See the appliances, fixtures and features that stood out amid a flurry of introductions timed to the KBIS trade show
by Mitchell Parker
Technical problems with a website server disrupted the exhibitor portion of the all-virtual 2021 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, preventing access to the Feb. 9-12 event’s virtual booths set up by companies showcasing new products to the trade. Organizers for KBIS and the concurrent International Builders’ Show, which experienced the same outage, are working on refunding attendees and exhibitors, analyzing what went wrong and looking at possibly relaunching the virtual booths.
Nevertheless, many companies in the home design and remodeling industry moved forward with their new product announcements. We spoke with many of the top exhibitors and dug into hundreds of photos to see the new products, features, finishes, colors and styles on the horizon in kitchen design this year. Here are several kitchen trends that stood out. Stay tuned in the coming days for more KBIS/IBS trends in kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms.
Engineered Countertops and Backsplashes
1. Light-colored marble looks. At the beginning of 2020, many engineered-surface companies launched collections featuring dark colors. Then the pandemic hit and the mood shifted. A desire for light, uplifting colors that give a sense of cleanliness and optimism took hold. So throughout 2021, you’ll see many new collections centered on warm, welcoming whites, with marble looks dominating the styles.
Caesarstone debuted three white-based styles of engineered quartz during KBIS for its new Whitelight collection, available in March. The collection also includes four previously released light colors. You’ll see more of a focus on creamy whites in matte finishes rather than crisp whites in polished looks, and that was intentional. “We didn’t want it to be super sterile or clinical or look like a lab,” says Elizabeth Margles, vice president of marketing for Caesarstone North America.
Here, Aterra Blanca features a warm white background with subtle, almost translucent veining.
Arabetto, also from Caesarstone’s new Whitelight collection, mimics the look of Arabesco marble with a vivid white background and large, busy graphic veining.
Corian, which makes solid-surface products, debuted several light colors in its new Endura collection, including Ancient Marble, shown here.
2. Concrete and other worn looks. Concrete-look and other worn, nonprecious styles showed up frequently in new engineered-surface collections.
Here, Alabaster Cement from Corian’s Endura collection forms a countertop with waterfall edge on a narrow island.
Silestone’s new engineered-quartz collection, named Loft, takes inspiration from industrial-style dwellings in cities such as New York, Detroit, London and Barcelona, Spain. The collection features several concrete-look styles, including Seaport, shown here in the countertops, backsplash and island cladding.
3. Touchless. More than ever, people are aware of how easily hands spread germs and bacteria from surface to surface. This is especially true in the kitchen, where raw meat is handled. In response, touchless-faucet technology is quickly becoming the norm. Many faucet manufacturers are making touchless tech a standard option in all new lines, and some are making it available in older styles as well.
Kohler’s new Rift collection, shown here, features an upgraded model equipped with voice-activated Kohler Konnect, allowing a user to sync the faucet with an Amazon Alexa, Google Home or Apple HomeKit device. This allows you to control the faucet with voice commands.
Azure, shown here, and Trattoria, two new sleek, modern lines from Riobel, also feature touchless technology.
The modern touchless technology also comes in more traditional styles. Moen’s Weymouth style, shown here in matte black, features U by Moen’s voice and motion technology. You can wave a hand to turn the faucet on and off, or you can program preset voice commands. For example, if you know your dog likes two cups of water at room temperature every morning, you can set that up in the Moen app, then walk up to the faucet and say, “Alexa, fill the dog bowl.” The correct amount and temperature of water will come out.
4. Two-tone finishes. During KBIS, there was a lot of talk of opposing forces of light and dark, of push and pull, and a sense of searching for harmony within division, obviously a response to the mood in the United States over the past year. That feeling was expressed in products that balance rough and smooth textures, matte and polished finishes and warm and cool tones.
For Rohl’s new Eclissi line of kitchen faucets, shown here (an extension of its bathroom faucet line launched in 2020), you can mix and match finishes for three separate components. Choose from four finishes for the spout, four finishes for the inner knob and six finishes for the outer ring portion of the knob.
Kohler’s new aptly named Tone collection offers two distinct finishes. Choose combinations of Polished Chrome, Vibrant Stainless, Matte Black and Moderne Brushed Brass. Here, a new pull-down faucet features a matte black base with a spout in brushed brass.
Many companies now offer the popular matte black and brass two-tone combination. Here, Moen’s Sinema style, with new touchless wave- and voice-activated technology, comes in a matte black finish with a brass lever. Notice the texture on the lever, which shows another popular trend we discuss more below.
The two-tone finish scheme wasn’t limited to faucets. Some appliances touted a mix of finishes. Monogram’s new professional range, shown here, features a stainless steel finish punctuated by solid brass knobs and burners.
