We all know that feeling we get when we walk through the show room halls of the big blue home furniture stores. That oooh I like this, or wow that could work. Soon enough we get overloaded by all the designs, styles and people. At the end of our visit we probably end up only buying an odd shaped lamp. Maybe thats just me. Shopping for cabinets is a big deal. Its not something that should be rushed, pushed on you or neglected. Kitchens, my main focus here, are the centerpiece of the home. It’s where we all come together to reflect at the end of the day. Where creativity is reflected through our cuisine. It’s where we begin unwinding by uncorking that bottle of wine.
You may not think about it, but every door hinge, handle and wood fiber is something you are going to stare at for years. Its going to speak to you as you open the door, look in at the dishes and go about the day. What it says goes deeper than your consciousness. Thats probably why when a new kitchen is purchased there is this sense of elation and excitement. Something new is going to happen here, something exciting!
Any half interesting voice spoken to us over and over can get old. We need compelling new messages and hidden nuances that come to life over time. Cabinets really are no different. The sense of excitement with our new kitchen can quickly subside as these become yesterday’s style. Even though they technically function and look ok, they become like warn out rags to us. They are the equivalent to shallow people, nice on the outside, but once you get to know them its time to move on.
I believe we don’t have to let this happen. Maybe we are hung up on the sticker price instead of considering the long term value of our investment. We’re not thinking about how they are going to make us feel next year, 5 year and maybe even 10 years from now. While there are obviously a lot of other things to look at in your cabinet purchase here a few of my important things.
1. Custom cabinets or at least custom features.
While I would always suggest custom cabinets, I understand that is out of budget for many people. If you must go with big box store cabinets or some sort of RTA (ready to assemble- think Ikea), look for custom cabinet features. It’s now a given that cabinets should have soft close hinges and drawer guides – but look closer, are they high quality. Look for Blum® brand or other high end branded hinges and guides. These high end components are going to feel just as good in 5 years as they do now.
2. Real wood.
Yep. There are a lot of cabinets that look like real wood but they are not. Real wood is almost magical. Its going to speak to you in ways that an imitation product can not. It has resonance and tone. As it ages it develops new characteristics. Its timeless.
3. Installation quality and fit.
Are these cabinets going to be carefully cased and scribed into place, or is the installer going to use a lot of calking to hide the gaps. This is a topic for another post, but its really a big deal. I have seen some amazing cabinets when after they are installed like crap because the installer cut corners. You don’t want your cabinets looking shabby in 5 years because a bunch of calking was used to hide the cracks and gaps between them and the existing walls and floor of the house. A skilled craftsman is going to carefully scribe the cabinets to fit perfectly against the walls, floors and ceiling so no gaps are seen and without the need of a bunk of white goop.
4. Lastly, but most importantly is service.
Your chosen cabinet shop should not just assume you know everything about what your kitchen should look like. You are the most important person and these cabinets need to perfectly please you, a sloppy supplier might just try to make the sale quickly without really getting a grasp of what you are looking for. Look for things like custom drawings and 3d rendering that the shop is willing to offer in order to really get an idea of what you want. The shop should be willing to change and adjust the plan as needed until you are completely satisfied. Another thing to look for is if they are willing to provide finished wood samples or sample doors to fit your counter top and other interior samples. While doing all this they should make you feel totally at peace and relaxed about your project.
In summery, don’t settle with mediocre on your next cabinet purchase. Shop around. Get pricing and details. Make sure you are getting exactly what you want. Cabinets that you are still pleased with in 5 years just like the first day.