Generating Buzz

by [email protected]

Space planning is a critical component of any good kitchen or bath design. But once a functional layout is created, it’s all about choosing the products that will bring the space to life.

Throughout the year, Kitchen & Bath Design News reports about hundreds of the latest and greatest product innovations offered by kitchen and bath manufacturers, including cabinetry, countertops, appliances, hardware, accessible design and others. At the end of each year, it celebrates products that generated the greatest buzz, as identified by tallying reader requests throughout the year.

As in past years, countertops were hot in 2014…garnering five of the top 10 spots, and representing an additional five places in the top 20. Wood, wood-look laminates and quartz were especially popular. Cabinet accessories, including supports and storage enhancements, also ranked high.

KBDN's Top 20 most-asked about products of the year are ranked here. For additional information about these and other products, visit ForResidentialPros.com.

 

No. 1 Iron Corbels

Urban Ironcraft is now offering 17”Dx21”Hx2”W iron corbels/brackets in select designs. The new size can provide needed support for large countertop applications.

“Iron corbels have become really popular over the last few years,” says Justin Hodges, president/designer, Urban Ironcraft. “Not only do they complement wood cabinetry wonderfully, they're very easy to install and they're strong when true support is needed. You'll find these corbels being used as countertop supports, underneath range hoods, supporting vanity tops, underneath mantles and used as shelf brackets.”

According to the firm, Urban Ironcraft is the industry’s largest manufacturer of decorative iron corbels and brackets. With a current offering of 12 designs, the iron corbels come in six finishes and many different sizes. The brackets are all made in the U.S. and can be customized. 

Shown is the Linley bracket in Old World finish.

 

No. 2 (tie) Solid Hardwood Tops

CaféCountertops provides solid hardwood tops in oversized lengths, including pieces over 16’ available in all woods. Fourteen popular woods are offered, including: Black Walnut, Iroko, African Teak, European Cherry, Wenge and the exclusive dark Chocolate Beech. Select woods are also available in wide plank and endgrain.

“There has been a distinct shift away from highly patterned granites to subtler, more refined and elegant materials such as quartz and solid wood,” says Sam Rochat, president, CaféCountertops. “Solid wood is especially desirable because of the warm cheerfulness it adds to what otherwise might be a cold and stark room of white and grey tones. Designers appreciate this, and also the way that color varies slightly from board to board, creating a blend of colors that can bring together flooring, cabinets and other surfaces without being ‘matchy’.”

Another reason for its popularity is the development of new oil- and wax-based finishes. “They offer the three-part advantage of being moisture resistant and suitable for sink areas, as well as being food-prep safe and also easy to repair so scratches can be easily removed,” explains Rochat. “Wood countertops needn’t look like soiled old cutting boards!”

 

No. 2 (tie) Thin Glass Laminates

Architectural Glass Effects (AGE) has added Thin Glass Laminates to its selection of glass products for the home. The new Thin Glass Laminates feature materials captured in glass – rice paper, burlap, cloth and more – to be used as cabinet inserts, backsplashes and table tops. The company notes that any flat material can be customized in the laminate, including comic books, playing cards, leaves and wallpaper.

“We took an old process and made it new again by giving customers limitless options,” says Cassie Mahadeo, v.p., sales, Architectural Glass Effects. “We can combine colors and textures with different thicknesses. Our laminate can be made as thin as 3/16” thick, which makes it a great option for cabinet glass. Being able to make it even thicker makes it a great option for backsplashes. It is a bonus that the glass is safety rated.”

 

No. 4 Specialty Surface Countertops

The Craft-Art Co. provides specialty surface countertops, including 25-plus wood species, a variety of metal options and over 50 combinations of custom glass options.

“Granite is everywhere,” says Sarah Anderson, product manager, The Craft-Art Co. “But so is information about alternatives to granite. With such easy access to information on alternatives, we are seeing a more informed buyer. That buyer realizes you don’t have to have the same kitchen as your neighbor anymore, and you don’t even have to spend more (or much more). People are starting to see that mixing in a specialty surface like a wood island countertop with a granite perimeter may cost the exact same as all-granite, but can really boost your design.”

Craft Art’s wood countertops, such as the Distressed American Cherry Plank, shown, are hand finished to provide a waterproof surface.

 

No. 5 Cabinet Storage System

Designed for kitchen cabinets, Glideware is a cabinet storage system that features Glideware Synchronized Motion, which keeps cookware quiet even as it slides in and out of the cabinet. From the company of the same name, Glideware installs inside a standard-depth cabinet and slides out a 21-piece set of cookware on a fully extendable rail system, eliminating stacking, stooping and clutter. Constructed from clear hard maple, the unit’s adjustable hook system holds 100 lbs.

