You’ll Want to Know About These Emerging Trends in Kitchens and Baths

A quick look at what the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s annual design trends survey reveals for 2018

This farmhouse kitchen employs many trends for kitchens in 2018, including exposed wood beams, undermount sink and an all-white color scheme. Designed by Taryn Emerson. Photography by Jared Bumgarner.

This farmhouse kitchen employs many trends for kitchens in 2018, including exposed wood beams, undermount sink and an all-white color scheme. Designed by Taryn Emerson. Photography by Jared Bumgarner.

Organic, warm and elegantly streamlined might best describe materials and styles on display at the recent Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Orlando, Fla., in January.

The Magnolia Market Effect

White and gray are still trending for both kitchens and baths. In kitchens, though, these colors are often mixed with warm metals and soft weathered wood, along with features such as barn doors and apron sinks. It’s all part of the composition of what has become the top kitchen style for 2018, which is characterized as farmhouse.

Typically design preferences evolve over time; as one begins to fall out of favor, another gains momentum. This is the case with traditional and Old-World styles, which no longer rank among the Top 3 preferred looks. For the last several years, transitional and contemporary design have been on the rise, but this year, farmhouse style suddenly surged to the top. Seventy-nine percent of design and industry professionals participating in the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s (NKBA) annual design trends survey report the style as being “trendy” or “very trendy.”

Transitional was cited at 77 percent. A streamlined interpretation of traditional style, transitional combines clean lines with classic design elements. Quartz countertops, gas appliances and wood flooring are prime elements in transitional kitchens. Overall, for countertops in every style, Elle H-Millard, a certified kitchen designer and NKBA’s industry relations manager, says “quartz is where it’s at today,” with 94 percent of professionals surveyed agreeing.

Contemporary, defined by linear forms with flat front doors and frameless cabinets, followed as the third most preferred style. Hallmarks include open shelving, clean lines and appliances that meld into cabinets. It’s important to note, according to H-Millard, the narrow spread between Farmhouse at 79 percent and Contemporary at 73 percent.

Compared to recent KBIS shows, wood was very much in evidence this year as an option for cabinetry (especially in contemporary designs), beams and other design features, as well as the top pick for flooring. Among those surveyed, 94 percent said wood was the prime option.

Most appliance manufacturers have introduced varied hues of dark gray, but column refrigerators and freezers are getting the appliance buzz this year. Having the option to create whatever configuration a homeowner wants aligns with the growing desire among consumers and new owners to ensure that their homes are not only uniquely theirs, but will also promote a desired lifestyle.

Follow the Money

For the last several years, transitional and contemporary design have been on the rise, but this year, farmhouse style suddenly surged to the top.Kitchens and baths continue to be big business, accounting for one-quarter of residential construction dollars, a number that includes both new construction, as well as remodeling. NKBA expects an increase of 10.6 percent in the residential kitchen and bath market, with an additional 9.3 percent hike in 2018, making it a $178 billion industry. Products capturing the most dollars for kitchens include cabinets, appliances, countertops and flooring. Showers and flooring capture most of the dollars spent on bathroom products followed by vanities and bathtubs. While remodeling and renovation projects account for a sizable percentage of construction spending for kitchens, dollars devoted to bathroom are more evenly apportioned between the two.

Bathrooms Making Connections

Right now, transitional and contemporary looks dominate style preferences in the bathroom, but these spaces are also beginning to make design statements of their own. In the future, H-Millard looks to more creative use of materials such as “large-scale natural stone cut and matched to created art with natural elements.”

Transitional bathrooms today often combine wood cabinetry, painted walls, undermount sinks and brushed nickel fixtures in a calming color palette of white, gray and blue. Expect to see textured wall tile increasingly applied to create a focal point for the space or for a shower. Barn doors are already appearing in bathrooms, adding an organic element, as well as saving space. Quartz is the top preference for countertops. H-Millard expects to see more live-edge slab countertops, which embrace the exposed outer edge of the material, and edge-lit acrylic countertops. Wallpaper may also be back in a big way with large-scale formats.

Designers anticipate transitional and contemporary will continue to dominate style preferences. Free-standing tubs continue to be popular, especially in master baths. Out of favor, according to a majority of respondents, are skirted and platform models. The top-ranked sustainable product is LED lightbulbs, with the shower being the No. 1 place for lighting. Special amenities include radiant floor heating (65 percent), towels warmers and steam showers (39 percent).

Looking ahead, H-Millard says you will see “barn doors galore, in every style.” Connectvitiy and wellness will be important with smart toilets and steam showers.

What’s ahead for kitchens? More color, even though white will continue to be a strong trend. A greater emphasis on wellness has already become a focus for appliance manufacturers and experts believe it will influence future designs and new products.

Design, products and function will ensure the kitchen continues to be the heart of the home, but the same combo is elevating baths to be the place where homeowners can reconnect with their soul.
Camilla McLaughlin is an award-winning writer specializing in house and home. Her work has appeared in leading online and print publications, such as Yahoo! Real Estate, Unique Homes magazine and Realtor Magazine. She has also freelanced for the Associated Press.

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