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Metallic materials and finishes in the home - how the trends are changing

Metallic materials and finishes in the home - how the trends are changing

In this month's HPP Blog, Tina Crossley discusses the emerging trends of metallic materials and finishes...

Having a metallic finish to your interior décor is fairly commonplace in today's environment. Gone are the days when metals were viewed as too 'cold' or 'clinical'.

Metal and copper finishes are now seen as fashionably minimalist, cosy and rustic, as well as contemporary; even Apple adopted the trend, releasing their 2014 iPhones in gold shades and tones. So, in line with the release of our own metallic surfaces in the form of the Kronospan Trends 16/17 Collection, this blog takes a look at just how metals can transform your home and really create a 'wow' factor…

Using metal, copper especially, to decorate interior spaces goes as far back as the medieval period; uninspiring copper kitchens and bathtubs are probably springing to mind at this point, but nowadays, that couldn't be any farther from the truth.

Metallic surfaces add a whole new level of design, detail and interest to a living space, adding flair and style that is unique to most things currently in the market.

We've seen metallic finishes in handle design for many years but these are now being supported with a huge surge in demand for metallic appliances, light fittings and even metallised fabrics, which complement other pieces within the space and add a more cohesive feel to the design.

But the trend doesn't stop there either.

MFC board is now seeing a huge overhaul of its ranges, with the introduction of stunning new metallic faced boards that are vibrant, full of character and interesting to see and feel. A range of these are new to the market from the Kronospan Trends 16/17 Collection, and have the benefit of reduced dulling on saw blades and extremely clean, accurate cuts when installing.

We've seen metallic surfaces being used in the most unusual of places to add the finishing touches to the most contemporary of homes, and it's not just with predictable warm shades either… Cool metals such as aluminium, platinum, and steel are great for fulfilling a contemporary and minimalist design. Steel brushed staircases, aluminium shower curtains, platinum feature walls: metallic surfaces complement contemporary design like no other material.

But of course, metallic surfaces aren't only for the minimalist and contemporary. Warmer colours can transform any kitchen, living room, or even bedroom, into a cosy space. Covering a mantelpiece in bronze, copper, or gold instantly warms any room, and is perfect if you have a roaring fire burning. Adding smaller detailed metallic surfaces throughout bedroom spaces also gives a much warmer feel to the room, reflecting warm light on surfaces such as lamp stands, bookshelves, or decorative trinkets.

Metallic surfaces are also great for creating rustic looks, especially in country-style kitchens. Any metal, but especially coppers and bronzes, give kitchens a rustic flair when kept muted and natural. And traditional style kitchens aren't complete until they've got some suitably rustic handles - check out our handles selection which is very shortly to be doubled in size to give an even greater choice.

Minimalist, characterful, rustic or contemporary: isn't it time you introduced some metallic design flair into your installations?

Emerging Trends for 2017

Emerging Trends for 2017

Emerging Trends for 2017

In this month's HPP Blog, Mark Smith gives a rundown of the latest trends expected to impact on the kitchen and bedroom industry in 2017.

Texture:

2016 saw the market really focus on texture in a big way, and texture became as much a consideration as décor colours and styles.

The market for textured board, doors and worktops grew at a faster rate than anyone could have predicted, with designers, installers and consumers all seeing it as a must-have item for new kitchen and bedroom designs.

This rise in demand has brought about some exciting additional innovations to the marketplace, which will inevitably take the industry forward in this area throughout 2017.

We've seen the recent introduction of metallised melamine faced boards that use copper, stainless steel and other metallic surfaces that not only look and feel great, but don't dull blades when being cut. This means some outstanding interior design pieces can be created that are actually practical for the end installer to work with, and great for the consumer to enjoy each and every day.

This is a serious step forward for the industry and one that looks set to bring about some exciting finishes this year.

Lighting:

Lighting is also a huge part of any kitchen or bedroom design these days, and thanks to some pretty impressive developments in LED technology, the choices in 2017 are vast.

