This post is the follow up to Part 1 of  What does “custom” really mean? 

One example of how custom cabinets can fall short of the Rightwise definition of custom.


– This is a design submitted by another custom cabinet shop in Nashville.  This company has a very nice showroom and a staff of designers/sales people.  However, the design for this upper cabinet allows them to use a combination of standard sized cabinets, but the results are awkward.

The Rightwise Solution
rw upper example 1

Rightwise design/construction details
• Cabinets built with integrated end panels for furniture appearance
– no plant on doors usually associated with factory cabinets
• Face frame/End panels joints are constructed with a reinforced miter
– no exposed end that will crack pigmented finish or stain darker
• Cabinets built as one unit for true custom design.
– no thick stiles where two cabinets meet.

Making these changes results in a better looking cabinet (Symmetry) with additional construction benifits found in fine furniture.

In the original design these types of compromises were present in multiple locations. Cabinets should be designed with style and function and keep the compromise to a minimum.


In the Shop

May 21, 2009

Concept drawing of a built-in that is just about to go into production.  The total length is just over 14 ft.  This will be constructed from hard maple and finished to match a free standing desk currently in the home office. 

maple built-in concept drawing


Words like “custom” and “high-end” are often used when discussing cabinets, home building, and remodeling. These words sound good, but the definitions vary greatly.

  • The text book definition of “custom cabinets” may be met when cabinets can be ordered in odd or fractional widths and heights. However, this is just the starting point.
  • True “custom” projects are designed and built to higher standard.

The British term for custom kitchens is “bespoke” or custom-built for a particular individual. Additionally, a true bespoke product is made for a particular individual without the use of a pre-existing pattern.

Side note: I realized these are cabinets made from wood and not nearly as important as our health, children or marriages. However, you will probably live with your cabinetry (happily or not) longer than the next two or three cars you purchase. It’s logical and prudent to know what your getting and giving up with your project.

In the Nashville music business they say it all starts with the song.  With cabinetry and kitchens, it all starts with the design.  Great craftsmanship and hand selected materials mean little when the design and layout fall short. 

  1. Designed for the Individual:    Form and function.  Every project and client is unique.  With a kitchen project, the design and cabinetry must fit the desired style and work the way the client lives. 

 Example:  A client that rarely prepares elaborate meals, but wants the kitchen to be a “gathering place” for the family.  Seating areas, counter space for homework and an office adjacent to the kitchen take priority.  Specific attention to knee spaces and seating heights is critical for a comfortable space.

While some projects have a lot of options and flexibility with the layout, others (particularly remodels) may have numerous limiting factors.  The design must address these factors with specific attention to scale, style and functionality.  The creative solutions designed and built by a cabinet shop that can work without a pattern can turn these once problems into features you highlight when give neighbors and friends a guided tour.

In the next post I’ll illustrate some common examples of cabinet design and construction that falls short of our definition of  “custom”.



What’s New?

May 4, 2009