Designer survey identifies kitchen trends

Huntington Beach, CA – July 15, 2008 – When it comes to kitchen design today, cherry and maple cabinets are hot, as are quartzite countertops and custom paneled appliances. So says a recent national survey of kitchen designers conducted by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) and luxury appliance manufacturer Thermador. With 206 participants – all of whom are NKBA certified designers – the online survey identifies several trends influencing today’s kitchen design – from popular colors and finishes used in designs, to new materials, and even new technologies being incorporated by designers.

Style and Color

Over half (56.8%) of the kitchen designers surveyed described their most often requested type of kitchen design as traditional. However, designers identified contemporary and clean, simple lines as kitchen design trends to watch for. When asked for the top three most used cabinetry finishes, over three-fourths of designers report using cherry and maple, while paints and exotic woods tied for third. This contrasts with once dominant oak cabinetry, with only 15% of designers reporting usage. Moreover, designers identify stainless steel as the top color scheme in today’s kitchen designs with 60.8% of designers reporting usage, followed by beiges/bones with 57.7%.


91.8% of designers still believe that stainless steel is the most popular finish for appliances. However, custom paneling is more commonly incorporated into today’s kitchen designs. 77.3% of designers report the frequent use of custom panels on appliances for cabinetry integration. Appliances most often receiving paneling are dishwashers (96.2%) and refrigeration (91.3%). Designers identified modular refrigeration (28.4%), along with induction cooktops (35.6%) and speedcooking ovens (21.6%), as one of the most exciting kitchen technologies.

"Modular refrigeration like the Thermador Freedom Collection is gaining popularity because it provides designers and their clients greater flexibility," said Michael Traub, president and CEO. "With Freedom, they are liberated from having to design the entire kitchen around traditional and bulky refrigerator/freezer combinations while being able to achieve truly flush integration."

Countertops and Backsplashes

When asked to name the top countertop materials used, 94% of designers named granite most frequently. However, while granite remains the top countertop material, another stone material – quartzite, noted for its durability – comes in a strong second with 65.1% of designers reporting usage. The top three backsplash materials identified by designers were tile (94.3%), followed by granite (51%) and glass (43.8%).

Functionality and Layout

The survey also suggests that more than one cook is in the kitchen, with two-thirds (67%) of designers frequently incorporating multiple cooking stations nto their designs – such as a range and a wall oven or a range and a cooktop. Moreover, appliances are being installed into islands, with 69.6% of designers reporting frequently doing so. Also, supporting the trend of multiple cooks, 78.9% of designers frequently incorporate a prep sink into islands or other locations in the kitchen for increased functionality.

"Kitchens are more commonly becoming a household’s hub," said Ed Pell, manager of marketing research at the NKBA. "With multiple cooks working in the kitchen, and more entertaining and family activities conducted there, designers want to fulfill their client’s desire for increased functionality with efficient work areas."

Consumer Attitudes

When it comes to appliances, a majority of designers say clients believe that high-end appliances are a good home investment, which makes it no surprise that 99.5% of designers said their clients are interested in professional-style appliances. In fact, designers indicate premium appliances are the number one "dream" item amongst their clients (46.2%) – winning over custom cabinetry (29.7%) and special countertops (14.4%).

Other Findings

Designers were also asked to name new trends to take note of, and many identified new color applications. Specifically, greater use of color in cabinets was cited as an up and coming trend, as was the use of two colored cabinetry and molding, and the overall bolder use of color.