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2020 Announces Winners of Global Inspiration Contest

Westwood, USA – 2020 recently announced the winners of this year’s 2020 Global Inspiration Contest for kitchen, bathroom and office designers. Interior designers across North America, the United Kingdom and France submitted their designs using 2020 applications that allow users to create visualizations using real materials and finishes from a wide selection of manufacturer catalogs.

This year’s contest was sponsored by Allied USA, Fotile America and Armony Cucine. There were nine categories that designers were encouraged to submit to, and over 445 submissions were received this year. The winners of each category were selected by an expert panel of judges, with the top three designs eligible for the Voters’ Choice prize.

The winners of the 2020 Global Inspiration Contest for 2021 are:

  • Contemporary kitchen: Laura-Lou Fortin from Christian Marcoux Cuisine et Mobilier Design, Canada – 2020 Design Live
  • Traditional kitchen: Marie-Pier Durand from Cuisine MT, Canada – 2020 Design Live
  • Contemporary bathroom: Aurore Guy from QUADRILLAGE, France – 2020 Fusion
  • Traditional bathroom: Chelsea Butler from Cabinets.com, USA – 2020 Design Live
  • Any space: Alex Legare Grondin from Dkor.A, Canada – 2020 Design Live
  • 360° panorama: David Fitton from Mill Town Kitchens & Interiors, U.K. – 2020 Fusion Live
  • Reconfigured office space: Isabel Dunklin from McDowell-Craig, U.S.A. – 2020 Visual Impression
  • Flexible office space: Kristen M. Seiner from Tech Valley Office Interiors, U.S.A. – 2020 Visual Impression
  • Educational space – Marianne Box from Hertz Furniture, U.S.A – 2020 Visual Impression
  • Voters’ Choice – Brittany Hutt from Cabinets.com, U.S.A – 2020 Design Live

2020 Marketing Director Karen Curtis is thrilled with all the submissions received this year. “Our designers are extremely talented, and our contests really showcase how their creativity and expertise combined with our software make beautiful things happen,” says Curtis. “We strive to continually improve our products so that designers can rest assured they are using the best solution on the market.”

To learn more about the 2020 Global Inspiration Contest winners, please visit the contest gallery at https://www.2020spaces.com/2020-global-inspiration-contest/gallery/.


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Business Skills Event Planned

CHICAGO – SEN Design Group, a kitchen and bath industry buying group and business education resource, is accepting registrations for its Business School, to be held in-person at theMart (formerly known as Merchandise Mart) in Chicago. The four-day event – scheduled for July 12-15 and sponsored by Custom Wood Products – empowers business owners and executives in the kitchen and bath industry with the right tools to grow their businesses, according to SEN.

“The Business School is the kitchen and bath executives’ opportunity to move the needle in their organizations. It’s a truly transformational, poignant program that brings industry executives to the next level,” said Dan Luck, SEN Design Group’s senior v.p. “The program covers critical topics to maximize returns, master financials, leverage marketing strategies, improve personnel relations and implement proven methods to quickly and profitably grow kitchen and bath businesses.”

Participants will develop strong strategic planning skills and learn how to manage the business financials, build a successful commission system, learn how to forecast sales, create an effective pricing formula, increase profits, build a powerful sales team, win bank financing requests, develop a three-year budget and more.

But a successful business cannot rely solely on financial and business skills. Kitchen and bath business owners must also advance their personnel management skills, which is why the Business School includes a module dedicated to helping participants motivate and lead employees effectively.

The third day of the intensive program will focus on how to leverage marketing strategies to grow the business. This module will cover strategies to stand apart from the competition, the importance of creating a marketing plan, how to effectively use customer relationship management (CRM) tools, how to implement digital marketing campaigns and creative data-driven analytics to generate more leads.

Visit here to see the Executive Business School program and email Skyler Ille to register for the event. The cost to participate is free for SEN Design Group members and $1,195 for non-members; $995 Early Bird registration by June 30th, 2021.

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Sharp Gain in Cabinet, Vanity Sales Reported Through April

WASHINGTON, DC — Major domestic kitchen cabinet and vanity manufacturers continued to post strong sales gains through April of 2021, according to the latest in a series of “Trend of Business Surveys” conducted by the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association.

The KCMA’s latest survey reflected a year-to-date sales increase of 18.8% through April, when compared to the same four-month period last year. Custom cabinet sales for the same time span are up 22.8% over last year, while semi-custom cabinet sales rose 22.7%, and stock cabinet sales gained 15.4%, the Reston, VA-based KCMA said.

