By Vivian Astroff

Whether it’s the renovation of your dreams, or the developer-designed kitchen of a newly purchased home, the choices for kitchens can be mind-boggling. Just visit a few kitchen showrooms in the region. They offer hundreds of door and drawer styles, dozens of finishes and textures, paint colours of any hue you can imagine, and materials ranging from natural woods and granite to metals, plastics, manufactured stone and concrete.

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What are Ottawa consumers buying? A recent survey of suppliers found that their clients’ preference is most often for “contemporary” styling, combining wood’s traditional warmth with the simple lines of shaker or slab-style doors.

The use of colour is in, and shades of grey are creeping into the kitchen, as are bold splashes of red, orange, greens and blue.

“The colour spectrum keeps growing,” observes Darren Walker, a designer and account manager with Kitchen Craft Cabinetry.

Those who like a touch of drama can pick from painted wood or thermofoil finishes for the cabinetry − thus adding detailed patterns of exotic wood grain − or neutral expanses of high gloss.

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Designer Lori Di Saverio, co-owner of Cartier Kitchens Ottawa, notes that with most new homes on the market being condo apartments and townhouses, popular kitchen styles are ultra-modern and sleek, suitable for compact spaces.

“We are seeing a demand for white cabinets along with lighter, brighter colours: bright accents like orange or teal green.”

Along with white, frequent colour choices are off-white, light beiges and “biscuit” tones in a variety of finishes including melamine, thermofoil and painted medium density fibreboard (MDF).

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“Fibreboard doors look like wood, but don’t expand and contract at the joints when the humidity in the air changes,” Lori adds.

Irrespective of cabinet style, deep pot and pan drawers and “soft-closing” drawers and doors are desirable upgrades, and quartz is the lead material for countertops, she notes.

“Quartz has a more contemporary look, it’s not as irregular as granite, and is also more durable and maintenance-free while in the same price range as granite,” she explains.

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Quartz also has an edge in allowing the manufacture of thicker countertops, as well as design features like a “waterfall” off the side of an island, adds Darren Walker of Kitchen Craft.

“We are seeing an increased preference for the urban look from our customers, picking simple shaker or ultra-sleek door styles,” notes Giuseppe Castrucci, vice-president of Laurysen Kitchens. And even those who opt for a traditional “country style” kitchen with crown molding and valances will select a streamlined version which is not so ornate, he says.

Neutral whites, greys and browns are dominating the colour palette for cabinetry, and Castrucci says a trendy choice is to contrast high gloss finishes with natural wood stains.

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“For example, we see off-whites with accents: cream wall cabinets with a dark espresso island.”

Colour can also come into the picture in contrasting wall paint − or a backsplash of coloured glass tiles, he says.

Bob Gould, sales manager at Deslaurier Custom Cabinets, says that up to 40 per cent of his sales consist of painted doors and drawers, ranging from off-white to soft grey tones. Their paint is water-based, and when applied to MDF creates a smooth and durable opaque surface.

001 Copperstone kitchen photo by Shannon Callaghan

On a tour of Deslaurier’s showroom outfitted with several newly installed model kitchens, he points to one featuring lower slab drawers in a cherry stain paired with upper shaker-style doors in a grey “angora” paint colour.

“We call it transitional or urban chic,” he says.

Often complemented by stainless steel handles or recessed pulls, the clean and simple European look is also evident in a model kitchen with a grey driftwood texture made of high pressure laminate.

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In another kitchen, the look becomes “ultra-modern” as doors and drawers reflect the light with their high-gloss finish and stainless steel edging.

For those who want a more classical country look, Gould points to an inviting Cape Cod-style kitchen. The cabinets are two shades of a soft grey-green and the beadboard backsplash is painted the same colour as the cabinet doors.

003 Copperstone cabinets photo by Shannon Callaghan

Like the other suppliers, Copperstone Kitchens offers a vast array of door finishes and styles, with the most popular colours trending toward white, greys and putty, says senior designer Shannon Callaghan.

“Lacquer paint is more popular than stained wood right now, along with shaker style doors,” she says. “Everyone wants something warm and inviting,” so the bottom line is to help clients choose the features that are appropriate to their house and lifestyle.