Custom Cabinets Solve Unique Design Problems

In historic homes all cabinetry was custom cabinetry, sometimes constructed on site by skilled craftsmen.  Today, most cabinets are “manufactured” – ordered from a kit of parts, built in a large central factory, boxed, and shipped to the worksite.  For many projects, these manufactured cabinets are a great choice that provides a good value for the investment.  Sometimes, for one reason or another, it is determined that a manufactured cabinet just won’t meet the functional or aesthetic goals of the project.

These situations call for a custom cabinet.

Investment in Personalized Craft

The decision to invest in custom cabinetry as opposed to a manufactured cabinet product involves balancing design intent, individualized project goals/needs, existing conditions, and budget.

Design Intent – In one recent project, the design was based on the character of an existing 100-year-old cast iron floor grate in the room.  Maintaining the unique qualities of a craftsman-inspired bathroom was critical to the design intent of the project.  In some cases a specific design intent can only be met with a piece of cabinetry designed for the individual situation.  In other cases, where a unique design intent is not the controlling factor, a manufactured product can be located that meets the underlying aesthetic goals at a lower cost.

Custom cabinetry can be design to meet specific functional and aesthetic goals

Custom cabinetry can be designed to meet specific functional and aesthetic goals, such as this custom jewelry drawer in a bathroom remodel project

Unique Project Goals or Needs – While there are many options and upgrades available for cabinets these days, clients often come to us having identified one or more needs that are better met with a custom solution.  Examples of these needs include quality construction goals, sustainability, healthy finishes, specific storage requirements, and other individual circumstances.

Existing Conditions – Particularly in remodeling projects, we often have to work in and around existing conditions.  When a perfect (or close to perfect) match to an existing condition is desired, a custom cabinetry solution can be the best approach.  Designing, building, and finishing the cabinet  in our shop allows complete control over the look, dimensions, and functionality of the cabinet.

Budget – While manufactured cabinets start out at a lower cost than custom cabinets, there is a diminishing rate of return on upgrades.  The more upgrades and features selected on a manufactured cabinet, the more they cost.  At some point it makes sense to shift from getting 90% of what you want with a manufactured cabinet to 100% with a custom-built cabinet – often at an equivalent or lower cost.  Often, we will use custom pieces to augment manufactured cabinetry.  In this way, we are able to meet “custom” needs at a more affordable price point.

Custom Cabinets in a Bathroom Remodel

The warm colors in this custom rift-sawn oak vanity are highlighted by the gray-white of the Carerra marble vanity top     The warm colors in this custom rift-sawn oak vanity are highlighted by the gray-white of the Carerra marble vanity top

The warm colors in this custom rift-sawn oak vanity and matching wainscot are highlighted by the gray-white of the Carerra marble vanity top

This photo, from a major bathroom remodel recently completed, illustrates how custom cabinets can tie an entire room together by establishing a “language”.  The other design elements in the room can then take cues from that custom piece to create a unified look and feel.

In this project, note how the recessed panels in the vanity cabinets are reflected in the wood wainscot paneling above and to the side.  The consistency of color depth and the profiles of the frames work together in harmony.

More photos from this bathroom remodel can be viewed in the Silent Rivers Portfolio.



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