Samsung’s new Bespoke 4-door Flex refrigerator comes with customizable front panels in eight colors and two finishes. Shown here is White Glass and Matte Black Steel.
5. Two-texture faucets. Apart from mixing finishes, many manufacturers introduced a combination of textures, balancing smooth and polished surfaces with roughed-up or wavy ones. One word you heard a lot during the show was “knurled,” in discussing faucet knobs and ends.
The new Tenerife line by Rohl, shown here, features a crosshatched texture on the lever and spout end. The pattern was inspired by crosshatching seen on palm trees in the Canary Islands.
6. Slim appliances. Many appliance manufacturers released lines intended for small homes and apartments, rental properties and empty nesters or retirees who’ve downsized and don’t need the capacity of larger family appliances.
Miele’s new G 5000 series of dishwashers offers a slim 18-inch size, shown here. It features a quick wash-and-dry option that completes the cycle in 58 minutes. It will be available in June.
Thor introduced the lean 24-inch-wide gas range shown here. It also comes in an electric version. Both will be available later this year.
Fisher & Paykel’s new 24-inch bottom-mount refrigerator and freezer offers a skinny solution.
And Samsung’s new Slim OTR (over-the-range) microwave, available in summer, offers style and function in a sleeker footprint. The appliances comes with Wi-Fi and voice connectivity.
7. Drawer appliances. Many manufacturers seem to be taking a cue from the popularity of drawers substituting for cabinets in the kitchen and are offering drawer appliances.
Fisher & Paykel has been making drawer dishwashers since 1997. Its newest version, the Series 11 shown here, features a 60-minute wash-and-dry option and comes in stainless steel or integrated panel exterior.
Signature Kitchen Suite’s new 24-inch undercounter dual-drawer refrigerator allows users to program the temperature of each drawer separately, from minus 7 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also monitor and adjust the temperatures from a smartphone app. The appliance will be available at the end of March.
Sharp’s new microwave drawer has a touchless feature that allows you to wave a hand in front to open it. The sensor detects only up and down motion so it isn’t activated when a person or pet walks by.
Sharp’s new convection microwave drawer and oven features an air fry option and has voice command technology.
Beko’s new French door refrigerator has a produce drawer with temperature and humidity control, as well as a light that simulates natural light to keep produce fresher longer.
8. Drawer and cabinet organizers. It’s getting rare these days to open a cabinet and see a basic cavity with a shelf, or a drawer that’s merely empty space. Inserts, rollouts, pullouts and dedicated dividers maximize capacity and organize everything efficiently.
Rev-a-Shelf’s new 4WTMD drawer system is intended to get a household’s junk drawer in order. The natural maple tiered insert fits standard 24-inch-wide and 22-inch-deep drawers and has pull-up trays and adjustable dividers.
Hardware Resources launched the pullout shown here. It comes in 5- and 8-inch widths and has a magnetic knife storage insert, utensil cups and other storage features. The unit is available now.
Wellborn Cabinet showcased several storage systems, including this pull-down option, which allows a user to bring items in upper cabinets down to a more reachable level. Grip the handle and pull, and the shelves swing out and down for easier access.
9. Blue. This tranquil color continues to make a strong showing in the kitchen. Blue works well in kitchens because it’s a complementary color to orange, which shows up in tones found in wood and brass, two common materials used in modern-day kitchens.
True Residential launched its new Juniper collection of refrigerators, shown here. The deep blue was inspired by Juniper berries.
Silestone, which makes engineered quartz, is owned by Cosentino, which is based in southeastern Spain on the Mediterranean coast. The company’s designers spent a lot of their lockdown time gazing at the sea, which inspired many colors in the new Sunlit Days collection, including Cala Blue, shown here.
Wellborn Cabinet debuted its Sapphire blue cabinets, shown here and available now.
10. Appliance panels. There was quite a lot of buzz around BlueStar’s new BlueStar by Design feature for ranges and refrigerators. Basically, you can send any high-resolution image, text or art to BlueStar and the company will turn it into a pattern on the appliance paneling. Wallpaper, art, wood textures, kids’ drawings, your favorite quilt — anything can be converted into paneling in about eight to 10 weeks.
Here, patterned tiles inspired the range paneling.
Cabinet-S-Top | 1977 Medina Road | Medina, OH 44256 | 330-239-3630 | www.cabinet-s-top.com
Wallpaper pattern inspired the artistic BlueStar fridge panels shown here. You can swap out the range panels, but the fridge panels are permanent. The company assumes the user has copyright approval of the image sent in. The option will be available in late spring.
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