DCW, the co-location of the NKBA’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show and NAHB International Builders’ Show, featured award cer-emonies, interactive showcases, networking events, and learning opportunities. The fourth annual show was held Jan. 10-12 in Orlando, Fla.

About 80,000 home builders, remodelers, developers, designers and their trade partners talked to suppliers and saw demonstrations during a show that spanned the West, North and South halls of the Orange County Convention Center. The 2017 event saw a 17% increase in attendance compared to 2016; the fourth consecutive year of attendance gains.

Exhibit space grew from about 500,000 square feet in 2016 to 569,000 square feet this year, and the number of exhibitors grew from 1,400 to more than 1,500 on the show floor and in the outdoor exhibition areas.

KBIS 2017 created new destinations on the show floor to further enhance the attendee experience. The Discovery District served as a center for exploring unique and potentially undiscovered brands and products new to KBIS. Also new for 2017 was the Student Lounge, sponsored in part by Newport News, Va.-based national distributor Ferguson created to afford students a space to unwind during KBIS. The lounge was home to this year’s Tiny House Challenge competition, and also provided an opportunity for student networking.

There were a lot of new experiences to be had at IBS, including more hands-on, interactive learning experiences from the new Builder Clinics and Tech Bytes sessions, the CEDIA Smart Home Pavilion, the NAHB Meeting of the Members and an inside look at how high performance works at the new Building Performance Lab. Thousands of building professionals attended the more than 160-plus education sessions in eight tracks that covered the breadth of the entire building industry.

Two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Peyton Manning, DCW’s opening ceremony keynote speaker, kicked off DCW with a full house. The hall was overflowing and his speech had to be streamed into another conference hall. He shared his thoughts about his career and what it takes to be a leader.

“Your personal goals should align with your team goals,” Manning said. “Leaders have to be all in or all out. Strong leaders must focus on three things: themselves, their team and the competitive landscape. Take on new challenges one week at a time. I encourage you to be led by your dreams.”


Economic outlook

Sales of newly built, single-family homes rose 12.2% in 2016 to 563,000 units, the highest annual rate since 2007, according to newly released data by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau. New home sales fell 10.4% in December 2016 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 536,000 units.

“We are encouraged by the growth in the housing sector last year, and by the fact that builders increased inventory by 10% in anticipation of future business,” said Robert Dietz, chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders. “NAHB’s forecast calls for continued upward momentum this year with housing starts expected to rise 10% over the course of 2017.”

NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald added: “To ensure sales continue to move forward in 2017, builders need to price their homes competitively, especially given that mortgage interest rates are expected to rise this year.”


Top design trends

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 10 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 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 toward violets and purples. Stainless steel is niche and emerging.

  • 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.

“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 also are 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.

Industry insight

There also were many initiatives presented designed to inspire students to seek lucrative careers in design, construction and manufacturing fields.

To address the issue and overcome the negative connotations often associated with working in the trades, the NKBA announced the association’s support of a trio of new programs that will focus on closing the skilled worker gap while also promoting the value of “Trading UP” to a vocational career.

The three programs are:

1) The Generation Next campaign from This Old House Ventures on behalf of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation’s Work Ethic Scholarship Program;

2) The ACE Mentor Program of America; and

3) The Skilled Labor Fund from the SGC Horizon Building Group.

According to NKBA CEO Bill Darcy, the shortage of skilled labor within the design, construction and manufacturing fields has become an increasingly critical issue since the end of the Great Recession. Today, an estimated three million positions in construction that do not require a four-year degree remain unfilled, reported the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This skills gap is expanding each year, directly impacting the kitchen and bath industry.

“If we fail to attract new, young talent to our industry, kitchen and bath projects will inevitably take longer to complete, triggering higher costs for everyone, including homeowners,” said Darcy.

“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.”

DCW will return to Orlando and the Orange County Convention Center January 9-11, 2018.