Thursday, March 10, 2011

kitchen cabinets

Our kitchen cabinets were custom built by SuCasa Cabinets, a really fantastic local cabinet company.  Rick deserves full credit for putting up with my unusual requests during this project, and I am sure that at times he thought I was crazy (don't worry Rick, I won't hold it against you!)

The reason we wanted plywood cabinets was twofold... we thought it would reduce the cost of the cabinets (turns out we were wrong), and we loved the unconventional look of them. I have always been a fan of flat-front cabinets, but solid wood is tricky because of warping and cupping.  Veneer looks great, and  plywood is just a very honest and industrial version of veneer.  Especially with the edges exposed!

From a cost perspective, it turns out cabinets like these are actually a little bit more expensive than standard cabinets... the reasons for this are:  
  • There is extra labour involved every step of the way.  Screwing the boxes together, finishing all the exposed edges, leaving the frame exposed, cutting out the handles, oiling everything by hand.
  • The Appleply plywood was more costly than standard ply, as well as an upcharge for NAUF glue.
  • Hardwax Oil isn't cheap either

But, now no-one has a kitchen quite like ours.  Was it worth it?  Absolutely!
Here are a couple of inspirational photos of cabinets that I love.  I took these with me when I went to meet with Rick to see what would be possible.

yum yum farm house kitchen loft
inspiration: image from dwell

inspiration: kerf cabinets
I then sourced some plywood called "appleply" through Upper Canada Forest Products.  It is a type of plywood with extra layers so that the edges can be exposed without fraying.  It's made with NAUF glue and domestic white birch, and then Rick finished it with hardwax oil (I know, that all goes without saying at this point.. and yet I feel compelled to mention it yet again).  The boxes of the cabinets are screwed together wherever possible (instead of glued and nailed) and are constructed of NAUF birch plywood.  And so without further ado here is our finished kitchen!

This photo shows the kitchen how we actually live in it, complete with cakes that didn't rise and wood stacked too high outside the window.

detail of drawer interior

detail of lower cabinet cutout

detail of upper cabinet cutout
You can see in the detail shots the lovely striations of the exposed plywood edges.  The ends feel just as smooth and satiny as the fronts.  We decided on the cutouts instead of hardware because to me if feels very organic to have the handle integrated instead of applied.  The look is unusual for sure,  but that's what we love about it!

Soapstone counters by Canyon Soapstone.. more later!

The open shelving - a first for me.. would you do it?
I am getting used to the open shelving, although because I like to have everything just so I am feeling a strong desire to replace my motley crew of mugs with something more appropriate... and handmade.  I have two by Meghann Hubert which I love, so I think I will add to the collection! 

I am so thrilled with the finished kitchen.. the cabinets function beautifully, the finish is durable, and the interiors don't smell like new cabinets (in fact, they don't smell at all!).
I have too many photos to show you all at once, so you can look forward to seeing the islands and the bathroom cabinets in upcoming posts!


Anonymous said...

Hello. I hope you are still checking posts on your blog, because I have a question about your kitchen.

First, I love your kitchen!

I have a similar design in mind for mine. And, like you I want the exposed plywood edges. But, I am having a terrible time finding a product that I can use. I just spoke to the folks at ApplePly. They said that they only recommend their product for the countertops and for cabinet boxes, but not for the cabinet doors.

What did you use for your cabinet doors to allow you to leave the plywood edges without veneer banding?

Thanks for any advice you can give me!


mika said...

Hi Monica!

We used Birch apple-ply for all the doors, with a Hard-Wax oil finish. All the edges are exposed. Our cabinet maker had recommended the apple-ply, and we have been in the house almost a year with no problems. The cabinets look the same as they did the day they went in!

I'm not sure why ApplePly would not recommend it.. except that maybe they market their product as a base for other finishes. I would talk to your cabinet maker and have them do up a door to see what they think.

Good luck with your kitchen!


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your blog. I absolute love your kitchen and want to copy your cabinets. Have you had any issues with keeping your cut-outs clean? Also, I am used to seeing the euro style/frameless cabinetry with full overlay doors/drawers, your's are recessed. Is there any way you could take some detailed pictures of the carcasses with the drawers ajar?

mika said...

Hi Per,
I just realized I had not replied to your comment! It's probably too late, but I'll answer your question anyways.
I have no issues keeping the cutouts clean. I find them easier to clean than hardware.
Our cabinetry is also made with european hardware, but it is mounted farther back in the frame to allow the face of the frame to be exposed. I will add a post with some photos.
Hope your kitchen turned out great, my apologies again for the delay :)

A.B. said...

Hi, Fantastic looking cabinets. Google landed me here after searching for "cabinets with exposed plywood edges" :)

If I may I have a question. You said that you did not glue the cabinets together but screwed them. How did you hide the screws from the sides? I see none on the top cabinets on the edges.


mika said...

Thank you! And great question.. I had to go take a closer look! The cabinets are primarily screwed together, but the exposed ends look like they have been glued. Some ends have an extra gable end which creates a double thickness. This would have been glued on to finish the end and hide the screws. Some ends were glued on to start with.

Now that you have brought it up I do remember discussing non-toxic glue with the cabinet maker, so it makes sense that some was used. The boxes are still primarily screwed together wherever possible. So that's my mistake, I'll correct that in the post!

Andrew said...

This is an inspirational kitchen and I am building something similar in Scotland.

The UK is full of companies selling shiny kitchens on MDF carcasses with a few plywood kitchens at stratospheric prices. But a bit of searching has thrown up local cabinet makers who can build something bespoke at a sensible budget. What I like most about this kitchen style is that it is designed to be lived in by a real family and not just built in a studio for a photo shoot. Thanks for the inspiration.

mika said...

Thank you for your lovely comment, colin :)
It has been 2 1/2 years since installing the kitchen, and we still love it every day! The hardwax oil is holding up great, I have not had to do anything to it yet, but I think I will refresh a few of the cabinet doors soon that get the heaviest wear.
Good luck with your kitchen :)