7th House on the Left

Q: Hi Greg and Ashley, My husband and I are currently trying to decide on a kitchen cabinet route to go with our kitchen remodel. I’ve always loved Kraftmaid and heard great things, but recent research has led us both to a lot of negative reviews about the quality the cabinets and paint finish. Would you share your experience? Are you still happy with your cabinets all this time later? Would you go with Kraftmaid again? Thanks for any info! -Kara

A: This question has been coming up a lot in our mailbox lately, so we thought we’d dedicate a post to our kitchen cabinets. Before I delve right in, let me preface this by saying, we have no connection with Kraftmaid and this is 100% our honest opinion about our experience with our cabinets. That said, the honesty part is true of all of our posts. This post is going to try to be pretty comprehensive – we’re trying to make it the post we wish we’d have read when shopping around for cabinets ourselves.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Before we get to what we think about them now (a little over two years later), I guess we should do a quick rundown of the cabinet designing/ordering/installation process…

Once we finally decided on going with KraftMaid cabinets (more on the decision process here), the first thing we did was meet with a kitchen designer at our local Lowe’s. After a quick consultation in the store, he came to our house, took measurements and listened to our ideas/wants/wishes. We already had a layout in our heads, so he took down all of our notes and put together a rendering for us to look over.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

He emailed us the initial renderings, and we made notes on what we loved, liked and didn’t like, let our thoughts and opinions simmer for a few days, then went back into Lowe’s for another meeting to finalize the layout. The cost to have the kitchen design put together and priced out was $90. However, since we ended up actually purchasing the cabinets from Lowe’s, that cost was deducted from the final cost of the cabinets.

I think the overall cabinet-buying experience can have a lot to do with the sales person (or “kitchen designer”) you deal with when you plan out your kitchen and order your cabinets. You get to know them, they’ll call you often throughout the process for questions and updates, and they are who you turn to when you have questions or concerns. We were lucky enough to score a really great guy to work with. He was extremely personable, fun and knew his stuff. The only snags that came up (if you even want to call them that), were some design differences when it came to the bookshelf on the end of the peninsula and leaving space for the floating shelves next to the window above the sink. He tried to talk me out of both design elements multiple times. As for Greg, he was down with whatever I chose when it came to making the kitchen less “cookie cutter” and more unique. Those two ideas were a bit out of the norm, so I totally get where he was coming from. I’m sure he has some crazy requests now and then and just wanted to make sure we wouldn’t regret our off-beat decisions later. When it was all said and done, I stuck to my guns and he respected my decision. About a year or so later, I ran into him at Lowe’s. He said he saw our kitchen in Better Homes & Gardens’ Kitchen & Bath Makeovers magazine, and he wished they would have featured a photo of the “awesome bookshelf in the peninsula.” So, I think that means I won him over in the end, haha.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

At the same meeting when we finalized the layout, we also chose our cabinet style and finishes. We went with the Dove White finish and the square recessed panel door style (aka shaker door). For hardware, which at the time was “free” with the purchase of the cabinets, we chose the Aged collection.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

If I recall correctly, the cabinets ended up arriving a few days (if not a week) early. That was fine since our kitchen was empty and waiting for the huge mountain of boxes, but our installers weren’t available for another two weeks. So, we had to maneuver around the monstrosity above a little longer than anticipated – but it didn’t really bother us.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

The decision to have a pro install the cabinets was worth every single penny. In our case, they were installed by a local company subcontracted by Lowe’s. For this part of the process, we really just left that area of the house alone and let them do their work. I actually had just returned home from having surgery the day before they came, so I ended up staying at my mom and dad’s house hopped up on pain meds while the chaos was going on. Now, looking back, I think that was a blessing in disguise. I would have probably been a nervous wreck and wanting to watch everything going on. So if you’re having cabinets installed and have any Dilaudid around… no, I’m TOTALLY kidding. Do not do that. Seriously though, just get out of the house, take the dog to the park, go get your hair cut and colored, do some retail therapy… you get the gist.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Larry and his team came and put the entire kitchen together in a matter of two or three days. We had a piece of trim missing from our order (it belonged on the ceiling right above the peninsula), which came in about two weeks after the cabinets were “done”. Once the tiling was done, Larry came back to install the missing trim pieces, as well as the other trim pieces that had to be removed for the tiling. If you’re having countertop-to-ceiling tile installed (like we did), just remind your installation guy to not put on the cabinet trim pieces that touch the wall until the tiling is done. We didn’t realize that would be an issue at the time, so the tile guy had to take the trim pieces off and the cabinet guy had to come back and reattach them. Once that was done, everything was “done”.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

