Custom Cabinet Ideas

Photos of custom cabinets by a Colorado carpenter.

Posted by Kevin Stevens | Oct 31, 2010
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Custom cabinets fill the gap that stock sizes or designs can’t. In many cases, a home’s layout matches stock sizes, or stock sizes can be mixed and matched to fit your needs.  When unique situations arise, custom cabinets are the answer.  Another great thing about working with a small cabinet shop or custom builder is that they can offer up exotic wood choices that are not routinely available in the big box stores.


A few years ago when I was working on the addition and remodel to my home I wanted to put a little flair in the master bath.  This 7 foot vanity features a single basin, most vanities this size will have two. Two vanities are nice if both need to be used at the same time, however in my home the bath would only see one user at a time due to schedule and privacy concerns. Another issue is cleaning and cost, two basins and two faucets can add hundreds to the cost of such a project.  This cabinet features three main door sets, the set on the right covers a set of drawers. The wood here is Australian Lacewood, and has a very pronounced “ray fleck” pattern. A second tall cabinet at the end of the tub, also made with Australian Lacewood, is used for linen storage and as a laundry hamper.

Not all cabinets are made with exotic wood as the previous Lacewood project. This dresser was made with knotty pine. Believe it or not, a number of these boards started their life as 2 x 6 con. common studs, a few passes through the thickness planner and few more across the jointer results in furniture  grade wood. Yes, it is a bit of work to sort through a pile to cherry pick stock like this, but the results are well worth it. This is a 5-drawer unit with dovetailed drawers and fame and panel sides, it was part of a set that included 6 other pieces.

This multi functional piece is the lower part of closet organizer. It is pictured here in my shop during some of the fitting stages. The owners wanted open shelves, traditional drawers and some basic “pull out” cubbies. The upper section consisted of bookcase type shelves. This unit was installed “wall to wall” in the back of the homeowner’s closet, having it built from two sections allowed for an easier install. When working with custom installations wiggle room is something to keep in mind. This was built with red oak, and was finished with a clear satin finish.

This three section bookcase was designed as a “semi-built-in.” The wiggle room was about an inch on each side. I talked the owner into this design over a standard built-in. The ”semi-built-in” installation is simple brackets at the top to prevent tipping. Here the sides were detailed unlike in a “true” built in. This simple choice allowed the owner to take this with her when she moved into a new home a couple years later. Placing this unit on a longer wall allows the  finished sides to show their beauty too. The center section is a few inches deeper than the sides, has enclosed shelves behind the doors, and features a lighted top section. (A glass shelf occupies the top postion and was being built when this shot was taken.) This was built with solid cherry and features Mission style hardware.  This set was built to match a preexisting cabinet that was being used as a stereo cabinet.

Here the cabinets are stock from a local big box store, but the installation is “custom.” Maple and birch hardwoods allow the normally hidden cabinet backs to be furniture grade too. The blue stripes are painters tape that was protecting other surfaces during the “in house” finishing work that is required with many of these installations. Walnut screw covers add some dimension to the project.

This project was built from a few species of wood that are not very common: Santa Maria, Chechen, and Palea. The Chechen was used for the legs, and the Palea borders the top, Santa Maria was used for the rest. Designed as a blanket chest, frame and panel construction was used throughout. With heavy dense hardwoods used for the top, a pair of heavy duty lifters provide an easy and safe lift. Quality construction will provide an heirloom for generations to come.

Not all cabinets need to be big. This jewelry chest stands about 20” tall and provides ample storage for a modest collection of jewelry. The primary woods here are Jatoba (Brazilian Cherry) and maple. The inset panels of the doors are spalted maple. Spalted woods are a unique form of wood that get an array of colors due to the influence of fungi, dramatic black lines are often present. The drawer pulls are made from ebony, and the box joints in the drawer’s construction highlight the contrasting woods.

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