improvisation in the key of life

Friday, April 21, 2006

kitchen cabinets

all i hear about kitchens is how hard and expensive and long they take. this is primarily due to the cabinets.
anecdotal evidence points to people saying "we put up our own cabinets, THAT was an experience".

we called someone that advertises that They Do Cabinets or whatever and they were/are going to send
'someone' in to do a 'free evaluation'. one thing they said though was that it would take 6-8 weeks
from the time that we pick what we want to even START making the cabinets.

perhaps they mean, for the Chinese workers to glue them together... no matter.

are they trying to push the 'hurry up and get our 'consultant' in your home so we can sell to you' angle?
or does it actually take a month and a half to start putting together cabinets? that seems pretty
inefficient. in a month and a half, i could learn ho---- i don't want to learn how to make cabinets.

is that it? or is that it, only if you go to homedepot/lowes/osh/whatever... would a little homespun cabinet
maker do it quicker? what are the different routes to go?

A. home depot-like places
B. build it yourself
C..... ? use standard sizes in stock?
D..... local woodworker?
E. order out a lot and use paper plates?

cost doesn't matter, what are the options?



  • At 11:22 AM, Anonymous twood said…

    I would not suggest building them yourself if you can find someone to build what you want. Building cabinets is a huge undertaking and you will not save money by doing it.

    However, cabinet installation is reasonably easy if you know what to do. It's tricky and needs to be done right but it is not hard nor does it take a great deal of time, shop space and special tools (though tools help).

    I would also suggest not doing your own counter install.

    Counter install is tricky and very specialized. You'll never do enough to justify the learning curve which is painful.

    As far as the scheduling issues in ordering cabinets that is probably not unrealistic though things may vary depending on who you go through. The thing is you have this big factory that builds cabinets but you have to get on their schedule so it take six weeks or three months or whatever and then they are built in a couple days. So yes it is important to make those decisions as soon as possible but you really need to know which cabinets you want before you choose the provider. So you have to step back and have a vision and then that has to become individual components and choices and then you have to see who is offering that vision.

    You need to go to showrooms and look at different styles.

    Finish, is it painted or wood? Are the doors glass or solid wood, raised panel doors or not.

    Another biggy is whether the overall style is "box"
    or face frame. Hinges. Trim. Counters (laminate, stone, wood, concrete whatever).

    Also look carefully at the internals, drawers and insert options look at the quality before making a decision on supplier. I've installed cabinets that were from Home Depot that were already broken on arrival. Definitely don't buy their low end stuff. I don't know if they have better stuff but it would not surprise me.

    Before you even go to a supplier for a design draw out some ideas and figure out how many drawer bays you want and things like that. They'll do the same thing but if it is going to reflect your vision you need to be a little bit proactive. Just working on it will give you an idea whether the designer is closer to what you wanted or further. Pick a refrigerator and appliances or at least start thinking about it and the sink and so on. All of these things have to converge. Flooring if it's going to change, wall color. Everything you can think of. You don't want to spend weeks with a designer only to find out they can only think in terms of McMansion crap.

    When you're in the showrooms open the drawers and doors and pull out the inserts and so forth.
    One thing I've found and will suggest is that the internal drawers that are full extension aren't appreciably better than shelves generally. I made some anyway, and they invariably get used like shelves. You have to open the doors completely to pull out the drawers. This generally keeps it from happening because you can open one door and grab whatever you want. Shelves are cheap and they generally work fairly well. Drawers work great so long as they are not behind doors. Full extension drawers are generally not needed unless there is specific reason and they tend to be crankier.

    I personally like the "Euro" style drawer guides, and don't care much for the bottom style (though they're more expensive). The "Euro" hardware in general is very well designed. Often, sytems that start with "Euro" use it throughout.

  • At 2:31 PM, Anonymous tumble said…

    "all i hear about kitchens is how hard and expensive and long they take. this is primarily due to the cabinets.
    anecdotal evidence points to people saying "we put up our own cabinets, THAT was an experience"."

    If you have a good game plan on how to do it cabinet installation is not too bad. It's right up there with my favorite carpentry thing to do. The key is knowing what can go wrong and how to plan ahead so that it doesn't. Much of finish carpentry is all about going slow and being as immaculate as possible.

    Someone starting out having done neither cabinet installs nor carpentry probably assumes walls are straight and plumb, corners perpendicular.

    Assuming they're not, because they usually are not, you'll have a huge leg up. So the first question isn't what's right but what's wrong and by how much and how do we deal with that in the least problematic way.

    The next thing is knowing which cabinets to put in, in which order and how to make them look their best.

