After several years awash in monotonous gray and white modernity, designers happily anticipate that kitchens and bathrooms will regain some individualized color and style in 2022. Preference for natural materials is already influencing palettes and textures, along with consumer desire for surfaces that are sustainable and easy to clean and maintain.
“Designs are getting bolder,” explains John Kang of Goldleaf Designs, a Southern New Jersey-based boutique design-build company that focuses on custom homes. “People don't want a completely white look in their homes anymore.”
The white-walled gallery look is giving way to more personalized interiors, and the shift will affect flooring preferences for 2022. In fact, emerging trends are already having an impact on both flooring styles and materials for kitchens and baths.
“Be on the lookout for more natural elements moving into the home,” Kang says. “Textures and visuals like wood grain and natural stone are popular in both bathrooms and kitchens.”
In a recent webinar, NKBA VP of Marketing Pamela McNally said, this trend toward organic materials, colors and textures in kitchens and baths “stems from helping the environment, but also from our need for serenity and to turn our homes into sanctuaries.”
The NKBA 2022 Design Trends Study, which surveyed more than 650 designers and other professionals, identified greens and blues as the top colors for kitchens and baths. Cabinets will begin to sport these nature-inspired hues, although the natural wood look is also gaining in popularity.
Matte and brushed metals will prevail for fixtures and appliances, especially in gold, bronze and silver, sometimes mixed within a single space.
“Consumers now feel it’s okay to play a little, push the envelope,” McNally reported. “Everyone wants to move away from the cookie cutter white kitchen and just be a little different.”
She says to look for bolder colors to show up mainly in kitchen backsplashes and feature walls.
Although still in the minority behind Boomers and the biggest spenders, Gen Xers, Millennials are beginning to assert their design preference through their purchasing power, as found in the NKBA Design Trends Study.
“A key point in the research was that Millennials are growing as a customer base for designers,” said McNally, “and as they grow, they are increasingly driving the trend for more organic, natural materials and styles.”
Millennials, who tend to be more environmentally conscious, place more significance than previous generations on sustainable products, including those made from recycled materials. They also express interest in easy-to-clean surfaces.
According to the NKBA study, 84% of designers expect clients to increase the size of their kitchens this year. “We’re probably looking at a 25% to nearly 50% increase in size over the next two to three years,” reported McNally.
While kitchen growth has been fairly consistent in the last few years, bathroom expansion has not. “Three years ago, only 42% of the designers told us that their clients wanted to make their bathrooms larger,” explained Tricia Zach, market research analyst for NKBA who also participated in the webinar. “That jumped to 67% in 2021, and it’s at 76% in our current study.”
John Kang says his clients are looking for a spa experience in the bathrooms of their custom homes. “People are taking big swings with scenic murals in bathrooms. They cover only small nooks or areas, but they make for a relaxing and unique feeling in your personal spa.”
Natural wood and stone looks are expected to dominate consumer preferences for kitchen and bathroom floors, although the natural materials may not top the list. With features of easy cleaning and lower maintenance, luxury vinyl will be a top flooring of choice for kitchens, while ceramic or porcelain tile tops the list for bathroom floors, according to the NKBA designer survey.
Large format tiles are expected to grow in popularity, not only for floors, but also for walls, due to the desire for fewer grout lines, promoting easier cleaning and more sanitary surfaces. Slabs are being used even for backsplashes, where mosaics were once the format of choice.
Kitchen and Bath Trends at a Glance
- Preference for natural materials, colors and textures
- Shift toward more color, especially greens and blues
- Matte and brushed metals, often mixed within a space
- Low maintenance materials, easier to clean and more sanitary
- Functional, multi-use spaces with more customized style
Another bathroom trend currently gaining traction involves the design of wet areas that include open showers with free-standing tubs. In smaller bathrooms, tubs are being removed to make way for larger showers. In both cases, the designs are more open, with no curtains or doors and little to no glass. These designs require ceramic or porcelain tile on the walls and floors, helping boost the material’s popularity.
Wood and Stone
Of course, some clients will still opt for real wood and stone, especially with the trend toward more natural materials. In fact, some retailers and designers report seeing a shift away from LVT to hardwood and stone or tile. “Hardwood flooring has been popular, but we are now seeing homeowners extend that design into the kitchen,” says Kang. “Likewise, bathrooms are moving away from sterile white porcelain tile to sturdy stone tile that offers a unique natural look.”