If you want to understand how custom kitchen cabinets and other custom cabinetry can enhance your entire home, and even pay for themselves in longevity, you’ll love this Google Hangout, with Christian Gladu of The Bungalow Company and Tamara Raymond of Crown Point Cabinetry.
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Google Hangout Transcript
Christian: Welcome to our first Google hangout, we are live today with Tamara from Crown Point Cabinetry in New Hampshire. We have worked with Crown Point Cabinetry over the last 10 years and we thought we would take today and share some of how we collaborate and discuss some different design strategies that we use when we are working with a client. Welcome Tamara.
Tamara: Thank you, glad you included us.
Christian: Oh great! I think maybe the first thing we can do is talk about is how one of the things we like about working with Crown Point is that your design team takes into account the architecture of the building and for us that’s really important because a lot of our buildings, their cabinetry is very integral to the design. It’s not like it is a stand-alone piece so when we are doing it often we use cues from our windows and doors to dictate what proportioning we might use in our cabinets and I thought it might be interesting to hear if that’s something you guys do in general or if that’s unique to us or you know, when you see a plan how do you guys, how do you pick a track for design?
Tamara: We do also take all of that into consideration. I always ask people the style of their home if I don’t have architect plans in front of me and I do often like to see even the outside photos of the house because you want to see the window styles, you want to see the inside, whether or not the archways between the rooms are squared, you want to play off architectural features with the cabinetry, you want the cabinetry to feel like it’s part of the house and not some cabinets to store dishes in.
Christian: Yeah that makes a lot of sense for us as well. The cabinets have become so integral to the design of a lot of our houses that we go back to Crown Point for the stains.I can share a photo here in a minute of a project that we worked on together, basically the client liked the Crown Point sample so you much that you guys provided the stain for the rest of the house. The piece that this photograph illustrates is really that it’s hard to tell where the cabinetry stops and the building starts. So let me go to my screen share for a minute and we can look at a couple of these photos. So this photograph is for Debbie and Paul in Maryland who had come from a much larger kitchen. We tried to make an island in this kitchen where everybody could congregate around. This was a little different than the way the client had originally been working in their kitchen and the original kitchen, when I say the original kitchen I mean the kitchen in their last house, was definitely less designed, kind of more less happened I would say. So Crown Point worked with us and detailed not just the cabinets but the layout. Here you can see this is a hidden refrigerator and all the way down to, concealing the ventilation in the project but the key to this photo is, you can see the crown moulding in this project was not provided by Crown Point or the window trim but all the cabinets were and, using their stain and their same kind of sheen on the finish we tied the two together.
Tamara: It is a nice example of being able to have us provide cabinetry and have the contractor pull the other elements together to make it look like it literally all came from the same place. I really like the beam in the ceilings and the way the crown moulding connects with it everything. I think it came out really nice.
Christian: And this is another one, this is, we’ve had lots of questions about this photograph, people wondering, thinking that it was all built in and really the base cabinet were the built in pieces and the shelves but all the rest of it, all the rest of the trim in the windows and all that were site built.
Tamara: Correct, basically they provided us with the window size and the trim size they want and we worked within those dimensions for the cabinetry and just make sure we gave them some scribes so everything fit seamlessly and all they had to do was connect all the moulding which was nice.
Christian: Yep Tamara this was the part you are talking about with the beams and the island and in here there’s a lot of different things going on, there is finished carpenters, there’s two different carpenters in this project plus Crown Point so it really does all tie together nice. I think this is an interesting photo to touch on to. It seems like a lot of our projects right now, we are doing some configuration of natural wood and either a painted island or kind of the inverse of that, is that something you guys are seeing as a trend nationally or can you kind of tie that down, are there certain geographical regions that are doing more or less of that?
