As editor of the Bath & Kitchen Pro eNewsletter I was looking forward to attending the 4th annual Design & Construction Week. In the past the show has been in Vegas, which is easier for one of our other editors to get to. This year, however, it was in Florida, and I got to go for the first time.

DCW, the co-location of the NKBA’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show and NAHB International Builders’ Show, is the largest convention I’ve been to since I started working with the Plumbing Group magazines a little more than three years ago. It featured award cer­emonies, interactive showcases, networking events, and learning opportunities. There is so much to see that is literally impossible to see it all, and three days just didn’t seem like enough time to see everything.

As this was my first time at the show and at the Orange County Convention Center, I did not think about the location of the booth’s when I made booth appointments. The first day, I had visits in both the North/South building as well as the West building — one right after the other. I was running between the buildings trying to keep on schedule.

That wasn’t the only mistake I made. Previous convention halls have always been on the colder side, with the AC running high to offset the body heat from so many attendees. I normally wear an undershirt, a dress shirt and a suit jacket to keep warm. Not only was the OCCC warm, but the bridge between the two buildings was outside and the weather had picked up from the weekend before.

However, I did get a lot done that first day, despite the running back and forth. I posted our first official Facebook Live video from a convention. I met in person so many in the industry that I had only ever emailed with before. I also got in eight miles of walking, according to my smart watch.

Although I was too exhausted and sore to attend any of the after-hours events, there were plenty to choose from.

The second and third days went very similar with the exception being that I reworked my schedule so I wouldn’t be running between the two buildings. This also allowed me to have enough energy to attend some of the events that took place after hours, such as the “Beers & Cheers for Trade Careers” event.

Taking place on Wednesday, January 11 in “The Backyard” KBIS Parking Lot, industry friends and colleagues gathered for the first public event supporting the This Old House Generation Next philanthropic campaign to encourage and empower young people to join the skilled trades. Mike Rowe of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation accepted a $500,000 check from the charter partners of the initiative. All proceeds from the campaign will go to the mikeroweWORKS Foundation’s Work Ethic Scholarship Program, providing scholarships to people getting trained for skilled jobs in demand.



A few highlights include the Best of KBIS awards, the Innovative Showroom Awards, and the multiple conferences on the state of the industry as well as upcoming trends.

The Best of KBIS 2017 award winners by category are:

• Best in Show — GEOLUXE, GEOLUXE Natural Stone

• Best of Kitchen: Gold — GEOLUXE, GEOLUXE Natural Stone

• Best of Kitchen: Silver — The Galley, The Galley Dresser

• Best of Bath: Gold — TOTO, NEOREST AC Dual Flush Toilet with Actilight

• Best of Bath: Silver — Copper Shower Company, The Copper Shower Kit

Two Best of KBIS award winners — GEOLUXE and the Copper Shower Company — were brands within the KBIS Discovery District, a destination for exploring unique and undiscovered brands and products new to KBIS. The Copper Shower Company, led by owner Fritz Allen, first introduced its award winning Copper Shower Kit at KBIS 2017.

“We came to KBIS to launch an idea, having no sales and with no idea what the reception would be,” Allen said. “Our idea is now a discovered, tangible Best of KBIS award winning product, with builders and designers interested in purchasing our Copper Shower Kits.  It’s been incredible, and this is just the beginning.”

In the annual Innovative Showroom Awards, the following showrooms were recognized by the kitchen and bath community for exceptional service and leadership within the retail showroom space:

• Independent Retail Showroom Locations (1-5 showroom locations) — Small (1,000-2,500 sq. ft.) — ProGranite Surfaces

• Independent Retail Showroom Locations (1-5 showroom locations) — Medium (2,500-5,000 sq. ft.) — Clarke – New England’s Official Sub-Zero & Wolf Showroom and Test Kitchen at 7 Tide

• Independent Retail Showroom Locations (1-5 showroom locations) — Large (5,000 sq. ft.-plus) — Walker Zanger Global Headquarters

• Multi Location Retail Showrooms (6+ showroom locations) — Monogram Design Centre / AyA Kitchens Castlefield Showroom

• Overall Award Winner — Walker Zanger Global Headquarters


Trends and economic outlook

Kitchens and baths are the heart and soul of the home, representing a $134 billion industry, according to research released today by the NKBA. 

More than 10 percent of American homeowners did a kitchen or bath remodeling project last year for a total kitchen and bath remodel and replacement market of $85 billion. The kitchen and bath market for new construction is $48.6 billion.

The NKBA economic outlook, “Estimated Market Value for the Kitchen & Bath Remodeling and New Residential Construction Markets,” pegs the kitchen and bath industry at $134 billion. It also finds that each year homeowners remodel upwards of 10.2 million kitchens — roughly one in 10 of all households — and 14.2 million bathrooms, two of the most important rooms in a home. Further, annual new home construction adds roughly 1 million kitchens and 2.3 million bathrooms to the marketplace.

