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NKBA Survey Highlights Designers’ Preferences Around Appliances

Written by Rob Stott

December 15, 2023

NKBA luxury kitchen design appliances

The design community has a ton of thoughts around the appliance industry, as we learned in the latest Closeup on Kitchen Appliances survey from the National Kitchen and Bath Association. But a large contingent of designers also readily admit that they are the furthest thing from experts on the category, opening the door for independent retailers to step in as a trusted advisor and business partner.

“New appliance technologies and features evolve rapidly, making it challenging to keep up,” Jamie Molitor, contractor and co-founder of Minneapolis-based construction2style, told NKBA. “Staying updated through industry publications, attending trade shows, participating in online courses and collaborating with industry experts can provide valuable insights.”

Still, the design community plays a vital role when it comes to how, when and why many consumers ultimately end up purchasing their appliances. Which is why there’s much to be gleaned from the latest report.

At a top-line level, NKBA offered a few key takeaways from this year’s edition:

  • Gas stoves continue to be the more popular cooking method, despite government-backed efforts to force induction cooktops into homes.
  • Specialty appliances are increasing in both awareness and want among consumers – particularly wine storage and beverage fridges.
  • Just about 50 percent of respondents say they chose the same brand across all kitchen appliances in more than half their projects this year, however, designers in particular find it to be a major turnoff when retailers attempt to sell them full appliance packages.

We’ve had the cooktop discussion on this blog in the past, so let’s instead focus on some of the other items that came out of the report.

Customization in the kitchen is a big trend that designers are leaning into and their clients are expecting, according to the NKBA report. Today’s client wants more specialized stations throughout their kitchens or areas that offer multiple functions. Pantries have been at the top of most clients’ lists over the past year, along with double ovens, microwave drawers, appliance garages, dishwasher drawers, smart appliances and steam ovens. Other items growing in popularity included pizza ovens, ceiling-mounted hoods, grills and pizza ovens.

The growing demand for beverage and coffee stations in the kitchen is what leads to boost in demand for those specialty beverage appliances. But also coming into the picture are built-in coffee makers, specialty ice makers and built-in water filtration systems.

When it comes to those larger appliances, designers seem to be less concerned about brand loyalty or uniformity than consumers – but consumers, of course, ultimately make the purchase decision. Consumers’ desire to stick to a single brand is often driven by the fact that finishes and colors are more likely to match, but also because of those money-saving package deals that designers say they’d prefer not to be pushed on. In their mind – the designer’s that is – appliance decisions would be made based on which are panel ready so they could give their clients a more “aesthetically pleasing” design throughout the kitchen.

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