Tamara: I’m not sure that it’s geographical, we are seeing a lot of that I think it depends on the size of the kitchen and a lot of times it depends on the other elements. A lot of time when a client wants to do wood flooring and they want cabinetry with the stain for their kitchen, they want to bring another element in and add some color or something to break up so much wood. So a painted island is always a nice option or vice versa, a painted kitchen with a wood stain island. We do a lot of combination kitchens and a lot of times, even maybe a hutch or another area in the kitchen a second or third color
Christian: Nice, I really like the way it separates and makes the cabinets like in this project, makes the cabinet feel integral to the architecture and then the island is more like a furniture piece and I imagine over time and I feel like the island get a lot of abuse, maybe even more so than the cabinet at times. I think it’s nice you know that, that may be able to be refinished on its own at some later point and not necessarily be tied to having to do something different with the bulk of the stationary cupboards.
Tamara: That’s correct. It depends on the paint finish but we do offer a few different finishes and some of them can be repainted on and so you have the option of just painting over it. Some of them have a finish over the paint so they can’t be but there are lots of options.
Christian: You know, if anybody who is watching this if you haven’t seen a Crown Point kitchen up close, that is definitely one of the defining factors, I really don’t think there is anybody that we’ve worked with either the east coast or the west coast that has the finish done like you guys do, it really does feel like furniture, it doesn’t feel like cabinetry or when I say that, like when you go to Home Depot sometimes when you look at a basic kitchen, there really is a distinguishing factor in not just the finish of these cabinets but when you open the doors and you realize what’s going on inside it does feels like piece of furniture which I think that some of the pieces I’ve read in remodeling magazines recently have put kitchen replacement like 10-15 years as a national average and I think that a house like this where somebody’s really in it for the long term, obviously budget is a part of any project but I think when the kitchen when the kitchen is so much part of the architecture it’s worth the investment in doing a furniture grade cabinet install because you would have to tear the house apart to get the cabinets and if you don’t have to replace them in 10 years, granted you are going to have maintenance and touch up and finish but our hope is like with the level of quality that the, especially the outer board cherry cabinets that are in a house like this, they are going to put in an age like furniture not necessarily a temporarily mellowing box cabinet wood.
Tamara: Yes, I think cherry especially, oak, you know a lot of those woods that we just couldn’t stain in our big term finish on, they do last so long, so I’ve been into kitchens that were 20 years old that are Crown Point and I’m totally amazed at how beautiful the cabinetry still looks good and the client said that they basically choose the style cabinetry that they chose so that it would be an integral part of their home and they didn’t have to feel like they were doing something trendy that ten years down the road what they put in isn’t in fashion anymore, it’s not really about the fashion it’s about the style of the home in making everything, I mean the style of the house doesn’t change, so maybe the cabinetry part of that is very important.
Christian: Yeah, I think that’s true, I think the, especially a lot of these houses that are fairly traditionally inspired and for us the projects that we’ve done in Bethesda, Washington DC, Northern Virginia a lot of those projects are in established neighborhoods and this is a new house but the house really needs to have the bones like it feels it’s been there and I think that some of them actually feel like they have been there longer than the houses they are actually in and around them. It’s kind of that bridge, and this project the Rice residence is interesting that we’ve had people who say that the inside feels like it’s a really nice remodel which I always feel like the ultimate compliment
Tamara: Yes I would say that, that is a compliment because it makes it seem like an old house that just had good bones and you wanted to just revive it.
Christian: Yeah, what do you guys see happening in terms of cabinets? And I kind of preference this with as we are designing and working through kitchens and not just kitchen but other parts of the house, whether it be fire places, laundry rooms any of these were functional pieces. I’ve laid out a few things, I feel like I’ve really changed our work really over the last ten years, one has been a flat screen television set, the other has been gas fire places, front loading washer and dryers and then in the kitchen I would say that in, and when we get to a market like in the Washington DC market we see appliance that I don’t run into in a lot of in those West Coast jobs some warming drawers, trash compactors, double refrigerators, it seem to be a lot more appliances. So I just feel like some of these just driven design elements, like actually where we place things and how we place them but I wonder if there is anything you guys have been running into recently that has changed some of the design approach.