We now see everything from LED task lighting, right through to colour-changing mood lighting becoming not only a key part of design but more economical to purchase thanks to improved manufacturing volumes and processes. 2017 will also see the introduction of LED lights that allow the consumer to select from either warm or cool lighting from just the one bulb, rather than having to choose from one bulb type only.

Lighting is so critical in setting the right look, feel and tone of each design, that installers and designers alike are now using this to great effect, and we're pleased to see some latest COB (Chip On Board) lighting technology becoming more common place in the market. This reduces the need for separate transformers / drivers thanks to the chip being part of the fitting. This then allows for a more flexible installation approach, and means retro fitting certain items with the more efficient LED products is a much easier, quicker and more cost effective process.

Automation:

Still linked with lighting, but working on a wider scale too, home automation is becoming a much more important element for designers and installers to carefully consider and read up on during 2017.

The market is seeing an influx of new home automation products such as automated lighting, smart heating that reacts when you're near to your home, wireless AV systems and smart appliances too.

Whilst this is still a relatively new and slightly more expensive area of the KBB market, consumers seem to be warming to the benefits of this area. Therefore, it's important for tradesmen to be aware of clever products such as the SensioSound all-in-one light and Bluetooth speaker, which allows users to play music from their under-cabinet lighting, something we feel works really well in a modern kitchen environment.

Style & Design:

The emerging styles and trends for this coming year seem to be twofold at present, very similar to 2016.

One area of the market is very much all about rustic, tactile and more natural finishes, which is why painted surfaces and heavily textured boards and doors are high on the agenda for most designers; but we're still seeing strong demand for popular slab-fronted doors, albeit with some subtle changes to this contemporary style in the form of matt finishes, ultra high gloss and mirror gloss.

Whatever trends take the lead this year, it's certainly looking set to be an exciting one with some real innovations in production techniques that are giving designers and installers much more scope to create something more bespoke and totally unique.

If you need any advice or inspiration on latest trends and products to help with your next installation, why not pop into our Trade Counter and let our team show you what we've got to offer?

The HPP Team Visit Kronospan

Kronospan Chirk timber yard

Our marketing team recently ventured out of the office to take a trip to Kronospan's production facility in Chirk, Wrexham.

The main aim of the trip was to learn more about some of their latest developments, new products and ideas, and to get a good feel for just what goes into making some of the most interesting and innovative boards on the market.

The site was a hub of activity, as the company are in the process of re-structuring most of their manufacturing facility to make it more efficient, and more capable to cope with growing demand for their vast range of boards for the KBB and construction markets.

We were first taken to a picturesque old farmhouse which sits in the middle of their huge 150+ acre site, which now houses their meeting rooms and product display suite.

The showroom featured some of the latest product ranges to come out of Kronospan's growing worldwide portfolio, and one that is due for imminent launch being the Trends 16/17 collection, which we'll be making available to all HPP customers in the coming weeks.

We were also taken on a tour of their site to see just what goes into making some of the leading board in the marketplace.

The first thing that caught our interest is how technology has leapt forward in recent years when it comes to recycled material for board.

For many years, recycled material in MFC products was seen as a bad thing due to blade dulling, split-out and so on, but thanks to new technology and intensive cleaning methods (both dry and wet), the Kronospan team were able to show us just how much work goes into ensuring that recycled product going into board is as pure, clean and contamination-free as possible.

It surprised us just what they were able to extract before a product is even started, with things like glass, metal, sand and large wood chippings being taken out at a very early stage, which is reassuring, as it guarantees that each board delivered from HPP will be fit for its application, giving our customers the confidence they need in using any of our products.

Another huge plus is that this more intensive and environmentally aware method of cleaning is helping to reduce our environmental impact thanks for more recycled product being able to be added, which in turn is helping to reduce the amount that goes into landfill, increasing recycling, and ensuring the KBB industry keeps a close eye on reducing the impact we have on our landscape wherever possible.

