Thursday, August 20, 2015

Cleaf Oregon Pine Shaker Insatallation

A Look Inisde

I thought it might be interesting to take you inside an installation featuring our Oregon Pine white shaker cabinets. The image below is the kitchen of a home in Newport Beach (one block from the beach!). It's a beautiful new construction with a price tag of just under $2 Million. If you have never remodeled your kitchen, take a good look, this is about three days worth of work. There are coffee cups in the bathroom sink. Aside from our beautiful cabinets, the most interesting thing about this project is the fact that the owner had us rip out brand new cabinets. The builder chose white shaker cabinets and we are not sure who made them, but they were not worthy of this address. I have some pictures of the original cabinets and plan on posting a comparison on the website ( From afar, like the front door, they looked great -but a closer look revealed some shoddy workmanship and cabinetry. Look for that page soon to be on our website.

Oregon Pine is a Cleaf product. Made in Italy, the material comes in 81.5" x 110.25" sheets. They are difficult to deal with until we cut them down for manufacturing. Cleaf makes the Metro series by impregnating sheets of paper with resin, forming the grain detail and then under heat, permanently bonding them to the substrate. We have a video on our website of us demonstrating it's resilience. We offer a lifetime warranty on our US made cabinets, its nice to sell Cleaf knowing that it will look just as good ten years from now. By the way, Oregon Pine shaker cabinets are our current best seller, and we are Southern California's #1 buyer of Cleaf products. Another thing that we love about Cleaf is the price. The doors and drawer fronts cost roughly half as much as paint (finishing is expensive! I'll post a look inside the finishing process for paint in the future), and they will keep their look far longer than painted doors. I plan on doing a comparison page on the website soon to give customers a good look at the pros and cons of painted doors vs. Cleaf products.

Back to the installation. The massive island will have a prep-sink in the near corner and features storage on 3 sides. The side facing in the image has an overhang for seating and 12" deep cabinets for storage. The other side has a microwave in a base cabinet and two 36", two drawer cabinets for pots and pans. The island is nearly complete, just missing a toekick skin and the tip-out tray that goes in the false drawer under the prep-sink. The side facing the living room is finished with a full width shaker side panel.

The next image shows the corner cabinets leading into the range. Both sides of the range feature a 6" spice rack pull-out from Rev-A-Shelf. The lazy susan in the base corner cabinet is also from Rev-A-Shelf. We call the corner wall cabinet above an Easy Reach cabinet. Most of our customers prefer this option over diagonal wall cabinets or blind-corners. The diagonal wall cabinet has an angled door that cuts the corner and can make the space feel cramped. Blind-corners leave hard to use space in the corner and we avoid them at all costs. The Easy Reach corner cabinet will have bi-fold doors that allow easy access.

Just to the right of the corner cabinets there is a post that juts out from the wall about 9", making a tough spot for designers. Unfortunely this post cuts the kitchen in half. The entire house is built from concrete, so no possibility of taking it out. You wouldn't want to lose any space by adding drywall on either side to flush it out. Our solution is to go around it. The image below shows the 3" deep cabinet we built to span the space. It will have tiny shelves and offer some small storage, a better solution than a blank filler covering the space. Below we made a 15" deep base cabinet, it is 15" wide to make better use of the drawer space. The wall cabinet is 8" wide.

Most homes near the beach are not huge, so storage is important. Our customer didn't want the audio equipment taking up floor space so we designed a special equipment cabinet that flanks the fireplace. The side of this cabinet is open and covered by a shaker panel with black speaker mesh which will hide the bass speaker.

The final picture I took standing in the kitching looking towards the front of the house. An odd thing happened today while we were there, a car with two women inside stopped in front of the house and they sat there looking inside. The picture doesn't relate how close the street is, from inside the house -it's very close. For a moment I thought they may be coming to the house to visit the homeowner, but they were stopped in the middle of the street. I remember thinking earlier that it was odd that there were no window coverings in the home yet. The owners recently moved in and possibly haven't purchased anything yet, but I also noticed the neighbor across the street had no coverings on their windows either. I started to wonder: maybe if you spend a couple million dollars on your home you want to be seen in it? I assume you don't see many Ferraris with tinted windows because the drivers like to be seen in their expensive car... Anyway, my partner and I started to feel really uncomfortable, like fish in a bowl. After a minute one of the ladies got out of the car, knocked on the sliding glass door, opened it and asked if the home was part of a new development. Beach communities are a world of their own.

I'll post pictures of the space once everything is finished so check back later if you're interested.

Thanks for watching!


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Shipping Considerations

Custom Inset Cabinets

The image below is of our custom grey inset cabinets. These were manufactured for a local customer, though we were reluctant to offer them. Our customer had a fixed budget and originally asked us to do the inset cabinets, one look at her kitchen and budget told us they would be too expensive. Inset cabinets require more hard-wood for the frames and that means more expensive hard-wood and more work for us as the frames are hand made. This is why we were reluctant to offer them in the first place, they are labor intensive and costly. The customer understood and accepted our standard European frameless construction. Just prior to going into manufacturing, Derek (owner of the brick-and-mortar side) decided to surprise the customer with the custom inset cabinets (we're not a mindless corporation -we really do care!). They were installed last week and the customer was ecstatic.

We have tossed around the idea of offering the custom inset cabinets for online purchase, but there are a lot of logistic limitations. As I said above, they are labor intensive and require additional material, and that makes them expensive. Expense aside, the biggest hurdle is shipping. Kitchen cabinets are designed to be assembled and locked into place, they are not engineered for road trips! Our standard European frameless cabinets ship unassembled. Shipping the cabinets unassembled cuts down on the cost of freight. Freight is charged by volume, unassembled cabinets require less volume in the truck, and they can be flat-packed tightly with casework parts, doors/drawer fronts, and hardware separated. Separating the components allows for tighter packaging and a much higher degree of protection for everything. The custom inset cabinets are finished (painted) with the casework and faceframe assembled. Shipping cabinets assembled increases the freight charge two to three times. That's not even our biggest concern.

Imagine the trip these assembled cabinets would take in the back of a semi-truck. The vibration of a road trip alone is likely to cause damage, the next time you see a freight truck take a moment to observe the suspension on the trailer, they are not made for comfort, all of that vibration and bouncing is not good -and a nightmare for assembled components. The pallets are typically loaded and unloaded multiple times too (and sad to say: the people driving the forklifts are only human). Freight is picked up from us and taken to a local terminal where it is offloaded and reloaded onto a long-haul truck. Once the shipment reaches the destination terminal, the freight is unloaded and reloaded onto a local delivery truck. All of this moving around means more opportunity for damage. Even slight damage may mean a claim and shipment of replacements, that can get expensive -and there's still risk of damage to the replacements. Of course if the damage is the caused by the freight company they will pay for the replacements, but this process can take months. Look at the fine print on many cabinet companies shipping terms, they typically make the customer deal with the freight company for claims. No one wants to pay for replacements and hope the freight company reimburses the expense later, and no one wants their project delayed waiting for replacement parts. Of course we are a caring and compassionate company, and in the case of freight company damage, we immediately ship replacements at no cost to the consumer and deal with the freight company ourselves.

As a business it's hard to turn down paying customers. We know the average customer doesn't have the experience to understand all of the manufacturing and delivery concerns, and look to us for our knowledge and experience to aid them. For this product, our concern is making sure we can deliver quality cabinets that can be installed immediately without potential damage causing delays. Though the sale is enticing -we have to be responsible to our customers. Until we find bullet-proof ways to reduce the risk, inset faceframe will likely remain an option for local customers only.

Thanks for watching!