TRENDS IN KITCHEN CABINETRY
I just spent three days at the National Kitchen & Bath Show in Las Vegas. I go to these every five years or so to see what's up in the industry.
The show this year was pretty good but I didn't see anything that knocked my socks off. The primary things I saw worth noting are:
> Grey seems to be the big new color in cabinetry, both grey stains and solid colors. This is the third time I've seen grey being offered in the last 38 years. The last two times it came around it lasted about two years. While I like it and think it has potential I think it will die out quickly again. The reason is that grey is the color of a cloudy (read depressing) day and people just aren't comfortable with making a long term commitment to a color like that.
> White is still reportedly the most purchased cabinetry eclipsing 50% of sales last year (!). I haven't seen this in Colorado (we did two white jobs last year) but Colorado is always two to three years behind the trend curve. The east and west coasts always start the trends and Colorado comes around eventually, albeit usually with their own version of the trend (Colorado and the mountain region is always very independent).
> Espresso continues to be the number two requested stain.
> Shaker style cabinet doors are still the most used style. Clean, simple and elegant.
> Contemporary styling - flat slab doors - in solid colors, deep, dark stains and laminates are becoming very popular and I expect will become the dominant choice in the next 3 to 5 years as the Millenials buy homes.
> Many Asian companies are attempting to establish a sales presence in the US. These companies produce their cabinet parts throughout Asia (not just China, but also Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and others), ship them by boat to the US and then assemble the cabinets here. The pricing is excellent and their strategy is to low-ball the pricing (do I hear Chinese government subsidies) to gain market share. If you are in the market for a low cost cabinet now is a good time to buy these before they have to start raising their prices (which I predict will start in 2 to 3 years).
My concern with their products is four-fold. 1) What does sitting on a boat for 2-3 months crossing the Pacific do to the wood and the finish in the long run? 2) The environmental impact in the manufacturing countries where they have no oversight (if American manufacturers didn't have to abide by the EPA and OSHA rules they'd be able to reduce prices by 15-30%). 3) Replacement parts. I've heard stories of waiting 3 months for replacement doors and other parts. 4) Quality of the hardware. I have salespeople hounding me to buy Chinese hinges and drawer glides at 50% to 70% less but in every case I have found these products to be very cheaply made and "guaranteed to break in a year or so or your money back." Their products may look identical (to heck with the patent!) to good quality Salice, Blum, Grass and other hardware company products but the metals are definitely inferior.
> Finally, the composite stone manufacturers like Silestone and Quartzstone have come out with fabulous new colors and patterns and real granites are dropping in popularity.
So, my three days there was profitable but not that profitable and I won't be back for a few years.