Tamara: Well I think the trend is still too high, with some of the appliances, put panels on them, put retractable doors, sometimes it’s just high, microwaves and other things, one thing that I see over and over again is people want an area in their kitchen where they can have charging stations, so they want a draw near where they come into the kitchen where things can be dropped in hidden behind a retractable door where they can have outlets for recharging phones and laptops. So that’s become more important to people, almost, as well as just hiding the appliances with matching furniture, appliance panels that cover them. As far as trends go, you know for some reason, white kitchens are still what’s happening. I know in a lot of your houses that we do, we do a lot of natural wood because that is what people want, that the look of the house that you do that is what it calls for and it’s just time less, the wood with the stains, is very timeless the nice thing about pulling in some paintings is they can be changed down the road. Paint is still big.
Christian: You know that’s true in our West Coast projects that we do. Last year we had, in Ben we actually had a couple of houses on the tour homes and I did the tour of homes and I’m going to say that 80% of the kitchens that I went to were white painted kitchens which I thought was interesting and if there are wood there they tend to be more altered not so much cherry, cherry said about it seems in the East Coast we certainly do a lot of cherry projects so it’s almost the standard after all this time. I think the other element I find funny in terms of trends right now is iPAD store tablets then kind of the place how they have cracked into the kitchens, we’ve actually done a mount which is just a hardware mount but see them all the time in terms of sitting on the kitchen counter with recipes on them or email or even as a control centre for I know like Debbie and Paul’s house actually they have a small meeting iPad that they use to connect all the music and media and that’s interesting.
Tamara: That is interesting. I haven’t had somebody request one of those yet but I’m all over that I think that’s a great idea. I’m kind of surprised I haven’t actually because people do, I’ve run into people who have one of those on their kitchen counters always, and that’s what they get their recipes from, they do their shopping list on it, so it’s how they live and that’s what the kitchen is about. It’s about how you live and making it comfortable, so that it’s easy to cook in and easy to live in.
Christian: Well I mean that just kind of brings up an interesting point. We have a lot of times, you know when you are designing a house you get to know how somebody’s spend a lot of hours and even before you guys are involved and I feel like people have seen just enough home and garden television or bought just enough magazines in the grocery store to have some opinions and a lot of times, you know people are very opinionated about kitchens. I going to say definitely more than any other part of the house and to me it seems like people come with a lot of rules in their minds like the mystical kitchen triangle and they feel like, what I hear from people there’s like this rule of how it has to work and I did a Kosher kitchen in San Francisco probably 12 years ago and that was the first time that I really realize that there were so much going on in this kitchen, there were so much , you know a whole lot of layer, redundancy, how to store things where to store things, we kind of threw some of those rules away but I wonder how you feel about that, is there some do’s and don’ts or kind of classic mistakes for people to make or what are the things you do, or if you had to pick a couple of things what are the really important things in planning a kitchen
Tamara: Well I think the work triangle is still a little important because you don’t want to have to walk really far from your refrigerator and to your sink and then to your range, it’s still important but I feel less pressure on it than I used to. I usually start the conversation with my customer and asking them to tell me about their project and how they use their kitchen. And I ask them things that they like about their current kitchen and things they don’t like about their current kitchen because I don’t want to make anything happen that they don’t like. So if they have such a situation in their kitchen now that doesn’t work for them I know an it doesn’t mean that situation is a bad situation it just doesn’t work for them and we always ask how many cooks there are in the kitchen. Does their family all gather in the kitchen when it’s cooking time, you want to make sure there is plenty of room for making more than one chopping area if that’s the case and I just try to stay in touch with what the customer wants and some customers don’t know what they want so we have to stay with them a little bit and show them lots of options.
Christian: That’s interesting too because I find that when we are laying them out there is kind of this sweet spot in terms of size. When a kitchen gets really big all of a sudden I feel and I think this might be my own internal sense of scale and what I’m comfortable doing but I thought that all off a sudden it could be, a refrigerator can just be one too many steps away from the sink or you feel like you have to cross behind the range every time and the sinks in front of it but there is a couple of items like that, that I always feel like I personally get caught after 25 years of doing this, I still find myself going this is just one step too far and its interesting as I had a project that I did up in Bainbridge Island that, where I had the opportunity to stay in the house a couple of times and it was done as this pretty high end spec house and then the builder some them and then we became friends with the owners and they’d let us borrow it a couple of times and I know that there was so much kitchen cabinet, i felt that I needed on e of those ice Zamboni machines to clean the counter. But I would say that the refrigerator to the sink was probably four solid strides. And I kept finding like I had to go and get things back, I felt like I wanted a cart but do you have like a maximum distance you use in your mind or kind of it is more like this is the scale of the kitchen.
