K & B DESIGN UPDATE – 2012 Results and Projections

By Annette Callari, Allied ASID; CMG

TRANSITIONAL_KITCHENThe National Kitchen and Bath Association is one of the leading sources in the industry for tracking current trends in this specialized area of design.   They use their strong membership base to provide real-life information as to what they are experiencing in design preferences across the country.  Given that credible source of their information, I’d like to share with you their most recent findings.

The most important trend that emerged from their member survey was quite startling.  For years, traditional kitchen designs have reigned as number one in popularity.  This is the first time ever that they are reporting an upset here.  Transitional design has moved into the number one spot by a slim margin.  Transitional is a “hybrid” design style that combines both traditional and contemporary design elements.  NKBA described it as, “”typified by lines that are simpler than traditional, but a bit more elaborate than contemporary in order to create a modern classic look.”  I think that describes it perfectly.

In my design experience, I see this as a natural evolution merging two great styles into one design.  It gives the designer (and client) more latitude in combining materials, finishes, and architectural details.  But more importantly, it results in a highly dramatic and interesting design.  The other design styles that followed Transitional and Traditional ranked in this order:  Contemporary, Shaker, Arts & Crafts, and Cottage.

Let’s talk about the next big topic that always comes up in K & B designs, and that would be wood species and wood finish choices.  Here’s the report card from most-used to least-used reported by the NKBA survey members:
1.    Maple and Cherry (both vying for 1st place)          Dark Natural Finishes
2.    Walnut                                                                          Mix of Dark  & Light Natural Finishes
3.    Oak                                                                               (creates good tonal contrast)
4.    Birch                                                                              Medium Natural Finishes
5.    Alder                                                                              Painted Finishes (White most popular)
6.    Bamboo                                                                         Distressed Finishes

These rankings are not static by any means.  The percentages are shifting yearly as to the position of each of these woods and how frequently designers are specifying them.  That can only be interpreted as designers embracing the individuality of each project.  Lesser-used woods are being specified more often too, so we may see these rankings change even more over the next year.  More information can be found at NKBA.org.

Lighting continues to factor significantly in K & B designs.  Compact fluorescent lighting is on the decline, mainly because of the poor quality and color of light it produces.  Incandescent lighting has bans imposed on it as we look for more energy-efficient alternatives.  This brings us to the number one ranked lighting choice by 70% of the NKBA designers surveyed:  LED lighting.  It is expected that LED’s will continue to grow in specification ranking.

If you are on the verge of planning your own kitchen or bath design, hopefully, this blog will help bolster some of your big decisions.  It’s always exciting to get an inside view as to what the professionals are doing.  The key word in all of this is “individuality”.  Good design is not rigid by any means.  Successful design always shows off YOUR personality.  So have fun with it!!!