“Organization is a huge trend right now,” says Dave Hall, owner/president, Glideware. “People love to be organized and they want to give everything its own place. Sites such as Pinterest, which celebrate creativity and organization, are so popular. Historically, people, in my opinion, have accepted what’s on the market when it comes to cabinet storage. But Glideware solves the accessibility problem by extending cookware out. You can grab what you need, then slide the unit back into the cabinet. You don’t need to unstack a whole drawer to get to the pan you want. It organizes pans, improves accessibility and protects cookware.”

 

No. 6 (tie) Chrome Pull-out Pantry

Chrome Pull-out Pantries from Rev-A-Shelf provide pull-out access to items inside of kitchen cabinets. Available in a range of sizes, the pantry features adjustable mounting brackets, 250-lb. weight-rated slide system and top and bottom soft-close slides. The unit also features a sturdy telescoping frame and wire baskets.

Several factors are creating a need for more storage, notes Shari McPeek, marketing manager, Rev-A-Shelf, including the move to designs with fewer cabinets and more drawers as base cabinets. “Clean, minimalist designs also require in-cabinet storage for items once stored on counters, and an increase in multi-generational homes is driving designs to include additional storage options,” she adds. “Pullout pantries optimize the space and allow full accessibility for young children to the elderly.

“A rise in open floor plans and an increase in ‘kitchentainment’ also decrease the amount of available storage space, as does the desire for full walk-in pantries for those who are downsizing,” she notes.

Rev-A-Shelf offers pull-out pantries in multiple sizes with soft-close features and various construction and finishes including wood and wire.

 

No. 6 (tie) Metal Shower Pans

The new stainless steel and copper shower pans from Diamond Spas are relatively light weight and available in nearly any shape, size or drain placement for a custom shower. In particular, “copper appeals to so many first and foremost because the look is very classic,” says Krista Payne, marketing manager, Diamond Spas. “It really has this appeal in the design world as it gives any project a depth of sophistication and Old World charm.”

Copper and stainless steel also work well as a bathroom floor due to their durability, easy maintenance and hygienic properties. The metals are non-porous so they won’t harbor bacteria, mold or mildew, the firm notes. “Copper is a natural antimicrobial material, meaning that it kills over 99.9% of most of the bacteria on its surface, including E.coli, influenza, staphylococcus and H1N1,” says Payne.

Both metals are also ideal for custom design because the materials are flexible and can be fabricated into any shape and design. “We are not used to seeing metal in bathroom fixtures (sinks, tubs, shower pans), so there is a real ‘wow’ factor when you see them in a bathroom project because they are so unique,” Payne adds.

The new line is fabricated primarily from recycled sheet metal.

 

No. 8 (tie) Custom Wood Countertops

J. Aaron custom wood countertops are made from premium hardwoods suited for the heavy use of a kitchen work surface. The countertops are available in more than 20 species, reclaimed woods and exotics from Africa and Asia. With three sealer options, they can be used with undermount sinks.

“Hardwood countertops add an extra bit of texture with a ‘warm’ feeling to projects, especially contemporary spaces with clean, crisp cabinetry,” says Joshua Johnson, president/founder, J. Aaron. “Wood also brings in natural characteristics and colors, toning down the ‘hard’ edges. Designers are mixing multiple materials into their projects, and wood is a great choice for those designs.”

 

No. 8 (tie) Black Walnut Timber

Inspired by the trend for bespoke international furniture design that celebrates the natural beauty of wood in its true form and scale, Black Walnut Timber is a matte finish from Formica Corp. It features two 170-year-old slabs of Black American Walnut – book matched and joined down the center with Walnut dovetails. The realistic woodgrain laminate is produced in 5’ expanses.

“As true scale and exotic stones move from the kitchen island to surrounding countertops, consumers are looking to make a statement with new surfaces,” says Gerri Chmiel, senior design manager, Formica Corporation. “For example, the increased popularity of painted cabinetry is allowing homeowners to use wood-like surfaces in other areas…namely, the countertop. These dramatic wood planks are now being celebrated much like exotic stones were 10 years ago. Traditionally a commercial element, reclaimed wood is now making an appearance in upscale homes and kitchens. In new homes, in particular, wood provides warmth and authenticity to the environment. Wood planking used in kitchens today is wide, knotted and shows graining contrast between heartwood and sapwood. Typically these types of wood planks are rare, exotic and expensive, making a laminate version like Formica’s woodgrain patterns a celebrated alternative.”

 

No. 10 (tie) Silestone Nebula Code

Silestone’s Nebula Code from Cosentino North America is an evolution of the company’s Silestone Nebula series. The new collection is composed of five colors inspired by the appearance of natural stone. The five colors in the series include: Helix, Pulsar, Daria, Istmo and Dreis. The neutral hues are subtle yet distinctive, featuring an original pattern of colored veining throughout the surface that never repeats.