Participating cabinet manufacturers reported an increase in overall cabinet sales of 46.8% for April compared to the same month in 2020. Custom cabinet sales for the month were up 65.8%, semi-custom cabinet sales rose 49.3%, and stock cabinet sales gained 41.8%, the KCMA said.

“The numbers skew high as they reflect the recovery from the height of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown,” a KCMA spokesman said.

Survey participants include stock, semi-custom and custom companies whose combined sales represent approximately 75% of the U.S. kitchen cabinet market, according to the KCMA.


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Walker Zanger, Opustone Acquired by Holding Company

MIAMI, FL — Mosaic Companies LLC, a major holding company for businesses in specialty wall, mosaic and natural slabs, has announced the acquisitions of Walker Zanger and Opustone Stone and Tile Concepts, a leading pair of distributors of luxury natural and engineered stone slabs and tiles for the North American market. Terms of the acquisitions were not disclosed.

Mosaic is a partnership between Albert Claramonte, the founder of Surfaces Southeast, a leading manufacturer and distributor of specialty wall and mosaic coverings to the home center and specialty retail markets, and The Baupost Group, a leading Boston-based investment manager.

“With the acquisitions of Walker Zanger and Opustone, we are bringing together industry expertise and leading luxury brands to support our strategy of growth and diversification across product categories including specialty and mosaic tiles, floor tiles and slabs, as well as our key channels including retailers, distribution and luxury showrooms,” said Mosaic CEO Glen Morrison.

The 65-year-old Walker Zanger, headquartered in Los Angeles, is a leading designer of luxury tile and stone surfaces aimed at residential and commercial architects, designers, home builders and contractors across the U.S. Founded in 2001, The Miami-based Opustone Stone and Tile

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Wren Kitchens Opens Long Island Showroom

Europe’s kitchen retail specialist Wren Kitchens has launched its third U.S. showroom, this one located in Levittown, NY, bringing its total number of branches to 108 across the U.S. and the U.K.

The kitchen remodeler opened the biggest ever kitchen showroom in Milford, CT last November and its expansion plans will continue with the opening of showrooms in Selden, NY and Lawrenceville, NJ in the coming months.

The brand-new Levittown showroom at 2993 Hempstead Turnpike has created a significant jobs boost to the local area, with 30 new roles in retail. In addition to this, it’s created a further 30 jobs across manufacturing and logistics at its state-of-the-art headquarters in Wilkes-Barre, PA, where all Wren kitchens are made to order for its U.S. customers.

All under one roof, the new 19,500-sq.-ft. showroom has 61 full-sized kitchens on display, as well as various cabinet styles, colors, appliances, storage solutions, countertops, sinks, faucets, accessories and much more.

“The state-of-the-art showroom is a one-stop shop for everything that kitchen remodelers need to transform their kitchen space,” notes James Langdon, Wren Kitchens Levittown design manager. “We pride ourselves in offering quality luxury kitchens at affordable prices, and all of our kitchens are designed and made by us in the USA.”

At the heart of the showroom are two virtual reality studios where customers can use VR headsets to view their kitchen in 3D. It also encompasses two dedicated interior design suites that are free to use for local designers and architects to work with clients. Sessions can be booked by calling or visiting the showroom.

There are 16 design desks where customers work with expert designers to create their dream kitchen. They have L-shaped sofas and a large screen for customers to watch their dream kitchens come to life in 3D.

A child-safe kitchen is on display at the showroom, and it features design tips to keep children safe, such as door safety catches and locks, appliances located out of reach, cool-to-touch induction hobs and storage ideas for cleaning products.

Wren has invested $15.4 million in its 252,000-sq.-ft. facility in Wilkes-Barre, PA, and is transforming its onsite headquarters to provide support for showrooms across the East coast. Wren has also invested in its own fleet of trucks for delivery across the country.

All of Wren’s showrooms are pet and child friendly with play zones, baby changing facilities, a stroller park and a relaxing coffee area.


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Lowe’s, AARP Collaborate on Aging-in-Place Initiative

MOORESVILLE, NC — Lowe’s, the major nationwide chain of home-improvement stores, has announced a multi-year commitment to become “the leading retail destination for aging-in-place and life-change solutions.”

The launch of Lowe’s Livable Home “will offer expertise, services and affordable products, with a range of styles and budgets to meet any ability by creating a one-stop destination for universal design options,” Lowe’s officials said, adding that the Mooresville, NC-based company has developed a unique online and in-store collaboration in customer education with AARP.

“Nearly every family in America at some point faces the important and often intimidating responsibility of preparing a home for life’s changes,” said Marvin Ellison, Lowe’s chairman and CEO. “Lowe’s Livable Home is uniquely positioned to help address customers’ desire for a one-stop destination with trusted resources and affordable solutions they need throughout every step of the journey.”

