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The Return of Wood Minimalism

According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, 67% of kitchen cabinets installed in America were white-painted. The ubiquity of these cabinets are due to their ability to appear clean and reflect light. “White cabinets are brighter and more cheerful – coveted attributes in cities such as New York, where kitchen often face courtyards and lack natural light,” said Manhattan-based designer Elissa Cullman, whose clients favor the look. The signature white cabinet door also has a huge selection of pre-finished designs, giving budget-conscious shoppers a greater choice.

walnut wood

The other trend making waves in the custom millwork and design industry is streamlined wood cabinetry. Modern wood finishes are increasingly being used as a “warmer” alternative to the sleek modern finishes of glass or laminate. Cabinet designs using wood varieties such as oak, walnut, and larch have made a comeback in modern design. “While white kitchens have always been most popular, we’ve seen a gravitation toward wood tones,” said Amy Biller, PR and advertising coordinator of Snaidero USA.

How you want to achieve your modern wood design is a reflection of your taste and how much you are willing to spend. Do you want real wood or laminate? Do you want a fully custom kitchen, or can you compromise and get pre-finished cabinets from IKEA? A happy medium decision can be to work with a certified kitchen designer who can help you select modern, built-to-order designs.

An often used alternative to veneer is wood-effect laminate – resin-coated, digitally printed paper backed by a textured chipboard substrate. Janine Flamer, VP of marketing for Poggenpohl, a European manufacturer of upscale kitchen systems, noted that popularity of laminate cupboards over other options. “In the U.S. our most popular finishes are teak-inspired textured laminates,” she said. “High-quality laminate is very durable, offers a predictable grain pattern, is unaltered by UV rays and is easy to maintain, so it’s a great choice for families.”

The comeback in warm wood cabinets is due to the cultural shift towards “authenticity”. According to Mr. Barriatua of Henrybuilt, “The yearning for ‘realness’ has inspired a shift toward a more sophisticated, nuanced approach to materials,” he said. “I think people crave the simplicity of an all-white kitchen but, when pressed, it’s not so much the color they like as the sense of visual calm it conveys.” Unlike the traditional wood panels that adorned their childhood homes, modern placements of wood can surprise people with their simplicity.

Natural wood also nicely contrasts with stainless-steel and other modern appliances. Making it a great choice for customers looking for comfort as they embrace modern style. Eric Gartner of SPGArchitects remarks, “People respond viscerally to natural materials, and juxtaposing wood with high-tech equipment enhances that response.


Posted: April 25, 2016

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