How different are millennials and boomers when it comes to kitchen and bath design?
June 23, 2020 | 4:14 pm UTC
The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) released benchmark research on the impacts that people’s behavior, life stage and habits have on kitchen and bath design. 
"The role our homes play in our lives has never been so evident as it has these last few months,” said Bill Darcy, NKBA CEO. “Even before months of quarantine and working from home created new challenges, understanding the impact of how we live in these spaces and its effect on design, specifically in the kitchen and bath, was something we wanted to investigate. It’s extremely important for our members to better understand the ‘why’ behind what’s impacting design, not just the ‘what.’ It’s critical to know how people’s personal goals and habits change the way the kitchen and bath are designed, as well as the products used in them, to improve our lives."
The study identified four major points:
  • The need for increased human interaction, information access and a connection with nature. 87% surveyed listed need for greater inclusion and visibility with open kitchen layouts, multi-function spaces within the kitchen to work for a variety of activities (meal prep, entertaining, school and work-from-home).
  • Home is a shelter and a retreat from a chaotic world. 80% of respondents said minimizing clutter, cleaning and targeted storage is a critical design need for the kitchen and bath. 69% want their bathrooms to be an escape and 61% want design spaces for easy meal-prep.
  • Creating spaces that fuel and heal the body; establishing a deeper connection to nature, focus on wellness. 48% want kitchens that help them to be more health-conscious.
  • Multiple generations are living together under the same roof, so there is an increased need for spaces that work for all, no matter their age, ability or physical challenges. 67% surveyed have a desire to age in place, and more than 60% want kitchens and baths that are easily used for all ages and skills.
The research examined which lifestyle habits are most important to homeowners in various life stages (Millennial, Gen X, Boomers and Greatest/Silent generation). While the majority of the themes were universal across each life stage, there are specific areas of importance for each generation.
In the kitchen, Millennials with kids and Gen X are driving many needs. In the bath, younger generations place higher importance on the environment, while older generations rank the need to heal and age in place as a top priority.
Millennials without kids
Kitchen: Health-conscious, connection with nature
Master Bath: Limited impact on the environment, feeling of the outdoors
Millennials with kids
Kitchen: Ease in meal prep, open layout
Master Bath: Multi-tasking and productivity, limited impact on the environment
Gen X
Kitchen: Open layout, comforting place to spend time, love to cook
Master Bath: An escape, minimal clutter
Kitchen: Comforting place for spending time, entertaining, open layout
Master Bath: Comfortable for all generations, promoting wellness
Kitchen: Comforting place for spending time, organization, minimal clutter
Master Bath: Comfortable for all generations, minimal clutter
The research also identified many emerging design trends:
Larger kitchen islands — multifunctional for meal prep, dining, work-from-home
Open floor plan with fewer walls, allowing increased visibility and broader sight lines to other rooms, entertainment, media, nature/outdoors
Increased number of charging outlets
Landing counters for groceries and food delivery
Larger sinks and refrigerators to wash and store fresh produce
Commercial finishes and fabrics for easy cleaning and durability
Recycling and composting stations
Large-format tile, thinner grout lines for easier cleaning
Compartmentalized storage with integrated outlets (hairdryer, razor, toothbrush, phone)
Self-cleaning toilets
Larger, zero-clearance showers with integrated seating and decorative grab bars
Heated flooring
Wi-Fi connectivity
Voice activation for shower, lighting, entertainment
Larger windows for increased natural lighting
Use of natural materials including bamboo, stone, live plants
More than 750 design professionals in North America, including designers, architects, showroom managers, remodelers, contractors, dealers and manufacturers, participated in the study. 
The NKBA's 50,000 members represent all segments of the kitchen and bath industry.

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About the author
Robert Dalheim

Robert Dalheim is an editor at the Woodworking Network. Along with publishing online news articles, he writes feature stories for the FDMC print publication. He can be reached at [email protected]