According to AARP, less than 1% of U.S. homes have particular features needed to support aging in the home, while 77% of people aged 50 years and older would like to stay in their current home as long as possible. In addition, eight in 10 adults aged 50 years or older want to stay where they live, but many lack the expertise or resources to adapt their home.

By visiting Lowes.com/LivableHome visitors can access a virtual library of articles and videos that will be updated regularly. AARP will help create educational online content on the site, focusing on taking age-friendly design action, Lowe’s officials said, adding that AARP will also assist in the training of Lowe’s associates.

In-store enhancements are currently underway in nearly Lowe’s 500 stores, the company said.

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Survey Spotlights Priorities of Homebuyers

SANTA CLARA, CA — With life returning to normal as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, prospective homebuyers have developed a specific set of priorities when it comes to the products and design features they want in their next house.

That is the key conclusion of a new national survey conducted by Realtor.com. The recent online poll involved more than 1,200 adults over the age of 18 who plan to purchase a home within the next 12 months, according to Realtor.com, which is operated by publicly traded News Corp under a license from the National Association of Realtors.

“The COVID pandemic ushered in a new way of thinking about what ‘home’ means, and that is influencing much of what today’s home shoppers are looking for,” said George Ratiu, senior economist for Realtor.com, which reported that the desire for additional space was the top reason driving home shoppers’ decisions to purchase a new home in the coming year. Survey responses also indicate buyers are looking for more flexibility in their home space and affordability in exchange for a shorter commute, the new realities of a post-COVID world, Ratiu said.

“Garages, large backyards and space for pets always rank high on buyers’ wish lists, but those features have grown in importance,” he said. “The pandemic has elevated our relationship with family, as well as the need for our home to serve multiple purposes, especially the ability to work remotely. As a result, we’re placing a premium on the need to accommodate extended family, and features like a home office and broadband internet.”

When asked which home features have become a priority as a result of the pandemic, a quiet location (28%), an updated kitchen (25%) and garage and large backyard (24% each) topped the list. Outdoor living area (20%), space for pets (18%), updated bathrooms (19%), home office and broadband internet capabilities (17% each) and open floor plan (16%) rounded out the top 10 pandemic-induced most desired home features (see graph, left).

Sixty-five percent of respondents indicated that they are considering extended family when they shop for a home, with nearly a quarter stating that they are planning to buy near family members, Realtor.com reported. One-fifth of those surveyed said they will have extended family living with them full time, while 30% said their new home would need to accommodate extended family staying with them part time or visiting.

Decreasing in importance from prior surveys was the need for a short commute time and a home with smaller square footage. For example, only 9% of those polled indicated a short commute time was a priority, and only 4% said they are looking for smaller square footage. This was down from 11% and 8%, respectively, prior to the pandemic. ▪

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Design Firm Is In It All The Way

Salt Lake City, UT — Even before her 30-year-and-counting career in interior design, Kaye Christiansen Englert, FASID, NCIDQ, CAPS, “always loved art, design and the creative process.” She began her career in architectural firms and interior design studios, cutting her teeth as a designer and space planner, before she struck out on her own to found her own firm with her husband and business partner, Robert Englert, in 1987. Known first as Christiansen Englert Design Associates, the firm later incorporated as Design Plus Inc. in 1996.

“We chose the name Design Plus to demonstrate our commitment to seeing each project from the design concept through completion of construction and installation – down to every last detail,” Englert shares. “In our experience, controlling the quality of the implementation is the only way to guarantee your vision becomes reality.”

This bath features a large shower with two rain showerheads and hand-held shower, in a natural aqua quartzite stone and sliced stone pebble shower floor. A freestanding tub placed in front of a see-through fireplace creates a peaceful space.

Education and elevation

Englert is a firm believer in “advancing the profession of interior design through education, experience, examination and licensing.” Accordingly, Englert holds not only a BFA in Interior Design, but also an NCIDQ certification and CAPS certification. She is a professional member and Fellow of the American Society of Interior Designers (FASID) and was elected to the ASID College of Fellows in 2018.

She is also a committed leader in the industry, serving as the ASID Intermountain Chapter Government Affairs Chair and has served as Intermountain Chapter President, among other positions. She is a co-founder of IDEAL for Utah (Interior Design Education and Legislation) and “initiated and was instrumental in the passage of SB116, Certification for Interior Designers, which passed unanimously and was signed into law in 2016 and recognizes interior designers under the technical definition of Design Professionals – advancing the interior design industry.”

