I was a bit nervous before receiving the cabinets. I have never ordered or worked with truly custom cabinetry. I really had a lot of confidence in the experience and professionalism of the people involved on the project, especially the lead designer, but the proof is in the pudding as they say. Would the stain/finish match exactly to my sample door? Would the cabinets be constructed solidly and to the interior specs we had agreed upon?
In short, I am thrilled with the cabinets! They appear to be outstanding. I love the finish -- I feel like the cabinets are calmly glowing. The interiors are fantastic and mostly correct. I found three mistakes as I looked over the cabinets last night, so I sent a quick email. My cabinetry firm has taken ownership of all three problems and we had agreed on resolutions by 8:40a this morning. The largest issue is that one cabinet intended to be a pull-out was configured incorrectly, but that is an easy fix. My order is very complicated (over 1000 pieces when you count for every little part), so a few mistakes are to be expected. I've actually never seen a 100% pristinely perfect cabinet order before, so I certainly expected a couple issues. I just hoped that the issues would end up on the minor end of the scale. So far we're still safely in that territory.
The cabinetry installers also seem, after one day onsite, to be very experienced, diligent, competent, and yet, friendly, humble, and communicative. It's stunning -- I've never experienced such a phenomenon. That type of customer experience makes all the difference in the world. It's only been one day so I can only hope that it's not just a good first impression.
Here's some more pics:
Base cabs brought into the house. Much of what you see here is the toekick base. I've never worked with these types of platforms before -- I am only familiar with the Blum adjustable legs. In the background, you can see the slate mosaic going onto my fireplace.
(I also want to point out that our amazing gray paint now matches -- the discrepancy you might see is difference shadows in filtered light entering our house through the deck door.)
Setting up shop on the back deck. Tile guy gets the front part of the deck because he was here first. :) The cabinetry team gets the further end of the deck for now. (Don't feel too badly for them, it's only 5 more steps.)
None of these pictures do a great job of showing the actual door. I read a post once that suggested identifying your style "formula" as an exercise. Really I think your style is best reflected if you go with your gut, but certainly some decisions are not that clear and it turns out that it does help to think quantitatively about your own personal style. If I had to articulate my style for others, right now I would say it is about 60% Craftsman, 30% Japanese Asian, and 10% retro/rustic. I love wood and stone materials, clean but soft eased lines, and authentic surfaces/finishes that communicate a raw honesty, or tell a story.
I chose a Craftsman style door with extremely wide rail and stile. The "standard" width, if there is one, is 2.25" and my rail/stile are 4". It's a very heavy sturdy look. There is a square vertical groove on all five-piece or seven-piece doors. The wood is alder. The stain color is called "espresso," believe it or not, as it's much lighter any other espresso stain that I have seen. The cabinetry is frameless, with 3/4" construction using SkyBlend boxes (a "green" no-formaldehyde-added option). I have soft-close full-extension drawers and soft-close doors using Blum hardware.
Although I do love the 4" rail/stile, it really posed a number of problems in downstream choices, such as drawer faces that I wanted to be 5-piece needing to be slabs, or specific pull placement options. Despite that, I love the wide look and do not regret my choice; in fact I would gladly make the same choice today, fully aware of the tradeoffs.
Here is the actual cabinetry door style, with the intended pull (my pull choice and plan is another post altogether):