More than a feeling

28 Apr, 17

Philippa Turrell reports on how textured surfacing has added a new dimension to kitchen design

With the open plan kitchen having transformed from a run of cupboards with an island to now merge seamlessly into the ground floor, living space, it has not only influenced the  colour of furniture but also surface textures. In fact, such has been the development of the trend for holistic interiors, the mix and match trend has progressed from colours to now include sheens, grains or stone-like pores. Bodie Kelay, managing director of Euromobel which imports Stormer UK believes “2017 is the year of mixing materials. We see texture taking centre stage with increasing popularity of two-tone kitchen designers. Texture offers designers a versatile palette to mix and match with different shades to layer a design while seamlessly blending the kitchen, dining and living zones together.” In fact, textures have become so significant in kitchen interiors Jason Grinton, UK & Ireland business manager of Pronorm, points out: “The use of textures is just as important a consideration as other elements such as colours, lighting, floorcoverings, storage, extraction and circulation in this blended space.”

Classic and contemporary

In fact, texture has become so important for the on-trend kitchen, it is offered across contemporary kitchens making them less sterile. However texture has also come through to classic styles to help create more modern look. Commercial director of Kesseler Scott Slater comments: “For more classical furniture formats such as in-frame and five-piece, texture can have the effect of making the overall design more contemporary. This is an ideal option for period properties whose owners wish to respect the style of the house, but place their own stamp on its interior.”

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Defining zones

Although textured furniture may be the latest look for a wide variety of kitchen interiors, it actually offers advantages in design, helping define areas and make zones of visual interest.  Wayne Dance, managing director of InHouse which supplies Schuller Kitchens continues: “Textured fronts are part of the trend for co-ordinating and contrasting finishes and present real design advantages. It’s a great way of drawing the eye to a specific area. The contrast of surface finishes creates definition without detracting from the overall design.” And commercial director of Kesseler Scott Slater agrees but also states: “texture can achieve much more than colour alone.” And what Scott Slater may be alluding to is the ambience, feeling or impression created by adding a sensory experience to the space.

Offering individuality

Texture can not only provide a warm and more authentic experience – if adopting natural decors – but can also help create a tailor-made design specific to each customer, adding credibility and prestige. Scott Slater of Kesseler comments: “Texture offers a layer of individuality for the customer to make the space their own – to make it distinctive.” And experts believe this customised design approach can help deliver a more luxurious look, as product expert at HPP Mark Smith continues: “Texture adds a premium feel to a kitchen, which is a big plus for any consumer. It also adds depth and interest to the overall design, allowing lighting effects to cast various shadows off the textured face of the board, doors or worktops, adding more interest to the overall design, and a more natural, luxurious feel.”

And this natural, luxurious feel can now be achieved at a lower price tag. Marketing manager at TKS Neil Taggart states: “Mixing different textures helps to create a more bespoke look and feel, often without additional cost.” Offering some statistics, kitchen category manager at Faith Furniture, Pete Sherry adds: “The large saving to be made with timber effects can be up to approximately 20-30% on your kitchen bill, yet you won’t miss out on design and quality.”

However, designers should also be aware of how to use texture to reap rewards. Wayne Dance of InHouse warns texture should be used for a distinct reason, adding: “Whether for creating definition in multi-functional spaces or a natural or industrial quality, it is important to install a sense of purpose. Avoid using texture for the sake of meaningless feature.” Whereas Mark Smith of HPP says be careful of deep grains, adding: “One drawback to texture is that in the particularly deep grained boards, cleaning can be slighting more difficult to a smoother melamine face.”

Matt joins gloss

But getting down to specifics, what textures should designers consider using in an on-trend kitchen scheme. For block coloured kitchens, the ubiquitous high gloss is now increasingly being joined by matt or super matt finishes. Commercial sales director of Masterclass Kitchens Steve Tough comments: “Over the past year or so, kitchen trends have seen a shift away from high gloss towards matt and silk finishes. More recently, this move has also leaned towards textured matt surfaces.” And Simon Collyns, group marketing and retail sales director of Symphony, agrees “Over the last few years, we have seen matt finishes in kitchens become more and more popular.” And he continues: “our newly-launched Quadra door has a soft-touch finish”.  Neil Taggart, marketing manager at TKC, says the fashion for matt textures is reflected in his company’s sales, commenting: “We’re seeing our new Vivo Matt doors graining traction far quicker than most new doors have typically done in the past.”

