The latest NKBA/John Burns Kitchen & Bath Market Index (KBMI) release for Q2 was a mixed bag for designers, but overall, the good outweighed the bad with a continuation of the recent strength enjoyed across kitchen and bath.The NKBA/John Burns Kitchen & Bath Market Index (KBMI) is a quarterly gauge of current and future economic conditions within the kitchen & bath industry.

Based on the effects of long lead times and increased costs for materials and products, some homeowners are staying on the sidelines for now, putting their kitchen or bath projects on hold. The KBMI report showed 56% of designers noting postponements/cancellations in Q2, a clear increase over the 45% in Q1.

On the positive side, designers state that homeowner pauses are allowing them to catch up on ever-increasing backlogs. In fact, 60% of them report backlogs of three or more months. Overall, 59% report higher backlogs since Q1, vs. just 35% speaking of a reduction. Looking forward, the strength is even more apparent. An overwhelming 88% of designer members are expecting project requests to either keep pace or increase in the second half of 2021. Conversely, it means that only 12% are anticipating a slowdown.

Not only are the quantity of projects on the upswing, but the quality is as well. Compared with pre-COVID times, 62% of designers say the sizes of their projects are growing, despite the fact that nearly half also report that prices of materials and finishes have increased since then. A concerning 86% have the added challenge of sourcing appliances and cabinets, particularly custom cabinets and high-end appliances. These frustrations have trickled down to homeowners, with one designer summing it up: “Consumers are hoping lead times and pricing will get better. They’re willing to wait it out.” Not all clients are as patient. As another designer put it, “The estimate came in too high, so my client decided to buy a boat instead of redoing the kitchen.”

As for changes in client design preferences revealed in the report, several designers spoke of the greater use of color across the board. One said, “From paint to cabinetry, furnishings to fabrics, clients are more open to modern design styles than traditional ways of remodeling.” Another was even more specific: “I am getting fewer requests for white shaker cabinets. Clients are putting more of an emphasis on custom, real wood cabinets that have a splash of color.” A third concluded, “Clients are more concerned with their surroundings and want a more luxurious home.”

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