Philippa Turrell finds out how colour is growing in importance for individualisation
Since contemporary high gloss furniture has become ubiquitous in kitchen design, it’s unsurprising there has been an antithesis to the trend.
Enter the painted kitchen in soft, matt effects which offers an alternative to a stark, contemporary shine. It’s an interior fashion that has been growing in traction over the past couple of years, with BA Components reporting a 37% increase in sales of its paintable vinyl wrap doors in the last 12 months alone.
And marketing manager at TKC Neil Taggart goes as far to say: “The painted sales category is comfortably the biggest for TKC.”
Although often associated with premium, bespoke traditional designs, it’s a style statement that can transcend price points and interior fashions.
Painted finishes are a true chameleon of kitchen styles. Group marketing and retail sales director of Symphony Simon Collyns explains: “Painted finishes suit all types of styles and door, the Arts & Crafts style, with its rustic charm and exquisite detailing offer a traditional British sytle of country kitchen, whereas slab doors can offer a more modern and updated look.
“A high gloss kitchen only suits modern styles, whereas a painted finish suits traditional kitchens but can easily be modernised.”
And furniture manager of Caple Doug Haswell agrees the painted finish is adaptable to a range of furniture, as he points out: “This kitchen finish is incredibly versatile as consumers can choose from a truly traditional finish or a classic kitchen design with a modern twist- the choice is endless.”
In fact, the painted kitchen is particularly suited to interiors which exhibit a mix and match approach to styling.
Managing director of Daval Simon Bodsworth states: “British architecture is known for an eclectic combination of styles, fostering a unique and classical look that is spot-on for warm materials and painted finishes.”
And sales and marketing director of Mereway Kitchens Graham Jones agrees: “Consumer tastes have moved to a fusion of styles that has a mix of modern and traditional elements, which has fuelled the growth in painted finishes.”
Adding visual interest
Combining styles in a wide palette of colours, or even paint to order to match or complement adjacent living spaces, enables designers to create more ‘off-the-shelf’ looks for their customers.
Accomplished designers will combine colours and may even use them to highlight zones of interest in the kitchen to create a bespoke project.
Graham Jones of Mereway Kitchens adds: “There is great flexibility in painted kitchens, enabling retailers to offer more interesting designs.
“A painted kitchen can offer the opportunity to have a different colour on the doors and the carcass, enabling complementary or contrasting colours to be used to add interest.
“With many designs including open shelving and displays, this is a feature that is very well used.”
And managing director of Stoneham Kitchens Adrian Stoneham agrees stating: “A main advantage of choosing a painted kitchen is that you are not limited to one colour.
“A trend we’re seeing more of at Stoneham is painting statement features, like kitchen islands or particular cabinetry in a shade to contrast with the rest of the space.”
This ability to customise kitchens allows high street retailers and designers to offer a point of difference between their projects and perhaps those of a local competitor.
Neil Taggart of TKC agrees, explaining: “For me, a painted kitchen offers differentiation and makes the consumer feel as if they have something unique.
“The colour match facility means you can have anything you want, rather than a standard colour palette and for certain consumers that’s a huge attraction.”
However, manufacturers have worked hard to create a wide range of colours across their painted coloured collections, so much so some believe it has impacted on paint to order sales.
Graham Jones of Mereway Kitchens comments: “The demand for ready to paint has reduced as manufacturers have increased the range of colours available – with so many options there is no need to customise.”
Caple introduced its first range of inframe kitchens last year, which come in a choice of 18 painted colours,while TKC reports it has a standard palette of 20 colours.
Mereway offers a choice of 25 paint options, across four colour palettes as part of its Colour Ties concept.
Graham Jones explains: “Each pallet contains four complementary and one contrasting colour. The palettes are offered in blue, green, grey and earth palettes.
“This gives the designer and the consumer confidence to make choices without feeing exposed.”
Grey or feeling blue
But of all the colour palettes available, the outstanding option remains as all shades of grey.
Group marketing and retail sales director of the Symphony Group Simon Collyns says this is reflected in its portfolio: “Not surprisingly, it is greys that continue to dominate our sales figures, with customers choosing shades like French and Skylon Grey.
“However, we are seeing these being mixed with whites and ivories to infuse subtle colour in the kitchen.”
And this is echoed across the board with Graham Jones stating: “The grey palette is the most popular, not only in the kitchen but around the home and though all home interior design.”
While grey will continue to be a staple finish for painted kitchens, interestingly there has been a move towards a blue palette.
Simon Collyns of Symphony agrees, adding: “The next big colour trend will be more vibrant hues such as darker blues, and even more greys to come through.
“We’ve added two new colours to our Laura Ashley Kitchen Collection with Cobble Grey and Midnight Blue, which have been selected to complement Laura Ashley’s own pallete of colours for this year.”
And the trend for blue is reflected in upcoming launches from BA Components and the latest furniture styles from Stoneham.
Digital marketing executive Clara Maybin comments: “We are seeing a lot of blue coming through and are launching two brand new blue shades in our Bella and Zuriz ranges in October.”
And Adrian Stoneham points out: “Our new ranges comes in popular colours such as Blue Chalk, Blue Ashes, Thunder Grey, Dove Grey, French Grey, Pipe Grey, Moles taupe and Cashmere.”
He points out how these colours can be combined with timber: “Woods such as Character Oak, Natural Oak, Anthracite shaded oaks and American Walnut provide a great contrast to painted, coloured accents in the kitchen.”
Certainly the trend for painted kitchens shows no sign of abating, as they can effortlessly offer ‘on trend’ or timeless looks.
And now improved machinery allows the painted finish at more accessible price points, Neil Taggart of TKC explains: “In the past, the paint process was more expensive and was more commonly used on traditional doors that carry a higher price point.”
It means painted kitchens are now available at a broader spectrum of price points and therefore are within the reach of more consumers who want the look.
All of which means painted furniture is only going to continue to grow in popularity, kitchen experts report.
“Painted kitchens have been steadily increasing in popularity throughout the years and we’re not expecting this to change anytime soon”, says Simon Collyns of Symphony.
And Graham Jones concurs, as he concludes: “The market will continue to strengthen as the stark German minimalist trend continues to decline.
“This will be driven by a preference for a more relaxed style, as well as improvements in the painted product itself.”