Monthly Archive for April, 2010

Is this the future?

From my friend Kevin Henry: The Call.

Kevin blogs at both The Essential Kitchen and The Truth is My Playground.

Frameless, huh? So what about that picture on your masthead?

In light of the post below, I guess I need to explain the picture I am using on my masthead.

Yes, that is a lovely kitchen, done in frame style cabinetry.  Inset, of course.

But that same kitchen could have been done more efficiently, provided more storage space and cost less if it had been done in framless cabinetry.  You can come very close to a true inset look with the use of pilaster strips.

Again, I can think of no good reason to use frame style cabinetry.

Frame or Frameless?

I am in the Frameless camp.  Completely.  There is no reason to use frame style cabinetry.  It is an enduring mystery that frame style cabinets are made at all.

We get customers

First in an occassional series.  Well maybe the third or fourth if you count my first effort at starting a blog; which I managed to blow up.

This post is inspired by a comment I left at Bob Borson’s blog.

A while back, in another kitchen universe, I had a couple come in my showroom.  Her parents were junk dealers when she was young.  She said she wanted a new kitchen that reminded her of the home of her youth.  We produced a layout that was very common/mundane.  It fit perfectly with the home.  But where we met her stated design goal was to use two cabinet brands with three different door styles and finishes.  We used two different countertop materials.  Finally, the hardware was different on all of the cabinets, none of it matched.

Has to be one of the ugliest kitchens any one has paid money for.  You won’t see it in my portfolio.

In case you were wondering, since I’m still writing for and to myself at this point in the life of my blog, I have high confidence my customer will never see this post.

Perfection in Complex Projects

Let’s discuss a hypothetical project.  Let’s say it’s one where we are involved in a very high end full house remodel.

Our work, obviously, is very beautiful.  So is the work of all the other contractors.  The project, when complete, will be one of the best I’ve had the pleasure of working on.

Today, we are going to drill a bunch of holes in the marble counters and backsplash.  When I say we, I actually mean some guy that works for the countertop company.  I went out and measured the location of the holes yesterday.  The supervisor/manager of the countertop company was there too.  Today, we have our installers there to watch the guy drilling the holes (along with other tasks).

Everything will go perfectly.  We have done our homework and everyone is well prepared.

But what if something were to go wrong?  Whose fault will it be?

In this project, on this task, we have a chain that goes from homeowner, to architect and designer, to job superintendent, to me and the countertop company, on to my installers and the countertop installer.  Quite a chain.

Yes we have drawings that are part of our agreement with the homeowner, but now that the project is actually built, none of the dimensions on our drawings are exactly the same as the current “as built.”  Decisions about what will look best are often made on the site with the concurrence of the contractors involved.  Small fractions of an inch may make a difference in the final outcome.  Often these discussions do not make it back up to the homeowner for approval.  Choices/decisions are made to keep the project moving forward.

So if the homeowner does not like the locations of the holes in his marble, who will be to blame?  More importantly who will have to pay to fix the problem?

Situations like this are part of what makes custom work so expensive.  We have to bring in a lot of people to make what could be a rather simple decision.  I don’t think many homeowners have sufficient appreciation of what is involved.  All of us working on the project want a good result, but our best efforts do run the chance of disappointing the client.

When pricing our work, we have to take this sort of contingency into account.  If we didn’t we would end up broke.  That does not mean we charge double the cost of the work, but there is, let’s call it an overhead charge, that over the course of the year will likely net to zero (between the amount charged all customers and the amount spent on all customers).

Remember now, I’m only talking about a hypothetical project.

About that Volcano, again

Read this article: We Got Lucky.

Cabinet Reps.

We have cabinet reps. call on us.

Not as often as you would think, given the state of the business.

During their visit, I will stipulate that there cabinets are good.  I will even stipulate that their cabinets are better than Downsview.  I then ask them one question:  How will my investment in your line of cabinets increase both my volume and profitability?

Not once have I had a cabinet rep. give me a suitable answer to that question.

I wonder why that is?


I didn’t go.  Haven’t been in a while.  Did you go?

One thing that has surprised me since the downturn in construction began is the complete lack of new and interesting ways to solve problems in the cabinet industry.  Oh sure, there have been a couple of new door styles, materials and finishes, but these sorts of things just nibble at the edges.  There have not been any revolutionary methods of distribution or manufacturing.

I wonder why this the case?

I think a lot of it has to do with path dependency and institutional inertia, but I don’t really know.  I think now would be a very good time to be experimenting with different products and methods of distribution.

Yes there are a lot of companies selling rta cabinets over the internet, but have you seen one yet that you would buy from?  I don’t think the potential of this method of cabinet sales and design has been either fully or correctly implemented.

I have my ideas on how I would try different methods, capital permitting.  How about you?

Why the volcano in Iceland might be a big deal

If you have about forty minutes, watch this video: All Four Engines Shut Down.

And here is an interesting article making the claim that a previous Icelandic volcano contributed as a cause of the French Revolution: It Blew Ash for Eight Months!

Feng Shui Kitchen Design

I will admit I found this funny.

We all have myths in which we believe.  Feng Shui has to be one of the silliest of them all.