COVID-19, millennial influence driving kitchen & bath trends

The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), a leader in providing tools, research, certification and events for its 50,000 members and kitchen and bath professionals around the world, has released its annual Design Trends report. 

The 2022 study, a deep dive into all aspects of both kitchen and bathroom design, forecasts the styles, features, materials and innovations expected to be most popular over the next few years. The current study finds that the pandemic has accelerated consumer interest in and adoption of key trends in their homes, such as integration of smart technology, multi-functional spaces, and natural and nature-based designs. 

“We’ve seen the pandemic have an effect across all sectors in our society and we’re now starting to see how the change in human behaviours is shifting the way we design our homes,” said NKBA Chief Executive Officer Bill Darcy. “Consumers are more eager to embrace new technologies and innovative ways to provide multi-functional options to maximize their space to fit any occasion, and are opting for surfaces and designs that make it easier to clean, as well as address health and wellness.”  

As expected, smart technology remains white hot. That includes hands-free and voice-activated technology to reduce the spread of diseases. In fact, devices offering touchless technology have become the breakout stars within the kitchen and bath space, the report suggests.  

That said, the market remains largely untapped, as only 30% of 2021 kitchen projects and 21% of bathroom designs included some type of integrated appliances.  

In addition to smart technology, 58% of designers predict spaces that serve multiple functions will become increasingly popular in 2022 and beyond. New millennial homeowners are looking to maximize their kitchen space with islands that serve as a meal-prepping area, a work station and a dining table, as well as a place to entertain guests. Furthermore, younger consumers are looking to include laundry facilities inside their bathrooms to free up space elsewhere. With work from home and flexible workdays gaining traction, the ability to customize the home space for specific needs will only continue to grow in importance.  

In that same vein, millennials are leading the increase in natural and contemporary designs. Moving away from white and grey as primary colours, designers expect nature-inspired colours to flourish, notably greens and blues. For fixtures, the trend is toward more matte and brushed finishes in black, stainless, nickel and pewter. Additionally, designers see increased natural light with large high-performance windows and doors for outdoor access becoming even more prominent, as homeowners continue to create outdoor living, dining and cooking areas. 

“Besides the pandemic, another rising factor in the design trends we are seeing for 2022 and beyond is the growth of the millennial and Gen-X customer base, as these homeowners are now reaching the point in their lives where they are increasingly working with designers to create their ideal homes, as opposed to attempting to do it themselves,” continues Darcy. 

Although boomers continue to be a large part of designers’ customer base, a younger audience is increasingly driving trends. Gen-X remains the biggest age group, with 49% of the design projects customized for them, but designers note a 6% increase in work on behalf of millennials. This has resulted in a shift in how designers do business, as millennials are more apt to conduct meetings virtually, 10% more likely to do the entire project virtually. 

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