When attempting to predict future trends, looking to the recent past often can yield clear signs of what is to come. This holds true even for something as fluid as homeowner style preferences. So when the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) wanted to learn the direction of kitchen and bath styles in 2011, it analyzed the specifications of 100 NKBA members in the last three months of 2010 and compared the report with the previous year's findings. According to kitchen and bath designers, the industry is in for some stylistic shifts during 2011. Here are 11 emerging trends NKBA designers noted at the end of 2010 that are likely to develop further in 2011.
- Shaker Style on the Rise: Traditional kitchen cabinetry is still king, but the simpler Shaker door style has bumped contemporary out of its former second-place rank. Slightly fewer NKBA designers used traditional cabinets at the end of 2010 than in 2009 (about 76 percent), while use of contemporary cabinets dropped to 48 percent and use of Shaker rose to 55 percent. Cottage style retains a smaller niche, with 21 percent market share.
- Darker Finishes First: Paler and mid-toned finishes had gained some popularity along with more modern cabinetry styles in years past, but finish preferences have shifted toward darker hues. Dark natural wood finishes were the most popular late in 2010, rising from 42 percent to 51 percent usage among designers, while usage of medium natural finishes fell by 5 percent to 48 percent and glazed finishes dropped by 11 percent to 42 percent. White-painted finishes also declined slightly, but light natural and colored painted finishes each increased in usage a bit, but still are used by a minority of designers (around one-quarter). Distressed finishes definitely have fallen out of favor and held just 5 percent of the market in 2010, compared with 16 percent in 2009.
- Unrefrigerated Wine Storage: The popularity of several types of special cabinetry storage options is waning, but usage of wine racks and cubbies has surged. Fewer designers incorporated tall pantries into kitchens in 2010 (84 percent, compared with 89 percent in 2009), lazy Susans (78 percent, down from 90 percent), pullout organizers and racks (71 percent, down from 81 percent), and appliance garages (29 percent, down from 36 percent). Unchilled wine storage, however, was used by 51 percent of NKBA designers in 2010, compared with 39 percent in 2009.
- French Refrigeration: At the end of 2010, 78 percent of NKBA designers specified French door refrigerators, up from 67 percent in 2009. Other freezer-bottom refrigerator models declined slightly from 60 percent to 59 percent, while side-by-side units increased in usage, rising from 46 percent to 49 percent. The flip side of the increase in wine cabinetry, incorporation of undercounter wine refrigerators dropped precipitously to 36 percent, down from 50 percent in 2009.
- Induction Cooking: Although still used in a minority of projects, induction cooktops are closing in on electric and gas-fueled models with market share rising to 34 percent at the end of 2010 (up from 26 percent in 2009). Fewer NKBA designers specified gas cooktops in this period than at the beginning of the year (70 percent compared with 76 percent), and slightly more specified electric cooktops (41 percent, up from 38 percent). Concerns over energy costs may be spurring the increased interest in efficient induction technology.
- LED Uprising: Incandescent light bulbs still may be the preferred method for lighting any room, but they are most certainly on their way out (legislation alone will see to that). Only 35 percent of NKBA designers specified incandescents in 2010, opting instead for more energy-efficient products. Most still avoid compact fluorescents, but halogens are still popular, despite having declined in usage from 46 percent to 40 percent. The top choice for replacing incandescents has shifted to LED lights, with 54 percent of designers reporting they had used LEDs in 2010, up from 47 percent in 2009.
- Waste Disposal: Designers are paying more attention to trash disposal in kitchens in various ways. In 2010, 89 percent addressed trash by incorporating garbage and recycling bin pullouts in cabinetry, and 86 percent included garbage disposals (up from 75 percent in 2009). To help reduce the volume of the trash generated, more designers included trash compactors in 2010 (18 percent) than in 2009 (11 percent). Increased emphasis on waste reduction in the kitchen may be attributed to an overall concern for sustainability and a household's environmental impact.
- Quartz Surfacing: Granite countertops still reign supreme in bathrooms, with 83 percent of NKBA designers specifying it in 2010 (down 2 percent from 2009), but quartz countertops are gaining ground. In 2009, 48 percent of designers used quartz, but last year that rose to 54 percent. Solid surfacing is far less popular in the bath, with only 25 percent market share, and solid marble saw declining usage in 2010, from 46 percent down to 37 percent.
- Green Color Palettes: Blue seems like a natural color for water-centric rooms, but green color palettes have become more popular. In 2010, 24 percent of designers used green colors in bathrooms, up from 14 percent the previous year. Blue palettes were used by 22 percent of designers. Whites, off-whites, beiges, and browns are still most popular, however. White and off-white color palettes rose slightly in 2010 to 60 percent, but beige and brown both saw declining usage: from 66 percent to 57 percent for beige, and from 48 percent to 38 percent for brown.
- Vessel Sinks: Undermount bathroom sinks are still the most widely used type in usage and even increased slightly from 2009 to 97 percent of the market in 2010. But vessel sinks surged forward to more securely claim their second-place rank in 2010, increasing in usage from 39 percent to 51 percent. Less popular, although still seeing increased use, are integrated sink tops (38 percent), pedestal sinks (29 percent), and drop-in sinks (27 percent).
- Satin Nickel Faucets: In both bathrooms and kitchens, satin nickel-finished faucets have pushed ahead of other finishes in popularity. In 2010, 63 percent of NKBA designers specified satin nickel faucets in kitchens (up from 41 percent) and 57 percent speced them in bathrooms (up from 45 percent). Brushed nickel, while still a popular option in the kitchen, fell from 61 percent usage to 48 percent; it fell even further in the bathroom, declining to 38 percent from 66 percent. Stainless steel ranks a solid 44 percent usage among designers in kitchens, but only 16 percent in bathrooms.
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