As open layouts remain popular and ceilings get taller, homeowners want a kitchen that complements the clean, open style of their homes.
"We keep hearing, 'I don't want a lot of fuss in the kitchen,'" says Angela O'Neill, director of marketing for Wellborn Cabinet. "'I don't want pots and pans or anything on top of the cabinets. I want them to go up with no clutter.'"
That is why the manufacturer introduced a taller, 54-inch cabinet that extends closer to high ceilings for a cleaner look (Circle 101). Today's popular door styles (particularly Shaker), colors (either dark or white), and storage choices (increasingly for the elderly) also emphasize this desire for a pared-down kitchen.
Steady Growth Ahead Sales of home cabinetry are expected to grow by 7.4% per year to 2014 to become a $15.2 billion market, predicts The Freedonia Group, a market research firm. The improvement and repair markets will continue to account for the majority of residential demand. Sales of kitchen cabinets, which represented 80% of cabinet demand in 2009, are expected to rise 7.8% per year through 2014, Freedonia says.
As for brand popularity, a recent consumer satisfaction study by J.D. Power and Associates found Armstrong, Thomasville (sold through The Home Depot), KraftMaid, IKEA, and Merillat at the top, all with nearly the same total satisfaction scores. The study tallied responses from 1,119 consumers who purchased kitchen cabinets within the previous 12 months.
"Armstrong performs particularly well in two factors: operational performance and warranty," the survey found. "Thomasville performs particularly well in the design features factor, while IKEA performs well in the price factor and Merillat performs well in the ordering and delivery factor."
Not Quite Europe Today's "transitional" aesthetic fits a homeowner's need for minimalism, while not being as cold as European-style modern design, dealers and manufacturers say.
"Flat panel and slab doors are popular," wrote Don Rowe, vice president of Millard Lumber, in Omaha, Neb., and company kitchen designer Joanie Fredenburg in an email. "Many are moving away from traditional raised panel oak doors. It is not a hard-core contemporary look, but simpler and less complicated."
Not only does this style result in a less cluttered feel, but it helps homeowners feel they are choosing designs that are longer-lasting and a good investment. For example, Shaker-style products were a popular "cost-conscious pick for consumers," the National Kitchen and Bath Association found this year in a value-centered survey of 822 design professionals.
Five years ago, consumers were choosing doors with heavy moldings and intricate hardware, states Sara Reep, director of designer relations and education with Merillat. Now, she says, they are "playing it safe."
"I see what's emerging is better quality, and solutions that will last and be appreciated," she says.
Merillat recently introduced a new Shaker-style, recessed panel door called Tolani for homeowners who want this clean look.