The Kitchen Designer

Thanks for stopping by! I'm Susan Serra, certified kitchen designer, and my mission is to take kitchen design style, function and analysis to a higher level. Here's why the kitchen has the most honored place in the home - all five senses reside in the kitchen.  Best...Susan  Contact: susan@susanserraassociates.com

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« KBIS 2008 Trends - It's a Mod Mod Mod Mod World! | Main | KBIS 2008 Sub Zero Cool! »

KBIS 2008 Kitchen Trends

ann%20sacks.jpgI touched on a few things in my glam.com post, but, before I show you more products, I want to talk a little more deeply about the trends I saw at the show. Here's what I observed...and I walked the show with a heightened awareness to just observe, put together puzzle pieces, listen, compare, look, and learn. I won't single out products here, I'll just give you my impressions. Look for examples as I show you specific products soon.


ECO-themed issues, displays, products or any combination thereof, collectively, WAS the 80,000 ton gorilla at the show. It's everywhere. It's shouted from the rooftops (I wish I had taken a shot of Sears' booth). It's the biggest marketing message of all. It's seen in the displays, in press releases, and is on all the KBIS attendees minds and in their words (at least everyone I spoke to.) I took a 1/2 day seminar on green kitchen design, so I guess it's something I'm attuned to as well. Most companies "get it" and are on board the green train, wherever it's taking us. I mean, what can be bad?


However, that said, beyond the message, in reality, it DOES look like many companies are making special efforts to embrace new technologies to make their products more energy efficient. I've seen more leds than ever as substitute lighting in various (mainstream) products compared to previously used, less efficient, lighting. Appliance companies are actively promoting increasing energy efficiency. Gas cooktops are more energy efficient. An energy efficient hood, which I do believe is the first one to be energy star rated. An effort for faucets to deliver less water out of the spout, but not sacrificing pressure. The mainstream companies are responding bigtime.


I cannot predict our economic future, but I can tell you that glamour in the kitchen is very much alive and well! Maybe, it's like having one last dance on the Titanic, who knows, but, wow, baby, many products for the kitchen are ALL DRESSED UP! To me, it's an edgier, riskier point of view that these mainstream (and smaller) companies feel comfortable "going for." Good for them. It's about time! Shine, shimmer, glass, leds, some color (not a whole lot) and you've made a statement.


SO much at the show was brown...and various shades of browns, and different browns together in whatever materials amuse. Brown metals abound still, in hardware, hoods, sinks, faucets...Brown was really the king at the show. Deep, rich, stains in wood cabinetry were absolutely the norm in most displays I observed. And, I'll tell you this...if it wasn't deep, rich browns, it was browns with white accents.


Don't listen to those who say stainless is on its way out, just because browns are everywhere. Browns are not everywhere, not in appliance finishes. In other products, yes. I hereby declare that stainless is a classic finish. Yes, I'll go out on a limb on this one, and if I'm wrong about that, well, I've been wrong once before, so my record is good. ;) 


As mentioned a bit above, technology is doing amazing things in products. It is creating beautiful patterns in tile, it is creating beautiful solid surface patterns. Yes, solid surface, thanks to fresh, new, patterns, probably as a result of enhanced technology, need to be looked at again. And, yes, I do mean Corian. It was gorgeous in some displays. But, more than that, technology is giving us so many choices in how we use our appliances to get what we WANT out of them. Technology is helping to give us time back in our lives, it's organizing one's life in the kitchen. I see more technological leaps this year than ever.


Appliance companies are stepping up to provide us with even better looking appliances. Also, appliances that cook or chill in far healthier ways than ever before. In more sizes and configurations than ever, and the continued introduction of smaller, niche, products to answer those quirky needs and desires of consumers. There are just more choices, let me say it like that!


