Written by Ryan Christensen, Cabinet Design Consultant
No matter the ungodly arrangement of your furniture, or a flooring selection you’d have the mind to torture your past self for choosing, a grand kitchen set-up is enough to turn even the man of the house’s head come commercial break to grant the briefest appreciation of the room that houses the beer. And that’s what I aspire to whenever I meet a new client passing through the Design Center doors: I want the man to see around the fridge.
After a guided tour of the client’s cabinet layouts, and the usual tet a tet regarding the inevitable growing equity of a picture perfect kitchen, we come to the actual selections, where the color palette of the house is expressed in the skimming of a line of displayed cabinet doors. The act is marked across the client’s face in a stark furrow as he or she understands the implications: what he or she chooses here and now, it stands to reason, is the pivot upon which paint, flooring, granite and ultimately furniture teeters with wary apprehension. The moment can sometimes last long enough to test the virtues of patience. It is understandable. Choice is often difficult. So I can only feel like the devil’s advocate when I offer options. Yes, options. During the selections process, ‘options’ sometimes wears the negative apparel of the even fiercer cuss word ‘upgrade’. Because options means more choices and more choices means more time and more time means more stress.
So consider this an act of counsel. A sort of perverse counsel, you might say, for my intentions in this regard are to stir the pot. Most people choose maple cabinets. I offer three options, and most times the client cuts me off before I can prattle off the remaining two. Maple. It’s the safest choice. The showhome has maple. Syrup has maple, and the McDonald’s pancakes currently energizing you during this whole process went down your gullet with gusto. Not so fast, I say: I understand the hesitation to select oak based on its retrograde appeal and an insistence to follow the less is more credo when referring to wood grain. I buy that. But whenever I bring up the third option, the unnatural option, some people immediately scoff, as if I’d crossed some imaginary line I was supposed to know existed on the option-block. The third option is MDF. Medium-density fiberwood. Paintgrade. Bleh! Painted cabinets. The tension between the customer and I grows palpable enough for me to re-consider my dangerous attempt down the ‘suggestion’ trail. The meeting becomes a contradiction, for I’d just pronounced the importance of peppering the heart of the home with stylistic abundance and dressing the cabinets in chic garb only to suggest that dress should come from General Paint. Am I insane? The jury’s still out on that one. But do I know what I’m talking about? If you ask my wife, no. But a few kitchens would certainly beg to differ.
I point first to the Fontaine, a showhome in Panorama that was recently nominated for a SAM Award. I like to believe said nomination wholly rested on the laurels of my cabinet design, and though some have argued the merits of my belief, I haven’t let the naysayers test my faith. We wanted to achieve a nautical look with this kitchen, washing its inhabitants in the sandy shores of Martha’s Vineyard. My issue with approaching this design angle with maple, and thus a woodsy stain, would have removed its viewer from the coastline and transplanted him in an agrestic sanctuary far removed from the oceanic oasis I wished to build. The kitchen is bright. Rich. It is defined by a clean precision and uniformity, marred not by variances in color or differing grains. It has the crisp simplicity of a blank page waiting to be filled with the comfort of family. MDF offers that sort of control. But now I can see that same burgeoning hesitation: now it’s not based on the design or the aesthetic, no, because you’ve seen what you can achieve with paintgrade. No, your hesitation is grounded on the assumption that something as breathtaking as the Fontaine, cabinets with the fantastic power to reveal the Atlantic out your Nook window, would certainly deflate the wallet to the point of nothingness. I mean, we’re not Rockefellers, right! But suppose I tell you the option is included. Standard. Pick a synonym. Now the ball’s back in my court. And I can only smile.
I would refer you to check the new Aspen showhome at 716 New Brighton Drive: these cabinets are MDF, and as of late, helped to propel the new paintgrade gravy-train that has begun to gather steam in the Design Center. I guess it might be safe to suggest that MDF is the new Maple, no?