At previous Kitchen and Bath Industry shows it's the cabinets and countertops in the kitchen displays that have grabbed the most attention. But at 2006 K/BIS, in Chicago, you had to look inside the cabinets to see the most striking feature the storage hardware.
Every cabinet manufacturer at K/BIS seemed to give kitchen storage a new importance. Not only were there a lot of storage solutions on display, but the variety of options for every organizational problem was significant.
No more blind corners
The lazy susan used to be the primary solution to the blind corner where kitchen items often disappeared. The new lazy susan is no longer the simple storage choice it once was.
Diamond Cabinetry, which in the past few years has established itself as the storage option guru of the cabinet market, offers at least five variations on the basic lazy susan. One variation, named the segmented super susan, has pull-out individual shelves with metal railings to keep items from falling out. Another has recycling trash containers that revolve while another has deep, six-inch-high shelves with no center pole, with each tray rotating individually.
Apart from the lazy susan variations, Diamond offers cabinets with a corner unit that has sliding shelves and swing-outs to make use of unused corner space.
Knape & Vogt offers a lazy susan with two pull-out, wire-enclosed drawers for access to items homeowners use a lot, and stationary side baskets for everything else. The side-mount baskets can be adjusted to accommodate bottles, cans or boxes of various sizes.
Another answer to the blind corner is K&V's Virtu Easy Corner, which features a door-actuated mechanism that pulls the three-drawer system out of the corner and into the cabinet opening. "It literally puts three shelves and three baskets of storage right at your fingertips," says Ryan Grevenstuk, K&V product manager.
Similarly Rev-A-Shelf offers a chrome blind corner optimizer that fits most 45-inch blind corner cabinets and has two large and small baskets that are vertically adjustable, easy to assemble and install.
Hafele's answer to the blind corner is the LeMans blind corner shelf system, with top and bottom shelves that pivot independently and travel completely out from the corner cabinet, providing maximum access.
A different approach to the lost corner is Blum's Space Corner, fully-extended drawers in a configuration that fits the corner space. The drawers also are available with Blum's Orga-line internal dividers for increased usefulness.
Fulterer also offers a couple of blind-corner, swing-out and slide systems, as well as a number of lazy susan mechanisms.
Drawers take over
When it comes to storage, drawers have become big players. No longer do the base cabinets primarily feature doors; now, the opposite is true. Drawers say organization in a new and big way, and the oversized drawer is one of the hottest and most popular trends.
Drawers in base cabinets eliminate the need for kneeling, stretching and leaning to search for items. Full-extension slides offer complete access to every part of the drawer. Drawers also make it easier to see all the contents in the space.
Blum offers two drawers behind one drawer front and organizational dividers, called orga-line, that vary as much as the contents they were created to divide. The orga-line provides knife holders and utensil dividers, as well as a lift-out spice tray.
One of Blum's newest offerings is a wrap-around sink drawer that provides space on either side and the front for cleaning supplies. A number of the orga-line dividers are for the popular deep drawers that provide an ideal place for storing pots, pans and lids. All of the orga-line solutions work with the tandem full-extension runners. Blum has named its concept of using every space in the kitchen as Dynamic Space, which matches cabinets and storage options to the function of the kitchen zone or space.
Grass introduced its Nova Pro drawer system, a double-wall steel drawer system with full-extension slide, easy cleaning, customized storage space and load capacity. It also has a soft-easy close system.
Hettich International presented its OrgaWing drawer system that helps to make use of drawer storage space. A pop-out tray compartment is available in the pot-and-pan drawer, as well as moving compartments, which pop out when the drawer is open and glide back into place when the drawer is closed, providing space to store small, often-used items.
Rev-A-Shelf offers a wood pull-out drawer that can handle larger items, as well as single and two-tier pull-out chrome wire baskets with full-extension slides.
Other storage options
A number of cabinet manufacturers showed roll-out tray dividers and drawers being used in place of kickboards at the base of the cabinets. More under-sink storage options were available, as well as narrow pullouts in place of fillers. Everything was about more storage.
Rev-A-Shelf, for instance, offers a chrome pot and pan organizer, which accommodates pots, pans and lids. The company also offers a chrome under-sink pullout that fits around piping and allows for cleaning supplies storage, which is a trend that seems to be growing in popularity.
"In a well-organized kitchen, it's essential to have a place for everything and keep everything in its place," says Andy Wells, Diamond Cabinets design director.
Liberty Hardware offers a number of appliance lifts, as well as drawer organizers. One organizing unit Liberty offers provides a place for all those odd-shaped utensils and cooking tools, along with the tools themselves.
Fulterer offers a number of pantry pullouts and swing and slide-out storage options. The company has a revolving spice rack pullout, as well as a number of spice racks for the back of the door.
Amerock offers new pullouts and waste bins to fit any organizational need. Knape & Vogt presented two new backsplash collections of flat-wire supports and steel platforms to organize cooking utensils and add a decorative accent above a cook top or counter. Accessories include two-tier baskets, angle and standard baskets, and S-hooks.
Besides kitchen organization, hardware companies are also offering storage options such as closet organizers, hamper pullouts and appliance lifts.
Lift door variations
Finally, one of the hottest new hardware products is the lift door. Both Blum and Salice feature the hinges that operate the lift doors. The top-lift doors are popular in Europe, but haven't yet really caught on in the United States.
"Today's cabinetry hides well-planned storage conveniences to curb clutter and give the consumer greater control over her environment," says Sarah Reep, director of design for KraftMaid Cabinetry Inc.
It's anybody's guess where these new storage options will go next, but one thing is for sure there's no longer any excuse for kitchen clutter.
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