Is Contemporary Out? Already?

Contemporary kitchenIn 2008, I posed this question in a poll: Is contemporary style on its way out? My theory was that hard economic times would propel people into the comfort of traditional styles. I used this June 2008 photo from Architectural Digest to illustrate the shift. Notice the farm style table and warm floors to balance the chic chairs, range hood and metal stairs.

Many respondents to my poll said NO WAY are the sleek, spare lines of contemporary style on the way out. Some even suggested that this would be the “in” look forever more.

See the results of my Poll: Is contemporary style on its way out?

But, as you can see from the list of kitchen and bath trends below (if you believe this list), contemporary is moving out and traditional is moving up.

Here’s a press release from the National Kitchen & Bath Association:

The results are in from a recent survey of designers conducted by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) to reveal the key design trends for 2010. The results of the NKBA 2010 Kitchen & Bath Design Trends Survey confirmed the continuation of a number of existing trends in the marketplace, but also uncovered others that indicate shifts in the direction that kitchen and bath style will take this year. Below are 2010’s seven kitchen trends and four bath trends.


1. Traditional is the New Contemporary

Traditional will continue as the most popular kitchen design style in 2010, with contemporary following closely behind, while the Shaker style is seeing a surprisingly strong resurgence. Shades of whites and off-whites will be the most common kitchen colors in 2010, while brown, beige, and bone hues will also be popular.

2. Cherry on Top

Cherry will remain the most popular wood for kitchen cabinetry, followed closely by maple, while alder increases in use. As for the finishes placed on those cabinets, medium natural, dark natural, glazed, and white painted will all be common. Other colors of painted cabinetry and light natural finishes are in decline, however, as are distressed finishes.

3. Floored by Tile

Ceramic and porcelain tile, as well as natural stone tile, remain popular kitchen flooring options, but hardwood will dominate the kitchen landscape more than ever in 2010. For countertops, granite continues to be the most popular option, but quartz will nearly catch up in popularity. For backsplashes, ceramic or porcelain tile and glass will serve as the primary materials.

4. Flexible Faucets

Standard kitchen faucets will become less standard in 2010 in favor of more convenient models. Pull-out faucets continue to increase their market dominance, while pot filler faucets will also become more prevalent. Kitchen faucets will most often be finished in brushed nickel, followed by stainless steel, satin nickel, and—surprisingly—polished chrome.

5. Undercounter Refrigeration

French door and freezer-bottom are the two most popular styles of refrigerators, and side-by-side refrigerators remain a popular option. A surprising trend is the extent to which undercounter refrigerator drawers are being used in the latest kitchen designs. Perhaps even more surprising is that undercounter wine refrigerators have been recently specified by half of kitchen designers.

6. A Range of Cooking Options

The tried-and-true range continues to serve as the workhorse for cooking, although the combination of a cooktop and wall oven is beginning to overtake it. Gas will maintain its position as the most popular type of cooktop over electric, although induction cooking continues to gain in popularity due to its energy efficiency.

7. Dishwasher-in-a-Drawer

Standard dishwashers, with the traditional door that pulls from the top down, will once again be easily the most common type in 2010. However, an increasing number of dishwasher drawers will be installed in kitchens this year for their convenience and their ability to wash small loads of dishes in each drawer, thereby saving water and electricity.


1. In With the Old, Out with the New

Traditional will be the most popular design style in bathrooms in 2010, as contemporary designs will be a distant second, followed by the Shaker style as an even more distant third. Beiges and bones will be the most common colors used in bathrooms, followed by whites and off-whites, and then by browns, indicating a somewhat subdued color palette this year.

2. Ceramic and Granite

Ceramic and porcelain tile will be the dominant flooring materials in bathrooms this year, while natural stone will continue to prove popular as well. Though increasingly popular in kitchens, hardwood flooring won’t become common in bathrooms in 2010. For vanity tops, granite will remain king, with quartz and marble also proving popular options.

3. Simple Fixtures

Perhaps more than ever, the most common color for fixtures will be white. Bisque and off-white will be the only other fixture colors at all common in new or remodeled bathroom. For sinks, simple undermount models will be most popular, followed by integrated sink tops, drop-in sinks, vessel sinks, and pedestal sinks.

4. A Nickel for Every Finish

Faucet finishes in the bathroom are similar to those used in current kitchen designs, with brushed nickel continuing to lead the way in 2010. Polished chrome and satin nickel will also be incorporated into many bathrooms, just as they had been throughout 2009. These faucet finishes will be followed by bronze and stainless steel.

6 Comments on Is Contemporary Out? Already?

  1. Daniel Pena

    We are designing more and more transitional style in Miami now. Contemporary is been out for a while down here but I don’t think we will be going back to traditional in South Florida any time soon. Especially with the floors, you point out that hardwood will dominate the flooring business, however, we have not worked on any projects for a while when wood floors are installed in the kitchen. The humidity in Miami makes people stay away from wood and the tile industry (natural stones, marble, travertine, limestone, rectified porcelain, etc.) is very strong down here, also the fact that local suppliers and vendors like can get you tile for half the price of wood. I don’t see a big change in flooring happening in South Florida but you do see changes on kitchen cabinetry, furniture and millwork. Also, there is a huge hype down here about wallpapers and retro wall coverings.

  2. Frank S.Shropshire

    I really like it. Traditional style still going on, which i prefer.

  3. kitchenguy

    The US is the only country in the world, where traditional is the most popular style (as well as baseball & football vs. soccer, imperial vs. metric and on).
    In the last few years, mainly because of the internet, Americans discover that a kitchen does not have to be a raised panel or a shaker door style, in cherry, maple or paint finish…
    Contemporary will get only stronger!

  4. Jay

    Contemporary is too classic of a style to be out, ever. It’s simple yet there is so much that you can do with it. A new trend I’ve noticed is with the addition of library ladders in many contemporary homes. It’s stylish and functional and something unique…until the trend catches on!

  5. Kathy Price-Robinson

    You’re so right that contemporary visions come and go in waves. Very well put. I remember the ’60s.
    For myself, I do know folks who like clean lines. I’ve seen some great spaces, too. But it may be taken too far. My new favorite site is Too funny.
    As for trends, some of my readers are designers and spec home builders. So they really need to know what’s desired by people now and in the near future. Knowing that a style will come around again will not sell that house!

  6. Irene R

    Personally, I don’t know anyone who enjoys contemporary styling. That being said, I know that many people still like it.
    I think what is happening is that people are steering toward a modern version of traditional and they are thinking long term about their home values.
    In 100 years, I believe traditional styles will still be going strong. However, contemporary visions will come and go in waves.