Archive for October, 2015

Why ask a Furnituremaker to build your Kitchen?

Sunday, October 25th, 2015


Kitchen stores are fun to explore because they have great displays. What they call design, however, is helping you select your choices from their list of options, like using a “drop down menu”. When I design a kitchen, I start completely from scratch. I start with function, and move to cosmetics. The process is more like – you tell me a dream you have, and I show you how that could be done in the real world.

I happen to like cooking.

And just like in my shop, I want my “cooking tools” to be handy so I can have the most fun making a meal, and concentrate on how the food is going to taste, and what conversation I might be having. To me, designing a kitchen is all about discovering what your vision of meal preparation is, and making that easy.

The kitchen is the heart of a house. It should be yours, and yours alone.


Melamine exists so kitchen manufacturers can make more money faster. It doesn’t need sanding or finishing. It doesn’t need thinking. Unfortunately, it also has no strength or water resistance. Melamine kitchens are disposable. Hinges come loose. Hot glued edging fails. When the finish wears, you can’t renew it. They figure you’ll want a new kitchen in 10 years anyways.

Most melamine is still laced with formaldehyde, so it will not only gas off into your house, but will become toxic waste in a landfill when it fails.

Cabinets made of wood veneer plywood or solid wood can last generations. They don’t gas off, they deal with moisture better, and they can be re-finished. As wood kitchens age they will not start to look shabby, they will develop patina.

If you need large flat surfaces on which to lay matched wood veneers for doors, at least I would specify NAUF MR-50 MDF as a substrate. NAUF means “No Added Urea Formaldehyde”, which means it won’t gas off. MR-50 means it is functionally waterproof, designed for exterior use. This keeps it flat and strong. They do this with Phenolic glues. MDF means Medium Density Fibreboard. When you specify NAUF MR-50 MDF, you get the least toxic board with the highest integrity possible in a modern corporate product.


Certified Home Appraisers say kitchens “pay back” 50% – 75% they day you install them in added house value. This depends. What they forget to tell you is that in 15 years your melamine kitchen will be almost worthless. Buying a wood or plywood kitchen from a furnituremaker is a better investment, because the initial “value increase” will be much higher, between 75% – 100%, and the investment will last much longer. A 50 year lifespan for a plywood kitchen is a quite reasonable estimate.

A solid wood kitchen could last your family 400 years, just like a piece of furniture.


I get in trouble sometimes for bringing up “fun” in life. Over the years I have had many friends who worked in traditional melamine kitchen shops, and although it can pay reasonably well, none of them would describe their job as “fun”. Life should be fun. Making kitchens should bring satisfaction.

Designing and owning your own kitchen should be fun, and it should bring decades of pleasure.

I call myself a “detail oriented person”. If I worked in an office, my performance review every year would have “Ben has obsessive compulsive tendencies” stamped all over it. Luckily, attention to detail is a requirement for building a kitchen. I actually find it fun measuring people’s cookie sheets and finding the perfect spot for them.

I’m ok with that. I hope you are too!


“Life is supposed to be an adventure”. I used to tell my kids this every day when they were small. In this “cookie cutter” day and age, asking a cabinetmaker to design and build a kitchen for you is a bit of an adventure. You will discover new things. There will be discussions between spouses! Ideas will get floated. Some will stick, and some will serve only to show where the limits of creativity are.

I like designing kitchens, because they immerse me in people’s lives. Designing a kitchen is like planting an orchard. I like to think that the choices we make will bear fruit for many years.

You can create a Zero Footprint carbon-neutral kitchen, or one to cook for dinner parties in, or sell your house in 5 minutes someday, or you can design a family network space where kids do homework while the smell of dinner rises fragrant.

Whatever you want, if you are up for some fun and adventure, designing your own kitchen with the help of a furnituremaker can be very satisfying.