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COVID-19 Has Substantial Impact On Kitchen Trends And Design, Says NKBA Report

Group predicts major trend shifts to impact kitchen and bathroom design over next three years

The National Kitchen & Bath Association recently revealed their latest research findings, noting the substantial lasting impact on kitchen and bath design the COVID-19 pandemic will have on the market over the next three years.

“We expect designs for both the kitchen and bath to continue trending toward a more modern, organic feel that is both streamlined and adaptable,” said Bill Darcy, NKBA CEO in a statement. “The kitchen has long been the heart of the home. But especially during the pandemic, it has emerged as the most prominent, multitasking room as well. We see this continuing with more open-space concepts, an extension into multi-season outdoor living spaces, larger kitchen island hubs and increased functionality and storage to allow homeowners to cook, eat, work, home-school and play, all in the same vicinity.”

Among the top trends NKBA reported, a major shift in style preference towards a contemporary “natural/organic” aesthetic, while traditional design–which consistently had been one of the top three kitchen and bath styles for more than a decade–is now anticipated to be one of the least popular. The natural/organic combination feels more European in style and scale, with clean lines, minimal detailing, the warmth and texture of natural finishes, and larger windows to bring the feeling of the outdoors inside.

Since its inception nearly 60 years ago, the NKBA has tracked the shift in design trends to forecast the styles, features and materials. This year’s research includes an added layer due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which the NKBA anticipates having a substantial lasting influence on kitchen and bath design.

Other emerging kitchen trends from the report include:


  • Gas and induction cooking methods are nearly equal in popularity, with induction expected to replace traditional glass electric cooktops
  • Ventilation hoods will become the new decorative focal point in the kitchen


  • Matte and brushed finishes in stainless steel or black
  • Motion-control/hands-free or touch/tap


  • Quartz, particularly in lighter colors, will continue to be the driving material for countertops
  • Large-scale backsplashes featuring a solid slab or long subway tile
  • Mixing complementary colors and materials on perimeter countertops and islands


  • Dedicated device-charging/viewing
  • Seamless video communication
  • Emergency power for the refrigerator

The results of this study are based on data collected in Q3 2020 from more than 700 design professionals in North America, representing industry segments including designers (52% of respondents), showrooms, dealers, manufacturers, remodelers and architects. Of the respondents, 78% are NKBA members.

The full comprehensive NKBA 2021 Design Trends report is available for download on This important research is included with NKBA membership, and all members may download a copy of the report from the website at no additional charge. Non-NKBA members may purchase the report for $2,995.

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