Form-Function Balance

In the world of cabinets, dark tones and classic wood grains are in vogue. Whether the customer’s sense of style is an eclectic blend of custom pieces and colors, or a classic theme of simple cabinets with clean lines, manufacturers have the designs to please.

The strongest design element in most kitchens is the cabinets. But beyond aesthetics, the cabinets must also serve the utilitarian purpose of maximizing storage space. And with the wide array of out-of-the-ordinary materials available for customization, cabinets can be as individual as the individual.

Cupboard Colors

“When you talk about color, the biggest trend is mixing,” says Andy Wells, vice president of product design and merchandising for MasterBrand Cabinets. “Consumers have moved away from one palette and have discovered they can create personality in their kitchen by mixing colors for an individual look.”

“Current clothing fashion continues to influence home décor, and a desire to blend with other interior furnishings to make a personal statement is a factor,” says Rob Glenn, marketing manager for Armstrong Cabinets. “Brown continues to be popular in a fashion sense, and rich colors with an elegant, yet traditional look, easily help mix Old World style with a new, more modern sensibility.”

Armstrong’s Arborcrest and Town & Country lines were created based on classic Shaker design. The Arborcrest full-overlay door style features solid cherry panels with Shaker width stiles and rails and five-piece drawer fronts. Town & Country is a maple Shaker beaded door style with solid maple panels and Shaker width frames. Available glazing options include caramel and pewter, and the company offers a dramatic espresso stain on all maple and cherry styles.

“Earth tones and tinted neutrals provide a balanced range of color for interior coordination,” adds Glenn. “Depth of rich colors, such as chocolate browns, blacks and other deep colors in hardwoods have emerged and will be an enduring trend. Your client may not want to change over your entire kitchen, but a touch of a bold new color can bring a totally new feeling to the room.”

Homecrest’s Madison cherry line of beaded doors feature fully mitered corners and recessed panel styling. Madison cherry is available in rich tones of burgundy finish that bring out the deep red hues of natural cherry. Homecrest’s Sedona maple natural line is inspired by Arts and Crafts architecture for clean and uncluttered appearance.

Quality Cabinets has broadened the options available to builders and remodelers with the introduction of two new finishes and a new wood species choice on a popular door style. With trends continuing to move toward dark, bolder colors, Quality has introduced the dark colors of espresso for oak cabinets and dulce for maple. Additionally, the company now offers its Classic II door style in cherry with three standard finishes and three glazes available.

Pointing out the biggest style trends, Stratton Yatron, co-owner of Adelphi Kitchens & Cabinetry, says, “Some of our business has returned to darker, more traditional colors and woods such as dark stained walnut wood or almost black stains, and some of our business is focusing on exotic veneer options such as birdseye maple and Macassar ebony.”

Adelphi recently increased its offerings by adding 20 new framed and frameless cabinetry styles, several new colors, and two new wood species. Styles range from Presidential Cathedral and Double Georgetown to Aspen and Scottsdale. The company has also added walnut and alder to its standard wood selections, which include birch, cherry, maple, oak and knotty pine. Adelphi’s new finishes include burgundy, Colorado red, acorn and nutmeg.

“You can’t ignore the mainstreaming of the environmental movement,” says Harold Martin, vice president of marketing for Quality Custom Cabinetry. “It’s everywhere and affecting everything. In lieu of exotic and rare woods, we are seeing a move to reconstituted or composite wood veneers that look like the real thing but are made from abundant, native trees that are renewable and easy to grow. We’re also seeing more faux veneers and reflective foil finishes under a high-gloss coating as green-friendly alternatives.”

Functional Advancements

Beauty isn’t everything but it’s definitely a top priority in cabinetry. And the second, equally important priority is functionality.

Fortunately, manufacturers offer products that combine the two for enhanced style and substance that fits nearly any budget.

