By Ryan Christensen, Cabinet Sales & Design
The age of modernity is upon us. If we’re to look at kitchen design with the same appeal to technology that dictates the rest of our lives, I can proclaim that so too can your kitchen graduate from the rotary phone that is stained wood to the sleek linearity of high gloss cabinetry. The iPhone of kitchen design, if you will. We’re drawn to those finishes that might imply our own evolutionary standards in thought. The highly polished gleam of thermally fused melamine represents the triumphal accomplishment in our continuing innovations of concepts that would bring us as a people closer together. I know this reeks of the philosophical discourse you thought you’d waved goodbye to the moment you retrieved your sheepskin and doffed your cap to academia, but the aesthetic inherent to high gloss cabinetry is the curiosity one holds of the future. The finish is the result of our imagining the Space Age. And plus, every designer show, be it Kitchen Cousins or Leave it to Bryan (I can thank any knowledge of the aforementioned to a wife heavily invested in design) insists upon renovating kitchen or vanity spaces and replacing the dingy old with the shiny new.
The implementation of high gloss cabinetry was not the easy decision of one acceding to the popularity of HGTV. The behind-the-scenes negotiations saw arguments for and rebuttals against the finish’s inclusion, turning these heated meetings into the sort of courtroom dramas that would suppose John Grisham had provided the transcript. As a culture dominated by accessibility, we are no longer disconnected from one another as we travel bearing smart phones, and as one can attest, the newer the models are, the more each phone has divulged space to screen. This has created a profitable market for cases, custom fit to each phone model, in order to ensure both screen and back will not succumb to the damage of misplaced car keys or butterfingers. The polished finish of an iPhone remains so only under the security allowed by the precautions of its user. This same mentality would harness expectation that high gloss cabinetry would pass the same standards. But unfortunately, the high gloss laminate finish is an imperfect design, subject to the wear and tear of transit and install, traffic and use. In our meetings, we discussed amending the installation protocol of the selection, delaying the kitchen’s finish until the flooring is complete in order to combat accidental damage. This could help, of course, but even when looking at the sample door, its brief tenure in our office has already inflicted upon its surface unserviceable damage. So the selection of high gloss is coupled with the expectation of imperfection. And the selection of high gloss carries with it a premium that should inform the customer of its inherent risk, and thus prepare him or her to carry the expense of an insurance liability that would cover the replacement of the cabinet doors should they be damaged during the construction of the home. I am in no way trying to scare one away from high gloss; in all matters of practicality, the argument stands that the finish would lend itself the impractical benefit of damaging and showing damage, so one should select the finish expecting an environment with a polish, but one whose use will show.
I like to think the popularity of high gloss cabinetry is a result of its minimalist approach, contrasting against the Old World traditionalism that has for so long been a staple in design and thus the go-to for homebuilders. It was agreed upon during our behind-the-scenes melees that we would simplify the selection process for high gloss. No longer will one have to slave away at the doorstyle board in the Design Center to argue the merits of one profile over another: we’ve reduced selection to the slab door and Mission crown, both products of linearity and thus minimalism. Unfortunately, since this product is outsourced to a supplier called Formations Inc., Kingswood has informed us that the coveted tight to ceiling aesthetic cannot be accomplished with the high gloss cabinetry unless one sacrifices the continuity of the finish and allows for a paintgrade or wood finished riser. But upon conversation with a fellow designer, while engaging in the complementary pop of reflective high gloss with stainless steel appliances, one could also achieve a wider range of interior selections by proceeding with high gloss lowers and paintgrade or maple uppers, or vise versa, contrasting the modernity of laminate with the organic pulse of wood grain. This could allow for a tight-to-ceiling finish if one is willing to sacrifice the overall consistency of high gloss. And we did choose some fun colors for our upcoming inauguration of the high gloss product. In looking through the available laminate samples from Formica, our designer pulled from the ring five finishes that should incite interest, ranging from the common white to fire-engine red, allowing for disparate finishes in one space whose contrast will define the funky characteristics of the homeowner. There is a lot of fun to be had with this new product, and I look forward to its introduction to the Design Center.