Making design decisions for a vision you have to imagine in your head is way harder than you think it’s going to be. As I said previously, we knew we weren’t really messing with the layout of the kitchen too much, so that helped a lot.
The first thing on my wish list where I wasn’t willing to compromise was taking the upper cabinets to the ceiling rather than having wasted space above them. We have 8 foot ceilings, so that meant that 42″ uppers would be AT the ceiling leaving no room for crown molding. For those that do not know 30″ and 42″ wall cabinets are typically the more standard readily available height sizes. 36″ and 39″ are less common and thus more costly.
Fortunately, we both agreed we wanted a simple shaker style painted cabinet and that is the least expensive style of cabinet because it is so simple to build (well, it may have been cheaper for stained over painted).
We had also decided to pay someone else to install the cabinets since we have no experience, my husband did not want to even try to do it himself and if we messed something up during the install we would eat that extra expense to fix it. If someone else does it, they have to eat the extra expense to fix their mistake.
We started our process by taking kitchen measurements and then gathering a ton of cabinet quotes from a variety of sources – local salvage stores, local kitchen design/sales companies, big box stores, online cabinet stores and custom cabinet builders. I started a Google Doc spreadsheet for the Kitchen Remodel just to keep everything straight and to compare our options.
Knox Rail Salvage: Sells both in stock cabinets and special order for a really good price, but the options are limited. They only had 30″ and 42″ wall cabinets in the shaker style and we would still have to pay someone to install them. We kept them on the list because of the price, but weren’t sure how the cabinet height would work. Pictures of the painted white shaker style are not shown on their website, but you can see them in their warehouse.
Home Depot: We set an appointment with Home Depot to get a quote, which was a waste of time. Sadly, the “designer” provided very little thought or input and we still had to email her our dimensions so she could run a quote for us. She did not listen to what we said we wanted, quoted the wrong brand to start with and it took her 2 weeks to even get back to us. Their pricing shocked us too. For their base brand – American Woodmark – they were at or higher than KraftMaid and some of the other mid-grade brands. We pretty quickly ruled them out, partly because we got her quote after we’d almost made our decision to go another route.
Lowe’s: We walked into Lowe’s the same day we went to Home Depot and surprisingly had a MUCH better experience. The designer sat with us even without an appointment and took the time to actually start our quote there based on the measurements we brought along with us. We told him exactly what we liked and he made some good suggestions. We found a simple shaker style door with KraftMaid – the Deveron – that we liked and you could get it in maple with a Dove White painted finish. They had a pretty good deal going on at the time that paid for the all plywood upgrade with KraftMaid, so because of that his quote was better than some of the others and we liked our experience. He still took a few more days to get back to us on questions through email because those guys don’t work a set schedule every single day. Overall, Lowe’s ended up on our short list because of our experience and his willingness to work with us on several iterations/changes. He even asked his KraftMaid rep what he could do in terms of pricing for us.
via KraftMaid website photo gallery
Kitchen Sales: Remington’s company has a working relationship with the guys and gals at Kitchen Sales, well one gal in particular. So we also reached out to her for help. She was able to provide us with some good ideas, design and layout wise and some additional food for thought about cabinet choice. However, she quoted one of their lower end lines for us – Homecrest – (they like to call them economical) and while they had some good reviews out there, I just wasn’t confident in putting them in my kitchen. We went to the showroom to see them in person and you could feel the difference in the “economics”. The inside panel piece was much thinner and made the doors sound hollow. That may sound silly to some, but it was worth it to me to get doors I felt were substantial. So in the end, the pricing at Kitchen Sales just wasn’t quite competitive enough with some of the more mid-grade lines. Sadly, on top of that, while the staff was friendly enough, we did not really feel like we were a priority client to them because we weren’t going to spend $30-$50k on our kitchen like the bulk of their clients probably do.
Modern Supply: I mainly contacted them to get a comparison quote on Kraftmaid since they also sale their line. Their pricing for standard Kraftmaid (not all-plywood upgrade) was more than the quote from Lowe’s. They were pretty quickly eliminated, albeit very friendly and willing to help. She even followed up with me a few weeks later!
Keystone Kitchens (Custom): At the recommendation of our neighbors who have Keystone cabinets in their kitchen, we contacted this custom cabinet maker in Maryville. Our neighbors kitchen was installed around 5 years ago and still looks brand new! So we knew their work was impeccable and work ethic was also good, but we were afraid to see the price tag that comes along with a custom kitchen. We were pleasantly surprised! It was only about 10% more than the Lowe’s quote for Kraftmaid (their final pricing) once we factored in labor costs – Keystone installs their cabinets themselves and that is included in their pricing. We visited their showroom and got a tour of the shop, but while there we learned their initial quote did not include dovetail drawers as that is not their standard. So that made them a bit pricier in comparison to some of the others because we were already getting that feature elsewhere. It was an additional $70.45 per drawer for that upgrade and we have quite a few drawers! Their cabinets are still beautiful. Our contact was super friendly, attentive and responsive, so we can see why our neighbors did not hesitate to recommend them to us.
