The biggest overall trend at the annual Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Chicago may have been where the exhibitors were from, rather than what they were showing.

There were more companies selling Chinese-made cabinets than companies making cabinets in the United States and Canada. This included Chinese brands and U.S. companies selling an all-import line. In terms of individual displays, there were still more domestic cabinets. Masco, MasterBrand, Wellborn and Showplace had large displays.

It’s possible that imported lines were covering the most popular trends and marketplace wants, which would mean fewer visible new trends. Last year, traditional styles were seen to be more popular in the economic downturn. This year, decoration seemed to make at least a small comeback.

It’s also worth noting that the show floor was quite busy, and the larger cabinet companies were jammed with people. The National Kitchen and Bath Assn. reported that KBIS drew more than 37,000 attendees and had almost 700 exhibitors.

Chris Graber of Cabinets by Graber said that trends included larger islands, taller and deeper cabinets, and using a “cool” color with a “wild” color.

Wood finishes 

It seemed that there were more medium finishes than dark in featured displays, but when we added up the numbers the dark side won out. Distressed, white paint and matte finishes also gained.

Specifically, dark stains accounted for 19 percent of displays, with medium comprising 17 percent and light 14 percent. There were more distressed finishes (6 percent), and slightly fewer glazed (13 percent).

White or off-white paint was more popular, appearing in 12 percent of the displays. Other colors were shown in 5 percent, and matte displays in 7 percent. There weren’t many laminates displayed, and only a handful of regular colors and thermoformed doors.

Lang Chao, one of the O’Neil Cabinets, an importer in California, said that chocolate, white and antique looks were popular now. TBA Inc.’s Tom Brooks said that business is strong for his company’s imported lines, with more decoration being used and rustic oak being popular in Arizona. Another importer, Heritage Cabinets, reported that painted white surfaces and distressed appearance were still popular.

Species and construction 

Maple was the clear winner once again, and the numbers may have been skewed by the fact that many imported cabinets went with maple since that is the preferred species today. Maple was seen in more than half (60 percent) of displays. Next was cherry with 16 percent, followed by birch at 10 percent and oak at 6 percent. Alder, hickory and pine were also seen in displays.

Full-overlay face-frame construction continues to dominate cabinets in displays at K/BIS. Overall, face frame accounted for 88 percent of cabinets displayed, while frameless cabinets only made up 11 percent of displays.

Drawers and doors 

Wood and glass were the most common door option other than wood alone, with 34 percent of cabinet displays showing this feature.

In drawer sides, solid wood was the dominant material, comprising 81 percent of drawers displayed. Eight percent of drawer sides were plywood, 5 percent laminated and 4 percent metal.

Accessories and accessibility 

A wide variety of accessory options were seen at KBIS this year. The most popular accessories were: crown moulding, 22 percent; open shelves, 20 percent; furniture legs, 16 percent; wine racks, 16 percent; islands, 14 percent; wood hoods, 10 percent; and rope moulding, 9 percent.

Also of interest were the few ADA-compliant displays that contained higher toe kicks or a sink area that was open underneath and accessible to someone in a wheelchair. This is likely to be a trend that will grow in the future.

Angela Wellborn O’Neill of Wellborn Cabinets said that their Active Living line includes a higher toe kick space, easy-to-reach rollout shelves and an adjustable sink height with removable panel.

Bob Hostetler, representing Showplace Wood Products, said that their Murphy bed line was a hot item at the show.

Although much of K/BIS is concerned with kitchen and bathroom fixtures and appliances, cabinets are an important part of the mix.

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