Kitchen & Bath Trends

Hot pink and other bright colors, kitchen desks, Whirlpool bathtubs, over-the-range microwaves, tiled counters, matching furniture and arched faucets all had their day in many Lowcountry kitchens and bathrooms.

Now it’s white/gray color schemes in the kitchen, transitional style design, wood flooring, outdoor kitchens, coffee stations and wet bars, storage pullouts, floating vanities in the master bathroom and freestanding tubs.

These are some of the 2016 trends identified by members of the National Kitchen and Bath Association when they met in Las Vegas earlier this year at the annual convention.


“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, the group’s chief executive officer. “Our members know firsthand 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.”

Fads spurt their immediate popularity into the interior design world and fade just as quickly. Trends may start out as fads, but flex their traction power and stick around for years. Faddy or trendy, time, interior designers’ and homeowners’ tastes eventually move on.


White/gray color trends in the kitchen may be emerging nationally, but locally, these soothing neutral hues have enjoyed an extended duration.

“Everything here is very coastal chic, and I think that’s why a lot of the grays and whites have stayed so prevalent,” said Courtney Potts, a designer with Center Point Cabinets in Ridgeland and president of the NKBA Georgia/South Carolina Coastal chapter. “Because we’re near the beach, we think light and airy.”

“We’re still definitely seeing a consistent trend toward the gray color palette,” Potts added. “In the past couple of years, we’ve seen everything transition from the creamy white toward the grays, beiges with gray undertones.”


Kitchens nationwide are becoming bright and airy — like those in the Lowcountry have been for years — with an array of elegant details on countertops and backsplashes, and range hoods made of copper, brass or bronze that dramatically contrast with white cabinets.

Homeowners also are choosing deep storage drawers and pullouts instead of base cabinets, and concealed cabinets for refrigerators, a warming drawer, an oven and, yes, a microwave.

Sixty percent of survey respondents report utilizing two or more colors within a kitchen space, a trend that has grown since last year. 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. For instance, wood tops combined with stone tops.


“We’re seeing more pops of color,” Potts said. “Blues, greens and more saturated colors … not for an entire kitchen, but maybe on an island or in a powder room.”

As building construction has evolved over the last century and the extraction and movement of the natural stone has become easier, granite has emerged as a popular countertop material. It is one of the most bountiful materials found in the earth’s continental crust, and thanks to an uptick in demand, a boost in supply has made granite much more affordable than it was 30 years ago. In comparison with marble and a handful of other stone types, granite is also a cost-effective countertop option.

Marble countertops can be considered to be the Cadillac of counters. Although it is a soft stone, it is quite durable. If you do a lot of baking, you’ll absolutely love working with marble countertops. It stays cool naturally and is not a big heat conductor.


Natural stones on counter and island tops like marble, granite, soapstone and slate are being challenged by engineered quartzite.

“As far as finishes go with metals for light fixtures and hardware, we’re actually starting to see brass make a comeback,” Potts said. “It’s not the shiny brass you think of from back in the 1980s and ’90s; it’s more of a brushed, softer brass.”

Kitchens also extend beyond function and aesthetic appeal. Hidden charging stations for phones and tablets and state-of-the-art appliances like steam ovens, built-in coffee machines and wine coolers. Looking ahead, does your kitchen tap provide boiling water? It might be soon.


Last year, Potts spoke of the emergence of oak cabinetry in Lowcountry kitchens.

“What we’re seeing is not so much a medium stain like in the past but an espresso, like a really, really dark oak … or painted oak,” she said. “Clients like the texture the grain gives it.”

More than half of survey respondents report that their full kitchen projects, both remodels and new construction, cost between $20,000 and $49,000. Another 35 percent report their average kitchen price exceeds $50,000 for design, materials and labor.


The top 10 national kitchen trends in 2016, based on a survey of NKBA designers, are:

  • Transitional style, with contemporary emerging
  • Gray/white/off-white cabinets
  • Pullouts, tilt-outs and tilt-ins for storage
  • Wood flooring
  • Quartz and granite countertops
  • Outdoor kitchens
  • Built-in coffee stations and wet bars
  • Pocket doors
  • Special pet spaces
  • Docking and charging stations


If it’s not in your master bath already, expect showers that offer aromatherapy, hydrotherapy and color therapy or a waterfall, and refrigerated vanity drawers for storing refreshing tub-side beverages. Heated towel racks, suede or leather drawer pulls, stereo surround-sound, neutral colors, no-threshold showers, open shelving and built-in storage, under-mounted sinks and polished chrome on the faucet are all moving into the spotlight.

Check out customizable flush plates and toilet tanks from Geberit and Kohler’s C3200 toilet seat with bidet functionality.

Most new or renovated bathrooms cost $10,000 to $30,000, with about 30 percent costing more than $30,000 for design, materials and labor, according to the survey.


The top 10 national bathroom trends in 2016, based on a survey of NKBA designers, are:

  • Amenities to help residents age in place
  • Transitional style
  • Neutral colors, with white as the most popular fixture color
  • Open shelving and floating vanities
  • More built-in storage functionality
  • Under-mounted sinks
  • Freestanding tubs
  • Shower amenities
  • Polished chrome for faucet finish
  • Easy maintenance features

Kitchens and bathrooms are for living the Lowcountry life, not just for occupying their space.