“Self-close, soft-close, motorized and other electrical products that bring wall and base storage components out with a simple touch” are examples of the type of technology that is growing in demand, stresses Noe. “While the economy has slowed its progress, it will be a growing trend for the future and eventually become more mainstream as costs come down on the technology,” he reports.
In this Corner
Since one of the goals for today’s spaces is an uncluttered look, kitchen and bath designers are seizing the opportunity to reassign dead space in the cabinet’s interior and get the most bang for their client’s buck.
In decades past, the spinning Lazy Susan was not the most efficient option for corner storage. Although the design of these products has been substantially improved, and is still in use, there are other interesting options.
Pull-out products are seen as a significant solution for this once challenging problem. And, according to Sheridan, “these pull-out products are expected to have similar functions as drawers – for example, self-close and soft-
Armour suggests jazzing up the kitchen with blind corner cabinets that offer non-slip surface pull-out trays, for instance. With these, the homeowner is able to store things more efficiently and view all the contents of the cabinets with ease, she comments.
Accessible and adequate pantry storage can be achieved with a bit of ingenuity and a customized system of pull-out shelving, as well. Tall pull-out pantries, often set in a narrow space, have gained popularity thanks to well-designed interior systems.
Spice it up
With regard to demand for other accessories for the kitchen, the ones most commonly mentioned by manufacturers as being in demand for the kitchen are knife blocks or knife slots, and built-in cutting boards. Spice bottle trays, sink grids and backsplash panels that slide or pull out for additional storage are increasing their market share as well.
“We are also seeing more specification of lift-up fittings in the upper cabinets to move the doors up and out of the way. This allows people to move about the kitchen without the hindrance of hinged doors remaining open and in the way,” comments Armour. Hafele offers lift up fittings in an array of movement – straight up, up and over the top, flip up – with soft-close features.
Grass America also anticipates increasing demand in this segment. “Overhead lifters offer wide space for storage, and lifting the doors up and out of the way make access very easy,” notes Fitzpatrick.
Designing Green and Universal
“Socially responsible designs and sustainability” are key factors in today’s kitchen design, reminds Rebecca Hewing of John Boos & Co. Hewing, national sales manager/Kitchen Countertop Division for the Effingham, IL-based
manufacturer, says “Using natural, renewable materials” and ensuring low-energy costs is important to today’s consumer. That’s part of the reason why the firm’s butcher block cutting boards are so popular, she notes.
“The green movement has made consumers more aware of the materials used in manufacturing,” agrees Matsumoto. “There is a heightened concern for eliminating wasteful products and using recycled material. The life expectancy
of a part can be taken into consideration to prevent multiple replacements, thus making durability a major factor.”
While this may present numerous challenges for the manufacturer and the designer, green innovations will undoubtedly be the end result and everyone will win.
With so many options available for kitchen storage and organization, even the fussiest cooks can make their updated kitchen designs suit their every need. That’s good news, too, for kids, the elderly population and anyone with physical challenges. Both designers and customers are embracing the concepts of Universal Design more frequently.
Many of the products used today as part of Universal Design were either custom made or designed for other purposes, according to Noe. “Many designers are looking for ways to address specific needs now and for the future as their customers age in their homes,” he comments.
“There may be opportunities for storage product manufacturers as some specific Universal Design applications reach a critical mass where products can be designed and manufactured to be sold for these purposes.”