Trends: What’s In, What’s Out in Kitchens and Baths

Pull-out faucets, such as Moen's Benton, are the established go-to style for kitchen designers.

The National Kitchen & Bath Association recently released the results of its 2012 NKBA Design Trends Survey, which analyzes the materials, products, and styles being specified by more than 350 member designers. Here are the key trends revealed:


  • Not So Cherry: Consistently the No. 1 or 2 go-to wood for cabinetry, cherry has seen a slow downward shift, with only 69% of designers having recently specified the species versus 80% in 2010.
  • Delighting in the Dark: For natural cabinetry, 58% of designers are specifying dark finishes today versus 43% two years ago. In contrast, natural light finishes sit at 30% and medium natural at 55%.
  • White’s Bright: For painted cabinetry, white still leads the way, recently specified by 59% of designers.
  • Classy Glass: The use of glass for backsplashes is on the rise, though it still trails natural stone tile and ceramic tile.
  • LED-ing the Way: Specification of energy-efficient LEDs soared to 70% this year, up from 50% two years ago.
  • Plenty of Pull: Pull-out units have established themselves as the dominant type of kitchen faucet, with a whopping 93% of designers specifying the models coming into 2012.


  • Best Medicine: On the decline in recent years, medicine cabinets appear to be making a comeback as designers look for ways to increase storage without increasing footprint. Just 43% of designers specified them in 2010 and 36% in 2011; this year the figure surged to 66%.

Kitchens & Baths:

  • New Transitions: For the first time, traditional design is not the most popular, getting pushed aside for transitional styles that blend traditional and contemporary elements.
  • On Solid Ground: The use of solid surfacing continues to climb in the kitchen (from 11% in 2010 to 30% in 2012) and the bath (from 26% last year to 34% this year). It’s likely taking share from granite and quartz, although those two materials still lead the pack by a significant margin.
  • Gone Gray: Gray color schemes have skyrocketed over the last two years, specified in kitchens by only 9% of designers in 2010 but by 33% this year, and climbing from 12% to 40% in baths. Whites, off-whites, beiges, and bones continue to be the most popular hues.
  • Take a Shine to: Polished chrome, once pushed aside by brushed finishes, is gaining back some ground, specified for kitchens by 52% of designers this year versus 34% last year and for baths 65% versus 46%. Polished nickel also is up slightly.

For more detailed descriptions of these trends, view the full NKBA report here.

2 Comments on “Trends: What’s In, What’s Out in Kitchens and Baths”

  1. superb post! Keep up the informative work!

  2. […] • What’s in and what’s out in kitchens and baths this year. […]

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