“Silestone’s quartz surfaces offer patterns that emulate natural stone, as seen in the Nebula Code and new Nebula Alpha series, but are capable of withstanding higher levels of wear and tear – such as resistance to stains, scratches and scorching – and don’t require sealing,” says Lorenzo Marquez, v.p., marketing at Cosentino North America. 

“Quartz remains a popular surfacing material because consumers are increasingly savvy about the performance capabilities and longevity of the materials they are using in their homes,” Marquez continues. “When making the investment in projects, they demand assurances that these products will withstand the test of time to ensure the best return without requiring significant maintenance commitments.”

All colors are available in polished and suede finishes.

 

No. 10 (tie) Compact Laundry Line

Bosch’s compact 24” laundry line offers a range of key features for ease of use. The laundry pair requires no duct for venting, and the washer plugs into the dryer so only one electrical plug is needed. Energy Star qualified, the compact line provides the cleaning power of a full-sized model, and accommodates large loads of laundry in less time; the laundry pair can clean a load of laundry from start to finish in 30 minutes. 

"We are following the trend of urbanization – people are moving into smaller apartments and condos where costs are high and space is limited, but they don’t want to sacrifice the luxury of having laundry in the unit," says Malte Peters,senior product manager. "The Bosch 24” Compact Laundry pair provides the cleaning power of a full-sized unit on a smaller footprint. Its functions were designed to save money on installation fees, and also provide consumers with endless options for where they install their laundry pair. With undercounter, stackable and side-by-side installation options, the laundry pair can easily serve as the highlight of the laundry room or a hidden gem in a non-traditional space, like the den or a bedroom."

The line is available in three design options, and includes new sleek control panels and door designs as well as stainless steel and chrome accents.
 

No. 12 (tie) Granite-look Countertop Collection

VT Industries has launched VT Dimensions, a new countertop collection with more proprietary edge profiles, surface options and in-stock colors with the look of granite, according to the company. The countertops are formed as a single piece from the backsplash to the front edge, creating a seamless look. They are manufactured using biodegradable, water-based adhesives that virtually eliminate VOCs, and are GREENGUARD Certified and FSC certified.

 

No. 12 (tie) Natural Quartz Surfaces

Radianz natural quartz surfaces from Samsung are available in a wide range of colors and patterns that work with any kitchen design. The production process provides consistent and uniform color throughout. Shown is Radianz Quartz in Kunlun Ink.

 

No. 14 (tie) Non-intrusive Countertop Supports

The Counterbalance product line from Chemical Concepts includes non-intrusive countertop supports that are virtually invisible and eliminate accessibility issues associated with corbels. The line includes the CounterPlate XL, CrossBar, CornerPlate, Workstation Bracket, Concealed Bracket, Extended Concealed Bracket and the newest additions: the Hybrid Bracket and CrossBar Mini.

 

No. 14 (tie) Eco-friendly, Wood Laminate

Caron Industries’ Top Style Collection of surfaces provides the warmth of wood for the kitchen. The eco-friendly laminated wood countertops are a practical way to add the look of wood in any décor, the firm says.

 

No. 14 (tie) Chapel-inspired Quartz

Rosslyn is one of the newer quartz surface designs from Cambria. The surface, inspired by the Rosslyn Chapel, features metallic golds mixed with a background of taupe and tans. Rosslyn is part of the company’s Jewel Collection.

 

No. 14 (tie) Earth-tone Quartz

Caesarstone’s newest additions to its Classico collection of quartz surfaces are inspired by marbles of the world. All feature a blend of earth tones and delicately infused veins. The five designs include: Frosty Carina, Dreamy Farfil (shown), London Grey, Piatra Grey and Emperadoro. The new surfaces are stain-, scratch- and water-resistant.

 

No. 14 (tie) Customized Refrigeration

Aga Marvel now offers the Marvel full-size built-in refrigeration line for customized solutions, with models varying in increments from 18” to 72” The patented Marvel Power Module cooling system prevents the freezer from warming during the automatic defrost cycle, which reduces freezer burn and the melting and refreezing of frozen vegetables. FreshFlo stainless steel shelves have a perforated design to facilitate cold air flow for even temperature.

 

No. 19 Unique Wine Storage

The Wall Series 9 Bottle Wall Mounted Rack from VintageView Wine Storage is a wall-mounted wine storage unit that provides unique storage and display of wine bottles. The rack is available in a wide variety of standard finishes – Satin Black, Platinum Series Brushed Nickel, Black Pearl and Chrome, as well as custom finishes of Copper or Brass. The wine racks are easy to install and can be modified to fit any size space, notes the firm.

 

No. 20 Infrared Door Sensor

The Infrared Door Sensor from Outwater Plastics Industries automatically turns lights on and off by opening and closing the cabinet door, drawer or closet to which it has been mounted. The silver gray door sensor can either be surface or recess mounted to accommodate a variety of installations.

 

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