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NKBA 2021 Kitchen and Bath Design Trends.

December 07, 2020

By National Kitchen and Bath Association

Photo credit: National Kitchen and Bath Association

The National Kitchen and Bath Association 2021 Design Trends Research reveals the COVID-19 pandemic will have a substantial lasting impact on kitchen and bath design. As homeowners spend more time at home, kitchens and primary bathrooms are getting larger, the volume of outdoor living projects is increasing significantly and there is a need for easy-to-clean surfaces, flexible living spaces and seamless technology integration for added convenience and peace of mind. Blog_12-Dec_NKBA 

Aesthetically, design preferences in both kitchen and bath will continue to be more contemporary and transitional in style, with added influence of a new leading trend of “natural/organic.” This combination feels more European in style and scale, with clean lines, minimal detailing, the warmth and texture of natural finishes, and larger windows to bring the feeling of the outdoors inside. The influence of natural/organic catapulted into the top three design styles respondents expect to increase in popularity in the kitchen and bath over the next three years. This is a significant shift from the NKBA 2019 study, where this same design style ranked 10th. Conversely, traditional design, which consistently had been one of the top three kitchen and bath styles for more than a decade, is now anticipated to be one of the least popular.

“We expect designs for both the kitchen and bath to continue trending toward a more modern, organic feel that is both streamlined and adaptable,” said Bill Darcy, NKBA CEO. “The kitchen has long been the heart of the home. But especially during the pandemic, it has emerged as the most prominent, multitasking room as well. We see this continuing with more open-space concepts, an extension into multi-season outdoor living spaces, larger kitchen island hubs and increased functionality and storage to allow homeowners to cook, eat, work, home-school and play, all in the same vicinity.”

Other Emerging Kitchen Trends


Gas and induction cooking methods are nearly equal in popularity, with induction expected to replace traditional glass electric cooktops

Ventilation hoods will become the new decorative focal point in the kitchen


Matte and brushed finishes in stainless steel or black

Motion-control/hands-free or touch/tap


Quartz, particularly in lighter colors, will continue to be the driving material for countertops

Large-scale backsplashes featuring a solid slab or long subway tile

Mixing complementary colors and materials on perimeter countertops and islands


Dedicated device-charging/viewing

Seamless video communication

Emergency power for the refrigerator

Other Emerging Bathroom Trends


Larger freestanding showers to accommodate two people with zero-clearance entry, integrated seating and grab bars

Larger-format surrounds with fewer grout lines

Linear drains

Voice-activated or hands-free faucets

Black and nickel in matte or brushed finishes



Self-closing lids


Floating vanities with integrated electrical outlets, charging capabilities and storage


Radiant heated flooring


Motion-sensor lighting

Temperature control

Leak detection with mobile alerts

Mirrors with integrated internet access

The results of this study are based on data collected in Q3 2020 from more than 700 design professionals in North America, representing industry segments including designers (52% of respondents), showrooms, dealers, manufacturers, remodelers and architects. Of the respondents, 78% are NKBA members.

Since its inception nearly 60 years ago, the NKBA has tracked the shift in design trends to forecast the styles, features and materials. This year’s research includes an added layer due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which the NKBA anticipates having a substantial lasting influence on kitchen and bath design.


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