Tamara: I do check distances but mostly what I pay attention to is, kind of in my own mind how far that’s going to be or do they have to walk around anything to get there. I’ve had people who want to put the range on one side of the island and the refrigerator on the other and I try to say to them do you really want to walk around your island every time you want to carry something from one side to the other and some people don’t quite grasp that if they haven’t been in the situation where they kitchen didn’t work very well, your instance that you were just talking about where you stay in a house where you felt like it was just a little too far away, that’s where I was going with talking to my customers about how they work in the kitchen that wasn’t comfortable and what wasn’t comfortable about it and that way that kind of works backwards to figure out and help them figure out what works better.
Christian: That’s interesting too because a budget always comes up when doing kitchen and I am a firm believer that a kitchen doesn’t have to be huge. It’s really about how well planned it is and ergonomically where things are and that’s probably the best way to save some money on the kitchen in terms of less cabinetry or appropriate cabinetry and so I would say if its, you can’t have a set square footage in mind. I always start with a little bit of like an inventory, like tell me about what you have, somebody with a bunch of mixers or a bunch of appliances and sometimes we get a lot of that dealt with in a pantry or something like that , that’s not even necessarily tied to cabinetry but I also ask people to come and look inside and I know this is one of the places that where clients can be surprised by cost of kitchen cabinets, you just start hanging a lot of pull outs, you start having mixers, holders things like that so I always think that now is a pretty good time to take an inventory . If you are going to build a new house, it’s a good time to take an inventory of what you are using and what you are not using and don’t make space for things you are not using at the price of cabinets and new construction. Do you guys have a checklist or something like that, do you have people do a similar thing?
Tamara: I do, basically I do something similar I ask customers what they have for appliances they need to store, what types of things they need on the counter versus what types of things they want to store inside the cabinets. We have a lot of inserts that are available for storing things inside of cabinets. You’re right they do tend to add cost to you, a kitchen so if it’s something they don’t need I’d rather not add it to the list right away but kind of having a small checklist of things that I think, I automatically add to every kitchen without even asking, which is a double trash which usually has two buckets, one for recycling, one for trash and then usually some type of corner pull out because nobody likes to crawl back into the corner of a cabinet, different types of utensils and silver ware providers and those are kinds of standards that I would just automatically build into a kitchen then from there we have a great list of all types of inserts on our website and our catalogue. So if somebody, they see something like a mixer shelf, maybe they are a baker, maybe they do a lot of baking and it’s important to them to store their mixer where they don’t have to get it from the pantry, put it on the counter, they want to just have it accessible so there is a lot of questions like that, that do come up.
Christian: How about multiple heights in kitchen in terms of counter tops? That’s a question that I get a lot when you’ve got husband who is six foot and the wife is 5’2’’ and there are a couple of things that I run through with them, usually it’s like, okay we’ve got appliances that are at certain height and we kind of have to work with that but then there are some places where if there comes the baking that we can make some variation or even sinks I feel like are pretty big deal. Sometimes the sink can be too deep or too shallow depending on that, but do you guys does that seem, are people doing much of that, multiple counter heights?
Tamara: Definitely, anybody that does a lot of baking often asks for an area with a lower counter corner where they can roll up doe and use mixing bowls at a more comfortable height. Some of it has to with the height of the person and I do quite often especially when the placing range hook, especially things like that, I’ll ask how tall people are or if they want their microwave in a cabinet that’s you know above the oven. I’ll check to see how tall are you because I know for myself that would be an issue, so I do ask those questions, actually I’ve had some people who want taller counter height because they and their spouse are both six foot and it’s uncomfortable for them to work in or any other place that is the standard 36 which is great, we can do that, we can accommodate that because everything we do is custom. The times when we run into an issue with varying your heights of counters is when you have appliances in certain area because obviously some of them can’t go lower than standard height, if you’ve got a dish washer or certain appliances that don’t come any shorter. The other thing that is a challenge is making those two counters come together without making them feel like it’s an issue, like it’s an interrupted, interruption in the flow. So sometimes we do it on one side of an island or at the end of a run of cabinetry where you know some people but like a desk area and that is usually lower as well, so you just want to take that into consideration about how you are going to make that work and not look awkward.