Kitchen experts point out the popularity of matt or super matt textures is not only because the surface has a high design appeal but is also practical for this functional space. Product director at IDS Ian Holmes points out: “Super-matt furniture is scratch resistant and does not show up any unsightly fingermarks or smudges, making it highly practical for any hardworking kitchen and further adding to its sales potential.”

Natural influences

With a trend to introduce more natural materials in the home, combined with improved manufacturing processes to more closely mirror grains, wood effects have also grown in popularity (see Expert View below). Pete Sherry of Faith Furniture comments: “In recent years we have seen a real growth in the popularity of manmade doors, panels and worktops that emulate real wood.” Wayne Dance of InHouse adds: “The wood finish fronts in the Schuller C collection are staggeringly realistic and these continue to be incredibly popular with consumers.” And Steve Tough of Masterclass Kitchens has found the demand for wood effects is reflecting in his company’s sales: “Tapping into the trend for timber in the kitchen, open-grained textures are particularly popular among our customers. These offer a tactile finish and combine brilliantly with other on-trend kitchen materials.”

However, the trend for natural looks is not restricted to timber effects alone. Scott Slater of Kesseler points out: “Texture is not just about woodgrain, despite all the options form subtle ‘pips’ in yew to a full-on rendition of tree bark. Technology will always find a way to offer something new, and concrete and metal are coming through strongly – watch out for brushed steel in different colours and raw concrete.” And Pete Sherry agrees, stating: “Concrete and stone effects are a growing trend, particularly as feature pieces or accents.”

Future textures

Certainly the trend for textured kitchens shows no signs of abating, and although not currently challenging the ‘bread and butter’ high gloss sales, it will continue to be a choice for consumers. Peter Sherry of Faith Furniture points to a linen texture as being the next big thing, which it will be introducing on its LochAnna brand in the Spring. Whatever the next big surfacing texture trend, Wayne Dance concludes: “We have only just begun to scratch the surface in the replication of ultilisation of natural finishes, so it is safe to assume that there is much more to come.”

Expert view

Technology boosts textures

Product expert at HPP says improved manufacturing processes have spurred the trend for textured kitchen furniture with a premium feel, such as woods, stones and metals

The trend for textured kitchen furniture we feel has come about thanks to the development of manufacturing processes and technology. For years people have been spending a premium on more natural finishes, primarily because melamine couldn’t match up to the look and feel of the real material, but thanks to precision registered embossing, thermos-treated boards and other similar techniques, melamine finishes really do look as good as many natural materials, with the obvious benefits that come about with a melamine surface.

Texture is becoming a much more important aspect for consumers choosing their kitchens. It’s no longer just about how the kitchen looks. It’s about how it feels when the consumer is using the space and the textures they can experience when preparing meals and drinks within the kitchen. Most consumers now are looking for something with texture, and would be put off certain styles if they weren’t available with a textured finish.

Wood textures are huge at the moment, and don’t really show any signs of slowing down in terms of popularity and growth. Deep grained oaks, ashes, teak and other woodgrains are very popular choices at the moment, and look set to be key players within the kbb market.

Metallic textured finishes are up-and-coming, and really have the potential to do well within the market. With textured copper, steel and aluminium in various finishes, consumers looking for a rustic contemporary look are sure to be interested in this new style. And, better still, it can be cut with a standard circular saw or jigsaw blade with minimal dulling of the balde, making it great for installers too.

We love the copper and other metallic finishes that are coming on to the market from the likes of Kronospan. So, we feel that’s a key area that will grow in the next 12 months and really help to create a wow factor within the kitchen space.