The Skinny on Custom Cabinetry

Custom cabinetry is the ultimate in kitchen design. With endless options and the ability to tailor the look, size, and shape exactly to your specifications, custom cabinetry is usually the most appealing choice—if your budget permits.

Not all custom kitchen cabinets nyc are created equal, and “custom” means different things to different cabinetmakers. Cabinet shops and their products vary widely. Choosing a shop to build your cabinets is more difficult than buying semi-custom and stock cabinets because the variables with a custom order are much broader. Construction materials, joinery techniques, styling, functional and decorative accessories, and finish types should be scrutinized and compared. The definition of a good value in custom cabinetry can be quite subjective, as the trendiest look doesn’t always carry through to the quality of the finished product. Some custom cabinets are very expensive and also poorly built—but are seen as prestigious high-end choices based on their styling and good marketing campaigns.

Since custom cabinetry costs more than semi-custom or stock cabinetry, it’s important to know what you get for the extra investment. The need for a special configuration are only available from a custom shop is an automatic qualifier, but don’t stop there. If the kitchen calls for a special color or finish, be sure that you’re satisfied with the material to which the finish is being applied and look at approval samples under light similar to that of your kitchen. In the case of stained wood, the best makers build their own doors and drawer fronts and match the color and grain throughout. With veneers, there are various types of grain and matching, and the thickness and application of the face veneer and edge materials are also important. With solid wood fronts, examine the way that frame joints are detailed and how well they are fitted. Look at the difference between face-framed cabinets in which there’s a framed front on which cabinet doors attach and frameless, often used in modern styles for a seamless look. Consider using doors that are one inch or thicker for a more substantial look and feel.

Pay attention to the proportions of the framing, moldings, and other elements. Specify exactly how the knobs or pulls are to be placed, and ask to see these things at least in accurate elevation drawings. Find out if moldings are produced for each individual project, since “fresh” moldings can be better matched with the cabinetry, and will usually fit better. Be sure they come in adequate lengths to ensure the fewest possible face joints. Consider thicker shelves, or at least thicker front edges, both for strength and appearance.

You can save yourself a lot of headaches and distress if you decide to work with a designer. A kitchen professional who is not only experienced but has a good eye and knowledge of a cabinetmaker’s capabilities—as well as a healthy respect for your budget—can ensure a finished product that is really worth the extra cost. Custom kitchens often become needlessly complex, overdone, and expensive when creative touches or accessories are added unnecessarily.

Finally, make sure that the team that manages and installs your kitchen has the skills and takes the diligent care that a beautifully made custom set of cabinetry demands. One thing is for sure: A tailor-made set of cabinets should be a pleasure to use for years to come.