Wild, wild wood: Cleaner, streamlined kitchens call for modern, untraditional cabinetry.

When times get tough, spice up your kitchen.

And over the past two years, both Steve Johnson, owner of Atelier Inc. in Scottsdale, and Allan Rosenthal, owner of Linear Fine Woodworking in Phoenix, have seen homeowners do just that — breathing life into their antiquated kitchens.

“They just want something different,” Johnson says. “Every few years, people get sick of seeing the same thing, so they push the envelope, wanting something different.”

Creating drama

As homeowners streamline their kitchens, integrating their appliances for a more clean, organized look, they are honing in on an important element of the overall design — the cabinets.

“Cabinets set the mood of the home,” says Tina James, sales and marketing manager of Custom Creative Marble and Granite.

And according to Rosenthal, homeowners are moving away from the mainstream woods and gravitating toward the untraditional, including tamo ash, macassar ebony and block-mottled makore.

“They’re holographic, so when you walk by them, they actually move,” says Rosenthal. “They have a beauty to them unlike anything else, and they’re just spectacular materials.”

Tamo ash, from Japan, has an unusual, swirly-grain pattern and is famous for its “peanut” figure. Macassar ebony is somewhat similar to Zebrawood with a reddish-brown body and darker brown to black stripes. Block-mottled makore is deep reddish brown in color with a block-pattern figure. All three types of wood give off a dramatic effect.

Rosenthal goes on to say that not only can these untraditional woods last forever, but they can also handle moisture well, especially the areas around the sink.

The laminate look

Johnson, on the other hand, says he’s seen much more movement away from the woods altogether, with homeowners opting for laminates that look like wood. These laminates give kitchens a simple look; plus, they’re easy to clean, maintain and repair.

“If a wood door got damaged, and you had to replace it several years later, it’s very difficult to find one to match 100 percent,” Johnson says. “Whereas with the lacquer finishes, you could change it up 10 years later, and it’s still going to match.”

Laminates are also a great element for creating what Johnson says continues to gain popularity: an all-white kitchen.

“People are going more and more to white kitchens in the last two years,” Johnson says. “People just want that clean, crisp, white look. They’re tired of the down economy, and they don’t want their home to look heavy and dark, and they just want light, bright white — clean and uplifting. White never goes out of style.”

James agrees, saying she’s seen a growing trend in white. “But my favorite that I think will catch on more next year is grey. Contemporary,  more modern styles are getting to be more popular.”

What has gone out of style, according to Rosenthal, is the Tuscan-inspired design. “Tuscan is gone for the most part, and modern will be around for a long time because it’s timeless. You never get tired of it.”

View more photos:

Poggenpohl's +MODO kitchen is centered around the island, which has plenty of surface area and storage. Photo: Poggenpohl untraditional cabinetry untraditional cabinetry

For more information about untraditional cabinetry:

Linear Fine Woodworking
2825-2831 S. 46th St., Phoenix
(480) 968-1223

Atelier Inc.
4242 N. Craftsman Court, Scottsdale
(480) 424-7900

Custom Creative Marble and Granite
8260 E. Raintree Dr., #216, Scottsdale
(623) 570-5386

Scottsdale Living Magazine Winter 2013