Kitchen Trends - Fresh Perspective

/ By Cathy Austin, Loop9, TFL portfolio management for Arclin

Arclin takes a walk through KBIS 2019… and sees some welcome shifts. 

Grays, rustics, Shaker-style cabinets. If we had to sum up the last several years in kitchen trends in just a few words, that’s where we’d probably land.

So we were heartened (and not a little bit excited) to see some newer approaches emerging at this year’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in Las Vegas last month. Don’t get us wrong…there’s still plenty of gray. And as one Southeastern U.S. builder confirmed for us, “Shaker, Shaker, Shaker, white, white, white — that’s what most of our customers are (still!) demanding.” But we do see some welcome shifts. To name a few…

1 white w wood - fabuwood blog

Sleek & Sophisticated

Ooo, la, la, we like this trend. What we might’ve once deemed “European,” is now simply high style on parade. Clean, sleek lines. Modern, minimalist hardware. Often-dark overtones (some got downright moody). We wouldn’t want to show up for dinner in our sweats in these elegant kitchens!

The nice thing about this trend, especially for those of us in the surfaces business, is that it mixes equal parts solids and wood grains. White, gray or even black solids, often with luxurious finishes like smooth matte or high gloss, combine with gorgeous woods. And while “real” wood will always have a place in luxury homes, engineered surfaces have reached such a level of sophistication — with high fidelity designs and deep, realistic textures — they’re finding their way into high end interiors where sleek and European make them not just cost-effective but design-imperative.

Featured in the Fabuwood booth, sleek white cabinets with pops of wood. The raw, natural island inset provides a stunning contrast.

Natural Materials, Engineered Style

Continuing the sophistication theme, we saw a lot of luxury metals — silver and gold — integrated into tile patterns, especially.

Dramatic metals and stone patterns, too, were taking center stage as focal points (think fireplace surrounds and large architectural panels). Sometimes the real thing, often an engineered alternative, these accents were everywhere. And stone wasn’t just marble or granite this time, but included a mix of other creative patterns and structures.

(Asks nearby colleague: does this go here?) We also love, love, love the dramatic introduction of burnt wood accents and features, called shou sugi ban, a Japanese finishing technique. This look, too, was found on “real” materials and is also being captured on engineered surfaces like TFL (thermally fused laminates). Dark, texture-rich and attention getting, it makes for a real conversation piece.


White still dominates, but is being complemented — whether in Shaker, sleek or traditional interiors — with pops of, well, lots of things.

Pops of color. Blue remains the solid color accent du jour. (And we got into a rather lengthy debate over what you’d call the most ubiquitous blue in the current modern kitchen. We settled on somewhere between royal blue and cobalt.)

Pops of wood. The last couple of years, we’ve seen combos of wood grain lower cabinets and white on top. This trend continues but wood is also making more distinctive appearances in white kitchens and baths with one dramatic accent, like a raw wood inset on a countertop or backsplash, or a single exotic wood wall.

Pops of drama. We captured this above, but worth noting here too, as kitchens are clearly taking center stage in new ways.

Silver and gold add heighten the elegance factor.

Au Naturale

Wood grain surfaces are lightening up. We’re not talking about simply a head back toward the light maples and birches of yore. Even still-popular walnut grains are showing up in their near-natural state. It’s a simple move but one that makes a world of difference, as the wood grain and color, themselves, become the focus, rather than simply the color of the stain.

We’re seeing this as the natural evolution of the rustics trend. Still natural — even raw — but also elegant and sophisticated.

Natural materials (or likenesses thereof) provide dramatic relief to equally dramatic solids.

We can tell you from an engineered surfaces perspective that white was, is and will likely remain king of the kitchen, bath and closet. And grays are still maintaining their reign as queen. What we’re seeing now in all of these trends is a way to work other features — grains, textures, metals and more — in and among them. There are definitely some new things to talk about this year.

Related Blog Posts

  • Dougclark-oem sized
    Timber Products Promotes Doug Clark to Hardwood Sales Manager

    On August 9, 2019, Timber Products Company announced the promotion of Doug Clark, former Sales Manager for National Accounts and OEMs, to Hardwood Sales Manager.

    Read More
  • Osbmain
    Getting to the Core Series: Oriented Strand Board

    When most people think of oriented strand board (OSB) they think of home construction, but savvy manufacturers know OSB is a cost-effective alternative for other applications.

    Read More
  • Tariffs
    Wood Tariffs and Their Impact on Your Business

    The recent tariff increase and U.S. Customs crackdown on wood product exports from China are two of the hot issues in our industry. Some believe these recent actions benefit domestic manufacturing, others are skeptical. Here’s what you need to know!

    Read More
  • Cnc machine
    Equipment Spotlight: Spectrum’s New CNC Router

    Timber Products’ Spectrum Division has invested in a new CNC router to help give its distributors even more options for supporting their cabinetry shop customers.

    Read More