KBIS Kitchen Industry Show 2021 Re-Cap

It was a crazy VIRTUAL version of the annual Kitchen (and Bath) Industry Show this year – but much learning was still had despite the technical difficulties!

alison kent HOME KITCHEN thyme watercolor border graphic artwork

KBIS 2021

KBIS – the annual Kitchen and Bath Industry Show – was entirely Virtual this year due to the continuing pandemic. Which had both pros and cons. PRO? This year I could attend anywhere from 4 to unlimited conferences AT A TIME! There were points with live conferences that I had 4 devices on at a time, listening to a sentence or two at a time between each, taking screen shots and notes like an absolute mad woman LOL. In person, there is only one option – choose one, attend.

Another PRO – due to the ongoing technical difficulties by the KBIS virtual platform, many conferences and talks were recorded and available ‘on demand’. PERFECT! I could attend even MORE! Knowledge!! CONS? Visually, there aren’t a lot of photos other than odd screenshots. No touching new finishes in person. No seeing the green tint in that new countertop for yourself. No hearing the hum of that new appliance.

So where does that leave this years re-cap?
It leaves us here, with tidbits of Kitchen Design gold to take into YOUR upcoming future Reno or Custom Kitchen!

KBIS Notes

There was an overriding theme in 2021 on the effects of the ongoing pandemic. People are spending FAR more time in their homes, causing them to re-assess the suitability, design and function of those spaces. Will that all fade away once we’re clear to go out and be part of the world again? Unlikely. Apparently we’re finding that we LOVE being home, we just wish our spaces … felt better. Worked better. Lived better.

But that’s where qualified Designers come in. While homeowners are more knowledgeable than ever, and quite pro-active in forward-thinking functioning design, an experienced Designer is still extremely helpful for tying it all together in the best possible way. A Designer can help figure out which photos on Pinterest actually work and which ones are just there for the ‘photo op’. And a Designer can optimize technology, materiality, and function. I love hearing that I’ll still be needed out there in 2021 and beyond! LOL!

Our Kitchens in particular have become more the ‘heart of the home’ than ever. They aren’t just a place to feed the body. They’re our zoom call offices, our kids school desks, our family gathering place, our start and end of every day. And they now need to function 24-7.


Cambria, a big Quartz company I’ve admired since last years KBIS 2020 in Vegas for their take on recycling materials, hit KBIS ON THE NOSE this year with pre-recorded and live talks on everything from their new product lines (!!) to Digital Marketing to Perfect Charcuterie Boards to – well, let’s just say they covered a lot of ground.

– Wallpaper!! (have you seen our Herbal Kitchen-themed wallpaper in our Elevate | SHOP?)
– Spa-like Sanctuaries (yes, even in the Kitchen)
– Don’t forget texture/textural elements!
– All WHITE is … OUT! (I mean, even Santorini is nothing without Blue roofs, amiright?)
– Sustainability.
– Biophilia (design oriented towards our human place in the natural world)
– Growing your own foods INSIDE the Kitchen


Cambria released NUMEROUS new designs last year, and they haven’t slowed down for 2021. I’m particularly excited about the new Bookmatched Quartz. Bookmatching means two slabs will be mirror images of each other, so when placed side by side they appear like an opened book, like this Kitchen :

I also love their general attitude towards design, because it means I can be as imaginative as I need or want to be with a Client to solve any Kitchen issue we might have, and they’ll be game :

If you can think of it, we can do it. That makes for endless (design) applications!



Another industry giant, another great set of talks and seminars. Thanks, Kohler!

Whether a project is 5 or 50 years old, a bit of personality, a few eclectic pieces collected over time and travels, beautifully mixed metals … These all bring a story, or conversation to the room.


I loved this conversation. A room that speaks of it’s owners personality is infinitely more interesting and timeless than a bare room with cold, washed out finishes. Save something old from a Renovation that speaks of the past. Bring a sense of place and history forward. Show a few meaningful items that bring out who you are, and who you are within that space.

There were also great trend and technical tidbits :

– TOUCHLESS or anti-microbial Technology will especially emerge in a post-pandemic world
– QUALITY will be a sustainability focus
– FOCUS on finishes, textures and materials that will be long-lasting and not quick trends
– CHOOSE pieces that can be restored in the future, and not added to landfills
– LESS + QUALITY is better than filling a space with ‘more’


Speaking of ‘OUT goes 50 shades of White’, Kohler spent time extoling the many virtues of adding COLOR to your spaces, especially the Kitchen! As I mentioned, what would Santorini even BE without the contrast of the blue domed rooftops or the teal Aegean Sea beyond them? Color and contrast add flavor, interest and can still create a sense of calm in your spaces.