The National Kitchen & Bath Association revealed the top design trends for the coming year as specified by the annual Design Trends Report. The report reveals the top ten trends in kitchen and bath design, as well as other relevant statistical information regarding the kitchen and bath industry.

Contemporary and Transitional-styled bathrooms have overtaken Traditional in design preference, according to the NKBA 2017 Kitchen & Bath Design Trends Report. Based on this annual member survey, the NKBA expects to see the following top 10 overall bathroom trends this year:

• Contemporary and Transitional-styled bathrooms have overtaken Traditional-style preferences. Shaker style is gaining on Traditional, while Mid-Century Modern is emerging. Asian Fusion is a niche design, but design professionals who recommend it plan to do more of it in bathrooms.

• Whites, off/whites and gray are by far the most popular bathroom color schemes. Blue is emerging, with younger design professionals leaning more towards violets and purples. Stainless steel is niche and emerging.

• Linen storage cabinets and wood vanities are the most commonly used bathroom storage solutions. Floating vanities and open shelving are popular and increasing in popularity. Toilet topper cabinets are declining in demand.

• Ceramic tile flooring is most popular, but high-quality vinyl appears to be emerging.

• Undermount bathroom sinks are most desirable, with requests for vessel sinks continuing to wane, as well as pedestal sinks. Trough sinks are emerging.

• More than half of NKBA members surveyed said they eliminated a tub or whirlpool in a bathroom remodel over the course of the past year. Yet half also specified a freestanding tub during that same period, and 60 percent expect to specify more of them in 2017.While tub/shower surrounds are maintained and updated when they already exist in a home, they are not being added to new bathrooms or completely remodeled bathrooms.

• White fixtures are trending up, while bone/bisque colored fixtures are trending down. Brushed brass and gold are emerging faucet finishes; designer faucet colors, while still quite niche, are emerging.

• The most popular amenities for the bathroom are in the arena of safety and comfort: e.g., comfort heights, shower seats, lighting in showers and no-threshold showers. Emerging amenities are smart toilets, smart toilet seats, music in the shower, easy maintenance features, and radiant floor heating.

• Water-saving toilets and faucets are becoming more mainstream.

• Distributed video and audio and wiring pathways for future integration are still niche in the bathroom, but emerging.

Emphasizing the decline in traditional styling, one respondent went as far as to say that his clients are selecting “bold options for their bathroom. Homeowners are beginning to choose more of what they want, rather than what others are doing.”

“We’re beginning to see more sleek designs over the more furniture look in the past,” added one survey respondent. “Everything is very bright and airy in terms of color trends.”

As for bathroom storage, conventional linen storage cabinets and wood vanities remain popular, with more contemporary options such as floating vanities and open shelving growing in use.

Also prevalent in many bathroom designs is the addition of power outlets located directly in drawers or vanity cabinets to unobtrusively power blow dryers, curling irons, shavers, electric toothbrushes and more.                                                           

Whirlpools tubs are also fading in status. More than half of NKBA members responding said they eliminated a tub or whirlpool in a bathroom remodel over the course of the past year.

Bill Darcy, NKBA CEO, anticipates continuing to see fewer tubs and whirlpools in the next year.  However, while whirlpool tubs are in decline, nearly half of survey respondents said that they specified a freestanding or soaking tub in the last year, and 60 percent expect to specify more of them in 2017. 

Survey respondents also reported that the arena of safety and comfort comprises the most popular category of bathroom amenities, including: comfort height toilets/countertops, shower seats, lighting in showers and no-threshold showers. 

“ADA-compliant features in master baths are not really new, but they are now trending so people can stay in their home as they age,” commented one respondent.

Switching over to the kitchen, Contemporary-styled kitchens have overtaken Traditional to become the second most popular North American kitchen design, according to the 2017 Kitchen & Bath Design Trends Report conducted by the NKBA. Based on this member survey, the NKBA expects to see the following top 10 overall kitchen trends this year:

• Clean lines, built-ins and simple door styles dominate kitchen designs. Contemporary- styled kitchens overtake Traditional to be the second most popular design after Transitional. Emerging: Industrial and Mid Century Modern. Mountain Modern and Coastal are variations on Contemporary. ​

• White and gray painted cabinets dominate kitchen color schemes and show no signs of slowing down, especially gray. Blue painted and high gloss cabinets are emerging. For overall color schemes, blue as well as black are emerging.

• Two-toned kitchens are gaining in popularity. Also mixing it up: materials and metals, across surfaces and as accents.

• While wood cabinets dominate kitchen designs, metal — currently a small segment of the cabinet market — appears to be emerging. Metal cabinets are most frequently specified by younger and male designers.