Christian: Nice, it’s interesting talking about the counter heights, one other thing that we’ve run into this year is and I think this picture that we were looking at before with the aisle with the multiple levels that used to be really, we really lived and died by that with a 42 inch bar side. I don’t know what happened but it happened about eighteen months ago but everybody wants one flat surface right now that I’m dealing with and it’s interesting because I like the way it looks, it’s really nice but the only downside of it is, there seem to be more stools available at 42 that are comfortable then at 36. I also feel like you really see everything that is on the counter, once you’ve cooked the meal in an open plan concept, once you’ve done that, all the pots and pans and dishes and chaos is exposed. It is interesting and I’ve heard it from real estate, people a lot right now are in the speculative market, like it’s the one thing you can’t do, you’ve got to have it all on the counter and I used to find it funny how those trans kind of transition into our daily design routine.
Tamara: I think that the one height counter is more comfortable for people when you are sitting at the counter because you feel like you have an expansive amount of counter in front of you. When you do multi-level you end up with an area that’s higher. You need to make that space bigger so that when you are sitting at it, if you are sitting at it with a plate and a glass you don’t want to feel like you are limited on space in front of you, that things are falling off the other side, so I think you get caught up in having enough space to do a multi-level island take more space and I think that’s why people tend to go to that low level is you can get away with feeling like you have more space when sitting at the counter if it’s all one level. I do like the multi-level and the fact that you can hide, if the sink is at that space or the range is at lower space then you’ve got great room on the other side. You don’t want your guest sitting in the great room on the other side looking at the dirty dishes or looking at the pots on the stove so it’s a catch 22 and I think it’s very personal preference, I have people who were adamant they want one way or the other, so.
Christian: I think the part about the island is nice too, I think that might be a lot of house we have designed an alternative sitting area in the kitchen with the breakfast nooks and I know you guys have done this with us before and also in a lot of other designers. I’m guessing they really have the handle on that , whether it be a built in breakfast nook or more of a bank at sitting but that seems to be something that a lot of people come to us and expect that this part of our design and it seems to work pretty well. The only problem is to almost in some cases, it almost negates the kids might need for a dining room or the house that Chris, my wife and I built, we actually had one of these built in banquette, very similar to the ones I see in your website and it’s interesting we would have people, people would come to the house for dinner and would actually ask to sit there and we would be sitting the dining table and they would go can we just eat in the nook and you sit there, and first when I did it, it was a little bit small and I squeezed in there, my kids are small, so young and I was like let us just eat for breakfast, you know, have some coffee, read the paper and next thing you know you have four adults wanting to sit in this piece and I’m like wow, why did I build that other 150 square feet for that dining room.
Tamara: Yes it’s cozy, people like booths on. You into restaurants and see, restaurants will have tables and some booths. People are drawn to booths. You feel like you can have a comfortable conversation in them and I think that’s what it is and kids love them, kids absolutely love them so we do a lot of built in with banquettes and they just works well off the kitchen like that and it’s nice to put one near an island and it’s almost, that becomes the family gathering in the nook and at the island everybody is all together.
Christian: So in your website I’ve seen, it’s in your arts and craft stuff, there is one that you guys did where its right in between, it’s right in front of the island and I wouldn’t have thought of that but it looks really nice and I could see how that would serve special young kids read a lot, they are not ready to be off on their own while you are serving dinner you are able to get back and forth to them, yeah I think that is a really nice design.
Tamara: Yeah I know the one you are talking about and it is comfortable for your children to be there, for you to still be cooking meal or maybe you are cooking for company that is coming later but you are getting dinner ready for the kids too and everybody is right there so, you know they are all in one spot to clean up.