While Korsten agrees that clean, simple lines are the growing styles, he cautions, “don’t count out the more decorative, ornamental designs. Even though clean and simple is growing, there are plenty of very traditional, ornamental style projects being sold. The growth of simple is only marginally so.”
Nierengarten says that subtle curves in design are still popular. She adds that clean, simple lines are becoming more popular, but “there is demand [for] some ornament, but toned down and more subtle.” Their Shaker style designs and slab door styles are most popular, along with simple raised panels, she says.
Some manufacturers don’t see a pattern toward any particular style. “There is less consistency in styles as designers tend to have a more of a theme,” says Miller.
Manufacturers and dealers also have personalities of their own that impact design, says Wilcox. “At Sunny Wood, we are tied to what we call consumer lifestyle trends. Basically, this is how end consumers are living now. How they are living helps determine what sort of products they need and also determines the style, wood finishes, wood species, etc. they may desire.”
Ducharme says that for Executive Cabinetry, a transitional style is most popular, with wide frame widths leading the way. The firm has seen requests for exotic veneers on slab doors, and has also had some demand for an elaborate Old World look, with glaze distressing and crackle finishes as accent pieces.
Wilcox has also seen a market for subtle glazes, light finish and physical distressing to add to the character of a finish. “Some say that the distressed finishes are out, but I think that depends on the end consumers needs,” he says. “We are still seeing needs for some consumer lifestyles that really like a rustic look. Current trends in residential furniture also confirm this.”
ELEMENTS OF DESIGN
Design trends are all over the board, in part because consumers are still looking for individualization in their kitchens. “[Consumers] don’t want an ‘off the shelf’ solution,” says Brewer. “They want their kitchens to be unique and reflect who they are and how they live.” Many manufacturers are responding to this desire by expanding their offerings, particularly in available paint choices and door styles.
Korsten, for instance, says, “Showplace has increased our product offerings to the point of having 69,611 unique combinations of door style, wood species and finish available straight out of our catalog. We have been in full-blown product development mode for quite a while.”
As companies expand their offerings, a wide variety of wood grains come into play. While maple and cherry are still most popular, particularly in the east, many others are creeping their way into the cabinet market as well. In the west, alder is a popular choice, says Ducharme. Ptacek says that his firm has also seen a pickup in hickory and lyptus. Others are using walnut and birch in their new collections.
Finish choices still trend toward darker stains, but manufacturers are also seeing a rise in painted finishes, especially in non-standard colors. Ptacek says custom colors have taken off – even in surprising shades like cardinal red. “[Consumers] want to be something different than the person next door,” he says.
Harvey is also seeing a bigger demand for paints and glazes, particularly in very light colors, but sometimes in designer colors that make a bold statement. He adds, “Two-tone projects are being seen more, two stains or stain and paint mixed within the same project.”
While framed cabinetry still leads in the U.S. market, interest in frameless is on the rise, say some manufacturers. “Framed cabinetry is still in greater demand by our clientele; however, frameless continues to gain momentum,” says Harvey. “Frameless cabinetry is viewed as [offering] a greater value without sacrificing function and aesthetics,” he says.
Ptacek says that the market for frameless design hasn’t hit the U.S. like it has in Europe, and while they used to hear people say they needed to offer a frameless line, they haven’t heard that lately. However, there is a desire to see less of the frame, he says, so the door sizes have increased.