Category: Products

Semi-Custom vs Custom Cabinets

Types of Cabinets and Cabinet Style

The kitchen is widely recognized as being one of the most important rooms in any home. Not only is your kitchen the center of activity when entertaining guests, but it is also the heart of everyday life for a family. Meals are created, stories are shared, and family ties are bonded all around the kitchen space. Not only that, but any real estate agent would agree that a lot of the home’s financial value is dependent on the kitchen. Some of the most important decisions you make when remodeling your kitchen revolves around cabinetry. The type of wood, door and drawer style, finishes, and accessories is a topic of discussion with our clients. We also discuss differences between custom cabinets and manufactured or box cabinets. Many people have a perception that custom cabinets are better, but are they really?

Semi-custom vs. Custom Cabinets

To understand the difference, you have to understand what each type is:

Custom Cabinet:

As the name implies, custom cabinets are made specifically to order for a project. There isn’t a catalog of standard sizes and details.

Box or Manufactured Cabinet:

These cabinets are made in standard sizes different color an stain options. They are ordered from a catalog As you might expect, these are produced in a factory setting.


Semi-Custom Cabinet:

There is actually a third choice that many people are not aware of called semi-custom cabinets. These are cabinets that are made in a factory, and the manufacturer allows for modification of the standard catalog sizes, drawing of custom features, and even creating unique stains and finishes. There is usually a set of color and stains chose from. Custom color matching isn’t an option.

So, there aren’t just two choices. There is a spectrum of choices related to customization. Once we decide on the type of cabinets, there are other considerations:

Quality of the product: It is important to stress that custom cabinets are not necessarily higher quality, nor are manufactured cabinets. Both types come in a wide range of quality. We have seen manufactured cabinets with really thin particleboard boxes that have literally slid down the wall.

Cabinet Finish: How do cabinets from a local shop compare to a manufactured brand? The biggest difference between manufactured cabinets, and those built in a shop is the use of a heat cured catalyzed varnish. This requires a controlled factory setting. These durable top coats over the stain or enamel can help protect the cabinets from the wear and tear of busy families.

Price: In general, customization adds to the cost of cabinets. However, it is only one variable that impacts cost. Others are the wood species for the doors, the type of finish, the quality of the cabinet box, the construction of the cabinet package.

Cabinet Style:

Inset cabinetry is a style of cabinetry where the door is “set into” the face frame, instead of overlaying the face frame in overlay cabinetry

Cabinet doors can completely overlay the cabinet, or partially overlay. A full overlay cabinet is one in which the doors and drawer fronts cover the face frame completely. In appearance, a full overlay cabinet design is very much like a frameless cabinet design. A partial overlay design shows the frame in the space between the cabinet doors.

Framed/Frameless Cabinetry

Framed cabinetry: 1-1/2 inch face “frame” at the front of the cabinet box. This frame resembles a flat picture frame that is attached to the door front, giving added dimension to the door front. There is traditionally a center stile in bigger box cabinets with 2 doors.

Frameless cabinetry is sometimes called “full access” cabinetry because it offers greater accessibility by eliminating the face frame. Instead, it relies on thicker box construction for stability. Only full overlay doors can be used, with hinges attached directly to the sides of the cabinet box.

As mentioned, the main difference between using a manufacturer and a local cabinet shop for your cabinets is in the finish, which is a big pro to using a cabinet manufacturer. Most cabinet manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty of your product. Your cabinet guy may or may not still be in business in 10 years.

We believe in educating our clients about cabinet options in order to ensure they have the knowledge they need to choose the quality and features that will suit the needs of their families.

The next time your neighbor talks about wanting a new kitchen, share some of your new knowledge with her, then tell her you know a cabinet designer that can give her exactly what she wants.






Kitchen Islands | Pros and Cons

Kitchen Islands

Kitchen Design

Kitchen islands are a relatively new idea, as far as kitchen designs go. Once kitchens got bigger and open concept home plans got popular, the kitchen island became almost a default part of every new kitchen.

