Announcing the 2012 NKBA Kitchen & Bath Trends!

Glass Tile from the NKBA 2012 Industry ShowOur designers and staff attended National Kitchen and Bath Association’s Industry Show in Chicago last week. We saw many new products and upcoming trends, and learned about innovations within our industry. Over the next few weeks we will be sharing our favorites from the show on Facebook. In the mean time, we wanted to pass along the NKBA’s Top Kitchen and Bath Trends for 2012. More than 500 designers took part in a survey, citing the materials, products, and styles they were using in their kitchen and bath designs during the last quarter of 2011. Keep in mind that styles vary by region, and that these trends are meant to reflect overall home designs throughout the U.S.


1) Cherry Wood Losing Popularity

Cherry wood was the leader in cabinetry for many years, with maple coming in second. Over  the past two years however, designers are specifying cherry less and less, with no one wood emerging as the new star. Many lesser-known woods are replacing both cherry and maple in more kitchens these days, such as oak, walnut, birch and bamboo.

2) Changing Cabinet Finishes

Designers are seeing more requests for darker finishes in natural wood cabinetry than years past. Among painted cabinetry, white is still the most popular color, and the distressed look is coming back in.

3) Glass Backsplashes are Growing

Although natural tile stone and ceramic tile are still the most common material choices for kitchen backsplashes, glass tile is increasing in popularity. Granite and quartz installations are also growing due to their use as a countertop material.  Matching a backsplash to a quartz or granite countertop is prevalent in kitchen design.

4)  LED Lighting

Although they have a higher initial cost, light-emitting diode, or LED, lighting has made quite a jump in popularity over the past year. The mixture of energy-efficiency and the quality of light make these fixtures a good choice in a kitchen. On January 1, a U.S. ban on newly produced 100-watt bulbs went into effect, and 75-watt and 60-watt are slated for the same end over the next two years. This shift to adopting an energy-efficient lifestyle will help further boost the use of LED lighting.

5)  Pull-Out Faucets

During our walk around the KBIS show floor, the explosion in popularity of these all-in-one faucet units was evident. Quickly fading are the days of single-function faucets with a separate spray unit. The NKAB found that 93% of designers specified pull-out kitchen faucets in their kitchen installations at the end of 2011.


1) Medicine Cabinets Making a Comeback

Most of us grew up with a medicine cabinet in our bathrooms, but over the past decade they were being replaced with decorative mirrors. As homeowners look to increase space efficiency in their bathrooms, medicine cabinets are returning.

Kitchens & Bathrooms:

1) Transitional Beats out Traditional

Late 2011 saw the first time transitional design beat out traditional design since the NKAB began tracking design trends. Transitional is defined as a mixture of traditional and contemporary styles, characterized by cleaner lines than traditional style, and more decorative elements than contemporary finishes. Traditional design is not being abandoned however, coming in a close second behind transitional. Contemporary is the third most popular design style. Shaker, arts & crafts and cottage are the next most frequently used styles.

2) Solid Surfaces

While granite and quartz are still the most popular choices for countertop materials, solid surfaces are making a strong comeback. In the bathroom, glass countertops are growing in popularity as well, doubling over the past two years.

3) Gray is the new Black

More and more kitchen and bath remodelers are incorporating gray color schemes into their designs. Gray’s ability to provide a clean, sophisticated look without overpowering the design is the reason the color tone is becoming popular. Off-white and white are still the most common color schemes in kitchens and baths, with beige and bone coming in second place. Brown is the third most popular color in kitchens, and fourth in bathrooms, just behind gray. There has been an increase in the use of bronze/terracotta, and well as green in kitchens. Green has been popular in bathrooms as well, along with blue.

4) Polished Chrome is Back!

For some of us, it never left. However, in the design world, polished metal has been the recent trend, replacing brushed metal finishes. Designers are now specifying polished chrome in 52% of their kitchen installations. In bathrooms, 65% of designers are using polished chrome, with polished nickel growing as well in both kitchens and baths. The only brushed metal finish to buck the trend is stainless steel. Bronze finishes continue to be popular, though their use dipped a bit in late 2011.

Our designers at Case Design/Remodeling continue to keep up with the growing home remodeling design trends. They can help you decide which styles work best for your project. Click here to schedule a free consultation at your home or give us a call at 317-846-2600.

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