Innovative new products and materials are putting a new spin on the countertop market.
By Daina Manning
With this dizzying array of possibilities, you'd think the
countertop market had maxed out on new ideas. Wrong, according to
the manufacturers surveyed by Kitchen & Bath Design News.
Mix and Match
Not only are new products coming onto the market, but consumers are realizing they're not limited to just one choice. More than ever, the mix-and-match approach to countertops is the hot trend.
"Kitchens have become the epicenter of the home. People want trophy kitchens now," says Terrie Buch-O'Dell, senior design manager, board of directors of the Color Marketing Group, Nevamar Decorative Surfaces in Odenton, MD. "Consumers are much more willing to mix materials for more eclectic styling."
For instance, a remodeling customer might choose natural granite or limestone for an attention-getting center island, engineered stone or solid surface for high-traffic areas that require frequent cleaning, and possibly a section of butcher block or stainless steel in a food prep area.
"It's smarter design," notes Gin Guei Ebnesajjad, director of style and color development for DuPont Surfaces in Wilmington, DE. "I have an expectation of how I want to use this space. Therefore, I look at material that fits into what I want to use not only visually, but its function."
In terms of color, "I think people are getting really bored with
neutrals and off whites," declares Ebnesajjad. "I see color
starting to come back in, and that's being expressed in different
This is not to say that all the consumers who are currently opting for low-key, natural brown and beige shades will suddenly decide they want red instead. "We're not going to see [the advent of color] right away in a permanent material like countertops," Ebnesajjad continues. "But, you're going to see a little bit more color in a natural [look] material."
She cites several new Corian colors: White Cap, a white color with pale pastel particles, inspired by the white caps of ocean waves; Oyster, a deeper neutral color, and Seashell, a taupe color that she describes as a "tinted neutral." Ebnesajjad adds that people often use a more intense version of that tint in the countertop as an accent color elsewhere for instance, inlay work, or one's table setting.
"We believe color will be prettier," agrees Buch-O'Dell. She cites "earth-inspired brights," colors evoking flowers, food and botanicals, as well as whites with a color undertone, for instance, green or violet, combined with a texture or pearlescence.
Despite the increasing market share of granite and engineered
stone, Ebnesajjad insists solid surface still works in high-end
applications, citing Corian's Private Collection series, which is
available exclusively through high-end kitchen dealers. The
Palladio and Artisan collections also pick up on the idea of tinted
neutrals, with such colors as aubergine, chamois and ecru. "People
are becoming much more sophisticated and individual, educated in
color and texture," she concludes. "They want something unique and
New technology is enabling laminate manufacturers to come up with imaginative choices, as well as improve on old standards such as wood grain, manufacturers report.
"There's tremendous growth in the look of wood laminate," declares Nevamar's Buch-O'Dell. She credits the improved look of the product. "It used to look like a photograph there was no randomness, no imperfection," she explains. "Now, they've captured that. On the manufacturing side, we're able to do a lot more with pearlescent inks, because we saturate our paper, we don't dry print it. Pearlescent [on top of wood grain] captures the fire of a veneer."
She says that designers who previously shied away from laminate are picking up on these new wood looks, including a bamboo pattern that gives a kitchen a tropical look.