HACKETTSTOWN, NJ (April 27, 2011) – The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) summarized desired trends from its 2011 NKBA Design Competition.

Representative of what’s currently fresh and forward-thinking in kitchen and bath design, there can be seen in the nearly 500 entries received in the 2011 NKBA Design Competition — distinct visual elements and color, unique design detail, personalized products and materials, as well as an architecturally artistic approach to proportion.

 NKBA 2011 design competition: top 10 cabinetry trends
Espresso and chocolate in cabinetry
Melissa Nierman
Rutt of Los Altos
Los Altos, CA
Photo: ©Dean Birinyi

Espresso and chocolate in cabinetry

Silky hues of chocolate and espresso shimmer from the door and drawer fronts of distinct cabinetry incorporated into stand-out kitchens, ranging from contemporary to the more traditional and transitional. Natural finishes — absent glazing, distressing and overall pomp and circumstance, are what you will find in many kitchen designs. Although dark brown has remained somewhat of a fixture in kitchens over the past few years, an overriding number of seemingly simple chocolate browns are acting as the smooth and understated partner to brighter accents.

 â€œThe client walked in one day with a piece of Walker Zanger Xilo tile and said I want this for my backsplash, can you design a kitchen around this?” explained West Coast designer, Melissa Nierman. “And that is how it all began.” With traffic flow issues to tackle, and words like clean, contemporary and functional in the mix, Nierman went to work.

The resulting family and entertaining friendly space is the result. Whether black coffee or milk chocolate, the cabinetry foundation in the mid to dark brown family of colors appears rooted in the residential design approach.

 NKBA 2011 design competition: top 10 cabinetry trends
Commitment to Color
Jennifer Gilmer, CKD
Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath, Ltd.
Chevy Chase, MD

Photo: Bob Narod Photographer, LLC


Commitment to color

Clients and designers alike are making strong commitments to color. With pairings and accents in vivid colorations, clients are saying, “yes” to prominent colors.

These particular clients of Maryland-based designer, Jennifer Gilmer, CKD, were drawn to exotic wood veneers in darker tones. To balance the dark feel of the Macassar Ebony cabinetry, Gilmer specified some to be in white laminate and added a white island wrapped in Macassar Ebony with black granite counter surface.

The relationship with color is introduced into the room through a backsplash of back painted glass in a respectable carrot orange. Although prominent and noticeable, the orange selected represents a color that is smooth and fresh, and also refined enough to pair with the contemporary exotic wood cabinetry.

 â€œThe orange does compliment the Macassar well, since there is orange in the striping of the wood. When we put all of the samples together, we knew that it was just right,” Gilmer confirmed, regarding the collaboration of color. This is a sleek kitchen deserving of a color that makes a statement without overbearing. The tangerine, mango, carrot family of colors is being incorporated into the palette of stylishly appropriated residential spaces across the country.

 NKBA 2011 design competition: top 10 cabinetry trends
A Tiered Approach to Proportion
Tia Moras, CMKBD
Lonetree Ent. Ltd.
Vancouver, BC
Photo: Gary Beale, B-Plus Studios, LTD

A tiered approach

Tia Moras, CMKBD of British Columbia brought the concept of stacked components and graduated overlapping heights to a new level of sophisticationin this Vancouver kitchen.

The landscape of the kitchen, compliments the cityscape just outside the windows. Rounded cabinetry handles, a circular ventilation hood and a chandelier that sprouts arched wires over the dining table convey an appealing contradiction to the rectilinear shapes of the island. Mountains in the background just outside the windows are the rounded backdrop to the city buildings that match the artistic approach to the interior. The varying heights of the island surfaces, the elevated and overlapping dining counter top, and the statuesque pantry cabinet create asymmetrical proportion. Moras indicates her favorite aspect of the design being the use of a thicker top.

