Storage ideas move out of the kitchen
By Linda Ohm
October 15, 2009 | 7:00 pm CDT

Organizational cabinetry and hardware exploded onto the scene at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (K/BIS) only a few years ago. Since then, these storage options have come to define today's kitchen. Designers say there is a strong move to maximize storage space in every area of the home. As a result, the ideas put in place in the kitchen have migrated to other rooms of the house and manufacturers are creating new ways for today's homeowners to be organized.

Kitchens today are generally the center and focus of the home, and in many homes the rooms in the house radiate around the kitchen. Storage solutions, such as pullout pantries and spice racks, as well as deep drawers, corner pullouts and specialized storage spaces, have come to exemplify a well-organized, efficient kitchen.

Cabinet manufacturers discovered early on that homeowners wanted to see continuity between the kitchen and the other rooms connected to and surrounding it. Thus, the idea was born of selling cabinets for the family room, laundry room, home offices, bedrooms and bathrooms.

Making it work

At the International Builders' Show and K/BIS, manufacturers typically include kitchen cabinets used in other applications in their displays. Now these manufacturers are more deliberately designing the cabinetry and the storage hardware options for the laundry room, home office, children's room, bars and closets.

"We want designers to think outside the kitchen and look at all the tools we give them to unleash their creativity especially when it comes to luxury and style," says Linda Hughes, manager of market development for Yorktowne Cabinetry.

Sometimes organization is about adapting existing hardware to work for multiple applications. In a Kraftmaid kitchen display, for example, a pullout pantry does double duty, with one half dedicated to kitchen food or supplies and the other side used for office supplies for the desk set immediately adjacent to the work area of the kitchen. Some of the pullouts feature a right or left metal perforated panel that can accept pegs or magnets for hanging accessories.

Diamond Cabinetry originally introduced Logix storage solutions for the kitchen, which launched a whole new way of approaching storage. At IBS 2007 Diamond formally introduced Logix into the bathroom.

Many other companies have ventured into other areas of the home. Betsey Writer, senior designer for Merillat, says that they really pay attention to customer feedback. As a result, Merillat is offering options that work in the rest of the house, such as holders for hairdryers in the bathroom, cosmetic or jewelry trays for the closet or bedroom and pullouts adapted for the office.

Sandra Luttchens, director of design and training for Omega Cabinets, says there's more interest in other rooms of the house, like the office or the closet. Many of the biggest manufacturers had displays of children's play areas, bathroom vanities, offices, laundry rooms and entryways among the kitchen displays.

Closets emerging strong

Probably one of the fastest growth segments of the cabinet market are closets, and many of the cabinet manufacturers at both IBS and K/BIS included at least one closet display. The hesitation in the market and the pause in housing have created opportunities and many manufacturers see an opportunity in closets, says Hughes. But it's not just about taking cabinets and hardware and making it work for a different application.

"Our goal is to give builders and designers everything they need to create exquisitely functional dressing rooms that carry over the style and design from the master bedroom or bath. Base cabinets are taller to offer maximum storage and easy access," says Hughes. "Every inch has been thought out for the best, most intelligent use of closet space and to simplify the design process."

Wellborn Cabinets decided a while back to think outside kitchens and capitalize on the opportunities it saw. The company has added to its closet offerings with dressing suite options, such as wood tie and pant racks, as well as pull-down suit or shirt racks. Organization is a key element in closets, says Kim Dunn, marketing publications specialist. The additions in the closet were done to appeal to the men.

Everything shows the versatility and adaptability of the products the company offers, says Dunn. "There is more and more demand for custom at every level," she adds.

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