Canadian Contractor

By National Kitchen & Bath Association   

NKBA 2021 Kitchen and Bath Design Trends: new styles emerge and COVID-19 has substantial influence on design

Canadian Contractor Resources 2021 canada contractor design trends National Kitchen & Bath Association

The National Kitchen and Bath Association 2021 Design Trends Research reveals the COVID-19 pandemic will have a substantial lasting impact on kitchen and bath design. As homeowners spend more time at home, kitchens and primary bathrooms are getting larger, the volume of outdoor living projects is increasing significantly and there is a need for easy-to-clean surfaces, flexible living spaces and seamless technology integration for added convenience and peace of mind.

Aesthetically, design preferences in both kitchen and bath will continue to be more contemporary and transitional in style, with added influence of a new leading trend of “natural/organic.” This combination feels more European in style and scale, with clean lines, minimal detailing, the warmth and texture of natural finishes, and larger windows to bring the feeling of the outdoors inside. The influence of natural/organic catapulted into the top three design styles respondents expect to increase in popularity in the kitchen and bath over the next three years. This is a significant shift from the NKBA 2019 study, where this same design style ranked 10th. Conversely, traditional design, which consistently had been one of the top three kitchen and bath styles for more than a decade, is now anticipated to be one of the least popular.

“We expect designs for both the kitchen and bath to continue trending toward a more modern, organic feel that is both streamlined and adaptable,” said Bill Darcy, NKBA CEO. “The kitchen has long been the heart of the home. But especially during the pandemic, it has emerged as the most prominent, multitasking room as well. We see this continuing with more open-space concepts, an extension into multi-season outdoor living spaces, larger kitchen island hubs and increased functionality and storage to allow homeowners to cook, eat, work, home-school and play, all in the same vicinity.”

Other Emerging Kitchen Trends



  • Gas and induction cooking methods are nearly equal in popularity, with induction expected to replace traditional glass electric cooktops
  • Ventilation hoods will become the new decorative focal point in the kitchen


  • Matte and brushed finishes in stainless steel or black
  • Motion-control/hands-free or touch/tap


  • Quartz, particularly in lighter colors, will continue to be the driving material for countertops
  • Large-scale backsplashes featuring a solid slab or long subway tile
  • Mixing complementary colors and materials on perimeter countertops and islands


  • Dedicated device-charging/viewing
  • Seamless video communication
  • Emergency power for the refrigerator

Other Emerging Bathroom Trends


  • Larger freestanding showers to accommodate two people with zero-clearance entry, integrated seating and grab bars
  • Larger-format surrounds with fewer grout lines
  • Linear drains
  • Voice-activated or hands-free faucets
  • Black and nickel in matte or brushed finishes


  • Bidets
  • Self-closing lids


  • Floating vanities with integrated electrical outlets, charging capabilities and storage


  • Radiant heated flooring


  • Motion-sensor lighting
  • Temperature control
  • Leak detection with mobile alerts
  • Mirrors with integrated internet access

The results of this study are based on data collected in Q3 2020 from more than 700 design professionals in North America, representing industry segments including designers (52% of respondents), showrooms, dealers, manufacturers, remodelers and architects. Of the respondents, 78% are NKBA members.

Since its inception nearly 60 years ago, the NKBA has tracked the shift in design trends to forecast the styles, features and materials. This year’s research includes an added layer due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which the NKBA anticipates having a substantial lasting influence on kitchen and bath design.

The full comprehensive NKBA 2021 Design Trends report is available for download on This important research is included with NKBA membership, and all members may download a copy of the report from the website at no additional charge. Non-NKBA members may purchase the report for $2,995.


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