• Furniture-look pieces, rollouts and pullouts and under cabinet lighting (LED) are among the most popular kitchen cabinet features. Use of crown molding is declining. Rustic and reclaimed woods were frequently mentioned.

• Quartz is the most popular kitchen countertop material, and trending up. Granite, the second most popular countertop material, is trending down.

• Induction cooktops and convection ovens are trending higher, and microwave drawers are outpacing freestanding or built-in microwaves. Steam ovens still represent a small segment of the market, but are also trending higher.

• Use of technology in the kitchen is increasing. About one third of NKBA professionals included wiring and pathways for future tech integration. Also trending upwards: more Internet connected appliances and docking stations.

• Interior barn and pocket doors in kitchens are trending up.

• Accessible and/or universal design features continue to trend up for kitchens.

“Clean lines with no fussy moldings or trims,” underscored one survey respondent. “White kitchens are never going away, but I’ve recommended mixed countertop materials, mixed cabinet colors and frequently use lots of light/dark materials for contrast.”

Survey respondents also reported that technology in the kitchen is increasing, a trend which was highly anticipated by Darcy, who noted that about one third of NKBA professionals included wiring and pathways for future technical integration. NKBA members also reported recommending kitchens designs that offered Internet connected appliances and docking stations.

“Homeowners want power strips under cabinets to eliminate outlets in the backsplash,” explained one NKBA professional about the increased demand for tech amenities in kitchens.

Nearly half (48%) of kitchen remodel and replacement projects were budgeted at $15,000 or more; while one-in-five Americans (21%) spent $7,500 or more to remodel their master bathroom, according to the report released at KBIS.

Other insights into the Kitchen segment of the industry include:

• 10.2 million — or roughly one in 10 of all households — undertook a kitchen remodel or replacement project during 2015.

• Nearly half (48%) of kitchen remodel and replacement projects were budgeted at $15,000 or more.

• However, there was a great variation in the kitchen project budget, pointing to more partial upgrades, rather than complete remodels. For example, 63% of respondents spent less than $5,000 on their kitchen remodeling or replacement project.

• Similar to previous generations, younger homeowners are more inclined to DIY these projects and baby boomers are more inclined to hire the expertise.

• The overall estimated retail market value for products among households undertaking kitchen remodel or replacement project activity is $49.7 billion. 

Other insights into the Bathroom segment of the industry include:

• 14.2 million — or just under 13% of all households — undertook a bathroom remodel or replacement project during 2015.

• 21% of respondents spent $7,500 or more to remodel their master bathroom.

• As with kitchens, there was a significant variation in spending for bathroom remodels and replacements. For example, nearly four-in-ten (38%) of respondents budgeted less than $2,500 for their bathroom remodeling or replacement project.

• The overall estimated retail market value for products among households undertaking a bath remodel or replacement project is $35.5 billion.

“This NKBA research is the first in a decade to quantify the size of the kitchen and bath industry,” Darcy said. “Our $134 billion industry has a major impact on the U.S. economy, representing nearly a fifth (18%) of the total residential design and construction marketplace. 

The report is based on an online survey fielded in early 2016 that generated 1,078 responses representing homeowners, builders/remodelers and general contractors’ views of projects completed during 2015. The study contains a breakdown of kitchen and bath market activity, including kitchen and bath remodeling by segment product behaviors, average amount spent on products, estimated retail market value by product and a breakdown of kitchen and bath market activity by housing type.

“Kitchens and bathrooms are big business,” said Manuel Gutierrez, NKBA consulting economist and principal of ManuelDJGutierrez. “The $134 billion residential construction and remodeling market for American kitchens and baths is weighted toward remodeling projects, with $85.2 billion (64%) allocated to remodeling and $48.9 billion (36%) earmarked for new construction.

“We remain cautiously optimistic on the remodeling outlook simply because the number of houses in the U.S. — the so-called stock of homes — increases year after year,” continued Gutierrez. “There are currently more than 135 million homes in the U.S. that are in need of constant remodeling and improvement, particularly homeowner and rental units. This drives a constant stream of demand for products and services in the remodeling market.”

The reports are available for purchase, however an executive summary of the research is available free to NKBA Members.


Learn more

I learned a lot from the show and am looking forward to being much more prepared for next year. There were so many new products to see and many booths had live, interactive demos. For a list of some of the products that were on display you can check out our Product Preview section in January’s issue and our Product Review section in March.

Coverage of the show floor can be seen on Plumbing & Mechanical’s Facebook and Twitter pages using #LiveWithPM.

A full feature covering the growth of the show, which will include attendance numbers and show photography, will appear in PM’s March issue.

Were you at the show? If so, did you see something that you just can’t forget? If not, is there anything more you’d like to know? Talk about it in the comments section below.