At the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, April 26-28 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the National Kitchen & Bath Association announced the winners of its 2011 NKBA Design Competition. With nearly 500 entries, the competition also serves as a barometer of trends that will affect everything in cabinetry - from design through raw materials sourcing, to manufacturing techniques, even capital investment.

From the 2011 NKBA Design Competition entries, NKBA distilled these key trends:

Espresso and chocolate in cabinetry
Silky hues of chocolate and espresso shimmer from the door and drawer fronts of distinct cabinetry incorporated into stand-out kitchens, ranging from contemporary to the more traditional and transitional.

”The hottest colors right now are those with a brown or gray undertone,” said Angela Wellborn O’Neill, director of marketing for Wellborn Cabinet. Of the 23 new colors added to Wellborn Cabinet’s options, 12 feature rich brown and gray stains. Natural finishes — absent glazing and distressing — were found in many kitchen designs, says NKBA. Dark brown has remained somewhat of a fixture in kitchens over the past few years, but an overriding number of seemingly simple chocolate browns are seen as an understated partner to brighter accents. Whether black coffee or milk chocolate, the cabinetry foundation in the mid- to dark-brown family of colors appears rooted in the residential design approach.

KraftMaid also has launched 24 new finish options, including rich browns and vintage sage. The 24 new colors include rich browns and vintage sage. “Colors this year are going back to basic,” said KraftMaid VP Mark Ayers.

 Residential Cabinetry: Tiered, Tonal, Textured at KBIS 2011
A trend at KBIS to detailed ceilings is shown in this design by Jodi Hook for Klaff’s, Inc., Danbury, CT.  (Photo: Digital Arts)

Winners of the 2011
NKBA Design
Competition include

Best Kitchen:
Chris Novak Berry
brooksBerry Kitchens & Baths
St. Louis, MO

Best Bathroom:
Holly Rickert
Ulrich, Inc.
Ridgewood, NJ

Best Before & After: Kitchen
Sponsored by This Old House
Savena Doychinov, CKD
Design Studio Int’l Kitchen & Bath, LLC
Falls Church, VA

Best Before & After: Bathroom
Sponsored by This Old House
Melissa Morgan Sutherland, CKD
Hermitage Kitchen Design Gallery
Nashville, TN

Best Sustainable Kitchen
Sponsored by GE Monogram
Jessica Williamson, AKBD
Kitchen Views
Newton, MA

Best Sustainable Bathroom
Sponsored by Kohler
Ines Hanl
The Sky is the Limit Design
Victoria, BC, Canada

Budget-Friendly: Kitchen
Sponsored by ServiceMagic
Allison McCowan
Linn’s Prestige Kitchens & Baths
Destin, FL

Budget-Friendly: Bathroom
Sponsored by ServiceMagic
Scott Gjesdahl
Bristol Design & Construction
Lynnwood, WA

People’s Pick: Kitchen
Sponsored by
Cheryl Hamilton-Gray, CKD
Hamilton-Gray Design, Inc.
Carlsbad, CA

People’s Pick: Bathroom
Sponsored by
Holly Rickert
Ulrich, Inc.
Ridgewood, NJ

We've posted the entire description of the NKBA design trends with photos that represent the wood interiors and cabinetry trends,
A complete list of  NKBA Design Competition winners and runners up, including many categories covering cabinetry, are listed here.>

Commitment to color

Clients and designers alike are making strong commitments to color. With pairings and accents in vivid colorations. Clients of Maryland-based designer, Jennifer Gilmer, CKD, were drawn to exotic wood veneers in darker tones. To balance the dark feel of Macassar Ebony cabinetry, Gilmer specified some to be in white laminate and added a white island wrapped in Macassar Ebony with black granite counter surface. Color was  introduced into the room through a backsplash of back painted glass in a carrot orange.  “The orange does compliment the Macassar well, since there is orange in the striping of the wood," says Gilmer. Tangerine, mango, carrot family of colors is being incorporated into  residential spaces across the country.

Residential Cabinetry: Tiered, Tonal, Textured at KBIS 2011 
 This working pantry has V-Groove paneling to match the tongue-in-groove on the ceiling.

A tiered approach

NKBA identified the trend to stacked components and graduated overlapping heights. Editor Karen Koenig reported the tiered trend in service to aging consumers, with some countertops lowered to be within reach. A number of cabinet companies are displaying cabinetry with features targeted to multi-generational family homes, including those with aging populations. Flexibility in design is key for this, says Mark Ayers, vice president at KraftMaid.

An elevated and overlapping dining counter top was designed by Tia Moras, Lonetree Enterprises Ltd., Vancouver, BC. Moras used a thicker top. “We use a good fabricator who miters the edges of the ground quartz material in the desired thickness," Moras says. "I did not want brackets to show, so the top was engineered to be installed without visible support.” 

Detailed ceilings
A rustic touch that relies on traditional architectural features paired with contemporary finishes and materials, the detailed rough-hewn barn beam ceiling was newly created, although it appears as if original to a comfort-worn space. Designer Jodi Hook of Klaff’s, Inc., Danbury, CT,  blended warm toned English Sycamore and Cherry wood cabinetry with stainless steel and honed concrete counter surfaces to  balance between warm and cool. This balance allowed for the introduction of high-visibility detail in the ceiling.

The ceiling is highlighted by cable-strung lighting, which  lights the textures and natural intricacies of the rough wood. This design feature straddles two trends seen strongly in the competition, says NKBA: detailed ceilings and textures.

Walk In Pantries
In some kitchens the need for a larger separate pantry has been necessitated by less wall cabinets. Open plan kitchens are requiring alternative pantry and storage solutions, such as walk-in pantries due to the absence of wall cabinets. Dish storage, and food storage can be incorporated into pantries that appear to be entirely integrated in appearance into the space, and serve as a transition from one room to the next. This working pantry has V-Groove paneling that was selected as the backsplash to compliment the tongue and groove material used on the ceiling.

Residential Cabinetry: Tiered, Tonal, Textured at KBIS 2011 
 Residential Cabinetry: Tiered, Tonal, Textured at KBIS 2011
 Rev-A-Shelf trash sorting bins and electronic pantries were tested at the show. Darker cabinetry finishes from Wellborn.

Drawer Box Specialties’ electronically controlled waste bin

, which can be operated by toe kick or finger touch for ease of use, says Doug Carmichael, vice president of sales.

A number of companies are also using KBIS to gauge market reaction on products before an actual launch. Cardell, for example, is “experimenting” with an Old World Finish that combines rub through, painting and glazing. “We’re here to see if it’s hot,” says Vickie Carlton, director of training. “We’ll take the comments back and make a decision.”

Rev-A-Shelf is also polling attendees in gauging the popularity of its electronic pantry series, says Shari McPeek, marketing manager. “So far, the response has been very good,” she says

See more KBIS cabinetry and finishing trends at Woodworking Network.

Woodworking Network editor Karen Koenig also contributed to this report.

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