We also got to take a look at the sizeable manufacturing processes that go into making the likes of MDF and MFC board possible, and when we say the scale was huge, we really mean it... The walk along one production line was enough to work up a sweat!

Seeing the massive £150k plates that create textured woodgrain, the multi-million pound production lines and the hundreds of people that go into making each board as uniform and perfect as the other made us realise just what goes into producing some of the most innovative boards in the industry.

The experience was a great one for our team and gave us the chance to gain a better appreciation of the hard work and effort that goes into each and every Kronospan product.

Photographs: reproduced by kind permission of Jan Ford (http://janfordsworld.blogspot.co.uk)

Tantalising Textures for Every Taste

Registered Embossed Woodgrain Surface

We all know that consumer trends are moving towards a warmer, more tactile finish, but as this shift is taking place, we're also seeing a fantastic movement in the materials manufacturing market, developing products to a newer and more innovative route with textures and finishes that not only get the industry excited, but get consumers' minds working overtime too.

In the last two years alone, we've seen some stunning new products, ranging from highly textured surfaces, ultra smooth, mirror gloss, matt and everything in between; so we thought we'd outline some of the most popular products in the industry at present and illustrate the differences of each.

Gloss Finishes

Since the introduction of the contemporary gloss white kitchen, we've seen some real developments in this area to provide consumers with even better, more stunning gloss finishes that are durable and scratch resistant.

Now available as acrylic or PVC gloss finishes, consumers can select from a wide range of popular colours from leading brands such as Kronospan, Finsa, Pfleiderer, Egger and Décor Panels. With new colours and tones available, gloss is now not only appealing to the contemporary market, but also to those leaning more towards a traditional look and feel too, giving it a wider, all-round appeal.

Gloss is great for creating a sense of openness and flow, and helps to create the illusion of more space in smaller kitchen designs. It also helps to bounce light around the room, making the most of any natural daylight that is available.

Maintenance is easy with these products too, but fingerprints do show up more easily than non-gloss alternatives, so this is always worth baring in mind when designing for a busy family home.

Matt Finishes

As an increasingly popular alternative to gloss finishes, consumers are starting to demand more in terms of texture and feel, which is where a matt finish is coming into its own within the industry.

Whilst not currently as popular as gloss, demand for matt finishes is without doubt increasing, and becoming a more popular choice for those wanting something more innovative and unique for their kitchens and bedrooms.

Usually manufactured with a polyurethane painted surface, matt finish furniture generates an extremely smooth yet hardwearing surface that has a certain air of quality and sophistication to it.

The décor is relatively new to the market and appears to be very popular and certainly in demand. This looks set to continue for the longer term.

Registered Embossed

Registered embossed materials provide a sophisticated feel that is perfect for creating a high value and elegant look. Materials generate life-like knots, blemishes and grains in wood patterns to give a premium feel, and are perfectly suited to both mid-market and high-end installations.

Available as Egger Feelwood and Kronospan Natural Touch, both ranges are becoming increasingly popular for consumers, as they want a more rustic, homely, warm feeling to their kitchen, bedroom and bathroom installations.

The registered embossed materials are a real step up from standard MFC products as they add a feeling of quality and prestige. They do cost a little more than the traditional MFC products, but are becoming somewhat of an industry standard for many trade customers as the benefits significantly outweigh the drawbacks.

Highly Textured Thermo-structured board

The next step up from registered embossed MFC is the premium XyloCleaf range of thermo-structured boards; currently available to buy as full sheet material and also as part of the HPP Aspects Doors Range

The product uses unique thermal manufacturing processes to generate extremely deep and intricate textures that are difficult to distinguish from the real material it is designed to mimic.

Available in a wide range of life-like wood grains, linens and other unique materials for both kitchen and bedroom applications, these are becoming a very popular choice within the industry thanks to the great finished effect that can be achieved and the sheer durability and chemical resistance of the product.

The range does come with a slightly higher price tag, which is more in line with the premium end of the market, but the end result more than compensates for this price difference as the material is very unique and individual to each design.

