In a time when customization is king, both decorative and functional hardware remain integral to the success of kitchen and bath designs. Pulls, knobs and handles have continued their evolution from design afterthought to design necessity, and now come in every size, shape, finish and design style imaginable. Likewise, functional hardware helps to personalize how cabinets are used, creating more accessible interiors that can be customized for the user’s specific storage needs and preferences.
“There is definitely a growing trend in demand for unique design,” says Jack Fase, president, Alno, Inc. in Sylmar, CA. “The market has seen a wide array of new choices enter the market and there seems to be a much wider spectrum of design in the kitchens and bath than ever before. As such, the variety of choices in the market must provide a wider range of styling to meet the need.”
“We’ve seen a continuing desire for both Old World and contemporary designs,” reports Warren Ramsland, president, Top Knobs USA in Belle Meade, NJ. Other manufacturers report transitional styles and unusual finishes are gaining popularity, as well.
“Design trends keep moving toward more contemporary design and evolving in that direction. A lot of traditional styled hardware is being updated with cleaner, bolder lines,” says Doug Mockett, CEO of Doug Mockett & Co., in Manhattan Beach, CA.
Meanwhile, functional hardware continues to prove the old adage that it’s what’s on the inside that counts. From soft-close mechanisms that preserve the quiet ambience of a spa bath, to kitchen drawers that open with only a light tap for the cook who’s got his hands full, innovation marks this hardware category.
“The trends in functional hardware are focused toward ease of use, accessibility and the perceived value the product brings to a project,” says Susan Kearns, creative services specialist for Santa Fe Springs, CA-based Accuride.
“These issues are especially important in remodels that are initiated to address changing needs such as more children, accommodating aging parents or pre-planning for aging-in-place,” she notes. Dennis Poteat, marketing communications manager for Blum in Stanley, NC, reports, “More and more customers are requesting the quiet-close innovation. It is becoming the standard at just about every price point.”
Manufacturers have seen a continued rise in warm or “rustic” finishes this year.
“The traditional rustic look has given way to more sophisticated styling with the same warm finishes that made the look so popular in the first place,” says Fase. “Polished brass continues to see a smaller demand while the preference for satin nickel and bronze has also continued. Polished chrome has become strong, but is being challenged by polished nickel as a preferred finish.”
Manufacturers are seeing the expansion of the market for contemporary styles, as well.
“Contemporary hardware designs are gaining in strength as are contemporary finishes such as polished nickel, which allows for matching with faucets in vanities and kitchens,” says Bob Schaub, president of Schaub & Company in Grand Rapids, MI. Schaub reports seeing a wide variety of materials and finishes selling strong across style preferences.
“New trends in finishes include Old World influences of two-toned finishes such as bronze with copper relief and bronze with antique brass relief. Material options are strong in cast bronze and forged solid brass. In this time of economic uncertainty, these higher quality base metals are strong sellers,” he says. “As buyers realize they will stay in their homes for a longer duration, we see people committing to high-end products. A decision to include granite rather than laminate in the home makes for an easy decision to step up to cast bronze or forged brass cabinet hardware.”