When a remodeling project is featured on the pages of At Home, the cabinets are often made by Custom Wood Products.
For nearly 40 years, the company has produced handcrafted cabinetry that resembles furniture. Resellers across the country who represent the company sell their work at a mark-up. Owners and builders in this area have the advantage of purchasing direct from the St. Marys plant.
âIn the outside world, we’re seen as a much more upscale firm than we are here,â said Caroline Gray, who owns the business with her husband, Kevin.
Custom Wood Products has been around since 1981. Founder Don Lake was a homebuilder who decided to set up a woodworking shop in a former St. Marys meat locker. In the late 1980s, he built the current location, which has been enlarged several times. He retired about 20 years ago when the Grays and John Mitchell bought the business.
Today, the production workshop occupies more than 100,000 square feet.
All elements of the construction cabinets – construction, assembly and finishing – are made by hand at the production site. As you walk through the factory, you’ll see employees putting together cabinets and drawers, sanding the wood gently, and applying finishes, all by hand. There are computer-programmed machines to cut pieces of wood to exact dimensions, which minimizes waste. Otherwise, everything else is done with hand tools, much like in a home workshop.
Each cabinet is custom made to fit a home’s specific space, measured in 1/8 inch increments to achieve a perfect size. The company uses what is called gang building. Instead of putting together smaller cabinet boxes to form a long row, these cabinets are made in a large box to eliminate seams. Plus, the edges of each are flush, giving them the appearance of furniture.
âWe take an entire job and we build that job alone. We don’t make boxes that you store on a shelf and then you’re limited by that door size or that color, or size limitations, âsaid Caroline Gray.
While this all sounds expensive, it doesn’t have to be. In the Topeka showroom, there are two kitchens made with identical cabinet styles. One costs $ 7,000, including granite countertops, while the other costs $ 40,000. The differences are the accessories added and the types of finish.
âYou can see that with a fully customized cabinet, it’s what you choose to do with that cabinet that impacts the cost,â Gray said. “The one (at $ 7,000) has a trash can roll out, and that’s the only extra. Yet it’s still beautiful and it’s exactly the same quality as the one on the other side of the wall (at 40,000 $).
The company builds for more than just kitchens. She also creates pieces for bathrooms, bedrooms, offices, dining rooms and closets. In addition, more unusual rooms are possible, such as bar rooms, coffee centers, wine cellars and laundry rooms.
When starting a new project, Gray said, “the idea is to look at the person’s space and find out how they work there.”
The main design trend now is to minimize clutter.
âPeople are obsessed with organization now, so when they see what props can do to keep things organized, they usually go with them,â she said. âThey love clutter-free designs, which means you can’t have clutter on top of your countertops and your cabinets have to go all the way to the ceiling.
White cabinets are still popular for kitchens. In some cases, the island will be painted a color or a simple wood stain. Most homeowners also like the lighter stained wood, which fits the current trend in mid-century modern and Scandinavian-influenced designs.
Popular kitchen accessories include knife holders, utensil dividers, and sliding spice racks. Trash can deployments are the most frequently requested, but there are also storage deployments for pantry and cleaning supplies. Many customers also request wood panels for their devices so that they blend in with the cabinetry.
Cameron Wrightsman, design consultant at the Topeka showroom, presented some of the available accessories.
âWe like to immerse ourselves in an owner’s project and what their expectations are,â he said. âA lot of people have a number of numbers on what they want to spend on this project. We show them, based on finite options, (an estimate) within 8% of the final amount.â
Gray said she often created a design plan for a homeowner or builder and then gave them the paperwork so they could go to the big box stores and see what those places would charge for providing the same. design. Most of the time, the price was in the same range as Custom Wood Products.
âI’ve even heard people say we were cheaper, but most of the time it was about the same price. So we can be affordable, âshe said.
Linda A. Ditch is a Topeka freelance writer. She can be reached at [email protected]