These products are not just for older consumers, however. Gens X and Y value speed and efficiency, and touch-control products can help to streamline and simplify kitchen functionality.
Placement of drawers is also becoming more prevalent in many kitchens. Those drawers, of course, function better when well organized and accessible.
“Drawer organization is still popular since there are more drawers and fewer wall cabinets in open-plan kitchens,” explains Jan Fitzpatrick, marketing manager at Grass America, in Kernersville, NC. She adds, “More use of islands creates storage space but only under the counter. Deep, heavy-duty drawers can handle bottles and boxes…efficiently, if there are adjustable dividers to keep everything in place. Lifters are also becoming more popular for easy access to the cabinetry. This gives you full utilization of the interior cabinets.”
Meeting demand for drawer organizers is also on the minds of the staff at Custom Inserts, located in Pomeroy, PA. They, too, recognize the growing market for large, customized drawers in the kitchen space. Jonathan Betz is president of the company. “More recently,” he says, “we see demand for inserts to fit into larger drawers and spaces that need to be organized. Today, it’s not unusual for us to build custom inserts that are 32" or 34" wide, which makes a beautiful acrylic organization insert.”
Betz also explains that the company’s customized drawer inserts are “easily [the firm’s] most popular feature.” He adds, “Rather than one design that we see as being more popular than another, special orders, which allow customers to make up their own designs to fit their needs, are a very large percentage of our sales. This way customers get exactly what they want.”
Many manufacturers interviewed agreed that the number one green product consumers are asking for is LED lighting. LED (light-emitting diode) lights are energy efficient and durable with a long service life. They are also cooler than other lights. And, while LED lights are more expensive than other lights initially, they are cost-effective in the long run because of their energy savings and durability.
Tripp points out that LED lighting in cabinets and drawers is one of the most important trends today. “…LED is the biggest story here,” he says. “LED lights use 90 percent less power than conventional light bulbs. They also have an extremely long service life of up to 25 years or more, 40,000-50,000 hours. In addition, they contain no harmful mercury.”
Tripp continues: “LED technology has opened a whole new world of possibilities for designers and cabinet manufactures. Their low heat generation and wide variety of styles allow them to be used in ways that were either impossible or impractical with halogen or florescent lighting. LED accent and task lighting can now be incorporated into virtually every area of the kitchen, including inside drawers and cabinets and underneath the toe kick.”
LED lighting is important to Stephanie Straatman’s customers, as well. Straatman, customer relations manager for Task Lighting in Kearney, NE, explains that the color consistency in LED lights is a good quality and LED fixtures work well as undercabinet mounting, for example. “LED fixtures offer a lot of light with a small amount of energy, and that’s important to our customers,” says Straatman, who notes: “Our customers are requesting the newest in LED technology.”
McPeek agrees that demand for LED lighting is up. “…People are looking for LED lights that are easy to install, have unique features like dimming, and are cost efficient.” While the green movement has impacted the kitchen and bath in a variety of ways, there is still plenty of room for growth. “One way [that the green movement has impacted the industry] is by state compliance, as each state now has certain requirements for products…” says McPeek. She expects more requests for ecologically sound products as the economy improves.
No Noise is Good News
Quiet and discreet are words that describe two of the latest trends when it comes to interior fittings and technology in a modern kitchen. Soft-close and easy-touch technology and products that hide small appliances when not in use are among the most sought-after items.