Some call it the “wow” factor: the response a beautiful kitchen generates. And at the very heart of that reaction is the cabinetry you choose. These days, the choices are considerable, even at the lesser-expensive end of the market. Manufacturers and custom furniture-makers are raising the bar and offering consumers an array of wood species, panel styles, finishes and accessories that can turn so-so kitchens (and baths), into sensational spaces.
Easy as 1, 2, 3
The choice of wood species and panel styles also are limited, but they won’t bust your budget. The most recent survey by the Home Improvement Research Institute indicates the average cost of stock cabinetry is $2,840 for an entire kitchen.
You even can order specialty upgrades, such as glass inserts and storage accessories, to create a tailored look with more visual appeal. Lead times vary, but delivery is typically in the four-to-six-weeks range. Expect to pay at least 20 percent more for semi-custom than stock cabinets.
The custom category offers the most sweeping choice of wood species, from exotic mahogany to reclaimed, even extinct varieties. What comes out of the woodworking shop is a finish in line with what you’d expect on high-end furniture.
The Home’s Soul
“What’s beautiful about the wood is that most of these trees were growing when the pilgrims came to America,” Stephen explains. Old-growth lumber is known for its density, strength and mellow patina. Stephen makes sure to leave evidence of its history in his creations. Some of his pieces still contain scars where old bolts rusted. Other boards, like those taken from a barn stall, might retain the nibble marks of a horse. In a bathroom vanity cabinet made from white pine barn wood, Stephen left in the ring used to tether the horse to the stall. “I take a wood that’s beautiful and I wrap it in function,” he says.
Function is predicated on quality construction, and savvy home owners know it, according to Karen Laskoske, a designer at Crown Point Cabinetry, a custom cabinet company in Claremont, New Hampshire. “Builders and architects are always going to ask about construction, but home owners really know their stuff,” says Karen. “They’re smart consumers, and they want to know how you construct your cabinets.”
What to Look For
The longer you expect to stay in your home, the more quality workmanship will pay dividends in durability and functionality.
From Colonial to Contemporary
Another key consideration is where the kitchen falls in the floorplan, according to Merillat’s Paul Radoy. If the kitchen flows into another room, like the great room, the cabinetry will impact the overall aesthetic on the adjoining living space.
Wood clearly plays a bigger role in log homes than in standard frame houses, but Karen says home owners shouldn’t feel compelled to match cabinet wood species to interior walls, floors or beams. Even for those who like a fully timbered interior? “It doesn’t need to be all the same,” she says. “I’ve done cherry cabinetry in several pine log homes. It gives a rustic home a formal touch.”
Now You See It, Now You Don’t
This article is featured in the May 2006 issue of Log Home Design.