How do I do custom cabinets/wardrobes?
August 28, 2014 11:58 PM   Subscribe

Where to look, what's a good price, what price is too much of a bargain to get a nice product, are there any tricks to the process? (And if we can get what we want ordering stock items that's great too)

We're in Chicago USA. We have a living room/dining room/kitchen and want an enclosed pantry thingy where we currently have an open shelf unit with crap falling out. We want it to be 40-44 inches wide, 24" deep and ~84 tall. Maybe narrower than that and with a pullout pantry alongside it. The door needs to closely match the look of the shaker kitchen cabinets it will be near but we want the stain to be darker. We'd also like a lower storage cabinet to fit between that pantry and the fireplace. We think it will all have to be custom-built but if anyone knows tricks for saving money by buying cheaper (custom?) cabinets and then ordering nice custom-made doors, please teach me how. I have looked at which looks great (and expensive) but they don't stain the wood???? Also at two Chicago companies, T2Cabinet and TrimLogic .

In our bedroom we'd love to cover a wall with "fitted wardrobes" like we've seen in England. The ones I saw in England are not all closet rods inside, there are also some drawers and cubbies, and I swear I even saw in a living room a set where the lower part was sliding doors, so when covered up by furniture it would be easier to get into the cabinet with the furniture pulled out just a little bit. However I don't even see anything like that on British sites for fitted wardrobes and as I don't see that as an option on any cabinet sites here I think I'm out of luck.

I've looked through Ikea and my mind has boggled. They do have wardrobes but none have any option other than tall door and closet rod inside. Some of their tall living room units might work for the bedroom but they only seem to sell them as a set with a low thing in the middle to hold a TV. I thought Ikea stuff was more modular, so if it is please tell me how to make it so.

Many thanks for sites and advice so we can have good storage!
posted by Anwan to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Wardrobe: Take a look at Ikea's Pax system. You can not only customize the outside look of the wardrobe and the doors, but also the interior: rods, shelves, drawers, wire drawers, shoe racks...

Their kitchen cabinets are similarly customizable, but I don't know if any of their fronts will match the look of your existing cabinets.
posted by amf at 3:19 AM on August 29, 2014

Do you have any Amish or Mennonite communities near you? If so, that might be an option to explore. I doubt there have been many people who have been disappointed in their purchase of Mennonite carpentry.
posted by JimBJ9 at 3:24 AM on August 29, 2014

Do you have a budget in mind? These are going to be expensive projects no matter how you go about it, but specific numbers about what you're willing to spend might help separate the possible from the absurdly unrealistic. I suspect that if you get a price quote from a place like TrimLogic, then Barker is going to suddenly look cheap. Of course, Barker's prices don't include installation labor.

For the enclosed pantry thing, consider making it shallower than the 24" you're imagining. With shelves spaced for typical kitchen stuff, 24" is really deep. It's dark back in there. Small stuff gets lost behind big stuff, and is difficult to get out. That' why they make pull-out pantries and roll-out shelves, but the hardware for those solutions adds considerably to the expense.

I'm a woodworker, and if I wanted something like a whole wall of tightly-fitted cabinets then I'd do good old-fashioned built-in-place cabinetry, with plywood shelves and verticals and solid wood face frames. I'd probably stick that in first and just measure for doors after the fact, order them, and install them when they arrived. Houses are not really straight and level and square and plumb, even when a casual glance makes them seem so. They are actually lumpy and sloped and tapered, which makes a bank of cabinets tightly fitted to the floor, ceiling and adjacent walls a tricky thing to accomplish. With built-in-place work done on site by a finish carpenter with simple portable tools the exact final dimensions of the parts are established in real time as the construction takes place, and if he gets a dimension wrong then he's only spoiled one piece of wood instead of an entire cabinet, and chances are he can use that material for something else. With cabinets built in a shop somewhere else the risk is higher and more time must be spent doing a lot of careful planning, making precise drawings, etc. and that adds to the costs. You can try saving money by combing through the offerings at a place like Barker, but there you're taking on a lot of risk yourself, in that you might not have the experience to recognize when your ideas won't actually work. You might get exactly what you ordered, and then find that two of the doors won't open properly because they hit something else, or that a cabinet that technically could fit between floor and ceiling can't be installed because it's too tall to be stood up after being carried sideways into the room to get it through the door.
posted by jon1270 at 4:00 AM on August 29, 2014 [4 favorites]

Thanks to all of you for the advice!
posted by Anwan at 10:54 PM on September 2, 2014

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