QUALITY // Structurally, we’ve had no problems whatsoever. Everything is just as sound, sturdy and solid as the day they were installed. Aside from a handle or two getting loose – a problem easily solved with a quick turn of a screwdriver – we’ve had absolutely zero functional problems with the cabinets.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

As far as cosmetic issues, we’ve had one issue that we’re in the process of fixing. In the sink cabinet, the center mullion (Greg looked up the term so we wouldn’t have to call it “the thingy that goes between the doors in the middle”) is just a little too long. Unfortunately, this has caused some paint chipping. This might have something to do with the installation, I’m not completely sure, but the good news is that we were told it’s covered by the warranty. As long as you own your home, KraftMaid will guarantee your cabinetry to be free from defects in material and/or workmanship under normal residential usage.

The only other little thing that has come across our radar is that we wish the doors were soft-close like the drawers. Kraftmaid has since added the Whisper Touch soft-close feature to the doors, so if you’re in the cabinet market now, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

COST // A lot of people have asked us how much our cabinets cost to see if the price they were given is “right”. The thing is, every kitchen is different, so we really can’t answer that question. The features like roll out shelves, cabinet-covered appliances, extra shelves, and bookcases all add up to a different price tag for different spaces. That said, the final price of our cabinets including installation was around $17,000.

Was it worth the money? Absolutely. Greg and I both think it’s important to invest in larger home purchases to ensure quality and longevity. In the long run, you’ll end up spending less money if you invest in something of higher quality upfront. This is especially true for kitchen cabinets, which are permanent (or semi-permanent, at least) fixtures in your house because once they’re in, it’s tough to change things later. Obviously, the cabinets were the most expensive aspect of our kitchen reinstall. The entire kitchen renovation totaled to approximately $28,000 – the cabinets taking up about 60% of the budget. The total (which includes everything from switch plate covers to appliances) is actually much lower than what we read online and in magazines. It’s also lower than the average kitchen gut-job renovation in our area, so we were happy with the final number.

Would we purchase KraftMaid cabinets again? Yep. We’ve been extremely pleased with the durability and quality. On top of that, all of the customizable options are crazy amazing. I literally drew what I wanted the bookshelf to look like, and they did it! It’s worth the extra money to get something that fits your wants/needs so that you can love your kitchen for years to come.

Kraftmaid Cabinet Review (and a Before & After) // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Going through this process ourselves, we have four bits of advice to pass along, in case you’re going to be tackling a similar project:

01 // As for getting started on the cabinet-buying process, we recommend meeting with a kitchen designer and giving them your absolute dream wish list of everything you hope and desire for your space. Then, when they come back with the design and the estimated sticker price, take away the things you can live without until you get to your target budget.

02 // If you have it in your budget, have the cabinets installed by a pro. Actually, I would even go as far to say make room for it in your budget. Even if you think you or someone you know is all DIY-savy and are handy with a nail gun… trust me. These guys do this every day. They’re familiar with the dos and don’ts, and you’ll save yourself some major headaches and possible repair costs down the road. We were definitely happier spending the extra money to have it done well and right the first time.

03 // When we had our initial rendering, I showed it to my mom and Grandma to get their input. After all, they’ve been doing the homeowner/cooking thing a lot longer that I have and I thought they’d have some good input – and they definitely did. Because of their advice, we moved a few cabinets around and changed out drawers for cabinet doors in one spot in particular, which turned out to make a huge difference in the productivity department. That said, entertaining too many opinions might hurt your decision-making process. Just pick the brains of the people closest to you, including that friend that is killing it with the organizational skills and ideas.

