July 16-18, 2017 WYNN LAS VEGAS Learn More

Top Apartment Kitchen and Bath Trends to Watch

kitchen and bath trends

Modern look and technology dominate 2017 kitchen and bath trends

Traditional bathroom and kitchen styles have become outdated. Home designers say that contemporary-style kitchens and baths have pushed once popular Americana designs to the curb.

The National Kitchen & Bath Association’s (NKBA) 2017 Kitchen & Bath Design Trends Report indicates that Americans prefer clean-lined, bright kitchens and bathrooms that leverage technology and safety.

Sleek designs and lighter colors are popular choices

Overall, designers prefer lighter colors, but emerging are veering towards dark, high-gloss cabinets in kitchens.

NKBA members reported that whites, off whites and grays are preferred in the bathroom. Blues, violets and purples are becoming more popular. Smoother cabinet and furniture styles have also gained in popularity, especially when considering high-gloss.

“We’re beginning to see more sleek designs over the more furniture look in the past,” said one survey respondent. “Everything is very bright and airy in terms of color trends.”

A variety of materials are dominating surfaces and accents. Quartz is the most popular kitchen countertop material. Second is granite, which has been trending downward in recent years. Bill Darcy, NKBA CEO, said designers are “specifying mixed color palettes and mixing materials, especially for countertops.”

Metal cabinets are coming back

Old-school designs have found their way back into cutting-edge kitchen designs. Designers still favor white and gray kitchen cupboards, but they’re mixing it up with fresh materials, including metal.

Wood cabinets remain dominant but metal’s return is stirring memories of steel cabinets, which were widely popular after World War II. Born from practicality, city dwellers used steel cabinets to minimize rodent damage in the home. However, the nostalgic style is breathing new life into kitchens, especially from young and male designers.

NKBA said the emergence of metal cabinetry and reduced use of reclaimed woods “is consistent with… designers using different combinations of materials and metals, across surfaces and as accents.”

Kitchens designed with tech integration

Almost a third of NKBA professionals have included wiring and pathways into the kitchen for future tech integration, and internet-connected appliances and docking stations are becoming staples in many kitchens.

“Homeowners want power strips under cabinets to eliminate outlets in the backsplash,” said one respondent.

Beyond the convenience of a refrigerator with a control panel you can access with your smart phone, technology creates ever more convenient spaces for those with disabilities. Accessible, universal design integrates technology and design to improve kitchen functionality.

“Universal design is commonplace among NKBA members who serve clients by specifying spaces that are safe, as well as beautiful,” Darcy said. “They design for users of all ages and abilities.”

Distributed video, audio and wiring pathways for future integration are still a luxury in the bathroom, but NKBA members report increased demand.

kitchen and bath trends

Freestanding and soaking tubs taking center stage in bathrooms

Standard and whirlpool tubs have taken a backseat to freestanding and soaking tubs. More than half of NKBA members who responded to the 2017 survey said that they removed a whirlpool tub or standard tub in a bathroom remodel last year.

Darcy anticipates that the trend will continue in 2017. Nearly half of respondents said they specified a freestanding or soaking tub in 2016, and 60 percent plan to propose them this year.

Among the priorities in the bathroom designs are safety, comfort and ADA-compliant features. More designers are including comfort-height toilets and countertops, shower seats, shower lighting and no-threshold showers.

“ADA-compliant features in master baths are not really new, but they are now trending so people can stay in their home as they age,” said one respondent.

As the year continues, the NKBA remains vigilant to see which kitchen and bath trends consumers will best respond to.


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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