Top Trends From KBIS/DCW 2020

Doesn’t it feel harder every year to cover Design & Construction Week in three days? Granted, that’s a great problem to have, but if the powers that be added a fourth day to the show, everyone could see more exhibits and spend more time at each.

It would also be great if they’d cover the entire convention center in anti-fatigue mats to cushion tired feet, but that’s probably never going to happen. (What an amazing promo that would be for whichever brand offered it!)

Customizable artwork options were shown on tubs and appliances at the show.Photo: Hammock Bath Co.

Getting back to the reality that was DCW 2020, here were the top trends spotted on the show floor. If you spotted any others, please share your comments.

Customization and personalization

This was one of the strongest trends at the show this year, and one sure to delight homeowners – especially Millennials and Gen Z. Appliance brands like Dacor, True Residential and GE Café showcased flexible finish and handle combinations. Fixture and faucet brands, including Brizo (which won Best of Show for its Kintsu lav faucet with changeable inserts), as well as the Hammock Bath Company with complete exterior customization, ROHL with changeable handles and Moen with a selection of aromatherapy showerhead cartridges, gave choices to buyers to personalize their homes. This isn’t a new trend, but it does seem to be expanding in interesting ways.

Fun, happy colors – especially mint – abounded at KBIS 2020.Photo: Elkay

Color theory

It’s been said that bright, fun colors signal economic optimism. If that’s true, designers and builders are in for another very good year. There were colorful patterns and solids everywhere on the show floor, with mint a particular standout. Elkay, Dacor, Grohe and the always-playful SMEG showed off a rainbow of fixtures, faucets and appliances. If you want the flexibility to easily change your mind, Grohe’s Essence Semi Pro Faucet lets you customize its neck with fun, interchangeable colors; the brand says it’s a fairly simple DIY project. One brand, Kraus, even featured a faucet that changes colors as water flows through it.

For the more traditionally inclined, matte black and warm golds were the dominant metal finishes – and often combined into handsome faucet and appliance pairings.

Interchangeable showerhead aromatherapy capsules blend customizability and wellness trends.Photo: Moen Inc.


Wellness is another trend that continues to build in strength. It showed up on the show floor with more bidet offerings, including seats with heated sprays for less than $500 from American Standard and Brondell. It also showed up in a diverse array of sous vide, steam and air fryer features from a plethora of appliance brands.

Electrolux offered all three in its new lineup. Fisher & Paykel showed off its pro range with air fryer. Gaggenau offers sous vide in its wall oven and a self-cleaning combi-steam oven. Signature Kitchen Suite expanded its popular pro range with steam assist, induction, convection and sous vide to the 36″ size. It still communicates with its hood to optimize ventilation, but doesn’t require makeup air. Sister company LG is also offering air fryer capability in its range.

Touchless toilets showcase the wellness trend’s embrace of hands-free technology. Photo: Kohler Co.

Top Trends From KBIS/DCW 2020

KitchenAid took a novel approach to blending wellness and personalization in its new wall oven. The appliance comes with inserts that include grilling and steaming capability.

Wellness was also embodied in Kohler’s relaunch of its touchless toilet, in Delta Faucet’s official glass and bottle rinser release, Broan’s SurfaceShield anti-bacterial vent fan debut, Hansgrohe’s innovative Aquno Select kitchen faucet with separate vegetable washing spray head, Natufia’s hydroponic plant-growing appliance, Elkay’s ADA-friendly chef sink and Perlick’s single under-counter refrigeration column that makes master bath cold storage of medicines or filtered water convenient.

One of the standout wellness tech debuts was the award-winning U by Moen kitchen faucet, combining voice control with quantity and, at last, temperature control. Moen’s new grab bars in matte black and brushed gold were also standouts for safety with style; plus, they don’t need blocking for easier remodels.

These are just a few of the new and returning products meant to enhance clients’ well-being in one of the most important trends of our time – not just in the design world.

Voice control finally masters temperature control in this KBIS award-winning faucet.Photo: Moen Inc.


Technology was another strong trend at the show, and one that paired often with wellness. For example, Evekare showed off grab bars with integrated LEDs for nighttime safety. Thermador opted for full integration with Crestron and other smart home packages and watches. (We’re not yet at the fridge locking after dinner when you haven’t hit your steps goal for the day, but we might be a little closer!) Uponor added to the leak detection offerings on the market with its own new release.

Another popular tech trend at DCW was smart soap dispensing clothes washers and dishwashers. Whirlpool, GE and Miele were all offering this capability in various appliances. Having your machines dispense the correct amount of detergent for each load is a definite benefit, especially for clothes washers where guesswork is often involved. This technology will also alert you when you need to order refills, so you don’t find yourself without clean yoga pants on Bikram day…or worse!

Grohe’s Smart Connect 310 Showerhead brings convenient push-button mode control to the shower without changing valves. Its touch-control pad operates via Bluetooth and just sticks onto the shower wall. This, too, enhances wellness for those with hand issues related to arthritis, Parkinson’s or other health consideration – or just a weak grip.

Delta’s Voice IQ is also offering some temperature control in its faucets; the company’s innovation studio, First Wave, is working on full personalization.

Small space appliances tap into granny flat and multi-generational living trends.Photo: Whirlpool

Small space appliances

The small space appliance trend is probably associated with the larger trend of granny flats (legally called Accessory Dwelling Units or ADUs) and multi-generational living embodied in what used to be called in-law suites. Always a leader in this category, Liebherr showed off a combined wine-fridge-freezer-storage appliance that a homeowner can customize. Whirlpool displayed a small-space suite with a low-profile micro-hood, 18″ dishwasher and 24″ induction cooktop. The brand also offered a new space-saving combined washer-dryer with smart dispense.

Several of GE’s debuts make small space living easier, as well. Its Café brand showcased a French door oven and fridge with flex drawer, and its new GE brand UltraFresh front load laundry pair offers reversible doors.

Last words

This doesn’t fit into any of the top trends spotted on the show floor in Las Vegas, but is definitely something worth noting. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it trend in Orlando next year or 2022: Caesarstone has created a new Solaris quartz countertop series with outdoor capability. (Booth reps explained that an alternative binder was developed to enable it to weather the elements.) That is an industry game changer perfectly timed to take on the growing popularity of porcelain slab and alternative materials like Dekton by Cosentino and Geoluxe that are already rated for exterior living spaces.

East Coasters will be happy to learn that DCW is moving back to Orlando in 2021 and 2022. It’s also moving later. The dates for next year will be February 9 to 11. Mark your calendars. ▪