NKBA Reveals Top Kitchen & Bath Trends for 2012

It’s a little bit like Fashion Week to those of us in the Kitchen and Bath remodeling world: the week that the National Kitchen and Bath Association reveals their top trends for the year.

More than 350 National Kitchen & Bath Association member designers took part in the 2012 NKBA Design Trends Survey to cite the materials, product types, and styles that they’ve incorporated into their kitchen and bath designs over the final three months of 2011. While broad trends won’t be evident in every local market, the following are the top overall trends for kitchens and baths across the United States and Canada.

This Feinmann Design|Build kitchen remodel in Weston, MA shows off the 2012 NKBA trend of incorporating brown with white tones in the kitchen.


Listed below are some of the top trends:

• Cherry wood cabinetry is declining in popularity, and no single wood species is rising to take its place. Lesser-known woods such as oak, walnut and hickory are gaining market share. Demand for bamboo has doubled from 5% in 2010 to 10% in 2011. White alder holds 27% of the market, down from 40% two years ago. Dark natural finishes lead the pack at 53%, up from 48% two years ago. But medium natural finishes stand at 55%, and light natural finishes at 30%. Among painted cabinetry, white is the most popular options (59%) but the distressed look is making a comeback.

• Glass blacksplashes: More than half — 52% — of kitchen designers now use it, trailing only natural stone tile and ceramic/porcelain tile. But glass is gaining on the other materials.

• The initial higher upfront cost of LED lighting is no longer a deterrent for most consumers. Specified by 50% of NKBA kitchen designers going into 2010, that number jumped to 54% the following year and has soared to 70% over the past year. The number of consumers requesting CFLs just keeps dropping. In remodeled kitchens, it stands at 26% today.

• Pull-out faucets are replacing the standard faucet with a detached side spray. In the final three months of 2011, 14 out of 15 kitchen designers incorporated a pull-out faucet in the project. Pot filler faucets are losing their appeal, perhaps because the pull-out can do double duty.

• Whose bright ideas was it to replace medicine cabinets with decorative wall mirrors? Consumers have woken up to the fact that they lost important storage space and are demanding them back. As we enter 2012, 66% of NKBA members have incorporated this element into a bathroom design, compared with 36% last year.

• Browns and grays: Putting aside the always popular whites, gray color schemes in both kitchen and bath keeps gaining popularity. Brown is the third most popular color in the kitchen and fourth in the bathroom, right behind gray. In the kitchen, bronzes and terra cottas have risen in favor. Green is still popular in bathrooms, but blue is the new upstart color.

• Move over, brushed chrome and satin nickel, because polished chrome is back. Polished finishes are gaining more converts across the board and the other categories are sinking in popularity. Only stainless steel managed to hold its own, rising from 46% to 50% in the kitchen and increasingly significantly in the bathroom, from 16% to 28%.