Photo: Averill Lehan/PAI; Designer: Anastasia Rentzos, CKD, CBD, Andros Kitchen & Bath Designs
Each year, the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) surveys its members to identify the latest design and specification trends in kitchen and bath design. This year, 350 NKBA members took part in the survey. Here are five emerging kitchen trends they identified:
1. Cherry wood in decline
Cherry wood has consistently been the first or second most popular type of wood for cabinetry, jockeying for the top spot with maple each year. However, designers are slowly shifting away from it. While 80 percent of NKBA member kitchen designers had recently specified cherry cabinetry as 2010 approached, that figure dropped to 72 percent last year and fell again to 69 percent heading into 2012.
No one other wood species is taking that market share on its own, as even maple dropped in popularity this year, falling from 77 percent last year to 70 percent now. Instead, a number of lesser-used woods are being specified more often, including oak, which is specified by twice as many designers now (22 percent) versus two years ago (11 percent); walnut, which has increased from 3 percent in 2010 to 9 percent in 2011 to 13 percent today; birch, which is now specified by three times as many kitchen designers as it was a year ago (15 percent vs. 5 percent), and bamboo, which has doubled from 5 percent last year to 10 percent now. While alder is currently specified by 27 percent of kitchen designers, that figure is down from 30 percent last year and from 40 percent two years ago, according to NKBA.
Source: NKBA Photo: Wellborn Cabinet Inc./courtesy of NKBA
2. Darker finishes
Natural kitchen cabinetry continues a steady move toward darker finishes. While light natural finishes have been recently specified by 30 percent of kitchen designers, medium natural finishes stand at 55 percent, with dark natural finishes at 58 percent. Two years ago, dark natural finishes were specified by only 43 percent of designers.
Among painted cabinetry, white continues to be the most popular option, as white cabinets have been recently specified by 59 percent of NKBA member kitchen designers, while other colors were specified by only 38 percent of designers. Another trend to note is that distressed finishes are making a comeback. After being recently specified by 15 percent of designers going into 2010, that figure dropped to just 5 percent last year, but has now risen to 22 percent, according to NKBA.
Source: NKBA Photo: Poggenpohl/courtesy of NKBA
3. Glass backsplashes
Although glass remains a niche material for kitchen countertops, it’s been recently used by more than half of kitchen designers as a backsplash material, rising from 41 percent a year ago to 52 percent now. This trails only natural stone tile at 60 percent and ceramic tile (including porcelain), which has been specified of late by some 74 percent of designers. Even at that high rate, ceramic tile backsplashes are on the decline, as they stood at 78 percent a year ago and 88 percent two years ago.
Other popular backsplash materials are granite at 30 percent and quartz at 20 percent. The popularity of these materials as backsplashes is due to their high use as countertop materials. Finishing off a granite or quartz countertop with a matching backsplash is quite common; however, the same doesn’t hold true for solid surfaces. While these materials are very popular for countertops, they’re seldom used for backsplashes, as they’re specified by just 11 percent of designers, according to NKBA.
Source: NKBA Photo: ThinkGlass/courtesy of NKBA
4. LED lighting
Energy-efficiency is clearly not a fad, but a real trend that can be seen taking hold in homes across the United States and Canada. Despite the higher initial cost, light-emitting diode, or LED, lighting is proof of this trend. Specified by 50 percent of NKBA member kitchen designers entering 2010, that rate increased to 54 percent the following year and has jumped over the past year to 70 percent. However, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) aren’t sharing in this trend. Although they use roughly a quarter the energy of an incandescent bulb when producing the same amount of light, measured in lumens, the poor color of the light they produce and the presence of mercury in these bulbs are keeping them out of newly remodeled kitchens, falling from 36 percent last year to 26 percent today, according to NKBA.
Older incandescent bulbs stand at just 42 percent, a figure we expect to fall next year due in part to the U.S. ban on newly produced 100-watt incandescent bulbs that went into effect on Jan. 1. A ban on 75-watt incandescent bulbs will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2013, followed by 60- and 40-watt incandescent bulbs on Jan. 1, 2014.
Source: NKBA Photo: Lutron/courtesy of NKBA
5. Pull-out faucets
Pull-out kitchen faucets have become established as the dominant type of kitchen faucet. Designers are increasingly eschewing the standard faucet with a detached side spray in favor of pull-out models that integrate the two functions into a single unit. Viewing the large number of new pull-out faucet models at the NKBA’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, it’s clear these units can be seamlessly incorporated into almost any kitchen design style.
While standard kitchen faucets were specified by just under half of designers as 2010 approached, barely more than a third of designers have recently specified them. Meanwhile, the use of pull-out faucets has increased from 88 percent to 91 percent to 93 percent. In other words, 14 of out every 15 designers who designed a kitchen over the final three months of 2011 incorporated a pull-out faucet. These versatile models might also be mitigating the need for pot-filler faucets, which have been recently specified by just 28 percent of designers, down from 41 percent two years ago, according to NKBA.
Source: NKBA Photo: ROHL/courtesy of NKBA