Monday, August 8, 2011

Kitchen Cabinet Selection

This week the pace slows down quite a bit after the flurry of framing. There won't be anything going on at the house until Wednesday, when the roofers get to work. The timing is quite nice because we have an out-of-town guest and a lot of social commitments this week.

However, the next big decision we have to make is which vendor will make our cabinets. And we need to make the decision by Friday (August 12). We have talked to five different companies:

The Contenders:
1) Vendor A is an Amish man who is just starting his own custom cabinetry company shop after 17 years working with a major cabinetry company.
2) Vendor T is the company referred to us by our builder. This was the company that generated our original cabinet estimate, before we really figured out the layout and options we wanted.
3) Vendor G is a company that our builder has recently partnered.
4) Vendor C has a good relationship with our builder for countertops, so we wanted to talk to them about cabinets as well, as that is also their stated speciality.
5) Vendor M is more modern shop we found on our own at a home show. We liked that their display had a Euro kitchen and wanted to see if they could give us the look we wanted at a price we needed.

The Cabinets:
All five vendors can provide the look we want, which is shown well below. These are maple shaker cabinets with an espresso finish. (These are also the exact pulls we want for hardware, and we will also be using the white quartz countertop).
Source: via Jen on Pinterest

The Considerations:
While our kitchen is fairly straightforward--other than the size--there are a few things are a little unusual, like the recycling center idea from Ikea. It pulls out from the end of the island, with a sliding drawer on top. This puts all the recycling in one area, with the trash, making it very easy to make the choice to recycle each time.

The other option that threw vendors for a loop was this foot pedal door opener from Hafele.
Source: via Jen on Pinterest

We would also be happy with this option from Richelieu, which uses magnetic force rather than air.
Source: via Jen on Pinterest

We also really wanted a metal tambour for my command center, but once the quotes came in (for the ones who could find them), it wasn't worth it.

From our perspective, what drives our decision is:
  • the ability to get the look and function we want
  • quality
  • cost
  • to a lesser degree, the "feel" we get from the vendor, if we felt heard, if we are happy with the service and attention
1. Vendor M was nearly twice the price as the next highest quote. They were easy to cut.
2. Vendor T's second quote was the lowest. They made it to round 2.
3. Vendor G had the unfortunate timing of meeting with us at the end of the day, at the end of a busy week. I was a having a bad brain day and our meeting did not go well. Aphasia and a cranky boy made articulating my thoughts a bit of a stretch and it didn't help that the meeting pretty much started off with, "You can't do..."

***Customer Service PSA***
When someone comes to you prepared to spend thousands of dollars, price out their wishlist. Do not assume what they can or cannot afford. Present your best price. Ask about their needs and offer low(er) cost alternatives. In the end, let them make the decision on how to spend their money. Thankyouverymuch.

In the end, I was embarrassed, Vendor G was apologetic, but we had too many other good choices to try to get that bad taste out of our mouth. Vendor G was out.
4. Vendor C was easy to work with. We felt heard and the process felt collaborative. Our builder raves about their customer service, but their cabinet work is unknown. They made it to round 2.
5. Vendor A was the last vendor we met. We LOVE the idea of having quality, Amish-made cabinets, but never considered custom because of the cost. Our builder learned of Vendor A from talking to our framing crew because Vendor A is family. He doesn't have a showroom, so he invited us to his home to show us the cabinet work he did there. A few thoughts: 1) what a cool experience for our family, especially because his two boys took our boy by the hand and they played together the entire time we talked. 2) his cabinets blew the other vendors' cabinets out of the water. He definitely made it to round 2.

That leaves us with three options:
1. Vendor A: Amish built, custom cabs, good feeling, he's hungry to grow his business and we'll have a house he can showcase his work in for six months as our builder uses our house for a model (and we pray fervently for our current house to sell!) Clearly the frontrunner. Just waiting to hear the final quote.

2. Vendor C: Middle of the pack on price. Unknown on quality.

3. Vendor T: Originally the least expensive, but their final quote came back on the high side.

By Thursday evening, we should have all the final quotes in and can make our final decision.

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