That does not mean a kitchen with island is right for every kitchen, however! If you’re contemplating a kitchen remodel and the “kitchen island or not” question is one you’re asking, here are some things to consider…

Do you room for a kitchen with island?
According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), an open kitchen with island should have at least 42 inches of clearance on each side of the island. Why so much? Because it’s meant to be a work area. If you were only walking past it, 36 inches would suffice. But you’re not installing an island in your new kitchen so you can simply pass it by. So 42 inches it is. Consider the size of your new kitchen: Can you make an island fit?

Can you afford a kitchen with island
When answering the question, “kitchen island or not,” consider your budget. Adding a kitchen island adds costs for cabinetry and countertop, plus any appliance or sink and fixtures you’re considering. Granted using semi custom cabinets will save you money from the outset, but still—you need to crunch the numbers and see if you have room in your budget, in addition to room in your room, for a kitchen island.

The pros and cons to an open kitchen with island
The advantages to a kitchen island are many: You get more counter space, more storage, an eating area, and possibly room for an appliance or small work sink. In short, you can easily convert an L-shaped kitchen into a U-shaped one with the addition of an island! With an open concept plan, you also get to interact with people not in the kitchen with you while you’re cooking, or keep an eye on kids doing homework while seated at the island.

On the other hand, you have the additional cost, as noted above, plus an island can disrupt the classic triangle layout of sink/range/refrigerator. More than anything, you want your kitchen to be functional, so adding an island and causing dysfunction is a very bad idea. That said, not all islands have to be rectangular in shape. You could look into something V-shaped if that serves your traffic flow better. But that will also add to your costs.

Alternative answers to “kitchen island or not”
There are ways to add some of the functionality and design elements of an island without incurring the cost or messing with your mojo while cooking. You could use a table instead. With a table, you get additional cooking surface, plus it becomes an eating area that everyone can use. With an island, you only have seating on one side so there’s less togetherness about the meal. Also a table can get moved out of the way and pushed up against the wall, if necessary. Another alternative is a cart on wheels. With the cart, you get a work surface plus storage and—as with the table—you can push it out of the way. Or you can use a piece of furniture that wasn’t meant to be used in the kitchen but looks glorious there in the middle of your room, adding fashion and flair as well as a place to chop vegetables.

Check out our Pinterest board for more island design ideas:


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2017 Kitchen Design Trends

2017 Kitchen Design Trends

HAPPY NEW YEAR from Design Firm!

Out with the old, in with the new. With the turn of a new year, we’re seeing some new trends that will be making a splash in kitchen design this year. This blog is packed full of inspirational kitchens that showcase the new kitchen trends.

From hidden appliances to beautifully painted cabinets in complementing colors, homeowners want their kitchen to be stylish enough for entertaining, yet welcoming and functional for everyday use.

Top trends:
  • Tuxedo kitchen cabinets: Mix up a kitchen’s color palette with Tuxedo cabinets. Homeowners can do a literal interpretation with black and white, but use other complementary colors, such as navy blue and soft gray, for a softer contrast.Chania  
  • Hidden appliances: Ditch stainless steel appliances, which can feel cold and industrial, and switch them for hidden appliances that easily meld into the design scheme. They provide an unexpected touch for those who plan on spending plenty of time in the kitchen.

  • Wood paneling: Transport your kitchen back to grandma’s kitchen with wood paneling, also known as shiplap. Use white shiplap to give a clean, modern finish. We’re seeing shiplap used on whole walls, not just as a backsplash. 
  • Mixed hardware finishes: Instead of going for a monochromatic stainless steel look, we are seeing appliances and accessories with various finishes, such as gold, copper or pewter. The final result is an eclectic, one-of-a-kind space. Caitlyn Wilson’s Design 101 blog gives some great tips on mixing your metals. 
  • Speckled granite: Homeowners are no longer limited to granite countertops. Instead, they’re going for quartz, marble and butcher block countertops that are easier to stain and maintain.
  • Short cabinets: Ditch the short cabinets, and install taller ones. Tall cabinets make a small kitchen look bigger and brighter.
  • Dark brown wood and paint colors: “Bigger and brighter” will be the name of the game for 2017. With that, dark paint, accessories and wood finishes will go out of style.

