Why Custom Made Cabinets and Furniture are a Better Value:
As a small, one-man shop I don't enjoy the economies of scale available to large cabinet and furniture production facilities. By marketing my own work and controlling overhead costs I am, however, able to compensate for a large portion of this disadvantage. My products still cost more than cabinets you can buy at home-improvement stores or furniture you can buy at a discount retailer. In spite of moderately higher prices, three things make my products a much better value: 1) Custom sizing 2) Quality of materials and workmanship 3) Design flexibility. Whether you need a piece of furniture, or cabinetry for a library, laundry room, home theater, or kitchen, you'll get more for your money by having me custom build it for you.
Getting the most out of your space frequently means using non-standard sized cabinets.
Custom Sizing: Many companies claim to sell custom kitchens, but what they really sell is a customized combination of standard cabinets. They measure your available space, open their product books, and find the combination of pre-set sizes they can make fit. The results are most often ad-hoc, both visually and in terms of storage, with an inefficient use of space and filler strips to make things "come out right". When I measure a job I know I can make the cabinets the exact sizes to properly fit your space. Then, in consultation with you, I can divide each cabinet's interior in such a way that maximizes the usable space yet still maintains an aesthetically appealing combination of door and drawer front sizes. The ability to custom size furniture to fit your available space can be equally important, often making the difference between a piece that "belongs" and one that looks out of place. By clicking on the thumbnail photos along the bottom of this screen you can see many examples where custom sizing has allowed me to better utilize the available space.
Quality of Materials and Workmanship
Custom jobs means every aspect is given proper care and attention from the material choices to the smallest detail.
Quality of Materials and Workmanship: Here is where the economy of scale enjoyed by large factory production houses works in my favor, not theirs. The economic pressure to make construction and design changes that are detrimental to function, quality, or aesthetics is much greater for a high volume facility than for a small, one-man shop. A construction method or material choice which saves $50 per kitchen will be very compelling to someplace producing 100 kitchens or more per month, even if it does negatively impact quality. For a smaller, low volume, shop the potential savings isn't worth the loss in quality and negative impact it could have on sales.
Here's one example: A brochure from a cabinet company in one of the big-box home improvement stores boasts about how they feature "all 3/4" solid wood dovetailed drawer boxes" in their cabinets. The dovetails are good, you should expect that. But if you look in a piece of quality furniture you'll find the drawer box sides are usually between 3/8" and 5/8" thick, not 3/4". Even a very thin board, on edge as it is in a drawer box, is incredibly strong. The drawer side is not the weak link in a drawer. If they wanted to make strong drawers they wouldn't use those flimsy 1/4" drawer bottoms. So why do they use thicker lumber for the drawer sides? Lumber that has a finished thickness of 3/4" is the least expensive lumber because it is the most commonly milled size. Even if the factory's large-volume buying power could procure thinner lumber at a lower price the costs of having to inventory another component would make their final cost of the drawer higher. So the 3/4" thick drawer side saves the factory a little money, but you are stuck with a drawer which has a slightly narrower interior space and a very clunky appearance. I take the extra time to mill my drawer stock to an appropriate thickness for the job. It takes more time and costs a bit more, but it makes a better drawer.
While the above example may seem like a trivial point, there are many such decisions that have to be made when constructing furniture and cabinets; the thickness of drawer bottoms and cabinet backs, board stock selection and quality, grain matching and orientation, finish quality and application. Taken together these factors add up to a large overall quality difference. Of course even a small shop like mine has to be conscious of costs and be as efficient as possible. But the smaller volume greatly reduces the possible benefits I would get from cutting corners and I also know that since my products are slightly higher priced I have to deliver a higher quality product.
The demands of mass production affect more than material selection. I construct and install all the cabinets I sell. I don't have to worry about employee turnover and training new workers so I therefore don't have to "dumb down" my designs or construction methods. Your cabinets will be made and installed by me, an experienced cabinetmaker whose livelihood depends on delivering a quality product.
Design flexibility, like custom sizing, means you can get what you need. Maybe you'd like your new cabinets or furniture to reflect some of your home's architectural features. Perhaps you would like to compliment an existing piece of furniture. Maybe you have a unique item that needs a special place to store or display. All these things are possible, and many times it won't even add to the cost of the project.
So yes, custom cabinets or furniture will cost a little more, but you will be getting a lot more. Compare apples with apples. When you consider the custom sizing, the higher quality, and the design flexibility, custom work is by far the better value for your money.
You don't need to limit access to the front of the cabinet. Doors on what would usually be cabinet "ends" provide easy, efficient use of all the space.
Upper Corner Open
Bi-fold doors provided unfettered access to corner cabinets.
Clipped corner cabinets don't have to mean wasted space. Double doors provide unfettered access. Leaving the doors off would create a nice display area.