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Custom Kitchen Cabinetry

Custom Kitchen Cabinetry
This sleek modern kitchen includes an island.
Building high quality kitchen cabinets is both an art and a science. Wood has to be selected, matched for grain, milled, joined and finished. We spoke with three high-end cabinet makers to learn how they approach the task and what sets them apart.

Berkeley Mills
We started with Berkeley Mills, a firm defined by its consummate craftsmanship. Berkeley Mills started out as a maker of fine furniture and has evolved to include custom kitchens, doors, and other architectural millwork.  We checked in with Tiago Pinto to learn more.

What is the process at Berkeley Mills? By offering an end-to-end solution from first measured drawings to installation, BM keeps complete control over the entire process. Unless the clients have their own architectural drawings they usually start by working with our in house kitchen designers. Berkeley Mills designers have a wide range of experience with kitchen design, ergonomics, dimensions, materials and building codes. The existing space is measured and a set of measured drawings are produced. Wood is selected, style, dimensions and hardware are selected, and a set of shop ready drawings are produced in house.  Next the drawings are checked by engineering where mechanical and electrical issues are reviewed. The drawings are then ready to go to the shop for production. After production, the cabinets go to the finishing shop for final sanding and a long lasting conversion varnish is applied. The cabinets are assembled into a “mock kitchen” where compatibility between individual components is checked. Finally it is time for installation.

Above is BM's frame and panel Madera Kitchen. Styles? Berkeley Mills has a wide selection of door styles, hardwood samples and finished cabinets in the showroom. As a custom shop, however, we can build any style desired and produce high quality work that fits in with your interior architectural features. We usually use Blum Hardware, which is high quality, American made hardware. Environmental considerations? Our cabinets are made with soy-based glues and adhesives. Many of our clients specify FSC-certified woods. Why do people come to Berkeley Mills? Berkeley Mills combines hand workmanship with modern CNC, computer controlled equipment to produce beautiful and heirloom quality furniture and cabinets. Our entire staff is committed to producing craftsman quality work that we are proud of.

Henrybuilt is known for refined modernist kitchens that work as a well integrated system; examples are shown here and at the top of this post. Based on the “European System" model, Henrybuilt cabinets are designed to

optimize function while retaining American quality craftsmanship, esthetic refinement, and integration. We spoke with Lisa Day at Henrybuilt to learn more.

What do you mean by “system design” or a high performance “system"? With a system kitchen, all of the elements within the kitchen have been designed to work together and are presented as a whole solution.  This typically includes storage components, countertops, backsplash, lighting, and shelving. Styles?  
I see that you offer countertops in your system; what do you offer here?  Solid acrylic and PaperStone. You have many components that are unique to Henrybuilt -- what are some of these? Our Opencase wall system, our backsplash system, our drawer accessory system and our island bar block.

You refer to a rich “material palette' -- what woods/ materials do you work with? Our material palette includes natural and tinted walnut, grey oak, ash and white washed ash high-pressure laminate, aluminum, pigmented 2K polyurethane, solid acrylic fronts, powder coated steel, and leather. Can you tell me about your finish? We use a 2K polyurethane  from the aerospace industry which offers greater durability and is more pliable than other finishes. It has a matte finish and lets more of the natural quality of the wood show through. Environmental aspects? Our woods are all FSC certified. The 2K polyurethane finish is formaldehyde-free. Our wood panels contain no added formaldehyde and our non wood products are very low emitting. Could you tell me about your open case wall systems? Open case works in a wide range of applications. The backbone of the system is a set of steel rod supports, which allow for a variety of elegant functional pieces to be attached to the wall – and to be changed out in minutes by anyone living with the system. Configurations have been developed for entryways, libraries, offices, wine storage, pantries, wardrobes, utility closets, laundry, and children’s rooms.

Neil Kelly Cabinets
The nation’s first green certified cabinet maker uses all FSC-certified hardwoods in its cabinets. Many consumers come to Neil Kelly Cabinets because of their sustainable fabrication practices, but they should 

also consider the beautiful range of cabinets that the company produces. The photo above shows an example from Neil Kelly's Craftsman Collection. We spoke with Karen Spackman to learn more.

What architectural styles do your cabinets come in? We offer six styles each with a range of doors and finishes: Craftsman – Arts and Crafts; Mid-century Modern; Northwest, Signature Collection; Simply Naturals; and Transition Collection. Which woods are available? Ash, Alder, Rustic Alder, Bamboo, Cherry, CVG Fir, Hickory Lyptus Knotty Pine, Maple,  Red Oak White Oak and Steamed Beech. What if someone wants a custom design?  We have 80+ individual door styles, almost all of which are available in various species with many multiples of finish options. Hardware options? We use Blum hardware.  Adhesives, finishes, paint? Our adhesives are water based and low-VOC. Finishes are Clear Topcoats NAF Converted Varnish with no added formaldehyde; Polyureseal BP and Oil Wax; stains are water based Low VOC; paints are low VOC. What else do you do to reduce your carbon footprint? All material are sourced within a 500-mile radius of our plant.

All three companies produce beautiful cabinets.  It’s a matter of understanding your needs and finding the cabinet maker that fits your style.  

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