“Consumers are bombarded with a constant stream of ideas and designs,” says Yatron. “I think that the desire for more straightforward, and perhaps, more contemporary kitchens is becoming more of a trend than it had been in recent years. Some of the designs we are developing are almost repeats of things that were new in the '60s and '70s.”

Yatron stresses the key to satisfying clients is “to properly select not only the best style of cabinetry for any given project but to also try to minimize the need for space-wasting fillers, and be able to hide things such as ventilation ducts and pipe chases.”

Armstrong’s ChefCenter is a built-in organizational tool. The ChefCenter is available with various sizes of pullout fillers that contain shelves or perforated organizers and wall cabinets with pull- out shelves. It features either a 30-in. or 36-in. drawer base with organizer and pullout organizers. Since the unit is modular and scalable, it can easily include innovative, value-adding features to enhance standard kitchen plans.

Fieldstone Cabinetry’s new pull-out peg storage keeps pans and utensils within reach and well-organized. And the system isn’t limited to kitchen use as it fits anywhere in the home that requires organization, from home offices and craft areas to sewing and laundry rooms. The pullout peg storage is a filler unit that fits between two cabinets to make use of dead space. The wall version is available in 3- and 6-in. widths and the base version is available in 3-, 6- or 9-in. widths. The 9-in. wide base filler has four spice shelves on one side and peg storage on the other.

Quality Custom Cabinetry focuses efforts on two cabinet lines: Quality Custom Cabinetry is a custom wood-framed cabinetry line with hand-rubbed finishes and glazes and will soon include a variety of reconstituted exotic wood veneers and reflective foils. The company’s new Saxton Cabinetry brand is a high-end frameless cabinet that transitions from contemporary to traditional styling.

HomeCrest Cabinetry now offers optional all-plywood box construction, which brings backbone to fine cabinetry without compromising its beauty. All-plywood cabinetry has a higher perceived value than cabinetry constructed from engineered products. The all-plywood box construction offers durability, strength, rigidity and structural integrity for home cabinetry with resistance to damage from heavy everyday wear and tear, humidity, household cleaners, and kitchen and bathroom water sources. HomeCrest’s all-plywood construction cabinetry is coupled with solid-hardwood face frames and doors in the species including cherry, maple, oak or hickory.

“Organization is one of the biggest latent needs that has been ignored for many years,” says MasterBrand’s Andy Wells.

“Cabinet designers have forgotten how they got into business, and now, much to the delight of consumers, they are addressing organization needs again.”

MasterBrand’s Aristokraft Cabinetry offers a 12-in.-deep, full-height base cabinet which is a narrow and deep base cabinet that turns under-utilized spaces or narrow passageways into convenient countertop and cabinet storage. The 12 in. deep, full-height base cabinet is available in all of the company’s door types and finishes. For increased storage space, Aristokraft offers a 30-in. base microwave cabinet. In addition to being a space saver, this cabinet expands options to customize kitchen organization. The cabinet can also be installed in an island.

To stay on top of the latest trends, Wells explains that MasterBrand “conducts very detailed research of consumer behavior.

We are out there 365 days a year, beating the streets to find out what consumers want, and we don’t just stay in the cabinet bubble, either,” notes Wells. “We look to other industries such as paint, ceramic, countertop, flooring and hardware to gather inspiration. We also attend designer forums throughout the year, but most importantly, we listen to the consumer.”

Designing for the Individual

In the current marketplace, educated consumers are driving today’s trends more than ever before. Thanks to the product knowledge available on the Internet, your clients know they can get the exact product they envision.

“Consumers are also moving away from uniform cabinets and gravitating toward adding individual pieces to the mix,” says Wells. “They are much more aware of what the business is capable of designing. Thus, creating cabinets that are as unique and fashionable as the consumer becomes increasingly important.”

