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2012 NKBA Design Competition Recap


The 2012 NKBA Design Competition featured over 500 entries submitted by designers from the United States and Canada. Among the many innovative concepts showcased at the competition, a few are truly revolutionary and sure to be the trends of tomorrow.

Here’s what we think are the top trends you shouldn’t miss:

Sense and Symmetry

Balanced rooms create harmony, ease the eye and foster a sense of well-being. That doesn’t mean you have to settle for overmatched or over-accessorized kitchens. Create cohesive contrast by using dark cabinets and light counters on one wall of a galley kitchen and reversing the effect with dark counters and light cupboards on the opposing wall. A unified theme of similar finishes or materials can create symmetry without sacrificing style.

Totally Tile

Cutting-edge bathrooms are using more tile to create dramatic effects on walls, floors, tub decks and backsplashes. Mix and match the wealth of available materials to achieve dramatic effects. Cover the walls to the ceiling with translucent glass tiles in pale turquoise and the floors with golden brown concrete or ceramic. Use 1-inch jewel-toned tiles in shades of blue, green and gold on tub decking or backsplashes to create a striking bath that summons the relaxing atmosphere of a day at the seaside.

Brightly Shining Surfaces

Shimmering finishes and reflective surfaces are a hot trend in contemporary kitchens. Stainless steel appliances glimmer softly even in low lighting, and polished wooden floors gleam with a patina of age. Recessed LED lighting along the toe-kick of an island adds visual interest with a hint of welcoming warmth. Mirror-finished marble countertops in gold, ivory or champagne and dark kitchen cabinets with a high-gloss finish are two more ways to fill your kitchen with the luster of light.

Repeating Shapes and Patterns

Patterns or motifs that repeat in various finishes, textures or materials create a comfortable sense of continuity. To achieve this look in your bath, start with existing design features. Frame rectangular windows with molding to match cabinet doors and repeat rectangle shapes with chased tile floors and backsplashes, multiple mirrors and decorative picture frames. Mix and match unusual or unexpected colors or materials and allow the underlying geometric pattern to pull the room together.

New Uses for Concrete

The use of concrete surfaces in interior design continues to be a hot trend in kitchens and baths. In the bathroom, versatile concrete can be poured to create seamless countertops with incorporated sinks. Colored concrete is available to suit any décor, and the finished product is polished to a high shine that rivals marble or granite. Textured concrete floors are both utilitarian and sleekly modern, and because they are naturally insulating, they are a practical as well as attractive addition in contemporary baths.

Reinventing the White Kitchen

The clean lines of classic white will always be a favorite element in kitchen design. Contemporary looks are achieving new uses for white by embracing new shades ranging from bright ice-white to softer, muted ivory hues. To get the look, combine floor-to-ceiling white cabinets and walls with dark countertops. An island of dark, high-gloss cabinetry topped with white marble or engineered stone adds a hint of old-fashioned elegance to an otherwise contemporary design.

Combining Glass with Color

Ultra-modern European aesthetics are reflected in this technique, which pairs panes of clear glass with pale pastel walls. The clear glass panels covering the softly painted surfaces create a smooth, seamless look that adds depth to the underlying color and diffuses light throughout the room. When paired with pale wooden floors, contemporary cabinets, bright white marble and stainless or aluminum accents, this look creates a striking modern design that still reflects the warmth of home.

New Ways to Frame Traditional Technology

Fixed features including plumbing and power sources always present a challenge in kitchen remodeling. Designers are overcoming these obstacles by using appliances and other traditional technology in new and exciting ways. Clustering appliances in a corner or along one wall and facing them with matching cabinet panels can create the illusion of space in larger kitchens, while bi-level counters or a counter and island of differing heights helps low-ceilinged rooms feel more expansive.

Suspended Lighting

The nearly limitless array of available fixture styles makes suspended lighting work in both classic and contemporary kitchens. Fixtures may be modern and sculptural or traditional and antique. Suspended lighting can be used to illuminate and draw the eye to open-beam or cathedral ceilings. Dropped spotlights above work surfaces, dining areas and gleaming wood floors create dramatic focal points and add powerful accents that are both attractive and practical.

Open Plan Bathrooms

The latest trend in bathroom design involves using minimalist effects to maximize space. Removing shower stalls in favor of open showers, using plain white walls with bold accents of color or natural wood, and choosing furnishing and fixtures with a sleek, utilitarian sensibility are all ways to achieve this look. Open concept bathrooms are user-friendly and visually striking, making them models of both efficiency and sleek modern design.

Interior design is a continually evolving art form that is always embracing new materials and discovering fresh uses for existing ones. By taking tips from the top designers at the NKBA competition, you can transform your home into a showplace on the forefront of interior fashion while still reflecting your personal style.

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Dan Whalen
Dan Whalen

This is an amazing opportunity for designers and will no doubt open many doors for kitchen designers new to the trade and those of us who have been around for many decades. I for one am very excited about this NKBA competition!


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