Millennials’ Impact Seen Gaining for Kitchen & Bath Designs

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ Millennial clients – particularly those with children – are increasing in influence while the impact of Baby Boomer clients is gradually declining and Gen X is remaining constant, according to a 2022 Design Trends Forecast released this week by the National Kitchen & Bath Association.

The NKBA’s annual design trends forecast points to a gradual, yet palpable, shift in the primary customer base for new and remodeled kitchens and baths, after several decades in which the market was driven largely by a huge cohort of Baby Boomers (aged 57-75) and Gen Xers (aged 41-56) consumers.

While baby boom and Gen-X consumers remain the industry’s predominant buying force, the steady increase in business from Millennial clients (ages 25-40) is increasingly impacting both market share and anticipated kitchen and bath design trends, according to the NKBA, which said Millennials’ impact has “a high probability of increasing in the future.”

“Those working with Millennials see slightly less-expensive projects, but that’s likely driven by Millennials’ lower disposable income during their current life stage,” said the NKBA, whose 2022 Design Trends Forecast was based on a survey of approximately 650 designers, dealers, and other design professionals. The survey’s aim was to identify styles, features and materials that are expected to be more popular in the next several years; to identify the products that have the most dramatic impact on today’s kitchens and bathrooms; to assess if there are notable variations in designer client base profiles; and to predict if client base profiles are predictors of perceived design trends.

Among the overarching themes emerging from the NKBA’s 2022 survey is that kitchen clients generally want flex space for work, touchless fixtures, easy-to-clean surfaces, outdoor living areas, LED lighting and recycling storage. There is also a concerted desire for mobile-friendly spaces, healthy cooking, app-controlled appliances and voice-activated lighting, the NKBA said.

In the bathroom, consumers want a large shower, and are likely to remove tubs in order to allocate more space or access to storage/dressing areas, the NKBA said. There is also a pronounced need for energy and water efficiency, connected products such as water temperature controls, entertainment and communication, the association added.

In general, new kitchen and bathroom design is emerging from nature-inspired themes, the NKBA reported. “Organic, natural styles are prominent in both kitchens and bathrooms, especially among Millennials, (and) increased natural light with large, high-performance windows and doors for outdoor access will be prominent,” the NKBA said.

Homeowners have a desire for spaces that can multi-function,” the NKBA observed, pointing to a growing trend toward large islands for food prep that also function as dining tables, homework and work from home; flexible space for home office activities; pantries that include space for storage and a working area for small appliances; and workstation sinks with built-in features (drying racks, cutting boards, etc.) In addition, bathrooms that connect to dressing areas and/or laundry facilities, and vanities and medicine cabinets with outlets are also experiencing increased popularity.

When designing new spaces, homeowners are generally thinking about the following:

n Cleanliness: easy-to-clean surfaces and countertops that are sanitary and non-porous. The current strong demand for quartz is expected to continue, as is the popularity of larger-format tile or slabs with less grout, and touchless faucets.

n Sustainable design: 100% LED lighting; a dedicated recycling area; low-E windows and doors; Energy star/efficient products; EPA WaterSense fixtures; VOC-free paint; products with recycled materials, and radiant flooring.

n Universal design: spaces that will allow for aging in place; curb-less showers; fewer free-standing tubs, grab bars, seats in showers and hand-held showerheads.

Although homeowners are excited about integrated technology, it is not being utilized in most projects. Specifically, only 30% and 21% of kitchen and bath projects, respectively, include integrated technology features, the NKBA reported.

“Designers have new ways to interact with their clients, especially Millennials,” the NKBA said. “Future design projects will include a mix of in-person and virtual meetings. In-person meetings both in designer’s offices and at the client’s home will be most prominent.

“Designers will (also) take advantage of virtual channels with video calls and video meetings with clients,” NKBA researchers added. “Millennials are more open to virtual meetings while Boomers are looking for regular onsite meetings at their home.”

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