Mirror Finish Gloss

Created to add a little 'wow-factor' to any kitchen or bedroom design, the mirror gloss range, which is primarily available from the Kronospan range, offers a superior mirror gloss finish that gives a premium appearance, as well as an extremely hard wearing surface, making them not only great for the design of any kitchen or bedroom, but also highly practical for any situation.

These products are great for spaces large and small, as they bounce light around and help to create a true feeling of open plan, contemporary living. Maintenance is relatively hassle free with these products too, but as with the high gloss range, fingerprints do tend to show more quickly on these products in comparison to ranges such as the matt or textured products, so sometimes aren't the most suitable for busy family life.

See the full range of full sheet and cut and edged materials available from HPP here

Let classic and contemporary collide

Let classic and contemporary collide

Quite often in kitchen design we compartmentalise kitchen design as either classic or contemporary, but at HPP, we're really excited about some of the latest designs we've recently seen installed.

Designers are starting to challenge those traditional and well-rooted values as they blend classic and contemporary elements together seamlessly with each other to produce a finished result that not only looks great, but also looks like it was really meant to be.

Much of this progression has been down to the launch of innovative new materials, such as the XyloCleaf range of board from HPP.

XyloCleaf boards offer a staggering quality feel that looks, and really feels like the material it is replicating, so much so that it's difficult to actually tell the difference between that and the real thing! We're sure that alone will be a huge hit with consumers specifying a new kitchen.

These more innovative materials are starting to generate a true demand from consumers who are searching for a much more interesting board to be incorporated into their design, not only in the more classic or rustic kitchen designs, but also in the contemporary too, bringing into play materials that are highly modern and polished, alongside materials which add texture, interest and character to the design.

By blending the two materials, consumers are getting the best of both worlds.

The kitchen can be designed to be modern, with clean lines and a contemporary feel, whilst perfectly featuring materials that are more akin to that of the classic or rustic styling, offering an element of warmth and charm, helping to make the living space seem somewhat more relaxing and enjoyable.

Check out the XyloCleaf range of products here for inspiration and ideas by clicking Here

Creating a Home Office

Office Created with elements from the Egger Zoom Collection

Creating a home office is becoming much more popular in the UK as we are seeing more people working from their homes either full time or after the normal working day, so it goes without saying that demand for something a little more than a desk placed in the middle of a spare room is increasing, so we thought we'd go through a few helpful ideas to find the right spec for your next customer.

The home office comes in many shapes and sizes and can be found in the most surprising of places, from under-stairs cupboards, to hidden walk-in offices situated off a bedroom, practically anything is possible, and design ideas and styles can be injected into the finished furniture quickly and easily to meet the most demanding of consumer requirements. We find that with the right design, a space that seems totally un-suitable can be tailored to perfectly meet the consumer's requirements, and often exceed their expectations too.

The first step is to understand how the space is to be used. Is the office playing a practical role in simply being a small space for catching up on emails, or is it serving a greater purpose, possibly a place to meet clients out of hours. The way the work zones will be used is key too - we've found that by analysing the files, folders, in-trays and computing habits of the end user pays dividends in the long-run as it means the space can be totally tailored to them and the way they work, so if they're constantly getting up to grab files from a cupboard across the room, bring that closer to them in the new design so they don't waste time going back and forth.

The use of unique boards and decors is a great way to really make an impression with the home office too, just because it's a functional space doesn't mean it needs to look that way. The use of wood grained boards with texture and different finishes can set a unique ambiance in the office, and one that can compliment that person's personality and their home.

Try to also integrate clever storage ideas where possible. We've seen a few of our customers do innovative things with their designs, such as integrating a full computer screen into an electrically lifted mechanism, which hides it within the desk when not in use, but reveals it at the touch of a button. Whilst this option is quite elaborate, there are other simpler things that can make a huge difference, such as installing the right type of drawers, hinges that open out wider to provide better access in tighter spaces, or using wirework solutions for stationery, computer towers and larger, heavier files.

