Working with Custom Cabinetry

  When remodeling or building your kitchen, there are countless options when it comes to cabinetry. From stock to semi-custom to full custom, you will have the ability to choose what fits best based on style, budget, structure, and other factors that may be exclusive to your project. Though typically more expensive, custom cabinetry has a great many benefits. For those who value detail and exhibit a great attention to the particulars of a design, custom cabinetry can offer satisfaction that stock options cannot. 

  Although our designers are able to create your ideal kitchen at any working budget, they will be able to maximize creativity, utility and cohesiveness when working with custom products. We have also launched our new Houzz platform, Showcase Custom Cabinetry, which will allow us to emphasize our work with custom cabinetry. Custom cabinetry and personalized design work is truely what will make your project a Showcase kitchen. 

    Houzz contributor Laura Gaskill has detailed the differences between custom and alternative options through a Q&A with some professionals accross the country in her article: "What to Know About Working with a Custom Cabinetmaker". Below we have outlined some of the more important and relevant factors, but you can read the whole article here.

Q. Why should homeowners consider going the custom route rather than buy off-the-shelf stock cabinets?

Vince Lisanti, Rock Hill, New York: The two biggest factors for choosing custom are attention to detail in the design phase and having the ability to seamlessly match millwork, trim or furniture pieces with the custom cabinetry. True custom cabinets offer customers the ability to have complete flexibility in their project designs. Special sizing constraints, uncommon wood types or finishes, and complicated design elements are not an issue when choosing a custom cabinet and millwork shop.

Erin Braam, Toronto: When you order stock cabinetry, you have to stick to standard cabinet sizing, and the fillers accommodate any unused space. This limits your choices in many ways and creates a lot of unused space that you won’t run into if you go the custom route. Custom guarantees that your designer is always working with a fresh, new perspective and you’re getting something uniquely you.

Brian Berg, Beaverton, Oregon: From a product standpoint, custom shops use superior materials, hardware and construction methods. You will pay a bit more, but they will stand up to wear and tear, whereas the cheaper materials and hardware used in many off-the-shelf cabinets will break down much faster. For instance, a soft-close drawer slide may work fine for the first year or so, but we’ve gone into many homes and seen the compression piston fail, which results in a faulty slide.


Q. What about your pricing structure? Do you charge hourly, by the project or some other way?

Berg: We have a general pricing structure based on lineal footage for standard cabinet runs: bases, uppers, full heights. This price varies based on the cabinet construction method — frameless, inset face frame — and wood species. Upgrades are applied for things like exotic wood species, hardwood dovetailed drawer boxes, custom glazed or distressed finishes, and radius doors and moldings.

Braam: We charge by the project. The thing about custom is that it’s not accurate for us to ballpark a figure for a project. It’s easier to work within a client’s budget and make a list of what is most important to be included. Material costs, labor and finishing can vary greatly depending on what the client chooses.


Q. What should potential clients know before hiring a custom cabinetmaker? 

Lisanti: As when hiring any professional to work in your home, do your homework. When you meet with the owner or salesperson of the custom cabinet shop, try to get a feel for his or her passion about their craft and ability to provide you with what you are looking for. Also try to set up visits to some of their recent projects. From my experience, most past clients who are pleased about the way their projects turned out are usually more than willing to allow potential clients in to see it and offer up a great referral.


Q. How can homeowners know if a cabinetmaker is well qualified? What should we be looking for?

Braam: Most kitchen designers have completed either an interior design or decorating program at college or university. This provides the designer with the fundamentals for space planning, millwork, materials and colors.  The homeowner can look at the years the company has been in business in the community; the more years in business, the more experience in the industry.

Lisanti: Look for a passion and attention-to-detail quality of the owner/operator. Also referrals, photos, scheduled site and/or shop visits, and accreditation are good signs of a professional.

Alicia Friscia