It’s often said that great kitchens sell houses. Wonder what the great kitchen of the future will look like?

Two new reports should give you valuable insight: the 2012 National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) Design Trends Study, and “The New Home in 2015″ published by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
Give yourself a design refresher with the survey results, and guide your buyers toward kitchens with proven, lasting appeal.
Current kitchen design trends
To pin down current kitchen trends, the NKBA asked member designers to identify types of kitchen materials used recently. The 2012 Design Trends Study found that oak, walnut and birch kitchen cabinets are increasingly popular, and polished chrome fixtures are making a comeback. Here are some other notable trends:
• Cabinets go darker. Dark finishes for kitchen cabinetry are gaining in popularity. The use of dark finishes was reported by 58 percent of kitchen designers in the most recent study, quite a surge from two years ago, when dark finishes were used by only 43 percent of designers.
• More glass backsplashes. Most designers rely on inexpensive ceramic (74 percent) or stone (60 percent) tile for kitchen backsplashes, but glass tile is an increasingly popular option. Use of glass backsplashes was reported by 52 percent of designers in the latest study, compared to 41 percent of designers a year ago.
• Pull-out faucets are all the rage. More and more designers are ditching faucets with a separate side-spray in favor of an integrated unit. The use of pull-out faucets increased from 91 to 93 percent in the most recent survey.
• Solid surface countertops shine. Over the past two years, the use of man-made solid surface countertops (such as Corian) has jumped from 11 to 30 percent. Natural stone countertops (such as granite or quartz) are still more popular than their solid surface counterparts, but their dominance of the market has decreased slightly over the past two years.
How will the 2015 kitchen change?
“The New Home in 2015″ report asked designers, home builders and other kitchen experts to rate the likelihood that certain characteristics would be included in the typical 2015 home.
The biggest change predicted by respondents? The kitchen space as we know it will disappear.
As open living spaces surge in popularity, many designers forecast that the 2015 kitchen will fuse with the living room, family room and dining room to become one open “great room.” Using a scale from 1 to 5 (where 1=not at all likely and 5=very likely), the NAHB survey pointed to the great room as the “most likely” of 2015 rooms/features, with an average rating of 4.6.
2015 kitchen amenities
“The New Home in 2015″ report also asked industry experts to predict the “must-have” fixtures of the future kitchen. Several familiar elements stick around, while less-practical amenities are expected to fall by the wayside:
“Very Likely” Kitchen Features Average Rating
Double sink 4.3
Recessed lighting 4.2
Table space for eating 4.1
Breakfast bar 4.0
Pull-out drawers 4.0
“Somewhat Likely” Kitchen Features Average Rating
Central island 3.8
Walk-in pantry 3.6
Recycling center 3.6
Desk/computer area 3.4
Granite countertop 3.4
Laminate countertop 3.0
“Unlikely” Kitchen Features Average Rating
Small appliance storage area 2.8
Hot water dispenser 2.6
Butler’s pantry 2.3
Wine cooler 2.3
Fireplace 2.3
Trash compactor 2.3
Keep house hunters clued-in
Styles constantly change, but some trends are more lasting than others. Demand for open living spaces has been high for the past several years and is expected to grow into the forseeable future. Trends in colors and materials, on the other hand, seem to change as quickly as they can be swapped.
Emphasize recent kitchen trends to your buyers, and encourage house hunters to prioritize the big, unchangeable features of a home. Fixtures and colors can easily be changed, but a kitchen that is too small for a family’s needs will never be in vogue.
Photo courtesy of Mirage floors