“We use a good fabricator who miters the edges of the ground quartz material in the desired thickness. I did not want brackets to show, so the top was engineered to be installed without visible support.” The tallest point of the pantry, thickness of the counter tops, and the dining surface resting effortlessly on the prep and cook surface, convey a proportionally tiered balance to this contemporary kitchen.

 NKBA 2011 design competition: top 10 cabinetry trends
Detailed Ceilings
Jodi Hook
Klaff’s, Inc
Danbury, CT
Photo: Digital Arts

Details ceilings

This sophisticated design has a rustic touch that relies on traditional architectural features paired with sleek contemporary finishes and materials. The detailed rough-hewn barn beam ceiling is a beautiful example of a highly detailed ceiling, and although the detail was newly created, it appears as if original to a comfort-worn space.

Connecticut designer, Jodi Hook blended warm toned English Sycamore and Cherry wood cabinetry with stainless steel and honed concrete counter surfaces to create the perfect balance between warm and cool. This balance allowed for the introduction of high-visibility detail in the ceiling.

 The ceiling is highlighted by cable-strung lighting, which sparkles and lights the textures and natural intricacies of the rough wood, helping to bring cohesion and intimacy to the elongated space.

This design feature straddles two trends seen strongly in the competition – detailed ceilings and textures.

 NKBA 2011 design competition: top 10 cabinetry trends
The Attributes of Glass
Kirsti Wolfe
Kirsti Wolfe Designs
Bend, OR
Photo: Paula Watts Photography

The attributes of glass

Glass is shining and glimmering from various spots throughout kitchen and bath designs this year and before.

Oregon designer, Kirsti Wolfe brought glass into this design in an integrated and complimenting fashion. Lighted panels of Mica art glass incorporated into the design of the volcanic stainless steel hood along with the window in the door, added not only touches of color, but color in such a way that it conveys the sense of artfulness and creativity behind its presence. The mica art glass is a complimenting accent to the mission style Stickley lamps that are situated in the great room.

Glass also shines from behind granite countertops as Wolfe opted for a glass tiled backsplash. This kitchen, which Wolfe describes as Asian-Craftsman with contemporary highlights is a shining example of the use of glass as various components. Here in this space it acts as the pop of color and light against the warmth of wood. It has helped the overall cohesive result, and as glass continues to be used in so many places and spaces, the use of it appears limitless.

 NKBA 2011 design competition: top 10 cabinetry trends
Walk-in Pantries
Sheila Off, CMKBD
Signature Woodworks, LLC
Gig Harbor, WA
Photo: Brian DalBaclon

Walk-in pantries

In some kitchens being designed for today’s homes, the need for a larger separate pantry has been necessitated by less wall cabinets. Open plan kitchens are requiring alternative pantry and storage solutions, such as walk-in pantries due to the absence of wall cabinets. In this spacious kitchen, designed by Shiela Off, CMKBD based in Gig Harbor, Washington, the need is not so much in lack of wall cabinetry, but in the sheer size and desired functionality of the space. Off’s clients wanted their Colonial Revival style home to have a comfortable but elegant feel, and this included the kitchen. With the space grand in size – it aptly allowed for a walk-in pantry that is used as a working pantry. “She will be able to cook for the two of them or for large groups of family and friends with the professional appliances installed in both the main kitchen and the working pantry,” explained Off. Sinks, dish storage, and food storage can be incorporated into pantries that appear as this one, to be entirely integrated in appearance into the space, and serving as a transition from one room to the next. This working pantry has V-Groove paneling that was selected as the backsplash to compliment the tongue and groove material used on the ceiling.

Inlay Flooring

Detailed floors, more specifically variations of inlay flooring are being seen in great numbers of new kitchen and bath designs. In this French style master bathroom, the flooring was the first request of the clients, who asked for a wood and stone parquet floor. To accommodate the wet environment of a bathroom, Designer Mark Allen Schag, CKD based in Mansfield, OH suggested a new wood-look ceramic tile combined with natural travertine. “Each piece was hand-fitted and angled to mimic the look of a real parquet floor,” explained Schag. Building on the French Chateux feeling that began with the floor, the remainder came together through maple cabinetry, wood wainscoting, French carved legs for the cabinetry, and more, to result in this stunning beauty. With floors grabbing the attention of clients, designers, and visitors in the home, we are sure to see more and more innovation and creativity in the materials and how they are brought together and installed.