Englert’s client purchased this home for the view only, so the home itself left much to be desired. The team removed the flat ceiling above the kitchen to allow for one continuous ceiling uniting the kitchen with the great room. The high ceiling allowed for a creative lighting solution.

If You Want Something Done Right…

“Kitchens and baths are the most important spaces to design correctly, as everything has such permanence in comparison to other living spaces within the home,” Englert says. “Kitchens and baths are primarily all built-in and fixed in place, including cabinetry, plumbing, lighting, appliances, countertops, tile – designed to the square inch not the square foot as in other spaces in the home.”

She adds, “The impact of every detail of the design and space planning is so important to the wellbeing of our clients as we have all come to realize to a greater extent, this past year and a half, as we spent the majority of our time indoors. The spaces we design are impactful and must uplift, enlighten, support and meet the needs of our clients.”

With this permanence and the necessity of careful attention to detail in mind, Englert’s firm manages projects carefully from start to finish. “More is stored [in the kitchen] in less square footage than in other spaces in the home – the design is intentional – every decision, every location with a specific purpose, right down to preference of spice drawer or knife block drawer adjacent to the range top, for example.” Additionally, “baths do double duty – they are our retreats – for renewal, rejuvenation, for peaceful private time, and in contrast must always function like a well-oiled machine as we rush to get ready and out the door in the morning.”

Englert’s firm provides a one-stop shop to ensure the smooth completion of all projects. “We provide interior design and space planning, lighting design, selection of all colors and finishes, as well as custom elements. We create all drawings and specifications required including floor plans, reflected ceiling plans, elevations and details for every project for our clients’ review and approval, for permits, for all contractors and trades so everyone literally will be on the same pages – the foundation of a successful project.

“We take projects from initial design concepts to completed installation for continuity and to maintain the integrity of the design. As a result, we have happy clients who love their new environments,” she adds. ▪

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Efficient & Elegant

As kitchen design evolves and changes, so does its accompanying storage capabilities. While the availability of modern cabinet accessories and hardware provides greater organization and access to contents, those gains can be offset by homeowners’ wishes for a cleaner, less-cluttered aesthetic combined with purchasing habits that often mean buying in bulk. In the end, storage capacity within the kitchen sometimes just can’t keep up with demand.

To accommodate, many designers turn to efficient – and sometimes elaborate – walk-in pantries and even time-honored, yet updated, butler’s pantries.

Alessia Zanchi Loffredo carved out some space from her clients’ garage to create this new walk-in pantry, which incorporates the same marble and limestone checkered floor seen in the kitchen, along with the same cabinetry, hardware and countertops. The swinging doors, which are stained the same color as the floating shelves in the kitchen, are the star of the show.
Photos: Ryan MacDonald Photography

As Alessia Zanchi Loffredo points out, the pantry’s role has changed because the kitchen’s function has changed.

“People want their kitchens to be functional, but they also want them to be places where they can show some personality and highlight architectural features that set the tone for the rest of their home,” says the designer/principal of reDesign Home, who, with her business partner Sarah Coscarelli, transforms clients’ homes in the Chicago and Detroit metropolitan areas. “They don’t want clutter or small appliances sitting on the counter, and they don’t want a lot of upper cabinets.

“They are still in the kitchen prepping and cooking food for family and guests,” she continues, “but they also want to entertain. The kitchen has become a different space to live in, so the pantry is now getting a lot more attention because you still need a place to put all of your things.”

Claire Teunissen, designer, Studio M Kitchen & Bath, in Plymouth, MN, agrees. “Clients are desiring more storage and prep areas off the main kitchen,” she states. “Sometimes those decisions are based on space and sometimes they are made to conceal the preparation and mess that come with cooking and entertaining. Pantries can also relieve congestion in a busy kitchen with large families or gatherings.”

Jason Rolstone, designer, Thomas and Birch Kitchen and Bath Boutique, in Victoria, BC, typically designs modern and contemporary kitchens with a clean, sparse aesthetic, which often means removing small appliances and other items from the countertop…and into some type of storage.

“We definitely see more pantries and hidden storage,” he emphasizes. “In general, people have more stuff…more specialty items, appliances, etc. We have better ways to hide them with cabinet gadgets like lazy Susans, which have become much more sophisticated, and appliance garages that definitely look a lot better than they used to, but they all take up room. That’s when the pantry becomes handy.”

Ryan La Haie, principal, 42° Architecture + Design, in Grand Rapids, MI, finds that pantries are becoming the real workhorses of the kitchen. “I think a lot of their popularity stems from people who like having guests and visitors, but don’t like the mess,” he explains. “With a pantry, they can shut the door and address the mess later. And, people are buying larger quantities of things – in part to get better deals, but also because of events like the pandemic and a wavering economy – so they need more storage so it can all be organized. What do you do with seven bottles of ketchup?!”

