2021 kitchen and bath trends are as individual as the homeowner.
Story by Tracy Dickinson
Featured in January/February 2021
As one year winds down and a new one waits on the horizon, we usually enjoy the anticipation of what lies ahead. This year, that’s truer than ever. We may not be able to predict a lot about what 2021 will hold, but our local professionals can help us foresee the future of kitchen and bath design.
If you’re anticipating a remodel or a new home, these experts have some suggestions to help you plan your dream project.
- New Layouts
Open plans have been the trend for quite some time, but most experts see a bit of change in this area.
“There is a leaning toward more of a semi-open concept,” says Deb Pudenz of AIM Kitchen & Bath. “This can be something like a kitchen partially closed off from the living space or a butler’s kitchen with a smaller prep sink that is separate from the main kitchen area.”
Beisser Lumber Company (BLC) Projects’ Barb Hyde says, “I think we will see larger walk-in pantries with small-appliance work centers.”
Tina Noel from Moehl Millwork agrees. “Accessorizing your kitchen has never been more important. Making the space efficient and useful is driving homeowner decisions.”
In fact, the time spent at home this past year has certainly affected design decisions. “Clients have a clearer idea of what they want,” explains Woodharbor’s Jill Lampe. “My designs have gotten very detail-oriented because clients are very thoughtful about what their needs are, and standard options just aren’t enough now.”
- Practical Features
Though “standard” may not be the trend, “practical” certainly is. The difference is that each homeowner defines what’s practical in an individual way.
“Things like hidden outlets in the backsplash, USB sockets in kitchen outlets, charging stations—these are a bigger deal to homeowners,” says BLC Projects’ Rob Walker. “Homeowners want practical features that make their life easier, and that’s not the same for every client.”
Everything from specialized work stations for coffee or baking or entertaining to specialized appliances—beverage refrigerators, wine coolers, and warming drawers—adds convenience based on how each homeowner uses the kitchen.
Features such as appliance garages are also making a comeback as a result. “The modern take on the appliance garage is very popular right now, as are drawers, drawers, and more drawers,” Pudenz says. “We do far fewer lower cabinets and more drawers, which are more functional in most circumstances.”
- Natural finishes
One thing that seems to appeal to nearly all homeowners is a natural finish or natural look in the materials they select.
“Though we’re still using elements of the farmhouse style such as shiplap accents and rustic wood details, the term ‘transitional’ really does describe where so many of the designs are that clients want,” says Pudenz.
That style trend, along with the move toward a more minimalist look, have added to the increased appeal of natural materials.
“I’m seeing a growing trend toward more woods and natural colors,” says Lampe. “The farmhouse look has gravitated to a warmer look, with warm woods blended with greens, blues, and neutral paint colors.”
Noel says, “I also see warm tones as accents with the white shades of farmhouse- style kitchens, like a fun paint shade of blue or green to add pop and light wood tones throughout the space.”
- Showers Versus Tubs
The number one remodeling trend, according to these experts, is replacing oversize tubs with spacious showers.
Lampe says, “For years now, platform jet tubs were being torn out either with no tub replacement or with a smaller soaker tub and a separate, larger shower.”
“By far, the biggest request we get is removing the tub-shower combo and replacing it with a larger shower. This is especially true with clients who are starting to think about aging in place and looking for a zero-entry shower, shower bench, and other safety features,” Pudenz says.
Incorporating luxury elements like multiple showerheads and heated floors further enhances the comfort as well as the convenience.
- Natural Materials
As with kitchens, bathrooms are benefiting from the trend toward natural products. Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) is still fairly common, and other materials are rising in popularity.
“We’re seeing almost no laminate and typically no fiberglass,” says Walker. “This is especially true of master baths.”
“Porcelain tile is preferred by a lot of homeowners now. For countertops, we’re seeing quartz in baths, just as in kitchens,” Lampe says.
“Larger pattern tile, even slate, is growing in popularity,” says Hyde.
Neutral tones with warm wood cabinetry help create a relaxing spa feel for the master bath or guest bath, whether the space is large or small.
- Special Features
Much as they do in kitchen design, homeowners are looking for key features that add the comfort and convenience they desire. Those features vary from client to client.
“Heated floors and large showers are by far the most requested,” Lampe says. “Homeowners want a nice, beautiful shower that meets their immediate needs but also allows them to stay in the home longer.”
“Multihead showers are very popular, too,” says Hyde. “Even in a smaller shower, having multiple showerheads adds a sense of luxury.”
Pudenz says, “Heated floors used to be considered an unrealistic luxury for many homeowners. But they’re now quite common, and they’re especially appreciated in Iowa. Body jets and sprays are also very popular.”
Walker says specialized storage is as much requested in the bathroom as in the kitchen. “Built-ins are more and more common, especially in the master bath, but smaller baths benefit from this attention. Utilizing all space possible is especially important in smaller spaces.”
Pudenz explains, “Our homes are our safe havens, and we want them to function well and to feel like a reflection of ourselves.” Kitchen and bath designs are reflecting that, emphasizing comfort, convenience, and personality over trendiness.
We don’t know what 2021 will bring. One trend we know won’t change: A house truly ought to feel like home. •
- Deb Pudenz AIM Kitchen & Bath
- Barb Hyde Beisser Lumber Company Projects
- Rob Walker Beisser Lumber Company Projects
- Tina Noel Moehl Millwork
- Jill Lampe Woodharbor