7 Trends Influencing 2021 Kitchen and Bathroom Design

We all spent significant time in our homes for the better part of last year, and that means we had lots of time to examine what we would like to change about them. As a result, some interesting trends have emerged in kitchen and bathroom design. Overall, we want spacious, soothing, and organized spaces that are easy to clean and that incorporate elements of nature to bring the outside in.

Here are seven trends to consider when updating your kitchen or bathroom.

Design

The National Kitchen and Bath Association’s (NKBA) Design Trends 2021 study of 700 design professionals in North America reported that transitional and contemporary styles continued to be popular for both kitchens and bathrooms. But in an interesting twist, natural/organic design jumped from the ninth most popular style last year to number three for this year. 

Combining natural/organic elements such as wood, stone, and plants with the contemporary and transitional trend results in an open style with minimal detail. Kitchens and bathrooms following these trends are more streamlined and sleeker while natural textures and tones add warmth and let homeowners feel more in touch with the outdoors.

Organization 

When we first went on lockdown in March, many people used their time at home to declutter. Now, it seems that desire for clutter-free spaces has made an impact on kitchen and bathroom remodeling. Clutter-free kitchen spaces allow for flexibility for all the different functions our kitchens are being asked to perform, including working from home, schoolwork, family activities and preparing and eating a lot of family meals. According to NKBA, L-shaped kitchens with large islands with two or more levels are popular because they allow families to participate in all these activities within the central hub of the kitchen.

Floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall cabinets in kitchens provide plenty of storage space, so everything has its place. This controls the clutter and maintains a minimalist aesthetic. In the bathroom, getting rid of the clutter translates to spa-like spaces that are about relaxation as much as hygiene. 

Colors

All-white kitchens have been yielding to more grays and navy blues in recent years, and now kitchen color trends are moving in two very different directions: either matte black or soft pastels. 

Matte black kitchens are chic and sophisticated and coordinate well with other colors and wood. NKBA reports that hardwood and engineered wood flooring remain the most popular for kitchen floors, and they work well in a black kitchen. If black cabinets, appliances and countertops seem overwhelming to you, consider white or other lighter colored quartz countertops, which remain the most popular material for kitchens and bathrooms because it is durable, contemporary and easy to care for.

Muted, matte pastels in greens, blues and pinks are increasingly popular for kitchen walls, cabinets and dining furniture. The hues are achieved by mixing the colors with grays, making them “dusty” versions that work well with other colors. Consider using dark, glossy countertops with these lighter cabinets. If you really like the look of white cabinets, you could use white on top and colored or natural wood on the bottom to achieve a more modern look, but skip the stark white and opt for softer, creamier tones.

If you had your heart set on gray, note that cool grays are being replaced by warmer shades for cabinets and flooring. Realtor.com reports that this change was underway before COVID-19, but as people have sought more relaxation and comfort from their homes during the pandemic, its popularity has risen. Look for grays with yellow or beige undertones in shades called griege—a combination of gray and beige. These hues also pair well with the soft blues, greens, pinks and creams as well as with natural woods. 

For bathrooms, neutrals in whites and grays remain the most popular, but, as in kitchens, muted tones of greens, roses and blues are taking hold. Matte black also makes an impact on bathroom design in tile, vanities and mirrors as well as in freestanding tubs. Big, bold wallpapers for bathrooms also are making a splash. Consider a statement wall rather than covering the whole room. 

Cabinet Style

According to HGTV.com, the trend of no upper cabinets and open shelves is being replaced by wall-to-wall cabinetry, which is both functional and stylish. Flat panel cabinets with no handles keep the design streamlined. NKBA reports that flat panel cabinets are the most popular now, with recessed panels being the second most popular choice.

Smart Features

Smart appliances and integrated technology—including features that homeowners can control from a smartphone—continue to gain traction. These cutting-edge features help homeowners stay organized and efficient, use less energy, and maintain a cleaner house. In addition to energy-efficient appliances, some in-demand features include motion-sensor lighting, hands-free faucets, dedicated charging stations, and emergency power for refrigerators in case of power outages. 

Motion-sensor faucets are also popular in bathrooms along with bidets, self-closing toilet lids and smart mirrors with integrated internet access.

Tile

The keywords for tile design now are matte, geometric and textured. Larger format tiles with matte finishes are popular for walls and floors in bathrooms. They provide a polished, sophisticated look with fewer grout lines, which also makes them easier to clean. Matte metallic tiles—whether used on their own or mixed with other tiles—also provide a modern look. These brushed or textured tiles mix well with a variety of color palettes.

Geometric tiles are back. You can find hexagons, chevrons, diamonds and more in a variety of colors and textures that give them a modern look. Timeless subway tiles get a fresh look in larger sizes and a variety of colors. Consider installing them vertically and mixing colors or using a contrasting grout color.

Textured tiles in all sorts of shapes and sizes add interest to rooms. A few popular ones include tiles with a wood grain, sculptured tiles that provide a wavy effect and tiles with stone textures. 

Fixtures

Shiny metals have been out of favor for kitchen and bathroom fixtures for a while. Stainless steel and brushed or satin nickel have dominated, and they remain popular. However, for a more modern spin, look for designs in brushed gold or matte black finishes. Matte black adds simple elegance and works with any color scheme. If you’re not inspired by a dominantly black kitchen or bath, adding a black faucet or some hardware might be the way to incorporate the black trend. 

The brushed gold look is soft and elegant and pairs well with just about any color, adding a contrast to black cabinets and a subtle compliment to the dusty pastel shades and creamy whites.


Analiese Kreutzer is a freelance writer. She can be reached at AnalieseKreutzer@gmail.com.

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