Design Trends from NKBA 2022

Donna Heiderstadt

NKBA’s Global Connect Pavilion attracted an intently curious crowd for the NKBA’s 2022 Design Trends presentation by Kerrie Kelly, principal of Sacramento, California-based Kerrie Kelly Design Lab and a Global Connect Advisor for NKBA. Her core message, while not quite “bye-bye Boomer,” was the emerging influence of Millennials on the direction of kitchen and bath design. And that message is green—both in color and an eco-centric approach to the home.

The design industry can expect to see more organic features and natural finishes, emphasizing warm hues, wood tones, more matte and brushed finishes, and plenty of texture and nubbiness, all to create a home that supports a chosen lifestyle.

Technology, too, will be a major player. That means touchless fixtures, app-controlled appliances, voice-activated lighting, and recycling storage in the kitchen. In the bath, the trends are toward larger showers (and even removing tubs), shower “experiences” drawn from spa-at-home and staycation concepts, sustainability, and connected products such as water-temperature controls and entertainment.

The leading design trends for this target market take their cues from nature—natural wood, cane, and sea glass—and from natural light via high-performance windows and outdoor living and entertainment areas outside the kitchen.

Kelly also said designers can expect to see a demand for more color, with all-white receding and gray heading more toward the blue-green palette. These go hand in hand with lighter wood grains and brushed gold and matte finishes. Said Kelly: “Dark blue is a new neutral.”

Also in demand: Large or double islands, flex space for working or family time, pantries offering not only storage but also a place for small appliances and a coffee station, and built-in features such as drying racks and cutting boards.

And while there is a growing emphasis from manufacturers on integrated technology, only 30% of kitchens and 21% of bathrooms currently include it—manufacturers need to do a better job of communicating its features and benefits to designers and architects so they can get clients to buy into it.

In the three-year trend forecast, Kelly said, three major components dominate:

  • Tech solutions
  • Natural inspiration
  • European trends

New kitchen design will include more color, wood tones, new storage options, and clean, modern design, along with multi-purpose layouts and integrated high-tech appliances. Kitchen islands and pantries will continue to serve multi-purposes. The transitional design will continue to be popular as organic/natural and contemporary become top trends—and farmhouse/cottage and midcentury shrink in popularity with Millennials.

Top-of-mind emerging kitchen colors are greens, blues, and wood tones, followed closely by white and gray. Bold colors will predominantly be used in backsplashes, cabinets, wall paint, and artwork, followed by fabrics and vent hoods. And while we’re not quite yet at the “Jetsons” stage, Millennials are excited about smart controls in the kitchen via mobile devices, tablets or voice-control touchless faucets, integrated lighting, and smart appliances.

Asked where they would most like to see innovation in the kitchen over the next three years, designers said in this order: cabinets, technology solutions, ventilation hoods, and appliances. In cabinets, new styles, colors, and customization are most desired.

In the bathroom, hotel experiences, technology, and natural influences will substantially impact design over the next three years, with bigger showers, spa features, and wet rooms along with warmer colors, large format tiles, natural materials, floating materials vanities, and storage solutions. Many design plans will call for removing tubs to increase shower size, increasing the overall bathroom footprint, and connecting the bathroom to a shower/dressing area.

Like kitchens, the top-of-mind emerging bathroom colors are greens, blues, whites, grays, and wood tones, with bold colors used primarily on vertical surfaces such as walls, artwork, cabinets/vanities, and fabric accents. Key technology in the bathroom will include smart controls for flooring and showers, connected scales, mirrors, heated floors, mobile app controls, and water conservation. Designers surveyed said they would most like to see innovation in these bathroom products: showers, vanities, and integrated technology solutions, as well as shower materials and surrounds and new styles/colors/designs for vanities.

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