“Storage is huge today,” adds Nancy Henry, interior designer, DDK Kitchen Design Group, in Glenview and Wilmette, IL. “People no longer want to keep things in their basements. I hear from so many who tell me their wedding presents are still down there, and they haven’t looked at them in years. I tell them it’s time to move them upstairs!”

Open shelves are one of Claire Teunissen’s favorite elements in this walk-in pantry; they display the family’s white dishes, baking essentials and fixings for entertaining.

It starts with open shelves

Nearly every pantry design starts with open shelves, in large part because of their ability to provide easy visual and physical access to items. They are one of Teunissen’s favorite elements in a walk-in pantry she designed as part of a recent transformation that was made to a 100-year-old home in collaboration with Black Dog Homes.

“We remodeled the farmhouse to give it a fresh new look while keeping some of the original history,” she explains. “The pantry, which includes open shelves that display the family’s white dishes, baking essentials and fixings for spur-of-the-moment entertaining, acts as a prep area and place to keep dishes – and messes – when guests are over. I’m also partial to all of the drawers, especially the deep ones, because they offer the ideal space to keep items organized. Since they can be pulled out all the way, you can see everything inside so nothing gets lost in the back of a dark shelf or corner.”

La Haie often combines shelves with cabinetry as well, creating a kitchen-esque visual.

“More shallow shelves will be on the top, and deeper shelves and cabinetry will be on the bottom,” he explains.

Henry and Loffredo both mention the importance of shallow shelves…“no deeper than 15″, and more like a standard 12″, so items don’t get lost,” says Henry. “Shallow shelves also make it easier to see everything and grab what you need. It’s important to be able to view everything, so that means no boxes or cases either.”

Loffredo usually stacks shallow shelves from floor to ceiling for maximum capacity. Typically, they are no more than 12″ deep and are ideal to store shelf-stable food items and small appliances.

“That’s deep enough to allow for two rows of canned goods,” she says. “Shallow shelves provide a visual that allows you to walk into a space and know exactly what you have so items don’t get lost or forgotten. By knowing what you have, you can also be more efficient when grocery shopping. You can walk into the pantry, glance at the shelves and write down anything that is missing. That can help tremendously for someone who works all day. They can have everything on hand and easily put together a meal at night, rather than having to look for everything.”

If her clients want to store larger items, such as pots/pans or large bowls, she’ll divide the pantry to accommodate deeper shelves or maybe add an armoire to conceal ‘messy’ items. “Pantry items aren’t always pretty,” she adds.

A divided layout is how she designed her own kitchen’s pantry, which was inspired by her grandmother’s pantry in Rome.

“She had the tiniest pantry and kitchen I had ever seen,” she says. “Within it she had a table that was used as a countertop for prepping food, as well as for us to have a meal. There was also a door that led to a tiny, tiny pantry space. But, in that pantry you could find anything. It was so helpful for her because she could store so much.”

Alessia Zanchi Loffredo’s own kitchen pantry was inspired by her grandmother’s pantry in Rome and includes one wall of 12″-deep shelves that run floor to ceiling and an opposite wall with 20″-deep shelves for larger items.
Photo: Ryan MacDonald Photography

Loffredo’s pantry includes one wall of 12″-deep shelves that run floor to ceiling. Pantry staples are stored in glass jars or open baskets for quick visual identification and small appliances are located on the lower shelves. On the opposite wall, she deepened the shelves to 20″ for larger items. Painting the shelves a deep green hue, which is the designer’s favorite color, contrasts and complements the black cabinetry in her kitchen. Tiling the walls, including those behind the shelves, eases cleanup from spills and sticky children’s handprints.

One of her favorite pantry design elements is the glass entry doors, which she admits may be counterintuitive for some people.

“I love the visual of the shelves,” she says. “To me, it’s very calming and soothing when everything is lined up.”

Open shelves are also a must-have for many of Rolstone’s clients. If possible, he’ll tuck them into an area of the pantry that isn’t visible from the entry door to maintain a sleek design vibe.

“Open shelving is definitely a must,” he says. “But generally, I don’t like those shelves to be seen.”

Such was the case for one recent kitchen pantry where a few open shelves are set atop banks of drawers, with the bulk of the open shelves tucked around the corner so they are hidden from the entry door.