04 // Take the time to be absolutely, 100% sure you love your layout before you place your order. Once we decided on a layout, I was so excited to place the order and get the ball rolling. Greg talked me into waiting at least a week before placing the order. Even though I was like a kid waiting for Santa on the longest Christmas Eve ever, it was worth the wait because we made a few small tweaks, and I felt 100% confident when we said, “Go!” and wrote the check.

We hope this review helps you guys out there in the decision-making process. For a complete list of kitchen resources and more details, check out this post. To read aaaaaall of the posts having to do with the kitchen, click here or check out the Projects page for a list of the “meaty” kitchen reno posts.

Okay, that pun (or lack of one) is just sad. Feel free to ignore it.

One thing I really want to do this year is post more “organically” – blogging the way it was intended to be way back when I had my first blog back in college (I still wish I could find that). Basically, we’re going to try to share more of the the random shopping trips, thoughts about the decline in curtain options, brain-dumps about my office layout and overall the completely random thoughts of a graphic designer who loves to decorate and a computer geek who’s learning his way around power tools. That’s us. Back in the day, those types of posts were our wheelhouse and we want to get back to it. For us, it’s comfortable, less stuffy and all around more fun. Is that cool with you guys? We hope so.

So, are you ready for a quick brain-dump post? Here we go…

Greg and I were in HomeGoods the other day doing some after-Christmas Christmas shopping for my in-laws (we decided to celebrate with them after we got back from Florida) when I came across a beautiful, solid wood pedestal bowl marked down from $95 to $29. Since Greg is a one-track mind kind of guy and he was focused on shopping for other people, I knew I had to get creative. So I said, “Greg, I think your mom would really want me to have this. Don’t you think?” Yeah, it didn’t work–he’s nowhere near that gullible. But he loves me, so my lovely new bowl found its way to the shopping cart and through the checkout, regardless of my super-obvious attempts at manipulation.

Solid Wood Bowl Made in Philippines found at HomeGoods // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Isn’t she lovely? Great, now that song is going to be in my head for the rest of the day. At first glance, I loved the differences in wood tones and how well-made it was. When we got home, I fell in love with it even more. The warm wood tones paired with the countertops and classic subway tile made me happy. I’m in the process of revisiting the accessories and overall decor in the kitchen (decluttering, “finishing” and freshening things up in general), so I’d really like to keep it in here.

Kitchen in Progress // 7thhouseontheleft.com

From that angle, it looks a little bigger than it is. I decided a perfect place for it would be that small section between the stove and the end of the cabinet. I’ve always had trouble figuring out what to put there, and this seemed perfect. But now… what do I put in it?

Solid Wood Bowl Made in Philippines found at HomeGoods // 7thhouseontheleft.com

I thought about fruit (I have some faux green apples I bought at Hobby Lobby back in college that look incredibly real). However, we have a bowl of (real) fruit further down the counter, on the other side of the stove. Wouldn’t that be over doing it in the fruit department? Then I thought about making it a pretty cell phone catchall, but that would just look cluttered and messy – which is definitely not what we want. Then I thought about planting herbs in it to use for cooking. I’d kill them, so it’s not really an option, but wouldn’t that look cool?

So, what do you think? What needs to go in this precious bowl of ours? Ideas?

As I mentioned in this post, one of our goals for this year is to organize every nook and cranny of the house. Needless to say, a task like this can come across as pretty overwhelming, so we’re starting with baby steps and getting things kicked off with areas of the house we use on a daily basis. Areas like the chest of drawers in the laundry room, the medicine storage, linen closet, the infamous “junk drawers” in the kitchen – you get the gist. We decided to start with the medicine storage.

Vitamin Storage / 7th House on the Left

Up until we tackled this, the Band-Aids and other first aid necessities were in the linen closet in the hallway, the anti-acids were in the bedroom and the Vitamin D and Iron always wound up on my desk. To have everything in one designated spot would be a breath of fresh air. That being said, the first task was to find a place to store everything.

Medicine Cabinet Organization / 7th House on the Left

After a bunch of going back and forth, we realized the best place would be the kitchen. We like to keep things pretty minimal – especially in a work environment like the kitchen. Less is better. We have plenty of unclaimed kitchen cabinet real estate, and this narrow cabinet to the left of the stove (closest to the living room), seemed like a good place. All it was housing was the salt and pepper. Oh, and check out my sweet pink hydrangea Greg got me last week. Love me some hydrangeas.

