What’s Trending in Bathroom Design? The National Kitchen + Bath Association Reveals All

Traditional bathroom designs are taking a back seat to a more spa-like, clean and minimal look, according to the National Kitchen + Bath Association (NKBA). The organization queried hundreds of designers, remodelers, architects, manufacturers and dealers to discover the trends in bathroom styles, sinks and tubs, cabinets, lighting, flooring, colors and other elements.

Freshome asked trend spotter Elle H-Millard, Certified Kitchen Designer and Industry Relations Manager at the NKBA, for photos and comments on key design trends in U.S. bathrooms. Here are the NKBA bathroom design trends you should know.

The most popular bathroom styles

A transitional bathroom. Image: NKBA

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According to H-Millard, both transitional and contemporary styles are popular in bathrooms. “Transitional bathrooms have clean and classic lines, with painted walls and wood cabinetry,” she says. Undermount sinks, brushed nickel and cool color palettes are also features of the transitional style.

A contemporary bathroom. Image: NKBA

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“The uptick in soaking tubs lends itself to a more sculptural feel, giving rise to the contemporary look,” H-Millard says. Features include frameless cabinetry and porcelain tile. “Also, larger surface areas in the bath make it easier to clean, making both transitional and contemporary popular.”

Trends in cabinets

A freestanding vanity with creative storage options. Image: NKBA

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Freestanding vanities, wood vanities, linen storage cabinets and open shelving are the most popular types of storage options. Medicine cabinets, console tables and toilet-topper cabinets – not so much.

Trends in surfaces

A bathroom with soft blue painted walls. Image: NKBA

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Quartz is far and away the most popular choice for countertops, with granite a distant second and marble/cultured marble an even more distant third.  “Another runaway favorite is porcelain tile floors, followed by ceramic tile and stone floor,” H-Millard explains.

When choosing a wall surface, paint is the most popular option, although porcelain tile is also popular. Ceramic tile is a distant third.

Sinks and faucets

The trending porcelain sink. Image: NKBA

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Undermount sinks are almost twice as popular as an integrated sink/countertop or a vessel sink. “The preference for porcelain sinks is significantly higher than the desire to use glass or decorative metal,” H-Millard says.

Regarding faucets, brushed nickel, satin nickel and polished chrome are in a virtual dead heat.

Trends in bathtubs

A white acrylic bathtub. Image: NKBA

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Acrylic is the most popular bathtub material, followed by cast iron and fiberglass. “By far, the most popular configuration is free-standing, compared to a skirted or platform configuration,” H-Millard says. In terms of bathtub fixture colors, white is the overwhelming favorite, although silver/gray is gaining popularity. Beige/bisque/bone/almond is only preferred by a small percentage.

Trends in sustainability

A bathroom featuring sustainable materials. Image: NKBA

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The most popular trends in sustainability are LED light bulbs, followed by energy-efficient vent fans and low-flow toilets.

Trends in master vs. second/guest bathrooms

Multiple shower options. Image: NKBA

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A handheld showerhead paired with a mounted showerhead is the top feature in a master bathroom, followed by a freestanding tub and a soaking tub. “In second or guest bathrooms, a smaller percentage list having a handheld shower (in addition to a mounted showerhead) as the top feature,” H-Millard says. However, instead of a freestanding tub, a standard tub with shower surround is more popular. “The third most popular feature in the second/guest bathroom is water saving shower fittings,” she says.

Other trends in bathroom design elements

Soft colors in a relaxing bathroom. Image: NKBA

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The most popular bathroom color schemes are whites and off-whites, grays and blues. Lighting in the shower is the top lighting trend, followed by recessed lighting and sconces. Radiant floor heating is also popular, along with towel warmers and steam showers.

Emerging trends

A wet room. Image: NKBA

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“The wet room, using the linear drain, is an emerging trend in the bathroom,” H-Millard says. If you’re not familiar with this term, in a wet room, there isn’t a shower enclosure. The entire bathroom (or, in other cases, the entire shower and tub area) is considered the shower enclosure. H-Millard notes the two-person, spa-like statement shower is another emerging trend.