“There is still a movement toward bringing the outdoors inside, with natural materials and natural hues being popular, but also weaving a more innovative mix of different materials and textures,” says Armstrong’s Rob Glenn. “Think also about colors that suggest the outside — cloudless skies, brilliant orange sunsets, sea colors, soft or bold, but always exciting.”

Glenn says, “Metals in hardware and faucets, whether it be pewter, brass or aluminum, impact the overall look and have contributed to glazes used on some wood cabinetry to coordinate with these other finishes.”

StarMark Cabinetry has introduced two soft neutral colors: pearl and buttercream. The buttercream tone complements darker stain colors like caramel and toffee and tinted finishes of ivory cream or moss green. StarMark’s neutral pearl tone is versatile enough to highlight colors from champagne and oregano to burgundy and royal blue.

For more cost-effective projects, Crown Point Cabinetry has introduced a new collection of frameless custom cabinetry called the Limited Line. In the Limited Line, Crown Point blends quality materials, workmanship, design details and customization. This combination creates good solutions for projects that demand the best, but that do not come with unlimited budgets.

Smart Cabinetry’s SC100 line features 1/2-in. construction and wood dovetail drawers. These cabinets have 5/8-in. adjustable wall and base shelving and are backed by a five-year limited warranty. SC100 is available in white birch and oak.

Merillat recently expanded its Masterpiece line with a new traditional style called Verona. Merillat Masterpiece Verona has a five-piece drawer front, full-overlay construction, with a veneer raised-center panel available in square or arched. This maple door is available in all the company’s maple colors excluding butter rum, oatmeal and taupe. Available finishes include dove white, canvas and biscotti.

Wellborn Forest’s selection of custom-glaze finishes, Shadow, is available on select doors in oak, maple and cherry. Shadow is a black glaze that is hand applied over most of the company’s stains and hand-wiped to accent the profiles and wood grain. The product adds dimension to door styles like raised and decorative profiles. Shadow glazes, as well as the sugar, chocolate, cocoa and sterling glazes are now offered in the Classic II, Supreme and Designer II Series box constructions.

“Today’s younger generations are well educated and do their research before they come into the showroom,” says Quality Custom Cabinetry’s Harold Martin. “The Internet has been a tremendous driving force, getting new thoughts and ideas out there in a matter of minutes, for the world to look at and respond to. Many of our own new products and finishes have been introduced because they are customer driven.”

To ensure that their wood cabinets will last for years, Alelphi’s Stratton Yatron offers a strong recommendation of one item to avoid: farmhouse sinks. He explains, “I tell people there’s a reason that sinks evolved many years ago away from this design. Farmhouse sinks tend to be very tough on the cabinetry doors below them because water tends to run down the face of the sink. Doors under these sinks see an incredible amount of water drip on them during their lifetime.”

But the primary goal is to satisfy the customer. “Listen carefully to the client before designing anything,” advises MasterBrand’s Andy Wells. “Remodelers will have to address many different issues for each client and it is important to cater to that individual.”

Use the reader service card for more information on the following suppliers:

  • Adelphi Kitchens & Cabinetry For more info please indicate #51 on e-Inquiry.
  • Armstrong Cabinets For more info please indicate #52 on e-Inquiry.
  • Crown Point Cabinetry For more info please indicate #53 on e-Inquiry.
  • Fieldstone Cabinetry For more info please indicate #54 on e-Inquiry.
  • MasterBrand Cabinets For more info please indicate #55 on e-Inquiry.
  • Medallion Cabinetry For more info please indicate #56 on e-Inquiry.
  • Merillat For more info please indicate #57 on e-Inquiry.
  • Quality Cabinets For more info please indicate #58 on e-Inquiry.
  • Quality Custom Cabinets For more info please indicate #59 on e-Inquiry.
  • Smart Cabinetry For more info please indicate #60 on e-Inquiry.
  • StarMark Cabinetry For more info please indicate #61 on e-Inquiry.
  • Wellborn Forest For more info please indicate #62 on e-Inquiry.