Make Stock Cabinets Special

Stock cabinetry is an effective, affordable and attractive option for giving consumers the high design they demand

November 30, 2003

 

Connie Edwards, CKD, CBD, author of Beautiful Built-Ins: Plans for Designing With Stock Cabinets, believes American homeowners are experiencing the "affluent attitude."

"Consumers are inundated with all the remodeling, decorating and home improvement shows on television, and everyone is on the bandwagon," she says. "Having a unique, attractive, sharp home is in everyone's sightline. Rooms are status symbols. Americans have this attitude that they have to have something that is good. They want to know that it's beautiful, it's quality and they can afford it."

Couple this with their growing need for organization and storage solutions, and Edwards says cabinetry becomes an essential part of any remodeling project.

Stock cabinets have stepped up to the plate. Manufacturers, working closely with interior designers and adopting design and construction trends that have trickled down from the furniture industry and semicustom and custom cabinet lines, have achieved custom looks at stock cabinet prices. Stock cabinet enhancements include more variety in wood species; higher-quality finishes and glazes; drawer boxes using dovetail assembly; improved drawer glides and slides; glass insets and doors; and expanded collections of specialty cabinets, such as lazy susans, pull-downs, overhangs and rack cabinets.

Stock cabinet manufacturers are continuing to invest in broadening their offerings. Merillat offers more than 60 options of decorative hardware for its Classic line and is using its Organomics design philosophy to produce more and more shelving and cabinet options that address both organization and ergonomics. At Aristokraft Cabinetry, senior designer Heather Dilger says the company plans to add more split turnings, tapered legs, rosettes, moldings and hardware styles to its catalog to make stock cabinets even more embellished and furniturelike.

Stock cabinets in laundry and mud rooms provide useful storage and organization. Photo: courtesy of Merillat

These changes have led to more flexibility in installation applications, too. Jim Krengel, CMKBD, owner of Krengel Presentations, an industry consultant on kitchen and bath design, says stock cabinets can be stacked, swapped (wall cabinets at the base and vice versa), stair-stepped, randomly arranged and turned upside down to achieve myriad looks and storage options. He also notes that as little as three or four years ago, when remodelers had only a few stock options available, they invariably had to turn to semicustom or custom lines for more elaborate kitchen and bath designs. Now, one or two higher-priced custom cabinets can supplement a mostly stock-specified plan.

As consumers gravitate toward higher-quality, more expensive materials for their homes, stock cabinets keep homeowners on budget. The money saved can be allocated to pricier must-haves such as granite countertops or commercial-grade appliances.

Remodelers also benefit from the price of stock cabinets. Bob Garner, CKD, director of design for Reico Kitchen & Bath in Springfield, Va., the largest wholesale distributor of Merillat cabinets in the nation, estimates that using stock cabinets can be 10% to 20% less expensive. Those savings can be passed on to the customer and/or help you achieve a higher markup and profit. Additionally, the immediate availability and minimized lead time of modular cabinets (Garner says Reico delivers same or next day to its service area) help remodelers schedule more efficiently and don't slow production as much if product is delivered significantly damaged or unusable.

"We're beneficial and user-friendly for the remodeler because of what we call bailout," Garner says. "If we have to replace a product, it doesn't hold the remodeler up or hurt his schedule, whereas production would be lost with a semicustom or custom cabinet."

Adding a simple cutting board can make stock cabinets in kitchens more functional.

Photo: courtesy of Merillat

As stock cabinets move beyond the kitchen and bathroom into home office and laundry/mud room spaces, new and emerging areas of the home provide a niche opportunity for remodelers. Judith Sisler Johnston, president and senior designer of Sisler-Williams Interior Design in Jacksonville, Fla., thinks the improved glazes and new distressed looks present possibilities for dining room built-ins and give more options for creating the popular and trendy two-tone look. Garner sees considerable prospects in the growing popularity of bedroom coffee bars/morning kitchens. Edwards recommends looking toward garage organization.

"Remodelers can go back to past clients and suggest projects based on providing organization and storage," Edwards says. "This is a great way to keep them in touch with their customer base. The customer will tell you what they'll buy if you just ask." Krengel and Garner encourage remodelers to facilitate communication with current and potential clients by asking them to provide pictures of what they like.

The advances in stock cabinets make them hard to distinguish from custom or semicustom applications. What it comes down to is providing a superior, creative and unique design that combines looks and functionality to give the homeowner value. Taking professional design seminars, participating in programs offered through stock cabinet manufacturers and staying on top of trends through research or by working with an interior designer can help remodelers realize the expansive design possibilities and reveal untapped potential.

"Imagination is your only limitation," Krengel says, "and design is the differentiator."

Beautiful Built-Ins: Plans for Designing With Stock Cabinets can be ordered through www.HousingZone.com.

 


Working With Stock Cabinets
Stock cabinetry's selection and upgrade options " such as the four-way hinge, dovetail drawers and hardware pictured below " have increased during the past few years. Knowing the features, mechanics and available accessories in a stock cabinet line is essential. Here are suggestions for finding a suitable product line as well as helpful installation tips.

 

Does the product line:

  • Provide an extensive, consistent catalog of cabinets and accessories? To execute the design consumers want, a line must have a good selection of basic cabinets as well as specialty options. It also should have an extensive variety of moldings, colors, glazes, finishes and decorative accents such as hardware, turn lays and overlays.
  • Have more than one option for cabinet depth or easily lend itself to depth modification? Reduced and/or increased depth is crucial in a remodeling project. Installers might have to work around existing conditions.
  • Offer a good warranty? Coverage should extend or transfer easily to the end-user.
  • Include touch-up or repair materials with the cabinet shipment, or can touch-up materials be ordered easily and quickly? Problems and slight flaws should be able to be fixed in the field easily.
  • Include written installation instructions and drawings in shipment? Manufacturer and/or distributor Web resources and staffed customer service or information centers also help.

 

When you're preparing to install, designers suggest:

  • Having a relationship with a local cabinet shop that can do repairs, modifications and small one-two jobs fast.
  • Zoning cabinets to create smaller, functional spaces within the room and leave wall space. For example, in a kitchen, create a food prep zone, a storage zone, a cooking zone, etc.
  • Staining the raw white edge of moldings before putting them in to account for the home's expansion and future movement, making problems less perceptible to the homeowner.
  • Scribing 1-inch fillers, at minimum, to allow for a custom fit, compensate for out-of-square conditions and give full overlay doors and drawers room to work freely.
  • Adjusting all doors, drawer fronts and hinges once installation is complete to offset any misalignment arising from shipping, relocation on the job site or installation.

 

 

 

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