When we remodeled our own kitchen, one of the most frequently asked questions besides “where is your hardware from” or “what color are your cabinets”, was “where did you get your cabinets?” At the time of our renovation, I had no idea where our cabinets had come from. Our General Contractor ordered them, we only knew they were prefab and made from plywood. Prefab cabinets are already made to a standard size and ready to ship, perfect for a smaller budget project like ours. It wasn’t until later that I checked the branding inside one of the drawers that I found out where they came from. I guess the real question is, now that I know where they came from, would I order them again given the cabinetry knowledge I’ve gained in the last almost 2 years? I’m not sure! I would want to carefully weigh my options, but I sure wish we hadn’t paid our GC the markup for them :/ Live and learn.
There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of options out there for kitchen cabinets. You can quite literally drive to your local hardware store and order an entire kitchen right then and there. Some folks want a completely customized kitchen made out of the rarest wood species, they call up their local cabinet maker and pay top dollar. Some folks want to save on the cost of labor and DIY themselves, which you find in most Ikea kitchen renovation stories. As my boss says (almost daily), ‘there’s more than one way to skin a cat!’, which is a gross way of saying there’s more than one way to choose your kitchen cabinetry. For my client’s kitchen, I’m going to tell you what we did and why we did it, and the process we went through and the questions that came up. I want to share our entire experience in hopes it helps someone who might soon be approaching their kitchen renovation.
I talked yesterday about my client’s kitchen layout. Nailing down the layout, in my opinion, is best to figure out before you approach a cabinet company or cabinet maker. Almost all cabinet companies will offer some sort of design service, so you don’t have to go so far as what we did in building the 2D rendering, but some companies will charge for the service while others might offer it for free. (Inside tip! The free Ikea kitchen builder tool is always a blast to play around with, even if you’re not going to end up with Ikea cabinets!)
The reason I say you should nail down the layout first is because the “design service” that a cabinet company offers is not an interior design service. What they do is take your layout and measurements and design the 2D & 3D renderings of your kitchen. Some might be nice enough to offer suggestions etc, but going in blind is going to cause you way more headaches (and possibly dollars) than you think.
Now that I’ve talked your ear off, let’s get back to our project. My client and I had the layout completed and were ready to get bids from various cabinet companies. We excluded Ikea from our list mainly because the client wanted plywood cabinets, and Ikea only offers MDF cabinetry. MDF swells in moisture, and although can be inexpensive to replace, the client was concerned about longevity, and I wasn’t going to argue. My client had initially started looking at what the local hardware stores offered, but we learned they subcontract out a lot of the work, therefore charging an overhead premium to the job which could potentially eat up most of their budget. We were engaged with a contractor already, and knew he could install the cabinets at a more favorable price.
I remember reading Centsational Girl’s post on her Las Vegas remodel, and recall that she used the online cabinet company CliqStudios for her cabinets. I recall following along Kate’s process closely and loving the results she shared. Since we had our plans handy, I sent our plans over to CliqStudios to get a bid on cabinetry after reading that they offer full 2D & 3D designs for free (!!!). PS, they also have a ballpark estimator, which I think is genius, especially if you’re the type who just needs a ballpark figure to work from.
At the same time as submitting the plans to CliqStudios, I ordered a few cabinet samples (also free!), seeing as they had a few colors that were close to our design plan. Just a few days later we received the 2D & 3D designs and custom quote. I won’t go into too much detail on the tweaks we made to the floorplan, but I will tell you we went through 9 revisions with the designer (all for free might I add!). It wasn’t until we were completely satisfied with the design (and cost, of course) that we had to pay anything. Below were the final design plans for my client’s kitchen:
You’re probably wondering, ‘where’s the island?’ The abridged story of the peninsula is basically we hit a hurdle with our original plan for an island. An island or table would have taken up too much space. The walkways would have been tight, you need roughly 36″ for a walkway, and risk of banging chairs against cabinets was high. We decided to order some trim pieces along with the cabinetry, and our contractor made the pillars himself. Here’s a sneak peek!
The peninsula totally came to life, right?! I’ll be sharing more about the demo phase next!
*CliqStudios has partnered with us on this project by offering us a discount for sharing our story on the blog. CliqStudios couldn’t have been more of a dream to work with and I am thrilled to share our experience. This post is one of a four-part series.