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Transitional Style Kitchens Most Popular in North America According to Research Conducted by NKBA

Jan 19, 2016

The National Kitchen & Bath Association found outdoor kitchens, built-in coffee stations and pet-friendly amenities among most popular trends of 2016

Transitional style remains the top trend when it comes to kitchen design, according to the 2016 Design Trends Survey from the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). Here are the top 10 overall kitchen design trends NKBA expects for 2016:

  1. Transitional style, with contemporary emerging.
  2. Gray/white/off-white cabinets.
  3. Pull-outs, tilt-outs and tilt-ins for storage.
  4. Wood flooring.
  5. Quartz and granite countertops.
  6. Outdoor kitchens.
  7. Built-in coffee stations and wet bars.
  8. Pocket doors.
  9. Special pet spaces.
  10. Docking and charging stations.

Transitional, traditional and contemporary style kitchens are the most popular, with over half of NKBA survey respondents reporting having specified each. Two new kitchen styles seen on this year’s survey are industrial and farmhouse, being specified by 19 percent and 44 percent, respectively.

Neutral colors remain the dominate color scheme, with whites/off-whites, grays and beiges/bones being the most popular by far. Sixty percent of survey respondents report utilizing two or more colors within a kitchen space, a trend that has grown since 2015. This two-tone trend carries to cabinetry, where 42 percent of designers specified mixed color cabinets. Respondents also reported using a different countertop material for the island versus the perimeter of the counter space, creating a mixed color palette.

“Wood top combined with stone tops,” said Cathy Sage, a kitchen and bath designer from Illinois.

Outdoor kitchens continue to be a trend, specifically in the Southeast United States. About 45 percent of NKBA member respondents did outdoor kitchens in 2015, and roughly the same amount expect to do more in 2016.

“We design outdoor living entertainment areas, including an outdoor kitchen as an outdoor room,” said Jessica White, a kitchen and bath designer from Maryland.

Homeowners continue to look for easy prep, maintenance and clean-up features. More than half of respondents specified installing pull-outs/roll-outs for storage, under-sink garbage disposals, built-in coffee stations and wet bars. Under-counter wine refrigerators are another special amenity on the rise in kitchen design, with 74 percent of respondents installing one or more.

“Even people with small kitchens want a small wet bar area,” said Rachelle Kiklowicz, AKBD, CID, an interior designer from California.

Special pet spaces are a surprisingly popular trend, with fully half of respondents creating special pet spaces in kitchens last year. These pet amenities include designated feeding stations, under-counter crate areas and special pull-outs to store pet food and toys.

“To make a hidden dog food and water bowl, I had the cabinet maker design it into the side of the cabinet baseboard with a spring release door panel,” said Tonya Dean, a kitchen and bath designer from Michigan.

NKBA members specialize in full kitchen projects, both remodels and new construction. More than half do kitchen projects in the $20,000 – $49,000 price range while another 35 percent report that their average kitchen price is more than $50,000 for design, materials and labor.

“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 first-hand 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.”

The National Kitchen & Bath Association has tracked kitchen and bath design trends throughout its 53-year existence. A version of this NKBA Design Trends Survey has been in existence since the 1980s and this iteration has tracked trends since 2010. More than 450 designers participated in this study conducted online in late 2015.

More details, including product trends, are included in the full 2016 NKBA Kitchen & Bath Design Trends report, available free to NKBA members on

To find NKBA members near you for kitchen and bathroom projects, please visit

About the National Kitchen & Bath Association

The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) is the not-for-profit trade association that owns the KBIS®. With nearly 14,000 member companies representing tens of thousands of members in segments of the kitchen and bath industry, the NKBA has educated and led the industry since the association’s founding in 1963. The mission of the NKBA is to enhance member success and excellence, promote professionalism and ethical business practices, and provide leadership and direction for the kitchen and bath industry worldwide. For more information, visit or call 1-800-THE-NKBA (843-6522).

KBIS® and NKBA® are registered trademarks of the National Kitchen & Bath Association.

For editorial assistance, including photography, contact John O’Reilly c/o O’Reilly DePalma: 815-469-9100 or