As part two of our blog on cabinetry, which is one of the most important elements that go into perfecting the look and feel of a custom designed luxury home, is the process of selecting from the endless array of options for woods, finishes, colors and hardware. The many options can seem overwhelming. The best way to approach this process is to consider the overall color/ hue or tone that best suits the living space in question. As the cabinetry often sets the tone, adding desired warmth, depth and/or contrast to a space, careful consideration of the material and finish is warranted when building your dream home.
There are several common wood varietals used in custom cabinetry, such as oak, maple, alder and cherry, and many not so common (gumwood, chestnut). Each wood has a distinct natural color and grain, and the finish or sealant selected can absolutely accentuate the natural beauty of the wood. Obviously, the color or hue desired will dictate which raw material to serve as the basis, as cabinets that will be painted colors rather than stained (white, blue, black, red, etc.) do not warrant the highest quality or “B or C” select grade wood as their canvas. Additionally, cabinets made of compound materials are a popular, durable and less expensive choice for rooms (i.e. laundry, playrooms) where the cabinetry is intended to be painted, and they are more a storage necessity rather than architectural or design focus.
If the desire is to have richly textured cabinetry with the grain and natural characteristics of the wood standing out, endless stain and finish can transform the desired varietal into the perfect match. The unique characteristics of each wood hold and reflect each stain differently; taking the time to experiment with more than a few combinations will yield the most favorable results. Additionally, while a wood varietal’s grain pattern tends to be a consistent characteristic, many common woods have a fair range in their natural color. For example: oak can range in color from white to pink and reddish; pecan may range from blonde or white to reddish-brown and dark brown; and, while cherry is known for its red undertones, it may also vary from a white to a deep rich brown.
Talented carpenters and artisans of woodworking are an integral part of a luxury home builder’s team, and many of the most gifted still use centuries-old practices to finish the highest quality wood to perfection. From waxes to finishes and stains, the products available on the market have multiplied to offer endless options for color, sheen and durability, and the final steps for finishing are nearly as important as the wood selection itself. Finishing products range from waxes and oils to varnishes and lacquers, grouped by working qualities and degrees of protection; they offer varying degrees of durability, protection, ease of application and aesthetics. Preparation of the wood prior to application of finishing products is also a critical process, and ultimately professionals use a combination of techniques and products to achieve the desired results.
The final step, once the style, wood and finish have been selected, is choosing the appropriate hardware to accent the cabinetry. Luxury home owners preferring modern and sleek cabinetry may opt for no hardware, creating a seamless visual, instead having a subtle notch or using push latches. Cabinetry knobs and handles may be subtle or bold, virtually invisible or a work of art. Their selection should also be carefully considered as a final imprint on the masterful cabinetry it adorns, with options ranging from brass and sculpted iron work to ceramic and stone. Most importantly, the choice should complement and not overwhelm the cabinetry itself.