For the past 10-15 years, a single style has dominated kitchen showrooms across Europe and the UK in particular. Walk past any kitchen showroom on London’s Wigmore street and you’ll be faced with the overly familiar, boxy look of a German handle-less kitchen – a look that has been done to death thousands of times over. The issue is simply that every single kitchen looks the same. High gloss white units make a kitchen feel more like an operating theatre than a homely space. When I browse the online platform Houzz, I can’t help but feel saddened when I see a period property in the countryside that has a modern German kitchen installed – it simply looks out of place.
All that being said, we have seen a rise in recent years of clients wishing to transition to a more traditional look. Furniture, much like fashion, is cyclical in nature. As a result, the Traditional style of Kitchens which was popular in the 1990’s – Early 2000’s, is slowly regaining popularity.
I recently read an article about the cyclical nature of fashion and the link to the state of the global economy. Perhaps since 2008 and the global recession, a clean handle-less look which is cheaper to mass produce has remained a staple of homes up and down the country purely down to cost. Traditional kitchens; with their mouldings, detailing and timber frames, are a far more expensive product to manufacture and therefore sell. It would be interesting to see whether as the world has emerged from an economic downturn, expensive tastes have re-emerged.
The rise of Kitchen manufacturer Tom Howley – focusing purely on a traditional styling – who have grown to 12 showrooms in what seems like the blink of an eye, highlights the momentum behind this shift, whilst formerly giant players in this space such as Clive Christians and Mark Wilkinson have also been gearing up for growth, the latter with a newly facelifted showroom due to open in Wigmore street.
There is also an emerging trend for a new type of style and one which bridges the gap between a completely handmade traditional kitchen, and the German handle-less kitchens which have been so popular of late. “Classically Modern” describes a look which we think is going to be extremely popular in the coming years.
Take the below example of a kitchen which we produced for a client of ours;
As you can see from the above photos, this kitchen combines a traditional Shaker style door, with a finger pull detail, enabling the kitchen to be completely handle-less. There are also traditional features such as the tongue and grooved end panels, the moulded extractor housing and the glass display cabinets either side of the hob run. A tangent cornice finishes off this look perfectly.
Another example of this is the below TV unit which has a similar look and feel to the above kitchen. Such a TV unit would look at home in an older home, but also keeps an edge of contemporary about it.
The pilaster detailing and shaker style doors offer a throwback to the days of traditional furniture, whilst the clean lines, lit display shelves and handle-less appearance give a contemporary flavour.
From a manufacturers point of view, this look can be achieved either through timber frames, as has always been the case, or a more modern production technique, which involves cutting the panels from a thin sheet of MDF, and fixing this ‘frame’ onto a flat, thicker MDF Panel.
Overall, traditional furniture is much more difficult to produce and it will be interesting to see whether the big German manufacturers can manoeuvre themselves to take advantage of this growing trend or whether they double down and continue to push the clean lines that have gotten them so far.
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