January 13, 2021

NKBA’s Key Bath Design Trends for 2021

Pandemic-related quarantines in 2020 prompted homeowners to re-think how they spent time in their houses and how to create places to work, relax, play and be cooped up for days on end. As reported by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) in its latest design trends study, bathroom layouts and styles have begun shifting as a sense of wellness becomes increasingly important. Expanded footprints, smart-home technology, and design promoting cleanliness and serenity all rank at the top of the list of priorities.

Large windows and skylights help bring the outdoors into the bathroom. Photography courtesy of Elma Y. Gardner, CMKBD, of Design Studio, Inc., by  Jeffrey A. Davis Photography.

The Bathroom as Sanctuary

As the need for wellness and healthy living surges, homeowners are bringing a sense of serenity into the bathroom. NKBA research says melding organic and natural styles is quickly surpassing other styles, landing as the third-most-popular type. This is expected to be a top design selection over the next three years, in comparison to just two years ago when organic/natural ranked considerably lower. Other ways to create that spa-like feel include heated floors (77% of homeowners will have this in the upcoming years); integrating multiple lighting sources, including dimmer switches; built-in shower seating; rain showerheads; steam showers, and incorporating light color schemes, such as whites, grays, and beiges.

A neutral palette integrated with multiple lighting sources creates a calming environment. Design by Dalit Dray, owner and design director of Dray Design Group. Photography by Shimon Dray Photography. 

Evolving Layouts

As the bathroom becomes more important in the home, it is growing in size. Of the design professionals surveyed, nearly 70% predict the primary bathroom will increase in size by more than 25% over the next three years. As the space evolves, the integration of separate showers and freestanding tubs will be most popular, in addition to removing walls to increase space and connect the bathroom to closets, dressing areas, and laundry rooms.

“Intricate partitions and obstructed windows can compartmentalize an otherwise generous square footage with enough access to natural light,” said Sandra Diaz-Velasco, NKBA Member and owner and principal architect of EOLO A&I Design. “By combining closets and bathrooms into one large space, owners can now maximize their available footprint and the new layout will allow them to experience a spa every day.”

According to the NKBA, 57% of primary bathroom configurations will consist of separate bathtubs and showers. Design by Dalit Dray, Owner/Design Director of Dray Design Group. Photography by Shimon Dray Photography.

Not only does the shift in layout open the space to create a feeling of luxury, but it also makes the room easier to clean. The anticipated increase in the use of light-colored quartz for vanity countertops, and large tile, slab or long subway tiles for shower/tub surrounds will also contribute to easy cleaning.

Innovation Integration

“Technology has evolved in helping bring a peaceful atmosphere to the shower experience—this can range from digital shower interfaces to LED changing light fixtures,” said Dalit Dray, NKBA member and owner and design director of Dray Design Group. “Everything from shower fixtures to lighting and speakers can all be controlled by a phone app or a keypad to create a calming experience.”

Design by Sandra Diaz-Velasco, Owner/Principal Architect of EOLO A&I Design. Photography by Juan Pablo Estupinan.

Technology in the bathroom remains on the upswing, especially as it pertains to smart controls for floor and shower temperature, water conservation, motion-sensor lighting, and leak detector sensors with mobile alerts. Among designers surveyed in the NKBA report, 68% said bidets and/or smart toilets were the hottest new bathroom addition.

Additional details and the full NKBA 2021 Kitchen & Bath Design Trends study are available in the NKBA store under “Market Research Reports.” The report is included in the cost of NKBA membership. Non-members may purchase the study for $2,995.

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