  • At 3:23 PM, Blogger blue][erring said…

    we shall find out more tomorrow when we go to loews and talk to the people in the kitchen area. we know what style we want, though we haven't nailed down exactly how many drawers, etc. because we're waiting until we go to a place and see what the deal is, but we're pretty firm on what style we want, does that make sense? relatively plain (no fru-fru) white painted cabinets with very little or no router work. there is one free standing cabinet that we would like to have glass in, with few or no grid-wood going across it. on either side of the sink we want those quarter-round open shelves...
    jenn said last night that she would like the pull-out shelve things and i thought it sounded like a good idea but after reading what you said i can totally see the exact situation you describe, i'll show jenn what you wrote.

    as for the counter top we want a greenish formica old-school style counter-top. is it formica? or that other brand from the 50s...

    i like euro style in general also myself. tomorrow's the day... thanks t'woo'

  • At 9:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    you might find that a local person (man or woman in your area!) could be more efficient.... Lowe's seems to have such a limited selection. I think Ikea has them euro and pre-fabbed....


  • At 9:38 AM, Anonymous twood said…

    If you're getting formica counters, then you still need to decide on backsplash, edging, color and texture. We did wood edging and backsplash (cherry) but most people do formica edge banding (with or without a bevel) or the heatmolded (rounded). I don't like the rounded myself. The other option which I kind of like is the metal stripping which is old looking. I'm just not sure how practical it is since it has that edge where gunk can get stuck and build up. It might not be that bad though. I don't know.

    For some reason I've never liked Formica backsplashes. I think wood ones look better. I think it's because Formica by it's natiure looks better in the expnasive areas not on the edge. So this four inch tall thing with a whole bunch of edge staring at you calls attention to it's worst qualities rather than it's best.

    Formica has some disadvantages but in general I think it is a good practical choice. Stone is nice and all but if you drop a plate or bowl on stone they will likely break which isn't so good with kids.

    You're not in the "china shop" usage patterns part of life.

  • At 10:18 AM, Blogger blue][erring said…

    yes it is formica, the other company is corian... in a parallel universe it would be tupperware (but they never opened a home furnishings division). we too like
    the metal stripe banding thing along the front edge.
    at they have some cool stuff...

    we want to do tile backsplash, probably a two or three high row with paint above.

    speaking of superugly trends... these glass bowls that are replacing sink basins? eww...

    going to loews today..

  • At 10:27 AM, Blogger blue][erring said…

    ohh also on they have "wall coverings"... and i got a funny tingly idea... we 'had' floor to ceiling wood(product)panels in the dining room and entryroom.
    we took that off and exposed the remnants of floor to chest wainscoting with plaster above...
    to restore the wainscoting 'look', what if we used some of this formica wood paneling, which has killer patterns and stuff... use that as the 'backing' of the wainscoting and then put the finishing vertical wood bars and tops to complete the wainscoting 'look' but with formica wood panels as a major surface component. check out and click on wood: [or directly]


  • At 11:18 AM, Anonymous tumble said…

    As far as wood grain Formica I am not a fan. As far as redoing the wainscoting with formica panels I am highly skeptical. The great thing about wood is it's wood. It can be nailed, sanded and so on. With formica you have to attach it with glue to a wood substrate. For counters this makes sense because it's waterproof and very hard (doesn't nick easily) but it is also brittle because it is hard so it is a pain to work with. It's also thin. So anyway, you would have to glue on the trim because you wouldn't want to nail through formica. If the existing panels are too much work to redo it would be better to start new with 1/4" plywood panels with trim or a solid wood wainscoting or bead board.

  • At 12:28 PM, Anonymous tumble said…

    "speaking of superugly trends... these glass bowls that are replacing sink basins? eww..."

    If you're talking about the ones that are above the counter I agree. The first I saw of it was a house I built about five years ago and it was really strange then. Since then I have seen them in pictures where it's a very modern sort of Zen look floating glass counter or something and then it can look good.

    It's a look.

    When you slap one down on a fairly conventional cabinet with formica top though, which is what our client did, it's definitely whacked.

    Also they had kids and those Zen Bowl sinks are for a Yuppie couple with no kids that don't mind washing their hands really carefully in awkward tight quarters and cleaning a bunch of "extra" hard to reach surfaces.

    They also have the design advantage of matching the crystal Martini glass one is carefully sipping from while washing those carefully manicured hands.

    Our next big purchase is a third "auto-scoop".

  • At 3:36 PM, Anonymous said…

    Ramekins, the cooking school that Colleen helps out at in Sonoma, has those glass bowl type sink basins in the bathrooms. And we're seen them in a few of the model homes we've looked at lately. I can see them in a fancy bathroom as more for looks, but it wouldn't seem right to me in a kitchen.

    As for the pullout drawers in the cabinets, our last place had them and Colleen loved them. They were setup with just one door per rollout, so there wasn't the convenience factor that Tumble mentioned. These were in the sub-counter drawers where cooking bowls, serving dishes, and such were stored. Very handy for easily getting at things in the back. But the negative was that they didn't hold as much as traditional shelves, since you lost the space between dividers, and you didn't have that carryover space to hold odd shaped or larger items.

    I'm sure we'll be getting them once we're in the market.

  • At 7:29 AM, Blogger Kitchen Cabinet Refacing said…

    Kitchen cabinets are something you use every day, yet you probably never take the time to appreciate them. They seem simple enough, but there is actually more than plenty involved behind the scenes. There are many things to consider regarding kitchen cabinet refacing, cabinets materials, finishes, door designs, and even information on hardware.


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