The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) has released its annual report of the Top 10 trends to watch for in the coming year. As with last year’s report, glass backsplashes and LED lighting remain popular. Interest in white-painted cabinetry has grown, as has gray as a foundation color for many designs. More designers are specifying high-tech touch-activated faucets.

The 2013 trends survey included participation from more than 300 NKBA member-designers from the U.S. and Canada outlining the materials, product types, and design styles they specified during the final three months of 2012.

NKBA Announces 2013 Kitchen & Bath Design Trends

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White-painted cabinets and glass backsplashes gain ground, while gray becomes the new black -- again!

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“As members of the NKBA, the kitchen and bath industry’s foremost professional association, our designers demonstrate comprehensive knowledge in kitchen and bath design,” says 2013 NKBA president John Morgan. “They excel in evaluating homeowners’ specific needs and creating designs that inspire. It will be interesting to discover the trends that emerge from the rich experience of these creative, talented individuals.”

The New Neutral

The NKBA says that gray color schemes in both kitchens and baths have witnessed a dramatic escalation since 2010, particularly over the past year. Designers reported that more than half of kitchens (55%) and bathrooms (56%) use shades of gray to create chic, sophisticated spaces. This marks significant increases in the color choice, which was used in just 9% of kitchen and 12% of bathrooms as recently as 2010.

Despite its growing popularity, gray still comes in as just the third most popular color scheme. White and off-white remain the top option, used by 73% of kitchen designers and 71% of bathroom designers — an increase of 6 points in both categories over the past year. Beige and “bone” colorways are the second most popular kitchen-and-bath color choice.

White Wins Out

With white as the top option for kitchen and bath color, it’s no surprise that white-painted cabinets have stayed on top of the chart since last year. Interest in the category has climbed significantly, jumping from 47% in 2011 to 59% in 2012, and further increasing to 67% this year. Use of wood tones has remained consistent over the last year. Light cabinetry finishes are currently used by 30% of respondents, medium finishes by 54%, and dark finishes by 55%. Use of glazed finishes, which held at 44% in 2011 and 2012, increased by four percentage points this year.

Style Options

Traditional kitchen and bath designs continue to give way to transitional styling, which NKBA defines as a seamless blend of traditional and contemporary. Traditional was the most popular design aesthetic in 2010 and 2011, while transitional design takes the lead in 2012, used by 69% of kitchen designers (a 10-point jump) and 61% of bathroom designers. Traditional styles hold steady at 60% and 58% in kitchens and bathrooms, respectively. Contemporary design secured a close third in the most recent poll, maintaining a steady 52% use in kitchens and increasing slightly from 53% to 57% in bathrooms.

Finishes & Fixtures

Tops in countertops: Granite remains the surfacing material of choice, used by 87% of kitchen designers and 71% of bathroom designers, but quartz is narrowing the gap. Use of quartz in kitchens jumped from 69% in 2012 to 80% this year, and from 53% to 65% in bathrooms.

High-class glass: Preference for glass backsplashes has grown dramatically in the last three years from 42% in 2010 to 64% this year. Ceramic and porcelain tiles remain the top option for the third consecutive year, but overall use fell by 11 points from 2010 (88%) and now (77%).

Bright light: LED Lighting is being specified by a higher percentage of designers, increasing from 70% to 77% over the past year. The significant uptick from 50% in 2010 indicates that this trend has serious staying power.

Faucet features: This year’s report notes that a third of member designers (32%) specified touch-activated faucets, compared with just 20% for the last two years. Pull-out are the clear leader by functionality, used by 94% of designers this year. Pot fillers are also gaining ground, increasing 5 points over the past year to 33%.

Best finish: Satin nickel remains the most-used finish for kitchen fixtures, with use increasing from 42% in 2010 to 60% this year. Bronze and oil-rubbed bronze finishes are also gaining use. The NKBA says that increased use of these three finishes comes at the expense of polished nickel and polished chrome, which each lost 5 points year-over-year.

For the floor: In bathrooms, ceramic and porcelain tile flooring have declined in use over the past two years, but are still the most popular choice, specified by 83% of survey participants, down from 93% in 2011. Natural stone tile is the second most popular flooring type, but has also declined from 77% use in 2011 to 57% this year. —Lauren Hunter, senior editor, REMODELING.