In this pantry, designed by Jason Rolstone, a few open shelves are set atop banks of drawers with the bulk of the open shelves tucked around the corner so they
are hidden from the entry door, and a countertop provides a place to mix tea from leaves stored in glass jars on the open shelves above.
Photos: Dasha Armstrong

He also included a countertop, another ‘must-have’ for many of his clients. For this homeowner, it provides a perfect place to mix tea from leaves stored in glass jars on the open shelves above. Others use their pantry countertops for mixing up a batch of cookies or for staging food-filled platters and desserts while entertaining. Another popular countertop use is for storing the microwave.

“A pantry is the number one location for the microwave,” Rolstone indicates. “No one wants to see it in the kitchen. It’s the same for toaster ovens. From a design perspective, if these small appliances can be located in a room other than the kitchen, that’s fantastic.”

Rolstone also finds that pantries are a great place for locating recycling bins.

“Garbage and compost bins typically go under the sink in the kitchen,” he says. “But here we need three boxes for recycling paper, glass and plastics. Oftentimes these bins end up in a pantry.”

Upping the ante

While pantries can be relatively straightforward with a focus on maximizing storage via open shelves, countertops and cabinetry, in some cases they essentially become secondary kitchens, complete with full-size sinks (with garbage disposals), dishwashers, refrigerators (both full-size and undercounter units), ovens and even warming drawers. Lighting, both natural and task, and electrical outlets for powering the appliances are often included as well.

“When a kitchen is small, the pantry is a great place to locate a set of double ovens or even a microwave,” says Teunissen, adding that her clients also use their pantries to store infrequently used items such as sous-vide machines, instant pots, fine china and large platters. “The pantry is also a great place for a built-in coffee station or even a wet bar.”

In addition to appliances such as coffeemakers, dishwashers and microwaves, La Haie often expands on the pantry concept to include home management and bar/liquor functions.

“It’s expensive to build so we try to make spaces flexible and adaptable,” he says. “That’s the nice thing about a pantry…you can utilize two or three functions, without taking two to three times the space to do that.”

For example, he’ll often include a pantry behind a range/ventilation hood, with openings on each side so the homeowner can easily circulate throughout the space. If possible, he’ll also locate it within close proximity to a garage to save steps when unloading groceries from a vehicle. Within the pantry, he’ll create a c-shaped layout with pantry functions located in the middle. To the left and right, he’ll include a home management area with a desk and chair on one end of the ‘c’ and a liquor/wet bar with beverage refrigerator, ice maker, etc. on the other.

Another version of a hybrid pantry/multi-functional space was created for a client who wanted a pantry combined with her mud room and laundry room. It includes a second refrigerator and tall pantry cabinets on one side and mud room functions on the opposite side. An island for crafting is centrally located while a washer, dryer and sink round out the room.

Save or splurge

To maintain continuity, designers oftentimes use the same materials in a pantry that are used in the kitchen. However, depending on a client’s budget, the pantry can be a great place to either save funds or showcase a bit of extravagance.

“Generally, I try to use the same materials as in the kitchen so there is some consistency,” says Rolstone. “However, they don’t always have to be the same, especially if there is a door between the rooms, or if they aren’t next to each other. For example, if we use marble or granite as a countertop in the kitchen, we could use quartz, or even laminate, in the pantry. Or, if the kitchen is all walnut, we can do simpler, less expensive cabinetry in the pantry, but add an element of walnut to tie everything together.”

La Haie agrees, adding, “Pantries are becoming prettier than they used to be…more like a kitchen rather than a closet. However, a lot of times, in pantries we’ll step down a level in cabinetry.”

A pantry can also be a great place to experiment with color, he continues.

“I find that people tend to be very creative with these spaces,” he says. “While they may not be so daring to include orange or red in their kitchen, they may be willing to have a red microwave or mixer in their pantry. I do tend to see more pops of color in a pantry.”

Pantries can also be a place to splurge.

“I like to be consistent with the design,” says Loffredo. “However, I also like to incorporate a few elements that maybe we can’t use in the kitchen because of their price point. In some cases, it’s possible to splurge in a pantry because it’s a small space. It’s similar to a powder room where a homeowner will splurge on a wall covering, tile, countertop or custom cabinet. It’s fun to designate a ‘wow’ factor in a pantry as a way to bring in some new and fresh style into a space. Pantries don’t have to be boring!”

Henry also sees pantries as a place where design elements and materials can take center stage. Such was the case for a recent butler’s pantry renovation that went from humdrum to highly stylized. Completely open and sited traditionally between the kitchen and dining room, she incorporated several elements from the kitchen such as the custom gray cabinetry that includes a custom toe kick and paneled beverage refrigerator as well as a framed unit that allows visual access to its contents. A stunning quartzite countertop – accented with an undermount hammered stainless steel sink that is a reclaimed relic from the original design – features a 6 cm mitered edge to mimic the kitchen island and give it greater prominence.

