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Form, function and style converge in contemporary kitchens

Cyndi Erickson, owner of Kitchens by Cyndi, recently ordered a bunch of new samples to showcase in her South Sioux City shop to meet a rising demand for sleek designs, clean lines and simple styling.

“During the last six months, quite a few people want a modern, contemporary look,” Erickson said.

From a design standpoint, consumers will be cleaning up their kitchens this year, according to a trend survey released by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA).

“While transitional styles are still No. 1, we see kitchen design trending more contemporary this year, with clean, simple lines; less clutter and little ornamentation,” said John Petrie, certified master kitchen and bath designer of Mother Hubbard's Custom Cabinetry in Mechanicsburg, Pa., and 2014 NKBA President.

The survey found that contemporary will be the fastest growing kitchen style in 2014, with 62 percent of respondents saying it’s on the upswing after ending 2013 in second place.

Transitional maintained a very small lead as the No. 1 look for kitchens.

Shaker style is a solid third due in part to its versatility, lending itself to traditional or contemporary.

All three have varying degrees of modern touches incorporated into the overall design. Shared characteristics include clean lines, clutter-free decorating, a neutral color palette and focus on functionality.

Jamie Lindemann, a designer with Creative Cabinetry in South Sioux City, said she’s seen a growing interest in mixing different finishes and installing two-tone cabinets.

For instance, the cabinets might boast a medium-stained wood while the island painted, or the lower cabinets might feature a shade of gray while the upper cabinets are painted white to fade into the wall, creating an open feel with a tone-on-tone color scheme.

“It’s really popular to mix some colors,” Lindemann said. “We do a lot of painted finishes, a lot of white tones. You have the contrast that makes it interesting.”

The 420 kitchen professional
and bath professionals who participated in the NKBA trend survey reported the products, colors and features they used most often in 2013, then predicted which ones will flourish or fade this year.

Falling out of favor: highly ornamented Tuscan or French provincial kitchens; distressed finishes and country-rustic styles.

When it comes to contemporary kitchens – while it is catching on – Siouxlanders still err on the side of caution, Erickson said. Some shy away from the glass-front cabinets and high-gloss, acyclic finishes.

“Everybody’s interpretation of it is different,” Erickson said. “The challenge is finding out how modern they’re willing to go.”

Some contemporary kitchens omit overhead storage in favor of a minimalist approach, which presents a challenge. The lack of upper cabinets calls for a walk-in pantry or another storage solution so as to not sacrifice function for style.

“As a designer
, you come to gear your thinking a little differently,” Erickson said.

Slab cabinet doors are the style of choice for a sleek, streamlined kitchen. Many appear in solid colors, especially white or black. Gray is another prominent color being used on cabinetry and walls.

Using chic shades of gray in the kitchen jumped from 9 percent in 2010 to 55 percent in 2013, according to findings from NKBA.

Erickson pointed to different textures being brought into kitchen cabinetry with quarter-sawn wood, which features a ribbon-like pattern. The grain’s unmistakable striping can be displayed horizontally or vertically, depending on what a space needs – for the eye to be drawn up or out.

Fully-integrated appliances complete the seamless look in which refrigerators, microwaves and dishwashers are concealed by cabinetry.

The overall goal is optimize function and flow while maintaining a simple, uncluttered space, Erickson said.

Oftentimes, classic meets contemporary for a modern yet timeless look.

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