Freestanding and Angled Tubs
Susan J. Klimala, CKD
The Kitchen Studio of Glen Ellyn
Glen Ellyn, IL

Photo: Carlos Vergara Photography

Large freestanding tubs are taking front and center in bathroom design, and in this master bath retreat, the tub is literally centered and visible through French doors leading to the bedroom space. Susan J. Klimala, CKD of Glen Ellyn, IL wanted to help clients transform their uninspiring 90’s era bathroom into the calm beautiful spa that would fulfill the clients’ lifestyle needs and desires. One big transformation was the installation of this sleek rectangular tub opposite newly-incorporated French doors. In so many current bathroom designs, freestanding tubs are the norm. It allows them to be focal points of near sculptural quality. Rounded, rectangular and angled tubs are specified as an artistic accent that also provides the soothing soak that today’s homeowners may be looking for, following a busy day. Whether situated on stones, wood flooring or a low stage of sorts, the freestanding soaking tub is playing a prominent part in the master or family bathrooms of today.

Natural Elements
Lori W. Carroll
Lori Carroll & Associates
Tucson, AZ

Photo: Jon Mancuso

This refined rustic southwestern powder room is the perfect example of the use of natural elements in design. An agate slab located on a buying trip became the foundation for this bathroom space that’s as unique and distinct as the elusively elegant stone itself. Translucent crystal formations within the rock are highlighted by backlighting that sets off the smoky grays, brown, and icy white. “Through Mother Nature’s breathtaking creation, this space has become the picture of naturally elegant living,” stated Arizona Designer Lori Carroll. She and her team were called on by clients to design a powder room with just enough casual elements to reflect the down-to-earth southwestern lifestyle, while conveying a sense of natural opulence. The use of polished stone combined with leather wrapped cabinetry, weathered bronze fixtures, a custom bronze toilet, along with combed wall tiles, the color of brown sugar, has resulted in a beautifully refined space. The result also, was a perfect example of an aspect of design seen strongly in countless applications and varying styles across the country – the use of a material that only nature could create. The beauty seen in nature is unrivaled, and when it can be brought inside a home and made functional, the impact too is unmatched.

Tactile Appeal through Textures
Aimee Nemeckay
Susan Fredman Design Group
Chicago, IL

Photo: Nick Novelli, Novelli Photodesign

The use of actual and implied texture allows a tactile and visual feast. Lines, colors or patterns can act as either a point of interest in a given space or a mellow background to a more prominent component. There are two areas in this suburban reprieve, where the artistic textured touch is obvious. An oversized glass mosaic tiled rug is inset into the limestone floor, creating the effect of an actual textured and patterned area rug. Custom-made glass keystone tiles bring a shimmering quilted effect, which can also be seen in current fashion trends, to the wall of the shower. This adds a softly tactile appeal to a two person shower that can be controlled from auxiliary panels near the clients’ respective sinks. According to Chicago designer, Aimee Nemeckay, the busy homeowners wanted to create and enjoy a luxurious and relaxing haven. Ambient lighting highlights the unique color of the cabinetry along with the touch-friendly surfaces of their private spa.

About the National Kitchen & Bath Association
The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) is a non-profit trade association that has educated and led the kitchen and bath industry for more than 45 years. NKBA.org provides consumers with an inspiration gallery of award-winning kitchen and bath designs, as well as articles, tips, and an extensive glossary of remodeling terms. At NKBA.org, consumers can also find certified kitchen and bath professionals in their areas, submit questions to NKBA experts, and order the free NKBA Kitchen Planer and NKBA Bath Planner.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.