Showcase & Custom Cabinetry

blue cabinets viking stove 

   Yesterday, we discussed the basics of cabinetry and the different styles available to you as you build or remodel your kitchen. When it comes to custom or semi-custom cabinetry, it is important to throughly plan the design and construction processes.

     In his article on Houzz, Matt Clawson, a contributor and realtor, discusses how to work with cabinet designers, cabinet makers, and how to get through this crucial part of designing, and defining, your kitchen. Below are some of the important parts in the process of obtaining your custom or semi-custom cabinets. The full article can be found here.

     One of the most important parts in the cabinet design process is finding the right designer for the job. You should look for someone with a vast array of work in their portfolios and for someone who has overwhelmingly positive reviews. Make sure you ask questions and communicate your concerns to a designer who is open to feedback and open to change. There is no substitute for adequate research, so take your time in finding the right designer, reviewing their work and providing relevant feedback. 

     At Showcase, we offer fully custom or semi-custom designs. With decades of experience, our designers have unparalleled expertise that will allow them to provide you the most optimal-and functional-cabinet designs for your kitchen. 

Finding Inspiration

This goes beyond the scope of your project, and cuts more to the picture in your mind of how the installed cabinets should look and operate. You do not need to have all the answers, but you should at least conceptualize what your finished picture might look like. Be prepared for this vision to morph a bit as you get into the design phase, but take the time to form a picture in your mind. 

Is style important to you? If so, find inspiration among the plenitude of cabinet ideas available on Houzz, or you can emulate something you saw at a friend’s home, on television or in a magazine. The point is, find a specific example that shows a cabinet style that attracts you.

Also, it’s important to decide the primary function. Is it display, storage or improved day-to-day efficiency and livability? 

And if you have to prioritize one over the other, is your primary concern style, or is it simply maximizing cabinet function? You should weigh your priorities, though the hope is, with a good designer and proper preparation, you won’t have to totally settle on one element over the other.

Defining the Details

If this look is the one that strikes your fancy, be sure to really investigate each of these features, and try to specifically determine why the cabinets themselves suit you.

  • Why did you pick this one?
  • Why do you like it?
  • Why did you pick this one?
  • Any element you might want to change?

Picking Your Cabinet Designer

When it comes to designing cabinets, the usual suspects are architects, designers, builders, specialty cabinet designers and cabinetmakers. Any of these folks might be the right person to design your cabinets, but how do you know which one to choose?

Job title is not really the critical criteria here — expertise is. You need to find out from the person you are considering how many projects he or she has designed. You need to see examples of his or her work. You need to determine if those examples closely match the vision you have for your own project. You need to interview past clients about their satisfaction with both the working experience and the final product. 


Once you have selected your designer and shared your vision, it is time to listen hard to his or her ideas. All of that experience is worth something, and it’s possible that some of your ideas are flawed in some manner. That’s where a designer can help.

Take Your Time Reviewing the Design

A common mistake customers make is not taking the necessary time to thoroughly review the design before signing an approval. In most cases, your cabinet designer will take a week or more to complete the first design draft after meeting with you. Once you’ve received a set of drawings for sign-off, you should spend time studying each cabinet section. At the very least, the design will include a floor plan (layout), as shown here, and elevations (the cabinet view from straight on). Some designers will also provide a 3-D rendering(link is external), which can help you visualize the way the cabinets relate to your space.

If possible, you should walk the room with a tape measure and try to visualize each section. You should make sure nothing is left off that you might have discussed, and you should try to get a feel for how the cabinets will affect your space functionally and aesthetically. Don’t just assume your designer got it right. Your satisfaction matters most, and it is you who must take the time to confirm that the design really is all you want it to be.

Communicate Concerns

You may come up with some concerns, and some of those concerns are likely to be well-founded while others are not. If your designer deviated from some of your expectations, find out why. There may be good reason, or it may be an oversight. Take the time to explain anything that seems amiss to you, and give your designer a chance to explain his or her thoughts before you get worked up.

After the first draft, there are supposed to be changes. A good designer will expect this and be prepared to offer insight while listening to your thoughts.

If, heaven forbid, you find yourself working with a designer who resists changes or does not seem to really hear you, then you may need to get another party involved in the discussion. Sometimes it can be a good idea to involve the builder or architect more actively to smooth out the process.


Custom cabinets can take two months or more to construct, plus a week or more to install. Once you have made all your design and finish choices, you will have to wait. The installation process can be an exciting time, when you actually see the tangible shapes you painstakingly pored over fill your room. 

Don’t panic during this period. It seems like a long time, and worries can fester, but if you took the time to study this and the other cabinet stories in this series, and found an experienced designer and cabinetmaker to work with, you have done all you can.

Alicia Friscia