The Chinese labor market manufactured wood cabinets for Americans because Americans love wood. The cabinets appealed to the American buying market. The plywood was imported from America and sent to China. The other change that showed up was the hardware and hinges, known as soft close hardware and became very popular. Americans got used to the inexpensive ticket price and the upgraded hardware and thought little about the construction. The idea that cabinets were shipped in a flat box called RTAs, (ready to be assembled) when they arrived in America didn't phase them. Chinese cabinet manufacturers flooded the market.
The kitchen business has changed over the years and it's changing again. So where are we now? For over 10 years my customer's loved the transitional white shaker doorstyle. I have designed more kitchens in white painted shaker style then any other style.
By the time the Chinese cabinets made their debut the shaker door style was still my customer's favorite. I am happy to say after designing kitchens for almost thirty years, customer's trends are transitioning from the transitional look to a modern minimalist look.
Since 2016, I noticed a trend in customer's kitchen renovation style. Not only among the millennia's but even retirement age customers want a fresh contemporary look and the cabinets should be as easy to maintain as their new Quartz countertops. This new contemporary look in cabinetry is influenced by the Italian, German and Spanish cabinet makers. Customers are having me design a high style slab acrylic shiny white doors or matt white lacquer doors that have that European-minimalist style. Trends are changing in the cabinet business and American manufacturers should take notice now.
Like all fashion, styles come back and resurface after a period of time. When I started in the kitchen cabinet business in 1990 the popular door style at the time was a white shiny plastic laminate slab door. I have seen kitchen cabinet design go from a heavy wood look with the Mediterranean-style, to the majority of my customers (around 80%) purchasing white painted shaker doors.
If American cabinet manufacturers communicated with their customers they would know what their customers want. The next kitchen hot ticket item is a slab door in a shiny or matt white acrylic/lacquer paint finish along with a wood grain heavy textured melamine for the base cabinets. The trend in kitchens now is the two-tone kitchen.