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Kitchen Cabinetry Shopping


Shopping for kitchen cabinetry can be a daunting task that may test your patience as you try to find the right match for your budget and expectations.

Your first outing should be just a preliminary exploration; an opportunity to develop a first impression of the dealers on your list. As you will most likely discover kitchen dealers, as with most retailers, vary widely in their product offerings and service approach. There are big box retailers, cabinetry showrooms, independent dealers, custom carpentry shops and The Kitchen Abode. The challenge is to find the right fit for your project, budget and service/support needs.

Big Box Retailers

Most carry 3-4 levels or brands of cabinetry from off-the-shelf to fully customizable. The initial attraction is typically a low advertised price. Keep-in-mind that this is usually for one of the lower end product lines which are often limited in style choice, cabinet sizing and customization options if any. Design assistance will most likely be very limited and restricted to the cabinetry layout only.

The big box store experience is not for everyone, especially if you are looking for a highly personalized experience or a significant level of design assistance. Be prepared to wait your turn especially on a busy Saturday afternoon.

Cabinetry Showrooms

Here you will often find 5 or more full-sized and configured kitchen displays, they will include appliances, lighting, backsplashes, sinks & taps. Many of these dealers also sell countertops, sinks, taps, flooring and tile. They may be exclusive to only one brand or represent several manufacturers. Many of the single brand exclusive showrooms target the higher end markets and work predominately with architects and interior designers.

You will most likely be serviced initially by a sales rep or receptionist, do not expect to get into much detail about your project, for this you will have to make an appointment to meet with one of their designers. The overall experience can be mixed, on one hand you will definitely see the most beautiful displays while on the other hand you may feel somewhat intimidated, some of these dealers can be extremely pretentious and judgmental.

Independent Dealers

There are probably more dealers in this category than all others combined. Showrooms are typically around 1,200 square feet with 2 to 3 kitchen displays, they often vary in completeness. They may or may not carry addition support products such as tiles, sinks or taps.

The shopping experience from one dealer to the other will be highly varied according to the owner/operators background, skill set and target market. Their ability to provide design support also varies greatly and they are not likely to get involved in the design decision process if they are not selling you the product. Make sure to check out their actual portfolio to ensure their design work will meet you expectations.

Carpentry Shops

There are a number of small independent carpenters who own & operate cabinet fabrication shops. They are usually located in industrial complexes. If you are looking for full sized displays and brand name cabinetry then this would not be your first choice. Design assistance will be limited to the cabinets only. Drawings can be sketches on a piece of paper or shop type drawings, don’t expect 3d renderings.

Many believe that dealing direct means a lower price. Be careful with this assumption, from prior dealings with several carpentry shops their pricing was actually higher than that of a major manufacturer. The other issue I found was the lack of any documentation concerning the product I was to receive and vague supply & install contracts. Just make sure you are comfortable with this type of dealing.

The Kitchen Abode

Our perspective on the kitchen cabinetry business is distinctly different from those mentioned above. We understand that a kitchen is not just cabinets but a culmination of all elements within, counter tops, lighting, flooring, appliances and paint colour to name a few. We know that a kitchen cannot just look good, it must also be a functional and enjoyable place to live and work. We recognize that to achieve this you need to be informed of all possible choices regardless of what we do or do not sell. And like you we are value driven to obtain the appropriate cost/benefit balance regardless of project size or budget.

Your kitchen remodel should be an enjoyable experience, a time of exploration and great discussion with a few laughs along the way. We have a highly relaxed approach that facilitates the flow of ideas between us. And our studio has been designed with this in mind, it’s comfortable, calm & relaxing. Projects flow according to your schedule and needs without any obligation or pressure from us.

“A great kitchen is not the result of a great design, it’s the result of a great working relationship”

Graham T. Korbey
The Kitchen Abode

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