Cabinets in the kitchen


For us, picking cabinets was a very challenging task. Cabinets are one of those things that really set a tone for the entire home. We wanted our cabinets to be somewhat unique, rich, but not so much so that they would seriously date the house.

We met with the cabinet contractor many months before we needed them. Typically, cabinetry has to be ordered long in advance, probably a minimum of 6 weeks, sometimes three or four months, depending on the contractor. We quickly decided that we wanted to use knotty alder as the wood - we liked its character and it is a relatively inexpensive hardwood (although admittedly it is a rather soft hardwood). Picking the color took us several weeks; the contractor gave us half dozen samples and we compared them against our tile, hardwood floors, paint, etc. until we felt comfortable with the choice.

As it turned out, the color we chose was (of course!!) the most expensive they had. Apparently the process of making the color we choose required seven coats of stain followed by a glazing process. Uggh. The cost of the color alone added 20% to the total cabinet bill. Yes - 20%!

Besides the cabinetry in the kitchen and bathrooms, we also had them build bookcases for the office, an entertainment center for the great room and cabinetry for the laundry room. Although more expensive than furniture, there is something about built-ins that adds character and a custom feel to a home. Also, since the units are built in, they are much larger than you could find in a furniture store. And, the matching cabinetry adds a unified feel to the house that we really like.

Additionally, we had them build cabinets for the bathroom that will eventually be finished in the basement in years to come. We learned in our last house that it is very expensive (if not impossible) to have your cabinet manufacturer come back later to do a single bathroom. If you can't get the same people to come back for this tiny job, you end up with cabinetry that does not match, which for me is important.

The cabinet installation was a near catastrophe. Cabinets are naturally one of the last items installed in a house - and we were really pushing hard to get in before the Christmas holiday. We scheduled the measurements for the countertops on December 2 (a Friday) - and the cabinet contractor said at the end of October that he would easily have the cabinets a full week before December 2. We were out of town, but followed up the Friday before to make sure that in fact the cabinets had been installed. They had not. We were able to get a hold of the cabinet contractor on Monday and asked when the cabinets would be installed. We were quite concerned - the countertop contractor told us that if we missed that Friday's measurement, it would be early January before he would be able to re-schedule us.

After a long conversation with the cabinet contractor, he finally told us that he had NOT EVEN STARTED our job. As he put it, our cabinets were still in "tree form". Apparently a large builder in the area had dumped a load of jobs on him without much warning, and he pushed our job off to get those ones done. We panicked. Well, several hours later through the efforts of my good wife, the cabinet contractor agreed to somehow pull off a miracle and have the cabinets built & installed by Friday at noon (remember - this was Monday evening of the same week!)

True to his word, they showed up Friday morning and had the cabinets in (barely) by noon. I have never seen a cabinet installer work so fast in my life. Amazingly, his installation was top-notch, too. It was like watching an artist. We loved the way the cabinets turned out.

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