Gray color schemes and transitional styles are among the top trends identified by more than 300 kitchen and bath design experts.

Photo: Jackson Design & Remodeling (JDR); winner of a San Diego National Kitchen
Photo: Jackson Design & Remodeling (JDR);
February 18, 2013

Building Teams for apartments, senior living, and other multifamily residential projects may be seeing gray this year, at least in kitchens and bathrooms. Gray color schemes for both types of spaces have grown dramatically in popularity, according to a new National Kitchen & Bath Association Top 10 trends report. Used currently in 55% of kitchens and 56% of bathrooms, gray conveys a sense of chic sophistication, according to the NKBA. White, off-white, beige, and bone also remain very popular, and sepia tones are on the rise.

Transitional-style kitchens and baths—defined as a "seamless blend of traditional and contemporary"—have surpassed traditional styles, which reigned until 2012. Quartz finishes are another "clear trendsetter" for 2013, according to NKBA survey respondents, consisting of ~300 member designers in the U.S. and Canada. Though quartz saw a slight popularity decline in 2012, it is now a close second to perennial favorite granite.

Additional top trends for kitchens include white-painted cabinetry, glass backsplashes, LED lighting, touch-activated faucets, and satin-nickel finishes. Bathroom trends include an increased use of ceramic/porcelain tiles and undermount sinks.

Here's a recap of the top 10 kitchen and bath design trends for 2013 (download the full report at



1. Shades of Gray

In kitchens, shades of gray have noticeably jumped in use over the past three years. There was a significant increase from 9% of kitchens in 2010 to a remarkable 55% in the final three months of 2012. Similar to kitchens, grays in bathroom remodels have risen from 12% to 56% since 2010.

Whites and off-whites remain the top color schemes of both kitchens and bathrooms, used in 73% and 71%, respectively, an increase of 6 percentage points in both categories over the past year. Beiges and bones remain the second most popular color scheme in both rooms, followed by grays and then browns. Browns are slightly in decline in bathrooms, falling from 39% in 2012 to 35% this year, but sepia tones rose from 11% to 17% in kitchens and 11% to 18% in bathrooms.


2. Rise of Quartz

Quartz was the second most popular counter-surface material used in kitchens and baths last year. This year, it has significantly narrowed the gap with granite, increasing from 69% to 80% in kitchens and from 53% to 65% in bathrooms. Meanwhile, granite held steady in 2013, with 87% usage in kitchens and 71% in bathrooms.

Identified as the key trend for 2012, the popularity of solid surfaces in kitchens continues to rise, growing from 11% in 2010 to 35% in 2013. Marble still remains a popular bathroom vanity-top material, only moderately dipping in popularity from 46% in 2010 to 39% this year.

3. Trending Transitional Styles

In 2012, the popularity of transitional style — a seamless blend of traditional and contemporary — exceeded that of its traditional counterpart, which had been the clear topper in 2010 and 2011. In our latest survey, transition expanded its lead in the kitchen, with usage growing from 59% to 69%, Likewise, transitional styles in the bathroom are still positioned #1, currently used by 61% of NKBA-member designers.

As a consequence, traditional styles sit in second place in both rooms, their popularity holding steady at 60% in kitchens and 58% in bathrooms. Contemporary designs secured a close third in the most recent poll, maintaining a steady 52% usage in kitchens and increasing slightly from 53% to 57% in bathrooms.


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