When it comes to their kitchens, homeowners are searching for something a little more personal these days.
In an era of mass design and production, an increasing number of people are customizing their kitchens to stand out from the crowd and show off their individual style. According to Timber Products Company, the leading producer of hardwood plywood for kitchen cabinet systems, this means more unique wood species will be popping up next year as consumers break away from standard offerings.
We’re seeing a shift in popularity of wood species from traditional to more up-and-coming varieties,” said Timber Products veneer specialist Eric Cullen. “Cabinet manufacturers have been showcasing different species, and the response has been very positive. Homeowners want more choices, and today they have them.”
Custom For All
In years past, custom cabinets were destined only for custom homes. Today, average homeowners have become accustomed to affordable luxury and are driving demand for specialty cabinetry.
“The custom market serves a homeowner who wants to be unique and not a ‘me-too’ consumer,” said Cullen. “This trend goes beyond multimillion-dollar homes. We’re seeing more orders for fancy species that truly make cabinets the focal point of kitchens.”
For the ultimate in customization, cabinet companies are turning to Timber Products to help create unique veneers that feature tailor-made colors and patterns. Engineered veneers, which are made by slicing and dicing veneer sheets and then putting the pieces back together in a different configuration, have gained popularity the past few years because of their high value and consistent appearance.
Cullen said straight-grain engineered veneers (without cathedrals) made from wenge, white oak, cherry, maple and mahogany are hot sellers and have been used for everything from high-end condominiums and recreational vehicles to luxurious yachts.
Also headlining the customization trend in 2008 are sleeker, brighter styles with clean lines, as well as more interesting species meant to be head-turners. Here’s a look at the top styles and species Timber Products sees for 2008:
To meet demand for a resurgence in modern style, cabinet- makers are ordering more European beech hardwood plywood than ever before because of its light tone and smooth appearance. The wood also has a hint of pinkish tan that is currently fashionable with kitchen designers and homeowners.
Starting out as a popular flooring material, bamboo has made the leap to kitchen cabinets because of its sustainability (bamboo is actually a grass that can grow as much as one foot a day) and clean appearance. The material also gives homeowners an interesting story to share about their cabinets.
Reminiscent of mountain cabins and hunting lodges, the rustic look is striking a chord with homeowners searching for a little rough-and-tumble personal style. Cullen pointed out that wood like knotty alder, birch, pecan and hickory fit the bill perfectly for this design because of their many eye-catching characteristics.
“What used to be considered defects are now today’s stylish features,” said Cullen. “An increasing number of homeowners are asking for wood with more knots and character. This look is especially popular from the Rocky Mountains to the West, but we have seen demand grow throughout North America.”
Dark Still Reigns
Darker woods will continue to be popular next year as well. One hot-selling wood species that plays into the custom look is walnut. Through the first six months of 2007, cabinet companies preparing for 2008’s product lines ordered more walnut hardwood plywood from Timber Products than they did for all of 2006.
“Walnut is a particularly striking wood that makes a great first impression,” said Cullen. “The color varies from a rich, dark brown to black with purple undertones. It’s a very elegant material that embodies a custom look.”
About Timber Products Company
Founded in 1918, Timber Products Company offers a wide range of diversified wood products, specializing in hardwood plywood. The company is one of the largest material suppliers to the U.S. kitchen cabinet industry. Timber Products owns nine state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities across the United States, a major international division, and 118,000 acres of forestland in Northern California managed under the strict standards of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI®) program. Timber Products was the world’s first hardwood plywood manufacturer authorized to carry the SFI label. The company also operates TP Trucking, a nationwide transportation division.