I started out by dividing all of our medical necessities into categories: First aid, prescriptions/pain relievers, cold/sinus, misc (anti-acids, nausea remedies etc) and vitamins. Needless to say, the vitamins needed to be easy to get to (maybe we’ll actually remember to take them!) so that left four categories for “once in a while”.

Target Paper Rope Baskets / 7th House on the Left

I picked up a few of these small paper rope baskets from Target. Now, let me gush for a second… I love these baskets. I first used them when we organized our coffee station and ever since, they’ve been one of my favorite go-to organizing tools. They are the perfect depth for our upper kitchen cabinets and look pretty spiffy with a bookplate label attached to them. They come with a fabric liner, but for this organizing project, I decided to take them out.

Organized Medicine Baskets / 7th House on the Left

After five or ten short minutes of going through everything, trashing the expired meds and restocking the bandaids, we were one step closer to a designated and organized medicine cabinet.

Organized First Aid Supplies / 7th House on the Left

No, we don’t have any kids. And yes, we totally have Disney Princess and Candy Land Band Aids. It’s amazing how much mental clarity you can gain with just a few baskets, labels and 20 minutes of moving things around. Now that the “stuff” was organized, Greg and I wanted to add more functionality and purpose to the cabinet…

Cork Tiles / 7th House on the Left

I picked up this pack of cork tiles from Michael’s for about $12 – actually, it was only $8 because I had a coupon on my phone. I really liked this cork as opposed to “normal” cork tiles because it was rich in color and had a chunkier texture and thickness – making it easier to pin things onto it.

Cutting Cork / 7th House on the Left

We wanted the cork to fit as perfectly as possible in the inset of the cabinet door, so we had to trim it down. Because of the chunkiness of this particular cork, cutting was a little difficult (and messy). A utility knife probably wasn’t going to cut it, so Greg left the pieces in their cellophane packaging, measured 11.25″ over (the width of the inset of the cabinet) and put a piece of duct tape along the line where it needed to be cut. Once he made sure the tape made a straight line, he cut along the line with a jigsaw. Fast and painless.

Cork-Lined Cabinet for Recipes / 7th House on the Left

Luckily, the cut was clean and perfectly straight. We attached the cork to the cabinet door with a few 3M strips here and there. This way, if we decide to take it down later, the doors aren’t damaged. A strip here, and a strip there and we had a cork-lined cabinet door. Because of the cork’s color and texture, you can barely see the seems which makes it look like one continuous piece. This will be perfect for recipes, notes, grocery lists, etc. I love that just by adding the cork, there’s so much more functionality behind this single cabinet door.

"Tip Jar" and Vitamin Storage / 7th House on the Left

Now it was time to put everything back in the cabinet. To start out, we put our daily vitamins in a bright blue basket on the bottom shelf- hoping the fun blue will draw attention to itself and remind us to take our vitamins. Next to the basket is a mason jar we have dubbed “the Tip Jar”. When either of us have an extra small bill, we stash it in the jar to later use for tips for the sushi delivery guy or the kid at the front door selling candy bars for summer camp. Our thought is that if it begins to overflow with bills, it’s time to deposit some of it in the vacation fund.

After a few more seconds of basket sorting, we now have a fully organized and functional cabinet…

Organized Kitchen Medicine Cabinet / 7th House on the Left

I put a basket on the very top shelf to store our “back ups”. Well, Greg put the basket up there because my 5’7″ self couldn’t reach it – he’s 6’7″ and, lucky for me, can reach the tallest of shelves in the house. The “back ups” consist of extra Band-Aids, Tylenol, and whatnot for when we run out of what’s in the reachable baskets.

As we “grow into” our kitchen and figure out the organization systems for the rest of the house, this area may switch up a little here and there. Sometimes it takes a few “rough drafts” before you get the “perfect” system that works for you and your family. But for now, we’re loving this neat and orderly area. To have just this little bit organized feels so good and a great note to get started on for the rest of the house. Here’s to a fully organized abode for 2014! Fingers crossed.