ORLANDO - Continuing a strong upward trend, cabinet manufacturers and suppliers dramatically increased their presence at this year’s Kitchen and Bath Industry Show and International Builder’s Show. Both events were January 10-12 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

Woodworking Network staff unofficially counted more than 45 companies displaying cabinets for sale, marking a 50-percent increase over the turnout for the same events in Las Vegas last year. Just focusing on kitchen cabinets, more than 135 kitchen displays were in two massive halls on the show floor to attract the 80,000 design and construction professionals show organizers estimated would be on hand.

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After the busy first day of the show, cabinet exhibitors were enthusiastic about the event. Angela O’Neill, director of marketing for Wellborn Cabinet Inc., noted very positive attendance by the company’s dealers at the show. She also said it seemed like more companies coming to the show were bringing more personnel as attendees, such as design staff. She said that was a positive trend for the industry.

Not only were their more cabinets on display, but the size of many exhibits was expanded. One salesman in the MasterBrand booth noted that they had spread displays out to give more room for people to take it all in, making for a more impressive presentation.

Woodworking Network and FDMC magazine will compile and release a detailed study of cabinet trends based on an extensive cataloging of displays at the event. But in the meantime, there are a few obvious trends worth reporting.

Gray is here to stay. It seems gray as a cabinet color has strengthened its position as a strong middle alternative between the all-popular whites and the significant dark colors such as expresso.

Urban chic and Euro design. Frameless cabinetry is not taking over, but it is making a strong showing, powered primarily by urban style trends that favor clean lines. Those same trends are promoting high-gloss finishes, mixed color palettes, and more use of textured wood grain laminates.

The word is transitional. In many booths, the top style trend cited was transitional, which is a word used to refer mostly to cabinets that meld some traditional elements such as Shaker designs with more contemporary influences.

Cleaner is better. The days of the ornate and elaborate Mediterranean-inspired kitchen with all sorts of corbels, onlays, carvings, and intricate mouldings, all capped with a complex glazed finish, appear to be on the wane. Few cabinet exhibitors gave any space to this once ubiquitous style. Instead, designers are emphasizing clean lines even to the point of eliminating visible hardware wherever possible.