Curve Point Creations (Custom): Our good friends used a great general contractor to remodel their kitchen and had mentioned that he did cabinetry on the side too, so they had him give us a call. Josh said we was flooded with remodel work and that cabinetry was on the back burner for him, that he couldn’t say yes to a job for us because of the time he knew it’d take him to get to it. But he recommended a subcontractor he uses for cabinet work in his remodels saying that his work was impeccable and met his high standards. So we gave Oscar at Curve Point a call. He’s a local one-man shop kind of deal and we do like supporting these types of companies when we can and when it makes sense. Oscar ended up giving us a quote that was in line with Keystone’s pricing, but that included dovetail drawers, the open shelves over the sink (which we hadn’t had anyone else quote to save money), the cost and installation of our sink AND the cost and installation of our back splash, plus all of the small details that he does to make it look finished, like panels on the exposed ends, footer details. Oscar let us see his own kitchen, which he had recently remodeled in a style very similar to the look we were wanting.
Cliq Studios (online): I think I discovered this company when doing cabinet research on the web. I had been researching the best brands (within a budget) and kept seeing ads for Cliq, but could not find much information about them. I did finally come across two blogs where individual homeowners had reviewed their purchase/cabinet experience with them and overall both were positive and pleased. So I sent them a quote/design request. They offer free design services when you quote with them. Of course, they couldn’t do much to improve the design or layout of our kitchen because as I already said, it was the best workable layout for the space. They sent me an initial quote that really wasn’t any big savings over some of the other guys. Their main draw is factory direct prices because they cut out the middle-man, but I wasn’t seeing it. We were able to cut out some of the upgrades and extras to shave around 30% off, which helped, but I was burned over losing some of those perks. On top of that, I was anxious about purchasing cabinets sight-unseen online and then have to find someone else to install them. We got three samples in the mail and while they seemed pretty solid and the finish was nice, the inner panel was that same thinner piece that we didn’t like about Homecrest.
Come to find out, flat door panels (as in Shaker style) where it’s not an entire solid piece have either a 1/4″ or 5/8″ center panel piece that can be made of plywood or mdf. Mdf is more solid and more desirable. This knowledge made me feel I was not crazy in thinking there was a difference and hearing it in the way the door sounded when slammed shut or knocked on.
Anyway, there were also limited options with Cliq – only so many door styles (which wasn’t a problem because they had the style we wanted), only so many color choices, only so many upgrade/size options. So even though we thought about it for a while because going with their bare bones package would have saved us about 30-40%, we eventually ruled them out due to our fears of uncertainty. It was still a lot of money to spend on something we were unsure of and couldn’t see an example of in person.
You may have figured out that we had initially narrowed our choices down to three – KraftmMaid at Lowe’s, Keystone Kitchens, and Curve Point – so a manufactured mid-grade line and two local custom makers – one being a larger shop and the other being a one-man shop. But the sadly, we ruled out Keystone based on their standard drawer boxes not being dovetail when we could automatically get that option with KraftMaid or Curve Point.
Then we went back and forth with Lowe’s on their quote. We got the pricing down to what we felt was the best deal we could get with equivalent options to getting custom cabinets with Curve Point and we still were only saving a few hundred dollars once you factored in the install, the sink, etc. With Lowe’s we didn’t know who would do the install, the cabinets would be manufactured at a plant, so a chance for mistakes, we would be doing the back splash and any electrical.
With Curve Point, we were supporting a local small-business and his family. We knew the guy that would install the cabinets. He had help that would install the sink, electrical, and back splash. And up to this point, Oscar at Curve Point had been very prompt and responsive. He never missed a meeting. He answered all of our millions of questions in stride. He was thorough. We called references and they gave stellar reviews – said his cabinetry skills were impeccable and he was extremely reliable. With Curve Point, we could pick the exact color we wanted for the cabinets. We could add little details that would be harder with KraftMaid. Oscar also did not charge extra for recessed cabinets versus the full overlay cabinets. Normally recessed is anywhere from 10-40% more expensive and wasn’t even an option with KraftMaid. Oscar also did not charge extra for things like foot details and finishing pieces that made the cabinets look like nice furniture pieces.
In the end, it was an easy decision to go with Oscar at Curve Point….