Manufacturers agree that the industry is responding to demand for soft-close products. “Everything is moving toward the soft-close,” explains Fitzpatrick. “First it was drawer slides but now hinges are in demand with the soft-close action. Drawers have redefined their closing action with the soft-close action and you find this in undermount slides, double-wall slides and in some ball bearing slides,” she adds.
Fitzpatrick also points out that customers prefer a soft-touch mechanism that opens and closes drawers and cabinets with barely any contact. “With wide and heavy drawers being more popular, having drawers open and close with a slight touch makes it easier for the elderly or wheelchair bound,” she explains.
Poteat agrees this trend is building and says Blum is seeing more customers choose soft-close hinges. “[Consumers] are looking for soft-closing drawers and doors as a standard in mid- to high-end kitchens and as options in economy lines. They are also excited about our touch-to-open waste/recycle bin sets. Just a light touch of your knee is all it takes to open the waste bin drawer when your hands are dirty or wet.” Poteat adds, “Lift doors allow them to open with a light push or pull on the front.”
With smaller kitchens, it can be harder to create a neat, uncluttered appearance, which is why products that streamline the look and functionality of the kitchen remain in high demand.
“We are seeing increased demand for automatic or mechanical door cabinet and drawer openers as well as mechanical lifts that can hide televisions or kitchen accessories when they are not in use,” says Tripp.
Doug Mockett, CEO of Doug Mockett & Co. in Manhattan Beach, CA, sees this as a strong trend that is part of a movement toward “keeping a clean overall look.”
He adds, “The hottest trend at the moment in kitchens is the basic universal idea of having hidden or low-profile features. Any accessory that can easily be stowed away when not in use is ideal.”
Other hide-away products are also in demand. “With a growing demand for hidden power options, re-locatable power taps are a huge hit on kitchen countertops and kitchen islands,” says Mockett. “Power stations are a great addition to any kitchen. They bring ease and convenience to the surface level and hide away when not in use.”
Straatman sees an increased desire to relocate receptacles from the walls to underneath the cabinets. Concealing power strips, chargers and even some lights contributes to that overall clean look in the room, as well. Some lighting fixtures, says Straatman, allow one to “see the effect but not the fixture.”
When asked about popular finishes in storage accessories, manufacturers’ replies vary. “While the move toward white is seemingly industry-wide, the actual hardware components don’t necessarily have to follow suit,” says Mockett. “Satin stainless steel is extremely durable and still delivers a classic look in any kitchen, whether on a contemporary white motif, or on a more traditional wood theme,” he adds. “In fact, having that subtle contrast creates a harmonious balance.”
Fitzpatrick agrees: “From a hardware perspective, the stainless steel look is still very popular.” She adds, however, that the color champagne is also in demand for some products. And, according to Tripp, who has also seen champagne surge in popularity, matte nickel and chrome are in demand, as well.
Rev-a-Shelf’s McPeek reports that chrome is still very popular in wire products. She adds that in lighting, black, satin nickel and oil-rubbed bronze – in that order – are standouts.
Although all of America is anxiously awaiting better news from economic forecasters, hardware and interior fittings seem to be faring well, even with the economic uncertainty. According to Mockett, “Kitchen hardware is a vastly growing market – one that we’ve seen explode in our product line in recent years.”
McPeek points out, “People are now requesting items that once were considered luxuries…we at Rev-a-Shelf have actually trademarked a word that describes this…Necessories. [These products] are accessories that are considered necessary for the organization and function of your kitchen.”
That trend is not expected to abate any time soon. As the economy improves and kitchen projects increase in numbers, homeowners are expected to continue to demand better functionality, organization and beauty in the most frequented room in the house.