The other thing to remember is that people need to enjoy being in the space they're working in, so consider other elements such as Audio / Visual. Integrated TV's and sound systems are becoming a top seller to the higher end of the home office market, along with different lighting schemes to suit different moods and times of the day or year.

The possibilities for the home office design are endless, from the board and fixings that make up the general theme, to the finer details such as lighting, technology and handles which embellish the design; anyone can achieve the exact home office look and feel they want, and quite often within the budget they've got available.

One Board, Many uses!

Sample pack from HPP

Melamine faced chipboard, or MFC as it's known in the trade is heavily used in the production of kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and office furniture and is made by printing and applying a decorative paper in a melamine resin. This is pressed onto the board in a matter of seconds, which is critical to the process to ensure the melamine doesn't set before it is applied to the board.

MFC board is great for many applications as it offers a variety of thicknesses from very thin such as 6mm, right through to 18mm, 22mm and higher.

There are various grades of board available, and those wishing for something very hard wearing should select a dense board as this is more durable, but heavier to lift. Denser boards also offer better reliability in terms of resistance to warping and twisting, but come with a higher price tag.

Low-density board is more common in low traffic areas and within domestic applications, and is much lighter to lift and easier to cut and maneuver.

The consumer market tends to have the wrong impression of MFC board, often thinking about the type of cheap, brittle board that was commonly available in the 90's, but the technology has come a long way since then, and with the development of new processes, edging systems, engineered embossing and a variety of decors, finishes and textures, the market has never had so much choice and real potential to do something very different and unique!

The possible applications for MFC are endless. We've seen customer projects carried out in recent years that are both innovative and functional. Our MFC board has been used for applications such as home offices, bedrooms, walk-in wardrobes, entire kitchen and dining areas, custom made furniture such as matching coffee tables, counters and country dressers, right through to media centres, cinema storage and even wall paneling for both domestic and commercial applications.

With such a wide variety of MFC board available, customers are able to create almost any look, texture and finish the end user demands, and with boards suitable for both domestic and commercial applications, the product offers reliability and quality at a competitive price point.

To find out more, check out our boards online http://www.hpponline.co.uk/cat/206/sheet-material or visit one of our trade counters to see the range of options available.

Edge Banding Explained

3D style ABS edging tapes - Designed to give a glass effect finish to panels and doors

Edge banding for panel products and doors adds not only a functional aspect to the door in terms of durability and protection from moisture and scratching, but also provides a beneficial aesthetic quality which can often be used to compliment the design of any kitchen or bedroom furniture piece.

Wherever edge banding is being used, it offers highly durable results that furniture makers throughout the UK can rely on. Whether it's being used for a piece of furniture for a home office, kitchen, bedroom or bathroom, there are multiple options available that can suit almost any type of application, so we thought we'd provide a quick overview of some of the materials available, and how they can be used to achieve a quality finished product.

The most popular types of edge banding tend to be PVC, ABS or melamine edge banding. These are all suitable for common household applications such as kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms, but offer different levels of quality, durability and price points.

PVC Edge Banding

Probably the most popular type of edge banding, PVC edge banding is a highly durable option for sealing the exposed edges of boards that have been sawn to specific dimensions for custom furniture installation. It can also be used for either straight or curved applications, meaning it is highly versatile and suitable for a number of uses.

PVC edge banding is available in a number of colours, styles and sizes, all of which suit the wide range of board and doors available from HPP. Differing thicknesses are available for most ranges too, allowing a different design and aesthetic to be achieved depending on personal preference. Common thicknesses start from 1mm and work up to 2 and 3mm options also.

Melamine Edge Banding

Still a popular option, mainly due to its cost effective nature and ease of application, melamine edging is available for a wide range of board and panel styles. Whilst less durable than PVC edging, melamine is perfect for less heavy duty applications such as home offices or bedroom furniture where usage is infrequent and budgets are more constrained. A wide range of sizes, colours and finishes are available, and many can be simply heat applied to the sawn edges of melamine board leaving a clean, neat and tidy finished appearance.