The artisan touch was huge, in tile, big bold, patterns in hand crafted tile. Artists designed sinks, even in mainstream companies, hoods, interesting countertops, and more. The combination of matte and shine, texture and smooth, coexist and create a more personal expression. Natural materials...everywhere. If not real, then the look of nature. In cabinetry, countertops, hardware, sinks, and more...Mother Nature is surely the Queen this year!

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Reader Comments (6)

Funny you should mention Corian. I just came across a kitchen magazine from 1990! No idea why I had it, because in 1990 I was renting my first apartment, and not even dreaming of kitchens, but there it was in my pile of kitchen magazines.

I was very curious to see how those kitchens held up after 18 years, because I would love if my kitchen could hold up that long. The answer -- not so much. Only one kitchen in that entire magazine would still look okay today.

Practically every kitchen was Corian Corian everywhere. Also some laminate, of course. Only one kitchen had a granite countertop, and it wasn't a particularly pretty granite, very dead looking. Obviously, Corian was very trendy, and I remember people being very high on it because it was so functional.

Granite is very trendy too, of course, but I think granite is here to stay in a way that Corian, at least in its 1990 iteration, could not be, because granite, in addition to functioning really well, is inherently beautiful, and there is infinite variation.

When I walked through the stone yard with my KD, I could not believe how incredible some of the slabs were, and that was just in the main room. The granites in the "expensive" room, which had the rarer granites and onyx etc. took my breath away.

You think acres of granite is boring? Try acres of Corian. Ick. I'd be curious to see the new designs, because I couldn't believe how dull-looking these 1990 Corian kitchens were.

Oh, btw, I also had a 1998 magazine, from when I was doing my 1998 kitchen. It was barely noticeable that it was 10 years old. My poor mother found a light fixture she loved, and it was only when I looked for the company website in the back of the magazine and there was none that I realized the magazine was so old.

April 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJean

Hi Susan: Thanks for the updates.

I'm wondering if any of the appliance manufacturers have followed Jenn-Air's lead on bronze appliances?

Have LG, GE or Maytag joined in?


April 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterrenovating in orlando

I am so thrilled to see you say it's still OK to use stainless. I am doing a 12 foot run with espresso cabinets and want so badly to use a warm stainless for the counter top-on opposite sides of a stainless cooktop/range and on the opposite wall I want warm gray or creamy cabinets with......a rubbed very worn looking dark brown wood counter top. I have searched and searched and keep coming up with is this good to use a wood top? Our designer doesn't know this is my new thing as he wants granite on all the non espresso cabinet countertops. Gonna show him this post! Keep'em coming! I can't get enough. And 3am posting? Really Susan when do you sleep? jz

April 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjill z

Mmmmm, I love this blog!!! Just found it and if its ok I want to add your link to my blog.

April 17, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersimplygrove

I think *quality* stainless is timeless - for instance, a Viking range - but the cheapy so-called stainless appliances that has flooded the market really need to go.

April 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMary

Jean, thank you for your comments! Sometimes I don't respond right away because I want to take quality time to wrap my had around longer comments, so please understand. I'll ALWAYS check back when I have time to take it all in, like now. I never want to rush. Anyway, that was really very interesting to find these older magazines, wasn't it? Yes, I remember the corian years, mostly in the 80s. It was "modern" then! And, yes, too, there are beautiful granites, of course. I just did a kitchen where we selected two granites, one for the island and one for the perimeter. They are both beautiful, but the island granite is really something special. There is granite, and then there is granite, and often, it depends on how it is used.

Hi RIO, hmmmmm, I didn't focus on bronze appliances at the show. I don't know if I wasn't looking for them or if I just didn't see them, meaning they were not on the floor in a big way. It's not coming to mind, but maybe I'll do a little more research on that.

Jill, your kitchen sounds great!! The only thing that concerns me is your calling stainless "warm." Don't expect it to have a warm feeling! I hope the kitchen is progressing!

simplygrove, thank you! I have to check yours out too. :)

Mary, EXCELLENT POINT, right on the money!

April 23, 2008 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

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