Contemporary and Convenient: 2016 Kitchen and Bathroom Design Trends

2016 Design Trends


America’s kitchens and baths continue to be a little bit country and a little bit city, with built-in conveniences that extend to the family pet.

Transitional styles dominate bath, kitchen trends for 2016 with room for pets

Transitional-style architecture and neutral colors were popular in 2015 and are expected to remain in vogue this year, according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association’s (NKBA) annual survey. Also, simplified storage in both rooms, plus pet access in kitchens, are in demand.

Bridging the gap between classic and contemporary, transitional designs are moving the needle from what’s been more modern design in recent years.

Bathroom Design 2016

Contemporary looks still remain desirable in bathrooms, but kitchens are reflecting various styles that include the past and present, and even industrial and farmhouse looks.

Color-wise, neutrals remain the colors of choice, and two-tone designs are adding flavor to cabinetry. Designers are also using multiple surface types for counter spaces and islands.

Special pet spaces have a place in this year’s kitchen

Apartments that wish to meet resident desires for more pet-friendly amenities may want to take note that kitchens are now accommodating not only the chef with more prep space but also his best friend.

Nearly half of the more than 450 designers who responded to the survey created special pet spaces in kitchens last year so Fido and Fluffy could be close to the action. Designated feeding stations, under-counter crate areas and special pull-out for pet food and toy storage were popular in 2015.

“To make a hidden dog food and water bowl, I had the cabinet maker design it into the side of the cabinet baseboard with a spring release door panel,” said Tonya Dean, a kitchen and bath designer from Michigan in NKBA’s survey.

Pet Friendly Kitchens Multifamily

Also, granite countertops don’t appear to be dead. Quartz and granite tops are listed among the top five trends, which include wood flooring and pull-outs, tilt-outs and tilt-ins for storage. Combinations of wood and stone are also being used on countertops.

Easy prep, maintenance and clean-up features in kitchens are popular, too. Pull-outs/roll-outs for storage, under-sink garbage disposals, built-in coffee stations, wet bars and under-counter wine refrigerators are outfitting today’s kitchens.

Outdoor kitchens continue to be popular, specifically in the Southeast United States. About 45 percent of NKBA member respondents did outdoor kitchens in 2015, and roughly the same amount expect to do more in 2016.

Easier maneuverability, upkeep and plenty of storage desirable in baths

Modern design, built-in storage and hand showers are among top bathroom trends of 2016. Transitional is still outpacing contemporary for most desired bathroom style, however. The majority of NKBA designers surveyed say they’ll specify transitional style bathrooms in 2016.

Electric-heated floors, easy maintenance features, one-piece toilets, towel warmers, humidity-sensing fans, steam showers, smart toilets/bidets and WaterSense® toilets and faucets are popular features.

“Clients want easy-to-clean and use,” said Skyler Donaldson, a kitchen and bath designer from Alabama.

Kitchen Bathroom Trends 2016

Also, homeowners want easier maneuverability. NKBA survey respondents report an increased use of aging-in-place or universal design elements. Over half of the respondents reported having installed accessible and/or universal design features, with 82 percent installing comfort-height toilets and 75 percent installing comfort-height vanities.

Designers also say no-threshold showers are in and tubs are out in master baths. Roll-out shelves for storage and frameless glass shower enclosures are also popular.

“More homeowners will allow us to install handrails in the shower,” said Cynthia White, CKD, a remodeler from Ohio. “It’s an easier sell.”

Undermount sinks remain the most popular next to vessel sinks. Wood vanities and wall-mount vanities are also trends to look for in 2016. Freestanding standard tubs and soaker tubs are also popular.

White is the most popular fixture color and whites and grays are the most desired overall color scheme. Gray is the desired color, but beiges/bones are also preferred.


Contributing Editor, Property Management Insider
President, Ballpark Impressions, LLC

author photo two

Tim Blackwell is a long-time publishing and printing executive in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who writes about the multifamily housing and transportation industries. He has contributed numerous articles to Property Management Insider, and worked as a newspaper reporter in the D/FW area. Blackwell is president of Ballpark Impressions, and publishes the Cowcatcher Magazine. He is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter/Society of Professional Journalists.

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