Completely open and situated traditionally between the kitchen and dining room, Nancy Henry incorporated several elements from the kitchen such as the custom gray cabinetry and quartzite and elevated the pantry’s focal-point status with the inclusion of a highly reflective, mirrored backsplash.
Photos: Michael Kaskel

To further enhance the pantry’s focal-point status, Henry included a highly reflective, mirrored backsplash. Framing the section between the upper and lower cabinets gives it a finished look. Extending it as the backing for the upper cabinets intensifies the ‘bling’ since the mirror is visible through the mullion glass doors. In-cabinet lighting enhances the shine.

“We included the mirror because it reflects the beautiful backyard,” she says. “It’s really quite lovely.”

Henry also included a mirrored backsplash in another recent butler’s pantry renovation where the client wanted to make the space feel larger and highlight it as a showstopper.

“She does a lot of entertaining and she wanted to encourage people to come in and get a drink,” she concludes. ▪

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Cabinets Deliver Clever Storage and Style

What are the hot trends in cabinetry this season? Where is it being used in new ways? What materials and finishes are you specifying? What hardware, features, configurations and technology are trending among your clients and in your region? Do you anticipate these trends continuing into the new year? Inquiring minds want to know! So here are the latest takes from across the country and industry:

  • National homebuilder Taylor Morrison’s National Design Director Lee Crowder;
  • Marine Sargsyan, with online home products giant Houzz.com;
  • National Kitchen & Bath Association’s Pamela McNally;
  • Philadelphia area designer Liz Walton;
  • Designer Shannon Ggem in Los Angeles;
  • Minneapolis-based designer Lisa Peck.


It’s no secret that our industry is booming, with strong consumer demand and ongoing shortages of skilled labor and products. Nonetheless, homeowners are still seeking to improve their spaces. Despite the challenges, everyone is surging forward and cabinetry has a significant slice of that activity.

Eye-popping color and outdoor cabinetry are both trending.
Photo: Shannon Ggem, Ggem Design // Mike P. Kelley (Photographer)

“Incorporating storage was an important aspect of homeowner’s renovation activities in 2020,” Sargsyan reports. Houzz’s 2021 study found that nearly one in five homeowners cited inadequate storage for enlarging their kitchens, she notes, and “More than half of all kitchen renovations included new cabinetry (57 percent).” Smaller kitchens included even a higher percent of cabinetry replacement (63 percent).

“Storage is one of the top three areas of consumer interest,” McNally agrees, noting that, “Reducing clutter, better organization, easy access all are driving this shift.” Some of this growth can definitely be attributed to the pandemic, especially as homeowners sought to reduce their shopping trips.

Hot Spots: “The pantry is becoming a very trendy place in the home to not only organize but maximize your storage, especially as bulk buying became more popular this past year,” declares Crowder. She notes the popularity of food storage organization. “It obviously starts with a great pantry.” Houzz also saw a surge in pantry upgrades, with nearly half of study respondents improving their cabinetry, an increase over 2020.

Flex rooms are definitely trending with new cabinetry needs. This includes laundry, pet and craft spaces. They’re also popular spots for bulk buying storage to enhance pantry capacity.

Home offices, garages and outdoor spaces have become hot spots for new cabinetry designs, too, because of the pandemic. Working from home, exercising, storing overflow items and escaping safely outdoors are all COVID-19-driven accelerations. “Many of our floor plans offer a mud locker or drop zone built in,” Crowder observes, “The more time you spend at home, you realize how important having a built-in space for those daily essential items at the entrance (usually from the garage) gives you peace of mind and [helps] everyone find what they need when it’s time to leave the house.”

Technology Trends: Smart home features are making their way into cabinetry as well. “Kitchens, baths and entire residential environments have been embracing fully integrated technology, and storage is a key area,” McNally says. The goals include accessibility, better visibility and security, the NKBA executive observes. “Smart home sensors help facilitate leak detection, temperature and lighting controls and are being designed into pantry areas, lower cabinets, shower enclosures, under sink drawers and under cabinets in kitchens. LED lighting is now a standard in virtually all cabinetry installs,” she reports, and the designers agree. Chargers are also being built into cabinetry to reduce clutter.


The heart of the home has definitely gotten some transplant improvements. With pantries taking on more importance, sometimes beyond the kitchen, these areas are being freed up to serve more comfort roles.

Specialized Zones: NKBA’s study sees separate spaces for wine and coffee usage. Houzz sees dedicated areas for baking, snacks and beverages and homework. Among the specialty spots, pantries and wine bar storage have the greatest resonance in NKBA’s study. Kitchens are catering to personal preference and specialized zoning.