Color, finish + material impacts your mind and your mood. It can bring feelings of well-being. It can ‘spark joy’.

Even shades of whites and soft greys can play to textural senses.

Mixing complimentary metals or varying sheens of painted walls.


NKBA Panels

Wanting to learn as much as humanly possible about Kitchens over the one International event of the year, I signed up for the whole shebang. Every talk, panel and conference I could. All the better to help YOU, dear future ‘new Kitchen owner’!! And the NKBA panels didn’t disappoint.

An overriding theme was the current Kitchen supply shortages due to more demand than ever. Supply and demand has never been more out of sync. As such, appliances and stock cabinetry is difficult to source and deliver in a timely manner. Designers can help find options and use their supplier relationships to find alternates.

Kitchens touch people’s lives.
From our day to day, to our families, to our hobbies and jobs, the Kitchen remains more than ever the Heart of the Home.

A good Designer will navigate all the information available to make the best possible decisions for your UNIQUE Kitchen, tailored to your individual needs and dreams.

A thoughtfully designed space can bring physical joy and well-being to your soul. We especially need this sense of wellness in our personal environments after the past year!

Don’t forget a proper digital foundation. There are apps now that can control every aspect of technology within your home from one place.

Consumer needs have evolved. Our over-chaotic worlds have us craving comfort and refuge in our Homes, and especially in our Kitchens.

NKBA @ KBIS 2021

NKBA Trends

A Kitchen (Bath) Conference can’t happen without half the people talking ‘Trends’. While I try not to focus on things that can become irrelevant quickly, slow evolutions of how we use space can also be considered a trend. For example, Technology is here to stay. How we treat it, however, continues to evolve. It needs to be present and helpful, but no longer in view. We don’t want the clutter of visible outlets or speakers or touch pads. At the same time, MORE of these things are being incorporated into our Homes + Kitchens.

Other growing trends include:

  • Larger Islands | We’re doing MORE in our Kitchens, and hence need more flat, open space that offers flexibility in how we use it
  • Views to Outdoors | The Kitchen – FOOD & gathering – is associated with wellness, as is views of natural light and foliage
  • MORE Fridge Space | Bigger + Better! We’ve definitely moved from TV Dinners and over-processed cans of the past to fresh foods and produce in abundance
  • Less ‘Stuff’ | Reduced cluttering objects means better organized and planned storage
  • Biofilia | We love bringing nature into the HOME + Kitchen through plants, herbs, naturally colored lighting – and back OUT through recycling and composting
  • Air Purification | Another growing desire for ‘natural’ airflow, and a reaction to COVID/germ cultures – fresh air makes us FEEL better

Queer Eye’s BOBBY BERK

A hi-light of the week was a keynote panel with Bobby Berk from ‘Queer Eye‘. He manages to bring spirit-lifting design to bruised humans of all walks of life through his show (along with Tan, Jonathan, Karamo and Anthoni). Tears flow EVERY.SINGLE.EPISODE. as ‘the 5’ touch peoples lives through their own stories and openness. That said, it was great to see another friendly side of Bobby in his chat with KBIS! (And, yes, he DOES get all that done in 5 days or so! Amazing!).

Don’t waste time second-guessing yourself. Listen to your heart, and do something different. Bring in your own personality to your spaces.

The biggest job of a Designer is to make someone feel at HOME.

A dysfunctional Kitchen can ACTUALLY cause road-rage! Don’t begin your days on a frustrating note (from a space that isn’t working FOR you)!

Take a breath. Renovations and custom builds can be personally STRESSFUL. Remember to breathe.

There is a big connection between design + mental health. Good design has the power to transform lives.

Bobby Berk @ KBIS 2021

And that was about it!
A lot of notes, a week of MULTIPLE seminars, all broken down into one massively long post LOL! I left the conference feeling more empowered to help others achieve their OWN Kitchens of both serenity and usefulness.

Want to work together on YOUR Kitchen?!
I’m now offering e-design Services and they’ve been wildly popular! I can’t wait to start showing ‘AFTER’ photos with you all. If you’re interested in working together, we can start with a 15-min Consult by filling in the CONTACT ME form.

Ready, Set – GO!

Want to get going? You can choose from the various e-design Services below. I would be honored to compose the best design possible for YOUR Kitchen.

alison kent HOME KITCHEN thyme watercolor border graphic artwork