Written by Nancy Atkinson
Every year, the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) surveys the design industry to learn more about the materials, styles and products designers used most often in the past year. The fixtures, finishes, color palettes, technology and shapes are all part of the toolbox used by the nation’s most creative kitchen and bath designers – and their picks set the trends that inspire the rest of us.
The NKBA recently held their Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Chicago, where they released a list of the nation’s top ten kitchen and bath trends and treatments for 2012 and we’ve outlined them for an easy go-to guide.
Transitional Style. One broad trend is the increased popularity of transitional style in both kitchen and baths. For the first time since the NKBA began tracking annual design trends, traditional is no longer the most popular type of design. Transitional style blends traditional and contemporary design, with lines that are simpler than traditional, but more elaborate than contemporary to create a modern, classic look.
Cassie Abernethy, manager at the Charlotte showroom for Hughes Supply, says understated design is in demand. “Our customers are asking for simplicity. They want clean lines and less detail. The transitional style fits all of those requests. Clients can use this in their traditional and contemporary settings.”
Glossy Finishes and Fixtures. Current kitchens shine with a combination of shimmering surfaces, high-sheen finishes and perfectly placed lighting accents. Stainless steel, walnut wood veneer and lights along the base of a kitchen island’s recessed toe-kick and polished wood floors are perfect examples of this prominent trend.
Interior Concrete. Concrete used inside the home continues to grow in popularity and is seen in many different contexts. Think bathroom countertops with integrated sinks or concrete surfaces buffed to a high shine and tinted with a variety of hues. When used with stone surfaces like recycled tile, exposed brick or lava rock, concrete unifies the space.
Color Infusion Behind Glass. Glass may be a niche material for kitchen countertops, but the survey shows more than half the NKBA designers are using it in several ways. One kitchen in the design competition inspired the judges with its simple painted wall and glass panels overlaid to create a sleek sheen of cool color that became a calm focal point in a family kitchen.
Jennifer Creasser of Tile Collection in Charlotte suggests incorporating colored tiles in a different way. “Say good bye to painting over the scuff marks on your stair raisers every year,” she says. “With color infused glass, you can add a whole new dimension to your stairway and dress up your high traffic areas with color.”
The White Kitchen, Reinvented. Classic, contemporary and clean, the white kitchen is consistent from year to year. This year it’s cleverly reinvented in a variety of hues including muted, milky tones.
Jennifer has also noticed this trend with designers, seeing their use of White Carrera marble countertops. With a backsplash of flickering metals, color or glass, it really pops. “Traditional material meets contemporary tile finishes in popular linear designs to create a transitional look,” she says.
Suspended Lighting. In kitchen design, suspended lighting provides an element of artistic sculpture that exudes light, glimmer and glitz. These dangling focal points drop light onto defined areas, perfectly accenting the high-sheen finishes that are so wonderful in this year’s kitchen designs.
Symmetry in Design. Symmetry in room design creates stability and balance. For example, a wall with a large framed window behind the kitchen sink will be counterbalanced by open, glass door cabinetry that draws the eye up and around the room.
Repeating and Complementing Shapes. Designers know that repeating a particular shape in various sizes, colors and textures creates a continuum that adds a soothing element to any room design. In a bathroom for instance, a designer may use large squares of travertine on the floor, glass mosaics in the shower and a series of square windows to draw the eye up and repeat the theme.
Traditional Technology in Non-Traditional Spaces. Creative designers are using today’s technology to solve design challenges in the kitchen. Fridge drawers that are integrated into the sleek lines of cabinetry and a steam oven placed where sink plumbing once existed create solutions to kitchen space problems.
Tile in Totality. Designers are using tile for more than the wall, floor and bathroom space. One bathroom design presented at the 2012 NKAB Design Competition featured translucent recycled glass tiles surrounding a Japanese soaking tub. Muted pine green tiles were paired with small mosaic tiles in colors that evoked a tranquil sunset. Linen-textured, sand colored porcelain tiles created the foundation for a restful space wrapped entirely in glass tile.
Open Concept Bathroom. The space-efficient and sleek open-plan bathroom was highlighted in this year’s designs. With few walls, these expansive bathrooms have an entirely open shower and a minimalist product selection approach. By eliminating the shower stall and extending the open floor, the room becomes a sweeping space.
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