Cabinet Hardware Trends

Kitchen Remodeling Trends: Cabinet Hardware

The popular finish of knobs and pulls tends to follow in line with jewelry design trends. If you want to know what the knew cabinet hardware trends will be, visit a jewelry store and look around.

Like most remodeling trends, hardware seems to run a full circle, making a come back with a twist the second time around.

In the 80’s, polished brass was all the rage. Now, that shiny brass finish is as appealing as shag carpet and avocado green appliances. Brass finished hardware has been replaced with a classy spin. The shiny finish is being seen in a soft sheen of satin or brushed finish.

screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-3-48-35-pm screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-3-54-48-pmThe brushed bronze/brass finish is an updated look for those homeowners tired of the brushed nickel and chrome finished that have dominated the marked over the last few years. It adds a subtle warmth to remodeled kitchens and creates richness against darker stained wood cabinets.

As the year progresses, gold-toned hardware is becoming more and more popular. To find out how this finish can fit into your next design project, contact us for a consultation.

Also: Check out our Pinterest board for more design ideas using brushed bronze and satin brass finished hardware. Link ——> Hardware!

Can we talk about this blue kitchen for a minute?




Details for Your Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen Renovation Inspiration

When it comes to kitchen cabinets, most of us crave custom design. Whether it’s posh crown moldings or ingenious storage solutions, custom design is all about the details. Add a personal touch to your kitchen cabinets with these 10 ideas that bring designer style to the heart of your home.

1. Crown molding. Few things leave designer fingerprints like crown molding does. It can bridge the gap between your wall cabinets and the ceiling, allowing for a seamless transition. In traditional kitchens, it can cap off the design with one final touch of detail.

2. Matching ends. Instead of a flush skin, go with matching panels for your cabinet ends. Like decorative legs, they have a furniture-style look. This type of detail especially thrives in traditional or Mediterranean spaces.

A matching end comes integrated into the cabinet or as a separate piece. You can install your own; just make sure there’s enough room first. Some panels are up to ¾ inch thick, depending on the manufacturer.

3. Decorative legs. From chunky to Mission style, table legs always catch the eye. Place them at the ends of your island or work them into your cabinet layout for a true furniture feel.

In general, legs with detailing are better suited for traditional and rustic designs. Simple, straightforward legs work best with contemporary and modern designs.

4. A splash of color. Neutrals remain the go-to hues to use for kitchen cabinets, so a stroke of green or blue is a daring design choice. It can be a risk that pays off. The effect is a bright and bold design with just the right amount of spice. Your neutrals will also pop, as they do in this contemporary design.

5. Glass door fronts. Whether transparent, frosted or seeded, a glass door front sets the stage for a glimpse of fine dishware and dazzling decor, especially when there are lights involved. This type of display can make your kitchen design open and inviting, which lets you and your guests feel right at home.

6. Corbels. Ornate, oversized and even plain corbels add traditional elegance to an island and kitchen cabinets.

7. Mixed door styles. If you’re stuck between two cabinet door styles, don’t be afraid to use both. Complementary styles can strengthen your kitchen’s overall look, while opposites can produce an attractive transitional design. This kitchen shakes it up with a mix of modern slab door fronts and Shaker-style cabinets.

8. Beadboard. As timeless as black and white, beadboard is perfect for rustic, farmhouse or beach-style kitchen designs. It also adds a smidgen of detail without compromising the simplicity of your design. Use it as the finishing touch for your cabinet ends or find a door style that has it built in.

9. Creative storage spaces. Don’t always settle for cookie-cutter storage options. A custom wine rack drawer is one way to give your cabinets a designer touch (and house a growing wine collection). Other popular options are spice rack drawers, peg pullouts for utensils, and tray dividers for baking sheets. Custom built-ins like these show personality and are a perfect marriage of form and function.

