July 15, 2010

SemiHandmade Cabinetry

Someday I might kick myself for posting about this, because I'm in the cabinet business, and a majority of my income comes from selling cabinets.  But I'm really intrigued by this concept.  

Many of us are familiar with the term "refacing", and many of us in the industry cringe when we hear it.  In the world of kitchen and bath design, refacing means keeping existing cabinets and replacing the doors, to give the illusion of a new kitchen.  It sounds easy enough, right?  The problem with this process is that to do it right can be very labor intensive (both in the planning and the installation), and you don't have flexibility to change the layout.  In the end, you still end up spending a lot of money, and beneath the pretty new finishes you have the same old kitchen. 

The SemiHandmade line by John McDonald is interesting because it falls somewhere in between refacing and replacing cabinetry.  It starts with mass-produced cabinet boxes, mainly from Ikea.  But rather than using Ikea door and drawer fronts, he makes custom fronts in beautiful materials such as teak, walnut, douglas fir, etc... beautiful options you'd never find at Ikea.   

This appeals to me because (gasp!) I don't think Ikea boxes are really that bad.  I know.  I said it.  Don't get me wrong.  They're not great.  They won't hold up as well as the more expensive options, but.... they're not THAT bad.  And the drawer systems are actually pretty decent.  The idea of putting custom non-Ikea fronts on these bases makes me wonder...  It's less bothersome than refacing, because you can tweak the design and take advantage of modern door/drawer technology, as well as new appliance options that may not fit in older kitchen cabinetry.

To be clear, I'm not considering buying all my boxes from Ikea from now on.  But it's just nice to know there's another alternative that just might be worth considering for my budget-conscious clients who might need a new direction and still want a personal custom touch.

I'm guessing there's not much of a warranty though.  I'm pretty sure the custom shops I work with would void all warranties if they knew their products were going to touch something from Ikea.