“We love to include coffee and wine stations with all the associated storage laid out for clients, like a mug drawer and fridge drawer for cream if they use it, or a pod drawer and a nearby wine fridge for bottles not yet being dispensed by the wine dispenser,” shares designer Ggem. Peck is seeing smoothie stations become a trend, along with coffee and beverage centers, and Walton says just about all of her kitchen projects have coffee/breakfast bars.

Comfort zones like wine and coffee centers are trending.
Photo: Eolo Design / NKBA

Configurations: “Our clients no longer want upper cabinets, preferring instead deep drawers with peg systems for plate and glass storage,” Ggem notes. Open shelves are still popular but used sparingly, as homeowners realize the dusting required to keep their contents clean, Walton points out. Peck sees narrow pullouts, as well as the general lack of wall cabinets and well-equipped bases and pantries. NKBA’s study cites large pull-out drawers with dividers.

Peck also sees an increase in secondary kitchen spaces, both as “back areas” for cleaning and storage, and auxiliary for older relatives to live independently with the family.

Styles and Finishes: Houzz has Shaker as the most popular style (57 percent), flat panel/slab at 21 percent and raised panel at 17 percent. In terms of finishes for the kitchen, Walton declares, “Wood tones are coming back in a big way! We are seeing a lot of warm walnut islands paired with soft white perimeter cabinets. Painted wood cabinets especially in navy or a powdery blue are very popular and pair well with white and warm wood tones.”

“Self-expression through color in cabinetry is definitely a trend,” Peck says. “We have done orange, yellow, blue and teal cabinetry in the spirit of this trend. We are also seeing a return to mixing painted cabinetry with wood. Rift cut white oak is a strong contender here in the Midwest. In modern kitchens we are seeing the use of acrylic slab door panels in gloss and ultra-matte finishes,” she adds.

Across the country, L.A. designer Ggem is seeing matte finishes and wood, including textured, fluted panels trending in materials. Taylor Morrison’s Crowder is seeing earthy hues along with warm neutrals and NKBA finds ash and rift cut oak solids and veneers trending, along with sophisticated high-pressure laminates.

One final note on finishes: “Wellness is huge in the kitchen conversation. Toxins and off gassing are no longer tolerated, and all clients inquire,” proclaims Ggem.


The bathroom has also gotten enhancements. “Just like in kitchens, many people are having electrical outlets and charging stations built into their cabinets,” reports Taylor Morrison’s Crowder. “Another technology item popping up is cold storage,” she observes. “Adding a mini fridge into your cabinet bank allows you to store beauty items that require being cold – but they can also help keep creamers cold so you can make your coffee while getting ready in the bathroom.”

Configurations: Built-in vanities far outstripped freestanding in popularity, with floating styles trending upward, Houzz reports. “The floating vanity helps create visual space, making the vanity feel less heavy within the space,” Walton suggests.

Peck is seeing appliance garages migrate to her midwestern bathrooms, she says. They include chargers for hygiene and grooming tools and magnifying mirrors. She’s also seeing an emphasis on accessible cabinetry and nontoxic materials.

Taylor Morrison homebuyers like open shelves in their bathrooms, Crowder shares. They also want auto-opening and closing doors, outlets and charging stations.

Shaker is still a leading style trend for kitchens and bathrooms alike.
Photo: Caroline Sharpnack © Houzz

Styles and Finishes: Bathroom style trends track pretty close to kitchen, with Shaker, slab and raised panel in similar proportions. Walton sees natural wood tones like white oak and warm walnuts mixed with white or dark gray. Taylor Morrison is seeing light washed warm wood tones and textured woods in low maintenance matte finishes. The builder is also seeing painted looks, especially dark green, trending. Peck is seeing personalized colors, like teal and blues, along with rift cut woods, especially oak and walnut topping trends. Ggem sums up her clients’ preferences this way: “A minimal aesthetic is what is happening right now – slab doors, hidden pulls, quiet and clean.”


If your business is based on cabinetry manufacturing, distribution, installation or sales, this should be a strong season for you. It can also be a strong season for those who are “cabinetry adjacent,” like technology providers with a growing area of opportunity. Knowing and predicting the latest trends is essential to staying successful and a candy land full of fun and flair. ▪

Jamie Gold, CKD, CAPS, MCCWC is an author, wellness design consultant and industry speaker. Her third book, Wellness by Design (Simon & Schuster), published September 2020. You can learn more about her Wellness Market presentations, books, Wellness Wednesdays Clubhouse conversations and consulting services at jamiegold.net.

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