ABS Edge Banding

ABS Edge banding is also ideal for a wide number of applications including kitchen applications where exposure to heat for sustained periods is likely. The product is resistant to heat and very flexible, meaning it can be used very close to hot ovens and hobs without distorting or peeling. It's flexibility means it can also be easily used for curves or custom shapes within any furniture design, making it a useful tool for intricate one-off furniture projects.

The product is also popular as it is eco-friendly and easily disposed of, meaning its impact on the environment is typically less than other equivelent products on the market. It is also robust enough for many commercial applications such as toilet cubicles, shop fit-out and retail displays.

Like the other types of edge banding, the ABS range is available in a wide variety of colours, sizes and formats, meaning you're sure to find the right product for your furniture design.

If you need advice on which type of edge banding is most suitable for your project, why not get in touch with one of our product experts who will be happy to help.

Design it Right With HPP

Egger Visual Display Unit

Designing a kitchen can often be a time consuming and pain staking process, and with such a wide range of customers, we have seen so many different ways of designing customer kitchens ranging from sketches on a notepad, right through to fully rendered 3D visuals which provide a guided tour of the space to the end consumer, giving them a better understanding of how the space might work and interact with them and their everyday lives.

Here at HPP, we're conscious that not all of our customers have the resources to put such systems in place, that's why we have our very own visual display unit in our trade counter, which allows you to design your customers kitchen by entering some basic measurements and details, specifying the board, doors and fittings you require, which can then be rendered and turned into a 3D visual, ensuring your customer gets the best possible view of what their new kitchen might look like.

The system has been a great helping hand to many of our customers so far as it allows them to not only provide much better, more polished visuals of the end product, but it also gives the consumer confidence in the product that will be provided long term, whilst capturing many of the materials, specifications and fittings that might be needed along the way, making the ordering process quicker, easier and more precise.

With the KBB market becoming more competitive, and consumers being more demanding, our visual display unit is a great tool for those customers who don't have access, and quite often the time to implement these systems in their own companies.

To find out a little more, or to speak to a member of staff about how to use the system, why not pop into our trade counter in Oldham for a demonstration to get you well on your way to 3D visuals for your customer quotes and proposals.

Matt Kitchens

Light Ferrara Oak 'Scoop' Doors

With demand for gloss being so high, and with some believing that area of the market to be quite saturated, consumers have begun to demand something a little different, which has brought about the rise of matt kitchens. The matt look has been steadily rising since 2012 and looks like it will continue to increase in 2014 too.

Whilst gloss still out-sells matt by a long way, it is picking up pace, slowly becoming a more sought after finish for new kitchen designs and installations. We're seeing a shift in consumer demand for warmer colours and more tactile textures, and this new trend is to a certain extent, supporting matt finishes well, as consumers get a more tactile experience and achieve a warmer more muted and homely look through the clever use of matt finishes in kitchens.

The beauty of matt effects in kitchen design is that it lends itself well to both modern and more traditional kitchens, offering a softer more subtle approach. The finish can be used on sharp edged, contemporary handle-less units with mixed décors, whilst it looks just as at home in classic and traditional styles too.

With the new matt finish being a fairly versatile option, and due to it being more unique right now than high gloss, it's a trend that we believe will slowly rise to satisfy a market demand that will continue to significantly increase over time.

Supply of matt finishes and textures in other markets is on the rise too. We're seeing launches from the likes of paint manufacturers and furniture producers of specialist, more unique matt finishes that can only help to compliment, and also drive demand for matt finishes in other areas of the home.

Whether it will over-take high gloss however still remains to be seen, and our belief is that consumers should buy what really suits their own tastes and preferences rather than buying something that is the trend right now - after all, they're going to have to live with the finish for some time, so best to go for what they want, rather than what they think they should buy.

HPP Online