2016 Nationals Set the Trends

Many common elements emerge among The National’s winning entries, and this year’s projects were no exception.

Will your merchandising and promotional efforts be included as examples of 2017 trends? You’ll never know until you apply. In the meantime, let’s take a look at what we saw this year with notes from judge Kathy Browning, CMP, MIRM, CGP.


White paint and finishes show off the clean lines of this kitchen.

Color. White continues to be a popular color: Homes featured white on the walls, cabinets and also as an accent color. Winners created layers by varying different shades of white, creating visual interest.

Both warm and cool shades of gray and beige were popular among the winners. The combination of the gray and beige, “greige,” is a fresh take on these popular neutrals. Many winning homes included warm brown, orange, umber and metallic gold as well.

Against these neutrals, many winners used pops of color to make statements in the rooms. Tones such as indigo blue, peacock, coral, saffron, and sauterne used in the homes reflect the color trends in fashion.

One new spin on wall color was the use of two or more colors on a wall with graphics and horizontal or vertical stripes. Designers continue to use color to show texture and dimension in the home design by adding interest with dimensional tile and exterior materials.

We saw color in unexpected places: windows in dark bronze, brown and black. This emerging trend is a fresh take on the 1980’s contemporary look.

Cabinetry. Warm browns continue to be a popular choice, reflecting finishes found in fine furniture. White cabinets painted to a high gloss laminate help lighten up the kitchen.

One emerging trend is the use of the color gray: This merges the trend of gray as a neutral with the trend of painted cabinetry. Winners featured both weathered gray finishes and painted gray laminate.

Using a combination of finishes for cabinets is still popular. Some kitchens include as many as three different finishes: one on the upper cabinets, a second on the lower cabinets, and a third on the island.

counter Light shades of quartz and quartzite are sharp – and easy to maintain.
Countertops. Carrara marble and granite continue to be popular choices. Selecting granite to ensure movement in the pattern is important to achieve the desired look in a room. Quartz, especially white and light shades, and manufactured quartzite are popular for their interesting patterns and ease of maintenance.

Long popular in appliances, stainless steel emerged as a popular choice for countertops as well. Some countertops included a waterfall edge instead of the usual treatment. Combining different countertop materials in the same room added visual interest in many homes.

Ceilings. Many entrants looked up to make their homes stand out. On ceilings, accent beams were very popular. Some homes used paint in between the beams, others added visual interest with stained or textured beams.

Lighting. A mixture of metals in light fixtures, such as brushed nickel with brass, or black with chrome, adds interest to a variety of rooms.


Winners created layers by varying different shades of white, creating visual interest. 

Another lighting trend that emerged from the winners was using elements not usually seen in lighting fixtures, such as basket weave pendants, feather chandeliers, driftwood bases, rustic horns and other elements from nature.