Vince Lisanti, CCS Woodworks, 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 and the team at Braam’s Custom Cabinets, 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.
From a customer service standpoint, custom shops should take more time in the planning process to ensure your new cabinets do more than fill the space with storage, but also reflect your style and plans for how you intend to use your space.
Berg: We’ve worked on projects ranging from furniture-style bathroom vanities to swinging bookcases that conceal hidden rooms, arts and craft rooms, master closet organization and storage, custom-tailored wine cellars, breakfast nook built-ins, laundry rooms, bookcases, and dining tables and sideboards.
Braam: It’s true that we do mostly kitchens and baths, but we also do entertainment and wall units, fireplace surrounds, wall and ceiling paneling, furniture, home offices, closets, bars and beverage centers, pantries, laundry rooms and mudrooms, to name a few.
Berg: We use several types of design and manufacturing software. One is primarily used for giving clients detailed floor-plan and elevation views of their project, while simultaneously generating cut parts for all of the cabinets. This software also enables us to create photorealistic renderings for our clients. The second is used for drafting more complex projects which require further detail.
Metzler: We use a 3D rendering software called KPS, which is a version of Planit developed in Germany that includes our catalogs already inside the software. This can show what our kitchens would look like and also generate a detailed item list with pricing.
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.
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.
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.
Braam: Accreditation and affiliations such as the National Kitchen & Bath Association, local Home Builders Associations and the Better Business Bureau can also help a homeowner feel confident in their decision. Homeowners should do a bit of research prior to working with one company. Ask around to friends or families to see who they used for their cabinetry and what their experience was like.
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