Hello, my name is Phil Carr-Jones, I am reviewing my experience of working with and building my own kitchen using cabinets and doors from Arkansas Wood Door.
While I am an Episcopal Priest, it turns out I get to do a lot of things they don’t teach you in seminary. Over the years, I have had to get fairly skilled in all the trades, including, no surprise, carpentry. But I am by no means an expert. For instance, I employed a retired carpenter to help out with the crown molding and other trim. A part from that though, this is all my and my wife’s work.
So let me state up front, Arkansas Wood Doors is the go to place for the DIYer who is thinking of remodeling their own kitchen. Here is why:
I searched the web for months, literally doing comparisons and research on flat pack rta cabinets. I went to the big box store for a design and pricing in their three lines of cabinets, and I went in for a consult with a small custom shop in my area. Here’s what I found 99 out of 100 RTA cabinet companies have their product made in China which means the standards for formaldehyde are going to be as fishy as they smell, plus you can only get cabinets in fixed sizes so if your looking to eeck out every last inch of space you’re going to lose a lot and you’ll be using a lot of filler strips wasting what could have been useful storage. If you want to go custom, then you only have less than a handful of online options, companies that will make to order in any dimension. For instance I wanted an 8 inch deep spice cabinet to allow for greater working room over the counter. My wife and i are pretty serious about cooking from pastries to mains and sides. We want a very serious kitchen. Plus I’m tall so I needed the room. In any case if you want something custom your choices online are limited. The big box stores don’t really do custom and are just as limited in their options as the online RTA places. Most online RTAs offer far cheaply made boxes with construction methods less sturdy. I have found that if I buy cheap , I shouldn’t expect my kitchen to hold up past a few years. The finish will fade. The drawers will warp. The joints will open up. The big box stores basically offer the same thing, too. When I go to a big box store to buy something, I do it knowing I probably will get a year out of it, whether that’s a lawn chair or a power tool. I mean when was the last time you regretted spending too much money on a better grade of power tool? So if you want quality , a better and safer grade building material and much wider choices in sizing then your down to three or four options. I went with Arkansas Wood Doors and I’m completely pleased and impressed by the experience.
Now I could have spent twice what I did and gone to a small custom shop and gotten the same thing, but I am into saving money and frankly I enjoy the challenge.
AWD worked with me directly. Working up the order and getting the plan for each box just right. If you have never designed and built a kitchen before, there are plenty of tips and guidance on the web and I recommend you heartily research all of the aspects and complications involved. I hit a couple of unexpected bumps. But more about that below. So do your research. For instance you can save a lot of money by building the plinths yourself and only order squared off boxes without the toe kick. By making the platform on which you place the lower cabinets first, you can get that plumb and level, so throwing the boxes up is a breeze. And again, the cabinets are also less expensive, a complete all around win.
AWD uses an easy system for matching up box parts so assembly was easy. No special tools required. Given the many parts and I used a mix of frame less and face framed cabinets, there was a moment or two when in amongest all the materials I got nervous about having everything I needed, but low and behold, all was right there in the end.
I also recommend the concept from French cooking “mis en place” that is to have all your ingredients in place and all your tools where you need them before starting out. Also, it was a lot easier to work with my wife than doing it alone, but I did a few by myself and so if that is your only option than you should have no problem. I’ve assembled a lot of cheaper Swedish flat packed furniture in my day, and the quality and sturdiness of AWD leaves no doubt about how these things will last. Just rock solid.
Great thing about AWD is the cost to quality ratio. Can’t beat it. Which also means if you make a mistake the replacement is so reasonable it becomes not a big deal. I mis-measured one box and so I needed to order the right size. Worked out fine, but that was because AWD had an incredibly fast turn around. The other few reliable companies are several weeks to months. And these other places are crazy expensive. And in truth, the other companies are a complete rip off on trim and accessories. AWD’s pricing was so amendable that my mistake cost me so little in comparison with what I was saving. So there’s a built in confidence for the first timer. Also AWD made one mistake on the placement of a hinge in two doors. They immediately and without question remade them and sent them out in under 10 days. You just can’t get that service anywhere in the custom cabinet world.
It was so affordable I upgraded on one side to black walnut. Try doing that at the other quality shops.
the quality of the roll out drawers and top drawer boxes is superb and the hinges and under-mount sliders are top grade excellent. The hardware was the easiest part frankly. Their system, for lining up the hardware is just so easy. Drill driver is all you need as the placement is already leveled for you.
SO: high end quality custom built cabinets, superior custom support, fastest turnaround in the marketplace, most affordable pricing out there, excellent hardware, and oh yeah, I almost forgot, color choices.They offer complete line of lacquer – just pick a SW color and they’ll match it. SO completely and truly custom for a fraction of cost without sacrificing any quality.
The Rev. Philip Carr-Jones