What will design-crazed consumers do when there's nothing left to decorate? Well, there's always the inside of the kitchen cabinets…
Ten years ago, that statement might have been perceived as a joke. Now, however, stylish and effective cabinet interiors seem like the next logical progression in the quest for perfect kitchen design.
"As kitchen products and appliances become more attractive and design-savvy, it makes sense that consumers will want other aspects of their kitchen - including cabinet interiors - to follow suit," notes James Magruder, marketing and communications manager for In-Sink-Erator, in Racine, WI.
"We can thank HGTV and Target for that," adds Fob Jenkins, director of marketing for Rev-A-Shelf, in Louisville, KY. "For a lot of years, we made functional accessories. Now design is becoming a lot more apparent."
"I think people are more aware of what's out there," confirms Jonathan Betz, president of Custom Inserts, Honey Brook, PA, "how specific they can be with nailing down their needs, and getting cabinetry and accessories that can take care of those needs."
A category that's increased exponentially in the past few years, the kitchen storage market is refining its already well-designed offerings with a few new and dazzling tricks up its collective sleeve, according to the manufacturers surveyed by Kitchen & Bath Design News.
Sleek & Streamlined
It's no secret that kitchen style has been ridding itself of excess embellishments in the past year, with even antique looks taking on a more spare, clean-lined feel. "A more sleek, modern European aesthetic is gaining a following" in the U.S., believes Wolfgang Branner, v.p./marketing for Blum Inc., in Stanley, NC. He cites the trend towards frameless slab cabinet doors as well as his company's TANDEMBOX drawers, which feature metal sides.
Similarly, Walt Maxwell, national sales manager for Grass America, in Kernersville, NC, notes the return of touch latch technology in Europe. "[That's where] you press the door in and it would pop out," he elaborates. Popular during the 1980s, the touch latch went out of style around the time ornate Old World and European Country looks came into vogue, mandating traditional cabinet doors and elaborate decorative hardware. But as the outside of the cabinet becomes more simple and elegant again, more and more complex options are available for the interior.
"Organization is uppermost in today's kitchen design," declares Branner. "People increasingly take the time and trouble to incorporate usage and storage into their plans. People are also growing more aware of ergonomics and accessibility, and becoming more sensitive to design that incorporates these features."
Those looking for a more vintage vibe can get their storage needs met with new products such as Rev-A-Shelf's new lazy Susans that feature pewter or bronze grapes and leaves on the fence rail. Jenkins also sees an overall increase in available finishes for interior fittings, with brushed chrome and aluminum adding a new twist to the popular shiny-chrome-and-wood look of high-end interior storage.
Philip Martin, director of marketing for Häfele America Co., in Archdale, NC, adds that hard rock maple is still the wood of choice for storage fittings. "The interiors of a lot of cabinets are woodgrain, so the hard rock maple blends in very nicely. The consumer wants that warm wood look, but also wants a touch of chrome." A new, specialized melamine finish ensures that items in a pull-out won't slide when the mechanism is in motion, he adds.
Such innovations are vital for high-end cabinet fittings, manufacturers believe. As the upscale market grows ever more sophisticated and fine-tuned, the more basic elements of new millennium cabinet interior organization are filtering down to the builder market and home center shopper, so consumers at the high end expect a new level of innovation in both design and function. In the meantime, "[more] sophisticated storage systems are going mainstream," notes Branner.