At this year's International Builders' Show and the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, the number of cabinet manufacturers exhibiting was double that of previous years and consequently the number of displays present was larger. This year there were also a significant number of foreign manufacturers represented in both shows. Even with this larger survey sample, the results offered few changes in trends from the previous year.
In the end the displays provided a variety of choices. "Buyers want to know that they can create a look that truly reflects their singular tastes and lifestyles," says Sarah Reep, director of design for KraftMaid Cabinetry. "Options like framed or open-frame design, distressed and multi-step glaze finish alternatives and a broad selection of wood choices enables that level of personalization."
Very dark finishes are still showing strong this year at 27 percent, but light finishes aren't far behind with 19 percent. And if you add in the white and pastel paint finishes as well as thermoformed doors, lighter finishes are definitely gaining strength.
Kim Dunn, marketing publications specialist at Wellborn Cabinetry says that Wellborn is seeing a demand for white and cream paints increasing. From the number of displays where some type of white was used, it's apparent that white is growing in popularity, primarily in a soft off-white, especially painted. A number of displays featured a soft yellow or green color and some kitchens used very dramatic black or red paint with glazes added to create an Old World' effect.
KraftMaid also added three new painted whites for maple cabinetry to its line. "Using neutral shades such as whites and creams on built-ins gives the homeowner tremendous design freedom whether the sought-after look is traditional, transitional, contemporary or casual," says Reep. "These classic painted finishes will coordinate with almost any existing flooring, surface materials, furnishings and appliances."
Surprisingly, despite what designers said, thermoformed doors grew in presence with 12 percent of the displays featuring it as opposed to 9 percent last year. The majority of thermoforming was some type of wood look, often an exotic wood. In fact, a number of companies (mostly the European manufacturers) featured exotic veneers such as zebrawood or wenge and a good proportion of the thermoformed doors were dark.
When it comes to species, 32 percent of the cabinets shown were maple, 15 percent were cherry and 8 percent oak. Birch was in 6 percent of kitchens, alder at 3 percent, hickory at 2 percent and mahogany and pine both at 1 percent. Four percent of cabinets were MDF, 12 percent were painted and 11 percent were thermoformed. Other species, such as bamboo, beech, zebrawood, teak, black walnut and lyptus, accounted for 6 percent of cabinets.
Some manufacturers say that oak will be coming back into popularity, although it will be as either rip cut or quartersawn oak. The appearance of oak is completely different with these other cutting methods and can be used in contemporary or craftsman style with surprisingly beautiful results.
When it comes to construction, the overwhelming favorite in the displays was face frame with full overlay at 44 percent, but it's significant to note that last year it was at 66 percent. Traditional face frame was down from 18 percent to 11 percent this year while inset doors rose from 4 to 7 percent.
The most significant change was in the increase of frameless cabinets from last year's 13 percent to this year's 38 percent. Some of this increase might be due to the large number of displays that were in an area of K/BIS devoted to foreign manufacturers, most of whom only build frameless cabinets.
Finally, when it comes to countertops, solid surface is still the overwhelming favorite with 32 percent, although it is down from last year's 39 percent. Wood countertops have grown from an 8 percent showing to 11 percent this year, while granite also grew from 11 to 17 percent. Stainless steel and metal represent 6 percent of the countertops. Engineered quartz accounted for 15 percent of the countertops, while 6 percent were a variety of materials, such as marble. Tile fell from 3 percent last year to 1 percent this year. Laminate countertops have dropped from 18 percent in 2006 to 11 percent this year. This was the year that unique countertops such as paper and Vetrazzo, a recycled material of glass and concrete, made their first real showing.
In the many displays, there were new finishes, glazes and colors, and species and finishes were often mixed in one display. Overall the looks were cleaner, with fewer embellishments. Contemporary and metropolitan had strong showings, as did Arts and Crafts and Craftsman style. Bead board was also seen on a number of doors. Mouldings were used but in a more subdued way and included crown and dentil as well as rope moulding. Furniture elements were used sparingly to achieve a stronger impact.
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