Client / End User



    A finely tailored suit is elegant in its simplicity, so it is with cabinetry.  You buy and compare many sets of clothes during your life but you don’t usually get to compare the qualitative differences with cabinets, other than in a cabinet showroom. Therefor, you may not have the the aesthetic vocabulary to make an informed comparison. There are options that you wont see in the showrooms or in production shops; techniques, skills and approaches that don’t lend themselves to production machinery and “economies of scale.” You wont see them in the “design centers” anymore than you will find a quality hand tailor at the mall. Sadly, even small shops have given up on the time consuming process of making doors, finding the material, milling it, matching it. assembling it and finishing it.  There are a few cabinetmakers still around and it might be worth considering an authentic set of custom cabinets.  It’s not that much more.

    After the dust has settled, you are left to consider your choice.   If it is a good one it enriches your life, if it’s a bad one it’s a disappointment. You may be able to mentally edit it out but you’re going to live with it for a long time. If you change your mind it is no longer just cabinets but counter tops, finish plumbing and electrical, etc., and another disruption in your life.  Half measures such as refacing are never very satisfactory and lead to further disappointment. I know it’s expensive and comes at a time when all of the other costs are mounting but my advice is: face the decision squarely and make a stretch if you need to, but follow your impulse for quality.  Carefully analyze the differences and don’t be distracted by mass produced details or gimmicky hardware that add temporary excitement but wear thin with time. 

     Simplify details if necessary but retain the underlying quality, i.e., a flat door carefully matched and fit to your house rather than numerous production details that are out of a distant factory.  If you later decide to change the doors t
hat’s all you change. A cheap suit can seem like a bargain in the store, only later do you realize the mistake. A cheap suit with an ostentatious monogram on the pocket is even harder to live with. Factories can produce detail after detail with production machinery and unskilled labor.  The art and beauty that comes from true craftsmanship is something that will define your house as yours alone.  There is no substitute for site specific detail and carefully composed cabinetry.

    The only thing worse than realizing “forty percent off” bought something that rings false, is paying for something you didn’t get. Today, many local shops have taken the production route, affixing third party doors from a distant factory to custom sized “boxes.”  While this integrates the cabinets into the room better dimensionally than store bought cabinets, it diminishes what I consider to be an important aspect of any job: the wood.  The rich grain of the wood is reduced to a blur by thick tints to “even” the tonal differences of mismatched pieces. You end up with what I call “shmwood” (below); the Breuner’s look. High or low end, shmwood is shmwood. If your journey through Kitchen and design shops leaves you blah, this is probably the reason. You’re looking at semi-opaque paint, not wood.  Paint chips and mars and gets old but it doesn’t age.  Another economy favored by factories is lighter materials, skimpily dimensioned elements in the construction of doors and cabinets.  Lightweight backs, partitions, etc. save weight and reduce shipping costs, a big consideration if you’re shipping thousands of units.

    Some of these door factories can match a pair of adjacent door panels but it is much more expensive.   I match the entire kitchen with “sequential” panels where possible and thus provide something that is missing in much of todays casework: a tailor made fit with the primary detail being the wood itself.  A production approach is a slippery slope, first the doors and then certain boiler plate approaches start to overwhelm the object: the most elegant set of cabinets possible for your home. It’s possible to pay for this and still not get it.  If quality design was easy to produce you’d see a lot more of it at the bottom end of the scale. These days price isn’t a guarantee of high end design either. 

    I hope this site helps you avoid these pitfalls in selecting cabinets. In these pages I discuss all aspects of cabinetry, design, quality, style,and problems that come up with installation. 



   I am a cabinetmaker with
thirty years’ experience building and installing my own work in the greater San Francisco Bay area.  I’ve always worked in high-end homes so my expertise and taste tends toward that end of the scale: the one off, architecturally designed house.  This is what I do: I carefully design (or follow your architect's design) and build cabinets from hand selected materials.  Every cabinet element is matched and the design is specific to your tastes and appropriate to the architecture.  I take it from beginning to end.  I try to foresee problems with other trades and solve them when they’re easy to solve.  Truth be told I do a lot more than build cabinets, I try to look at the project as a whole.  I work with the General Contractor to make sure the architecture, appliances and cabinetry integrate perfectly.  Done properly this is not an easy task. 

    On this site there is a section for Architects, one for builders and one for clients or end users.  Once you’ve made up your mind  there are numerous PDFs that condense the crucial decisions that have to be made by you or your design professional so the cabinetmaker can proceed.   The CLIENT PDF will give you a list of information a serious cabinetmaker needs to have before starting the cabinets.  The DETAILS PDF illustrates key issues of the counter top detail in illustration #1.

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LIC 661317

415-454-8100 / 707-878-2389

Bruce Kranzler

PO Box 66

Tomales, Ca. 94971