Breaking Down the Top Ten Kitchen Trends of 2016

The 2016 NKBA Kitchen and Bath Design Trends Report revealed the popularity of transitional style, wood flooring, specialized pet spaces, and increased technology, among other key design elements. Following is a breakdown of the top ten kitchen trends to share with your clients.


1. Transitional style, with contemporary emerging.
Transitional Style Contemporary Emerging Kitchen

The marriage of traditional and contemporary styles appeal to both millennials and boomers, so it’s no surprise that transitional kitchens are the most preferred option for 2016. Traditional style and clean, contemporary looks create streamlined spaces that are unique, and leave room for homeowners to make the space their own.

2. Gray/white/off-white cabinets.
Gray white or off-white cabinets

It’s no surprise that neutral colors continue to dominate in 2016.  Survey respondents note that in addition to neutral wall pallets, grays/whites/off-white hues hold the top spot when it comes to cabinet colors. NKBA members are also seeing an increased desire by clients for mixed colors within one space; a request that can easily be achieved by using different colors for the perimeter of the kitchen versus the kitchen island or other focal point.

“Clients are increasingly requesting mixed colors. Classic contemporary with touches of rustic or industrial. Floating shelves/open cabinets. And pops of color,” said Mary a kitchen and bath designer from Indiana.

3. Pull-outs, tilt-outs and tilt-ins for storage.
Pull-outs tilt-outs or tilt-ins for storage

Storage solutions make life easier for everyone, which is why this design element will never go out of style. In 2016, designers expect to see an increase in the use of space-saving pull-outs, tilt-outs, and tilt-ins, because these storage features are extremely functional and vital to conserving valuable countertop or pantry space.

“We see more drawer banks, floating shelves and horizontal uppers with lift up doors,” said Cara a mass retailer in Montana.
4. Wood flooring.
Wood Flooring

Wood and ceramic/porcelain tile are the two most popular kitchen flooring materials, specified by at least 75 percent of survey respondents. “Wood look ceramic and porcelain…especially in a herringbone pattern,” said Andrea a mass retailer in Ontario, Canada.

5. Quartz and granite countertops.
Granite and Quartz countertops

While granite is still very popular, its dominance has long been in decline, especially over the last four years. Quartz has gained considerable share in countertop preferences over the last five years. In 2010, 73 percent of responding members reported using quartz in their kitchen projects. By 2015, that number rose 16 points to 89 percent, with 67 percent expecting to do more projects involving quartz in 2016.

6. Outdoor kitchens.

Outdoor kitchens saw a slight decline in 2015 vs. 2014, down seven percentage points. About 44 percent of respondents reported doing an outdoor kitchen in 2015, with about the same fraction expecting to do more in 2016. Not surprisingly, outdoor cooking is most common in the Southeast US and among empty-nesters and homeowners with annual incomes of $100,000 or more.

“We design outdoor living entertainment areas, including outdoor kitchens as an outdoor room,” said Jessica a kitchen and bath designer from Maryland.

7. Built-in coffee stations and wet bars.
Built-in coffee stations

Built-in coffeemakers and coffee/espresso stations were specified in kitchens by about one-third of responding NKBA members in 2015, a figure that is expected to hold steady in 2016.

“We did a designated Keurig® area,” said Mandy an Indiana remodeler. Multiple members reported doing kitchens that included an integrated wine/bar area.

“Even people with small kitchens want a small wet bar area,” said Rachelle an interior designer from California. Eva a remodeler from Illinois, reported doing one job with “his and hers wine coolers (his for beer, hers for wine).”

8. Pocket doors.
Pocket Doors

Pocket doors were specified by more than 70 percent of responding members in 2015, with 35 percent of designers expecting to use more this year. French doors are equally popular, used by 65 percent of respondents in 2015, with 22 percent expecting to use them more frequently in 2016.

As with internal storage solutions, pocket doors are a great space saver in the kitchen.

9. Special pet spaces.
Special hidden pet spaces

One unique design element reported this year is the increased use of pet-friendly amenities. Pet-friendly features were included in kitchens by fully half of responding NKBA members in 2015, with 35 percent expecting to increase accommodations for man’s best friend. Only one percent of respondents expect this trend would decrease.

The most frequent pet amenities were pullout drawers for feeding stations and pet food storage, followed by built-in beds and crates.

“To make a hidden dog food and water bowl, I had the cabinet maker design it into the side of the cabinet baseboard with a spring release door panel. Very cool design,” said Tonya a kitchen and bath designer from Michigan. “We did a dog bowl shelf between two tall pantries with holes cut out of granite for bowls to rest in to elevate for easier dining,” said Amanda a kitchen and bath designer from Georgia.

10. Docking and charging stations.
Docking and Charging Stations

With the increased use of technology in all aspects of our lives, it makes sense that more and more designers are incorporating docking and charging stations into kitchen designs. People spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and the convenience of being able to charge a phone or tablet, and to play music while cooking or entertaining, is a trend that’s sure to continue.