Smaller crowds, fewer exhibitors didn’t dampen the ability of those who attended to conduct business at this year’s K/BIS.

Armstrong Cabinets’ display addressed a number of current important topics: It featured bamboo to emphasize “sustainable style,” incorporated “universal design” elements to address accessibility issues, and was styled with a contemporary feel, including glass and aluminum overhead lift upper doors — all at an affordable price-point.

Although attendee traffic and the number of exhibitors were down at this year’s Kitchen/Bath Industry Show (K/BIS), held in Atlanta, GA, May 1-3, those who did participate were serious about doing business.

Coming with few expectations, most exhibitors seemed satisfied with visitors to their booths, even if numbers were down. For attendees, the exhibitors went all-out in offering beautiful displays and also introduced some new products. There even was a slight whiff of cautious optimism in the air, that the worst is over in terms of economic woes.

The effect of the past year’s recession was apparent in many cabinet company booths, however, with a prevalent theme of offering value. Most showcased their more affordably priced lines, reacting to their customers’ quest for getting good value for any money being spent.

“People are looking for value. They want more ‘bang for their buck’ in this economy,” said Jay Teitlebaum, vice-president of sales for Midwest Cabinet Co. of Corbin, KY.

Midwest, like other cabinet companies at the show, was offering upgraded features in its low- to mid-priced lines. They include dovetail drawer boxes, full-extension soft-close drawer slides and glazed finishes.

“Customers want ‘the look,’ but also value,” said Gary Barnett, Director of Marketing for Cardell Cabinetry in San Antonio, TX. “For cabinet companies, it’s all about differentiation now and getting people to take a look at you in this value-driven market.”

In a similar vein, Wellborn Cabinet Inc. of Ashland, AL, introduced a new Manchester laminate door to its Select line, to provide a stylish look at a lower price-point. It is the company’s first new laminate, said Kimberly Roberson, Assistant Marketing Manager.

In the end, consumers will benefit. They will have a wide selection of affordable cabinet styles, with some of the newest high-end features included.

DeWils’ display of cabinets from its Expressions line features its Vienna beadboard inset door in quartersawn white oak. Beadboard was shown by a large number of cabinet companies at the 2009 show.

Show Displays Reflect Hot Trends

As in past years, there were certain styles or features that showed up in virtually every cabinet company’s booth. This year, they included:

• Beadboard — Beadboard doors and drawer fronts were everywhere. Whereas at last year’s show, a beadboard door was shown occasionally in white country-style kitchens, this year beadboard was featured in cabinets of all colors, stains and various styles.

• Insets — Likewise, most cabinet exhibitors showcased inset styles. Wellborn introduced its new high-end Estate Custom Collection brand, which includes inset as a choice. It is the company’s first inset line in a long time, Roberson said.

• Thick doors, wide stiles — There is a trend toward thicker cabinet doors, with most makers offering a 1-inch-thick door now. Wide stiles continue to be popular.

• Overhead lifts — Overhead lift doors were featured in a large number of upper cabinets. Mechanisms are now available to accommodate practically any size desired. They were used in wood as well as glass and aluminum-framed styles.

• Glass inserts — Both on overhead lift and traditional door

styles, glass inserts were shown a lot, with wood as well as aluminum frames. The glass itself varied from clear to opaque to ribbed or other special effects.

• Wide drawers, electronic closing — Drawers continue to be a top choice for kitchen lowers and they are getting deeper and wider. DeWils Custom Cabinetry of Vancouver, WA, introduced a 60-inch-wide drawer in metal and wood. Several cabinet exhibitors equipped their wide drawer displays with new electronic opening hardware to gauge dealer reaction. Major hardware suppliers who exhibited at the show also featured their electronic opening devices, for doors as well as drawers.

• Dark woods still prevail — Dark wood shades, like wenges and espressos, continue to be trendy. Warm mid-tones also were shown, but light shades continued to be absent. However, cream-colored or pale yellow paint shades were prevalent to provide a contrast with the very dark browns. There also were some bright whites.

Cardell’s display of its Odyssey line, featuring its Newport II door, shows the use of overhead lift upper cabinet doors and wide drawers that was seen often at this year’s K/BIS. Such simplified lines also were typical of many exhibitors’ displays.

‘Transitional Contemporary’ the Buzz

Put together a lot of the above-mentioned style elements and the result is a kitchen with simple, sleek lines with few adornments and a modern feel. Widely referred to as “transitional contemporary” styling by most cabinet companies, it is a hot look today.

“The market is moving into transitional contemporary big-time,” said Wellborn’s Roberson.

To create simple lines, cabinet uppers were shown level across the top, in contrast with the up-and-down stepped look that was popular a few years ago. Horizontal lines in uppers and lowers were achieved using wide drawers and overhead lift doors, which created a flowing visual effect. Mouldings and ornaments were pared down. Arts-and-crafts/Asian/Mission influences continued to be strong.

On the other hand, the market still is marked by variety, giving consumers choices to meet their personal preferences. While simple lines reigned, traditional cabinet styles with ornamentation also have stayed in vogue. Painted finishes are becoming popular again, with several manufacturers introducing new paints to their lines. Glazing is as hot as ever.

Many cabinet companies also included a rustic display in their booths. Exhibitors said that there does continue to be a market for natural knots, distressing and burnished looks. Some of the high-end manufacturers said they expect more growth in that area.

Poggenpohl teamed up with Porsche Design Center to create an ultra-high-end “kitchen for men” featuring high-tech appliances and audio equipment, high-end cabinets and impeccable detailing. The modular system combines titanium aluminum, glass and wood veneer.

Deluxe Contemporaries, with a ‘Wow’

The ultra-high-end European companies showcased their very contemporary style cabinetry. They were sleek, with high-gloss finishes in solid colors or exotic veneers, and minimalist. Lines were straight and horizontal, featuring wide drawers and overhead-lift upper doors, all handle- and knob-free with push-open latches. They incorporated LED lighting into shelves and cabinets.

Poggenpohl offered the biggest “wow” factor, debuting its Porsche cabinet line, the P’7340, which it designated as “a new kitchen especially designed for men.”

With a price tag between $200,000-$250,000, the kitchen is sold complete, including specially designed electric appliances by Miele, integrated multi-functional lighting systems and a high-tech audio-video system.

The co-design project started between Poggenpohl and Porsche Design Group (both owned by the same parent company) in October 2005. It features titanium aluminum profiles of different sizes, to permit individual styling of the boxes, and glass, painted on the rearside and available in a satin or glossy finish. The metal frames feature integrated lights that directly and diffusely illuminate the worktop and surroundings.

Thin worktops are satin-finished glass or black granite. The cabinets also feature wood, either Driftwood, a heavily brushed pine, or finely brushed Dark Oak. The core is lightweight panel material, covered with aluminum titanium (the same material used in Porsche cars).

The “kitchen for men” won a prestigious European iF Gold Award as one of 50 best-designed entries at last year’s CeBIT computer trade fair. A Poggenpohl spokesperson said that the first P’7340 kitchen in the United States was installed in Miami in April.

The 2010 show will be held in Chicago in April. For information, visit

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