Regardless of whether they are buying a new home or remodeling their current one, today’s consumers consider the kitchen to be the home’s main attraction – and abundant, well-organized and accessible storage is a major plus. So it’s no wonder that designers are focusing on custom storage solutions that enhance functionality and accessibility in the kitchen.
The rise of the multi-functional kitchen has further increased the need for flexible storage options. “Kitchens have become the focal point in the home,” says Daniel Tripp, product marketing manager for Hafele America Co. in Archdale, NC. He adds, “They have become multi-use spaces where there is much more going on than just food preparation. To accommodate the range of activities that are now taking place in the kitchen, designers and consumers are more focused on increasing the functionality of the space.”
Manufacturers recently surveyed by Kitchen & Bath Design News generally agree that designers and consumers are seeking a wealth of attractively designed storage products that provide a variety of easy-to-use options. Meeting the individual needs of each homeowner is tantamount to success.
President/Owner James Vogt of the Grand Rapids, MI-based manufacturer Vogt Industries maintains, “Trends haven’t changed all that much in the last few years.” However, he insists that while “trends come and go,” the products that don’t hold up will surely disappoint the customer. And, says Vogt, “Everybody wants a kitchen cabinet that’s easy to use.”
While cabinet manufacturers may disagree, Vogt maintains that kitchen cabinets “all look the same from the front.” For that reason, he says, “Customers need to be aware of what’s inside.”
He believes both designers and manufacturers need to keep in mind an important question: When you open the door of the cabinet, what do you find that will help make things more convenient for the customer?
Busy Americans are keen on getting organized, and with fewer homeowners willing to invest in expanding the footprint of their kitchens, maximizing existing space is increasingly important.
Homeowners want more storage space, but they are also demanding more accessibility to that storage. They are rejecting the old configuration of hard-to-reach cabinets that simply filled up space or required superhuman contortions to access stored items.
Today’s consumers are demanding customized and extensive storage options, and designers and manufacturers both recognize the growing importance of this. “One of the biggest trends we are seeing is that cabinet storage accessories are not being viewed as options any more…they are becoming an expectation,” explains Tripp. He adds, “As a result, we are seeing more and more cabinet manufacturers building storage features into their standard designs. Many of our customers have found that the interior details of their cabinetry can be a source of significant competitive advantage.”
Shari McPeek, marketing manager for Rev-A-Shelf, in Louisville, KY, believes the shift in U.S. population statistics is impacting the market. She states, “With the growing ‘Baby Boomer’ population, you are seeing more designs take accessibility into consideration.”
Tripp concurs: “Because functional hardware can help people interact more effectively and efficiently in their living environments, it can play an important role in bringing the core principals of Universal Design to life. Our aging population and other consumer lifestyle trends will continue to drive interest and demand for hardware technology that enables good Universal Design that optimizes functionality of kitchen cabinets for everyone in the household.”
Blum, Inc.’s Dennis Poteat agrees that kitchen plans that allow access and visibility to storage “tie in well with Universal Design.” Poteat, marketing communications manager at the Stanley, NC-based manufacturer explains, “Touch-to-open system(s) for drawers and lift doors allow them to open with a light push or pull on the front.”