The annual Kitchen/Bath Industry Show and Conference set up
camp in Las Vegas this year. The giant exposition, which took
place in May, hosted more than 900 exhibitors and, despite its
location, offered enough enticements of its own to keep
attendees indoors and interested for its three-day run. While
no dramatic new trends emerged, all of the established product
lines were well represented. For kitchens, that meant lots of
solid-surface and stone countertops, specialty cabinet
finishes, ingenious storage solutions, and both built-in and
"professional" stainless steel appliances. In the bathroom,
it's still all about adding luxury to the space you've got,
with vessel lavs, furniture-like vanities and accessory suites,
jetted tubs, big showerheads, warm floors, and spa showers
galore. All and all, from the utilitarian to the lavish, there
was something for everyone. Here's a quick tour of the floor's
most intriguing highlights.
Generally, the focus in cabinetry seems to be on finishes,
especially contrasting glazes that emphasize nooks and
crannies. Dark finishes are on the rise — not only darker
wood hues, but black stains and enamels. At the opposite
extreme, cabinets rendered in primary colors and bright tints
are experiencing their own little renaissance. Cherry continues
to be a popular face material, although usually as an "upscale"
option; a few manufacturers, however, have recognized an
opportunity to bring cherry to more affordable cabinetry, as
Armstrong has done with its Merrimac
Face-frame cabinets have long been the standard at
KraftMaid, but the new Venicia line
offers European-style frameless cabinetry at what the company
touts as affordable prices. In these cabinets, interiors
coordinate with face materials, setting the collection apart
from other frameless packages with more typical white melamine
interiors. A wide variety of door styles, finishes, and storage
choices make the line worth considering.
Those with chemically sensitive clients will be interested to
know that Columbia Forest Products has
announced plans to start using only urea-formaldehyde-free,
soy-protein-based adhesive in all hardwood plywood production
(see "New Glue Creates Superior Bond Without Formaldehyde,"
In the News, September, 2005). The company's new
particleboard panel product, EcoColors, offers
decorative possibilities with zero formaldehyde emissions and
an acrylic surface.
Another smart option: aluminum and stainless steel cabinet
doors and drawer fronts from Element Designs
and Lasertron. Absolutely no off-gassing,
Or, how about a novel way to maximize storage in a small
kitchen? The ever-present, never-used toekick gets down to
business with Diamond'sbase toekick
Fully concealed undermount slides have by now proven their
mettle; the latest innovation is the soft self-close.
Grass, for one, offers its Metro
Elite series slides with Airmatic shock absorption that
slows drawer momentum to a soundless close. It's a nice
Similarly, Blum'sclip-on attenuator
modifies the standard cup hinge to self-close doors silently;
it can be a simple proprietary retrofit or a complete
replacement option. Blum also showed its cool
Space Corner drawer, which makes clever use of that
pesky corner base. Upon opening, the opposing drawer faces
actually flex toward one another to clear adjacent face panels
and keep reveals uniformly narrow.
On the massive-hardware front, everyone got a big kick out of
working Reversica Design's demo installation
of the Gyre 6300 television-concealment system. On one
side, the cabinetry appears to be a handsome bookcase; flip it
around like one of those secret doors in a haunted castle and
there's a working television on display.
LG Electronics tackles countertop clutter with two new
products that combine functions: a microwave/toaster
and a microwave/coffee maker.
Lance Larkin'sBrew Express, which
brews coffee directly into a stainless steel carafe, installs
within a 2x4 stud cavity — yet another way to clear some
precious countertop space.
Apartment dwellers and others with no practical means to vent
the range hood to the outdoors may appreciate
Kobe's new recirculating filtration
hood, which delivers up to 400 cfm and uses charcoal
filtration to capture odor while directing grease and oil to a
And Sharp's handy Microwave Drawer
can be installed as a stand-alone appliance or incorporated
into its Insight Range, which also provides a glass ceramic
cooktop and a conventional or convection oven.