KBIS in Review: Trends in Kitchens and Bathrooms

img_Kallista-deep-soak-bathtub_XKallista deep soak bathtub

About KBIS

The Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, or KBIS to those “in the know,” is a big deal. This three-day mega-event—produced by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA)—only happens once a year and serves as the voice of the kitchen and bath industry, with hundreds of kitchen and bath brands and thousands of products on display to those in the design trade. Held this year in Las Vegas from January 19-21, the event drew over 100,000 industry professionals, with design seminars, speakers, and sessions happening throughout the Las Vegas Convention Center.

We interviewed stylist Barbara Schmidt of studiobstyle, a regular contributor to Midwest Home, about this year’s trends and innovative products:

Can you share with our readers a little bit about your background? 

For the last 15 years I’ve been designing residential spaces for homeowners in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, as well as across the country. I’ve had the great fortune to design residential spaces for retailers and manufacturers.

I’m from Minnetonka, and spent some of my teenage years on Bass Lake in Plymouth. I now live in Orono, with four rescue family members and my partner Michael. My offices are in Southwest Minneapolis, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, and West Hollywood.

What, in your opinion, is it like being at KBIS?

KBIS/IBS/Surfaces shows are like big parties all in one neighborhood. Everyone is excited to share new ideas, new products, and new plans for the upcoming year.   

Did any of the trends blow you away, or were they more of a slow evolution of existing ideas? 

Yes—there are new trends that essentially change the direction of the industry. The few that really stand out: Electrolux SmartBoost technology, premixing the water and detergent in a washing machine, essentially making a cold-water wash as effective as washing clothes in hot, some of the Sherwin Williams paint innovations—like the new antibacterial paint and dry-erase coating (capable of turning any wall into a dry-erase board), and the DXV by American Standard 3D printed faucet (also known as additive laser sintering), making it look like the water magically appears from nowhere—completely reinventing how water is moved through the twisted shapes.


Ann Sacks Liaison tile by Kelly Wearstler

What’s new in tile? Tubs? Sinks? Outdoor spaces? Appliances?

  • Waterjet tile by MS International, Inc., 3D tile by Walker Zanger, and Ann Sacks tile in collaboration with artist Kelly Wearstler leave a lasting impression.
  • La Cornue, the French artisan producer of handmade custom ranges, introduced a colorful pink range.
  • Free-standing soaking tubs are everywhere. The new ones are designed with self drains and overflows—all-in-one, no jets.
  • Rather than traditional shiny silver stainless steel, black stainless steel appliances and black finishes on faucets were all over at the show.
  • Heat & Glo created a contemporary rust-resistant see-through outdoor fireplace, complete with a tempered glass wind guard to keep the flames going. Multi-colored LED lights under the crushed glass firebed can be used even when the fireplace is off.
  • GE recently came out with a refrigerator that has a Keurig built right into the door for added convenience.
  • Dacor came out with a wall oven that can be connected to your ios device, allowing people to cook at expert levels with the swipe of a finger.

What was YOUR single favorite moment/trend/session at KBIS 2016? 

Seeing the Electrolux test area and test results, and meeting the engineer who created the innovation.

img_Marvin-Ultimate-Multi-Slide-Door-Beauty_XMarvin’s multi-slide door

What did you most enjoy about your KBIS experience?

It’s always fun to see so many Minnesota companies represented on a national stage—Marvin Windows and Doors, Northern Contours, Norcraft Cabinetry, and StarMark, just to name a few. Marvin came out with a MAMMOTH multi-slide door [available in sizes up to 50 feet high and 12 feet high].

You can’t help but feel proud … these companies are from our home base and they’re doing such beautiful and creative things.

What are the biggest challenges facing the kitchen and bath industry in 2016?

Energy efficiency: How can we continue to develop energy-saving appliances?

How do you see the industry changing?

Social media has changed the landscape of how people research products, talk about products, and share information. An active digital design community makes this a really exciting time to be a part of this industry.

What have been the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry throughout your career?

I’ve seen improved energy efficiency of appliances, laminate was in and out and now it’s back in again, stone was in and out and now quartz is in, wood species have gone from walnut to cherry to oak to maple to anything driftwood-looking and now back to walnut.


What interesting projects are you working on now?

I’m designing spaces and specifying materials for a national real estate developer, I’m designing a kitchen in a renovated loft, and I’m shooting for One King’s Lane, Le Creuset and Better Homes and Gardens.

What is one of the most useful tidbits you have learned throughout the years of designing interiors for people?

Whenever designing a space, think about classic trends that last.

Are you born with a sense of style or can you learn it? 

You are born with taste but you can learn style. Anyone with a passion for fashion or interiors can watch, study, and develop style.

Finish these sentences:

My home is … a sanctuary in nature where I can explore my creativity.

I collect … antiques, artwork, artisan pottery, handmade wall-coverings, mid-century items, and any design element that I’d like to utilize in the future.

My favorite vacation spot is … a quiet garden on a farm outside Milan. Another favorite spot is spending time with my family on Lake Minnetonka.

My style icon is … Kelly Wearstler for her sense of scale and how she blends styles. I also look to Steven Gambrel because of his use of color and texture.

I get design inspiration from … everywhere—on the street, in nature, online, from artwork, in vintage stores, and especially from travel.

For more information about KBIS, visit kbis.com. For more information about studiobstyle, visit studiobstyle.com.

By Chrissy Sarinske
Photos courtesy of Barb Schmidt and product manufacturers


Personal Designer

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