LAS VEGAS— At KBIS, some of the nation's top kitchen and bath designers shared their insight on the latest color and style trends, as revealed in the 2016 Design Trends Survey by the National Kitchen & Bath Association.

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On hand during KBIS for the NKBA's first ever "K+B Insiders" conference were designers: Patricia Davis Brown, CKBD, ASID, NCIDQ, of Patricia Davis Brown Designs LLC in Vero Beach, Florida; Los Angeles-based Karl Champley. an Australia native, Master Builder and winner of HGTV's “Ellen’s Design Challenge” hosted Ellen DeGeneres; Paloma Contreras of Paloma Contreras Design in Houston, Texas; Young Huh of Young Huh LLC in New York, New York; and the design duo of Alberto Villalobos and Mercedes Desio, of Villalobos Desio in New York, New York.

The kitchen style trends were derived based on responses by more than 450 designers surveyed late last year. “Our Design Trends Survey serves as the industry forecast when it comes to kitchen and bath design trends, giving us a comprehensive look at what to expect in the coming year,” said Bill Darcy, NKBA CEO. “Our members know firsthand what’s trending, because they create beautiful and functional kitchens every day. It’s only natural we look to them for insight into the industry.”

Here's what NKBA designers say are the Top 10 kitchen cabinet and other style trends to watch for in 2016:

Also see slideshow: What's trending in kitchen & bath cabinets and accessories

1. Transitional style still tops, with contemporary growing

Transitional, traditional and contemporary style kitchens are the most popular, with over half of NKBA survey respondents reporting having specified each. And while Shaker declined slightly last year, it still comes in at number 4 on the list. Two new kitchen styles seen on this year’s survey are industrial and farmhouse, being specified by 19 percent and 44 percent, respectively. 

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The clean look of Mid-Century Modern is also growing in popularity for kitchens.  Of those surveyed, 27 percent said they specified the style in 2015, and expect to do more in 2016.

2. Gray/white/off-white cabinets still reign

While neutral colors such as whites/off-whites, grays and beiges/bones will continue being the most popular choice for both kitchens and the cabinetry itself, color is making its way back onto the scene. In fact, 60 percent of NKBA survey respondents said they'll often utilize two or more colors within the kitchen space, a trend that has grown since 2015. The two-tone trend also carries to cabinetry, where 42 percent of designers said they specified mixed color cabinets.

Those on hand at the KBIS conference agreed. New York designer Huh added she's seen retro-like 1970s colors such as oranges, light blues and greens, as well as bold colors splashes of reds and emeralds, being used in the kitchen. But for homeowners that might not be as daring with their color choices, Contreras commented that small splashes of contrasting colors also will add that desired look. However, she cautioned, "if you use colors, don't mix more than three."

The mixing of colors on the cabinetry itself also continues to be popular. Approximately 42 percent of those surveyed by the NKBA specified mixed cabinet colors in 2015, including pairing stains with paint colors, or color contrasts, such as white perimeter cabinetry with a black island.

With regards to woodgrains, maple was the preferred cabinet choice (81 percent), with cherry coming in at 68 percent.  On grain patterns, the trick is to balance the "movement," noted Davis Brown. In other words, watch the mixing of horizontal and vertical grain patterns.

Laminates were specified by 31 percent of designers in 2015, with 16 percent saying they expect to specify more in 2016, according to the survey results. 

3. Pull-outs, tilt-outs and tilt-ins hot in cabinet storage

Storage is a key requirement for homeowners, with organization items included in more than 90 percent of kitchen projects completed by NKBA members in 2015. Topping the list in order of popularity are: trash/recycling pull-outs (81 percent), pullouts/rollouts (70 percent), tall pantries (67 percent), lazy susans (53 percent) and spice pull-outs (51 percent).

Another "smart storage trend" is toe kick drawers, added designer and builder Champley. The Australia native and award-winning Master Builder was a recent winner of HGTV's “Ellen’s Design Challenge,” hosted by Ellen DeGeneres.

4. Wood flooring popular for kitchens

Wood and ceramic/porcelain tile are the two most popular kitchen flooring materials, specified 78 percent and 75 percent respectively by NKBA members in 2015 kitchen projects. For 2016, 35 percent of those surveyed said they expect to increase their use of wood floors, compared to 24 percent for ceramic tile floors. Laminate flooring, which can mimic the look and texture of natural wood, came in fifth on the list, with 27 percent having specified it in 2015.

Not only is the wood look popular for flooring, but it, along with other textured styles, are now being utilized for atypical applications such as walls and ceilings, noted the designer duo of  Villalobos and Desio. This would be something seen in a luxury living space, Villalobos added.

5. Quartz and granite counters tops, but laminate growing

Quartz holds the most market share for countertops, with 81 percent of those surveyed specifying it for kitchen jobs in 2015, and 67 percent saying they expect to do more quartz countertops in 2016. Though showing signs of declining popularity, granite is still highly used, with 70 percent of NKBA members having specified it in 2015, and 59 percent expecting to do more work with it in 2016.

According to the NKBA survey, "Laminate counters have also had a rebirth, increasing from 20 percent of countertops in 2010 to 43 percent in 2015." In addition 13 percent said they expect to increase their usage of the material in 2016. Laminate usage ranks fourth after countertops made of mixed materials, which was specified by 67 percent in 2015.

6. Outdoor kitchens still trending

While experiencing a slight decline in 2015 compared to 2014, outdoor kitchens continue to be a trend, specifically in the Southeast United States and among empty nesters, the NKBA said. About 44 percent of NKBA member respondents did outdoor kitchens in 2015, and roughly the same amount expect to do more in 2016. Outdoor kitchens saw a slight decline in 2015 vs. 2014, down seven percentage points.

7. The convenience of built-in coffee stations and wet bars

Along with the desire for extra storage, the convenience of built-in coffee stations and wet bars make these among the special amenities on the rise in kitchens, particularly in luxury homes.

8. A popularity for pocket doors

The growing popularity of pocket doors was another item brought up during the design conference at KBIS. According to the NKBA survey, pocket doors were specified by more than 70 percent members in 2015. Also popular were French doors, used by 65 percent of respondents in 2015.

9. Special pet spaces for the kitchen

A number of cabinet companies in the past few years have developed special spaces for pets, and the popularity of these items looks to continue, with half of respondents specifying special pet spaces in kitchens in the last year. The pet amenities include designated feeding stations, under-counter crate areas and special pull-outs to store pet food and toys.

10. Docking and charging stations gain power

With about two-thirds of kitchens including desks or home office areas, docking and charging stations are growing in demand. At KBIS, Huh also commented on the need by people to be constantly "plugged in," and the growing use of smart control technology and flat-screen TVs in the kitchen.

For more information on the NKBA and its research, visit


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