Once upon a time, the choice was simple. Which natural wood finish would you prefer for your kitchen or bath cabinetry? But these days, cabinet finishes have come so far that consumers (designers and cabinetmakers, too) have a seemingly unlimited number of options to choose from. Whether they’re glazed, antiqued, shaded, distressed, varnished, foil, acrylic, or polyurethane, cabinets come in virtually any color scheme, shade, or tone you can think of.
The cabinet color or finish is the first thing that anyone entering the room will notice. A clean, crisp white can make even the smallest bath feel fresh and bright, whereas a warm coffee finish can make even the largest kitchen feel inviting and homey.
The right finish can help take any cabinet from a functional chunk of wood to a work of art. Here are a few of the newest shades available as well as some points on their popularity.
Lights and Whites
Whites and off-whites continually rank as the most popular finishes in both the kitchen and the bath. According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), 59-percent of their kitchen and bath designer members specified white cabinets for their clients in 2012. A timeless and classic finish, white can stand solidly on its own, or make a stunning backdrop for virtually any other color of the rainbow. Glazes and distressing finishes can add extra personality to white finishes making them feel a bit more traditional, or bright white can be paired with detailed moldings and trim work for a more formal flair. Some of the newest lights and whites include…
Wafer Finish from Omega Cabinetry
Omega Cabinetry’s Wafer Finish is a pale cream touched with a hint of linen. The result is a fresh tint that makes a perfect backdrop to today’s kitchens and baths, beautifully grounding any color palette.
French Vanilla Finish from Homecrest
Modern, but with a touch of softness, Homecrest Cabinetry’s French Vanilla Finish adds warmth and personality to a neutral palette. Available on Maple wood cabinet styles, the off-white opaque finish also offers glazes in Ebony, Cocoa, Mocha, Smoke, Linen, and Fawn.
Foxtail Glaze from Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry
Part of Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry’s Naturals Collection, Foxtail Glaze is applied over a white base coat to soften the tone, giving it a pale smoky aura. Applied by hand, the opaque glaze imparts a soft, polished appearance.
Shades of Grey
Gray color schemes have exploded in popularity. In fact, 9-percent of NKBA members were specifying gray hues in 2010, compared to 33-percent in 2012. (These stats are specifically for the kitchen. In the bath, grey shades went from 12-percent to 40-percent.) Why Grey? For starters, it’s an edgy neutral that combines well with virtually any accent color. It pairs nicely with bold colors like lime green and orange, and it looks striking with whites and blacks as well. It even works nicely with wood-stained finishes. Gray is thought of as an “upscale” neutral with a certain amount of “richness.” From ethereal and breezy to dark and shadowy, gray is attractive without dominating a design.
Clockwise from top left: Cloud, Cloud with Amaretto Crème Glaze, Cloud with Toasted Almond Glaze, and Cloud with Grey Stone Glaze. Photo from Diamond Cabinets
An on-trend neutral gray, Cloud Finish from Diamond Cabinets is subtle enough to provide a backdrop to bolder colors, yet strong enough to make a statement on its own. An opaque cabinet finish in a true soft gray, it brings out the best in Maple doors. Cloud is also available with a choice of three glazes, depending on the desired look. Amaretto Crème gives a weathered appearance, Gray Stone gives a nickel or pewter appearance, and Toasted Almond, which gives a faux sand-through façade.
Wellborn Cabinet’s Dove-Bronze Finish
Introduced as the counterpart to the Willow finish (a mid-tone grey launched last year), Wellborn’s Dove Finish is a light grey paint which can be paired with a Bronze or Slate glaze option. Available in Maple, Character Maple, Cherry, Character Cherry, Oak, and Hickory in the Wellborn Premier Series, Elegant Bath Collection, Estate Custom Collection, and Wellborn Closets.
Greyloft Finish from KraftMaid
KraftMaid’s Greyloft Finish is a dark tone with an air of sophistication. Building on the grey finish trend, the painted finish provides a stunning base for a variety of design choices. A painted finish on Maple door styles, it’s also available with a Sable Glaze, Vintage Greyloft and Vintage Greyloft with Sable Patina for a more relaxed feel.
In addition to greys, there is also a steady trend toward darker finishes. The NKBA says that finishes like Chocolate and Espresso are being used more and more frequently. They report dark natural wood finishes at 58-percent, up from 43-percent two years ago. Just like white cabinets, darker finishes can be used with gorgeous results for both traditional and contemporary kitchens and baths.
Wellborn Cabinet’s Drift Finish on Maple
New from Wellborn, Drift is a finish that pulls in color while allowing visibility of the amazing wood detail in the cabinetry. A perfect combination of brown and grey, Drift is a translucent stain also available with a Bronze or Slate glaze.
New Café Finish from Aristokraft
Comfortable, yet classic Aristokraft’s Café Finish is a welcome new addition to today’s popular rich coffee tones. A fresh take on a forever favorite, Café is available on Maple, Birch, Cherry, and Rustic Birch.
Midnight Finish from KraftMaid
A sumptuous painted wood finish, Midnight from KraftMaid is a great staple color. Working beautifully alone, or paired with other finishes, it’s a versatile color that reflects the movement from traditional to transitional styles. Available on Maple, Midnight is also available with Onyx Glaze, Vintage Midnight, and Vintage Midnight with Onyx Patina.
And remember, your clients don’t have to settle on one finish. A contrasting blend can add unique personality to any room in the home. If they love the crisp, clean look of White but also enjoy the richness of Espresso, why not mix the two into a unique configuration for a one-of-a-kind look.