Photo Credit: Larry Arnal

10. Wainscoat panels. Not to be confused with matching ends, wainscoat panels adorn the backs of cabinets. They can dress up the back side of your island and make it look like an authentic furniture piece with the help of decorative legs and matching ends.

-Sam Ferris, Houzz Contributor

Countertops and Backsplashes

Countertops and backsplashes


Soapstone: Throwback to 1987 chemistry class? You may remember soapstone tabletops  from your high school chemistry class. Because they can hold up to high heat and are impervious to stains and bacteria, soapstone was the top choice for tabletops in science rooms across the country.  If your kitchen gets A LOT of use, soapstone may be the right choice for your kitchen or bathroom countertops.

The basics: Soapstone is a natural stone composed largely of mineral talc, which lends the material the smooth feel of soap. Slab colors are typically medium gray and can have a greenish cast. Over time, the soapstone will darken to a deep charcoal. Slabs may contain pronounced veining, which is produced by quartz in the stone.

The Pros: Durability is soapstone’s top bragging right. It’s not unusual in the northeast parts of the U.S. to find soapstone sinks and wood-burning stoves from the 1800s that are still functioning today, so consider this countertop a lifetime investment. Soapstone is a terrific material for the kitchen, as it’s unaffected by heat. Being chemically neutral means that acids like tomatoes and lemon juice won’t damage it. Its density makes it impenetrable by everything, including bacteria and would-be stains.

The Cons:  The talc content makes soapstone softer than some other stone counters, leading to edges and corners being eased over time. Nicks and scratches may accumulate too, which can be sanded out or considered part of its living patina. When selecting your slab, it’s good to know that the greener the slab, the softer it is. Seek out slabs with less of a green cast if you want a harder slab.

Maintenance: Mild soap and water will take care of routine cleanup. Regular application of food-grade mineral oil is typically recommended, as it darkens the stone and makes the appearance more consistent. Applying the oil is solely for aesthetics.

Pairing: Soapstone has been used in kitchens since the 1800. It is well-suited to historic renovations, holding true to the farmhouse, Craftsman and Prairie homes. It can also work well in modern and contemporary spaces when paired with a backsplash that has cleaner, straight lines. Here’s some of our ideas for pairing your soapstone to the appropriate backsplash.

Style=Countertop + Backsplash

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Farmhouse cottage= Soapstone + Beadboard: This classic detail is popular in traditional and eclectic homes, especially if you’re going for a farmhouse or cottage look. In this kitchen, the corbels under the cabinets add to the farmhouse look and feel.


Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 6.36.31 PMCraftsman = Soapstone + Soapstone       The craftsman style is identified by the symmetrical pattern, and clean lines in the cabinetry, Soapstone’s beautiful vein patterns look artful when extended up a wall, as seen over this cooktop. The simple, stripped-down craftsman look is a classic.

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Rustic = Soapstone + Reclaimed Wood  The rustic look of reclaimed wood in its rough-aged appearance pairs well with the texture of soapstone. Cabinets should be kept simple to allow the texture of the wood and soapstone to get all the attention they deserve.

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The Classic = Soapstone + Subway Tiles Subway tiles may be one of the most diverse backsplash materials you can use. Classic kitchens are timeless and flexible. The use of subway tiles gives lots of space for other kitchen details like decorative lights and cabinetry to further define your style.

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Vintage = Soapstone + Paneling                          Whether inspired by a 1940s diner or an old-world scullery, vintage kitchens offer charm and contemporary convenience. The paneling appears throughout this small kitchen for a vintage look that reminds us of making cookies with Grandmother over the holidays.


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Traditional = Soapstone + Tile                         Soapstone countertops paired with a gray tile backsplash compliment the architectural details, glazed cabinets and mixed finishes that define the Traditional style.



Sustainability: Soapstone gets green kudos for being a material that will last for generations.

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