. And the mix of old and new was prevalent, as antiques were mixed with ultra-sleek pieces and original and recycled surfaces contrasted with modern metals and glass. Retro is also gaining interest, as more products are being developed that reflect the appeal of the 1950s and 1960s kitchens many grew up with.

White painted surfaces remained a classic mainstay for kitchen cabinets, providing an ideal backdrop for the statement-making pops of color. In the bath, wood tones continued to add elegance and calm for the popular spa-inspired spaces.

Natural influences were seen in both the kitchen and bath, with stone products making a statement in countertops, flooring and tile. Glass was also a popular choice, with mosaic tiles, countertops and even faucets providing glamorous accents.

Determining the Winners

Some 500 submissions are received from across North America each year for the Design Competition. Entries for the 2013 contest were evaluated by a panel of eight highly respected judges in the industry: Lyndell Kline, CMKBD; Robin Rigby-Fisher, CMKBD, CAPS; Becky Sue Becker, CMKBD, CAPS; John Torelli, CMKBD; LeAnn Randolph, CKD, CBD; Nancy Blanford, CMKBD; Alena Capra, CKD, CBD, and Leslie Holland, CKD, CBD. Projects were scored on safety and ergonomics, design planning and principles, creativity and presentation.

The winning designers will be announced during the NKBA’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) at New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, April 19-21, 2013.

Sponsors for this year’s Design Competition included Jenn-Air, DuPont, Waypoint, Delta Faucet, Hafele, HGTV Remodels, Home Depot, KWC, Miele, SieMatic and 20-20 Technologies.

Competition Design Categories

Design categories for this year’s competition include: Category 1: Small Kitchen (less than 150 square feet); Category 2: Medium Kitchen (150-350 square feet); Category 3: Large Kitchen (more than 350 square feet); Category 4: Powder Room (sink and toilet required, no tub or shower); Category 5: Small Bathroom (less than 55 square feet) and Category 6: Large Bathroom (more than 55 square feet).

Entries were also eligible for several “Specialty Awards” including Green Design and Universal Design. The NKBA also continued to include two designations – Budget-Friendly Kitchen ($40,000 or less, inclusive of all design, labor, products and materials costs) and Budget-Friendly Bath ($20,000 or less) – in light of some of the continued economic challenges being faced in the industry.

On the following six pages, Kitchen & Bath Design News provides a brief look at the finalists in each category.