Thursday, January 29, 2015


I recently heard a comment made in our shop about a piece of custom furniture we were building for a client.  The gist of the comment was simply that most of what we build seems out of date.  This is a highly subjective opinion, one I wouldn't normally consider responding too except I've heard it from other people as well.

At Goodwin, we're always trying to find new and innovative ways to do our job while at the same time creating fresh and exciting products.  We look forward to challenging jobs from smart clients who want to push boundaries and make something interesting.  And quite frankly, we pride ourselves on our innovation and ability to stay at the forefront of our industry.

But it's also true we build a lot of custom furniture and cabinets that aren't considered modern or innovative.

Cabinetry and woodworking in general tends to have an old-fashioned look; but with so many alternate materials one can use to build, wood often seems like an unnecessary expensive option.  The more inexpensive boxes you can buy at places like Home Depot or even Target are made from plastics or wood substitute materials.  Many don't even bother to use a wood facade.  The status of a true woodworking has been somewhat replaced by these alternative types of furniture and cabinetry.  These are mostly known as composite materials.

To understand the differences between composite materials you need to know the differences between hardwood and softwood.  Hardwood comes from deciduous trees, (or trees whose leaves fall off in Autumn) and softwood (which comes from evergreens).  Both hardwood and softwood plywoods are often used as the core material for cabinets.  The hardwood is generally considered the higher quality of the two.  The softwoods do sometimes feature an overlay that strengthens it and will make it suitable for cabinet construction, although it is more often used for smaller things like furniture.  You'll see it a lot in big box stores selling coffee tables, entertainment centers or desks you assemble yourself.

Composite metal and plastics are also competing for your money.  Often cheaper than wood, easier to paint and more simple to fabricate exact shapes, these mediums are becoming more and more popular with the small end furniture market.  Certain Chinese manufacturers are even using similar substances to resin and silicone to create pieces.  These items are then painted or distressed to resemble materials like metal or wood.  Even so, the biggest threat to wood is the wood composite.

There are different grades of hardwood and softwood composites out there.  MDF and Particleboard being two of them.  These pressed woods are quite popular with the current trend of paint-grade cabinetry or they can have a colored veneer on the side giving it a finished look before it's even shaped or assembled.  They allow for a smoother look and can be just as sturdy and durable as regular wood.  They are also less likely to warp.

Right now, one of the biggest trends in cabinetry is in the finish.  Many of our buyers are choosing paint finishes over natural wood stain or glazing.  They are also opting for cleaner, more simple lines.  Flat panel doors are making a huge comeback.  The benefit to choosing cabinets of this nature is color.  There are more color options in paint grade than there are with stain.  Designers can successfully create a fluid color scheme throughout a house by using paint grade to generate highly specific colors.

However, there is a certain status that comes along with wood.  It's a staple of the antique furniture community and there's definitely a prestige that is associated with having solid wood pieces.  Because of that, solid wood pieces continue to fascinate our clients.

It all comes down to the simple fact that we do what our clients want.  If they want a wood dining table, rest assured, we're going to build it.  If they want oak, walnut, alder, cherry or any other wood species cabinetry, we're going to do it.  After all, our focus is helping our clients achieve their visions when we build products for them.  If that vision is modern and progressive, than we're gonna do it.  If that vision is more reflective and old fashioned, we're gonna do that.

Ultimately, I think what defines something as modern these days is the accents.  A good designer can take some antique with the right lighting and accents, it can look new and vital.

We want to be the tools our clients use to make their dreams come to life.  Of course we want you to call Goodwin today and find out exactly how we can help you!


Monday, January 26, 2015


Do a Google search for cabinet makers in Southern Utah and you'll get a dozen or so hits.  Websites to visit.  And one of the first things you'll read in every single introduction is a commitment to the highest quality.  Now that can be confusing and disappointing all at the same time.

Obviously, not every cabinet maker is going to use the same materials.  And not every one will treat your job the same as the other guy.  So how can they claim to offer or provide the highest quality when comparatively speaking, their work doesn't measure up?

I've been thinking a lot about that recently and there are a number of factors you have to take into consideration as you compare companies in this industry.

The first is the Standard Quality of the area.  (And this is a big one).

This may or may not come as a surprise to you, but Southern Utah is a unique place.  If you've shopped for a home in Nevada or even Northern Utah you know how different the industry can be.

The language used by the salesman and the language used in a pamphlet may liven you up and make you think you're getting an amazing deal...  But it's a lot like holding silver in one hand and stainless steel in the other.  You can tell the difference in quality when you can compare them.

Many of these big chain builders use a cheaper cabinet they can either mass produce or order in.  When they get the finalized space, they design a cabinet layout using the sizes and shapes available to them.  They design your space to fit their cabinets.

The Quality Standard in Southern Utah is abnormally much higher.  Although there are cabinet makers who offer lower end quality to their customers for whom price is the most important factor, but thanks to the huge amount of custom building and the Parade of Homes...  The standard is a custom design.   Which means, the cabinet makers take your space and design custom cabinetry to fit it.  It also means the buyer has a lot of latitude in the cabinets that actually go in the home.  And a huge amount of say in the look and style of the cabinetry.

By itself, a commitment to quality in Southern Utah, is a commitment to maintain the area standard.

Granted, there are cabinet makers who maintain a commitment to high quality and then don't deliver the goods.  Those kinda guys crop up, hang around for a couple years undercutting everyone else in price...  But eventually, because their work is below standard, they build a bad reputation and eventually fall by the wayside.  That's something you need to watch out for.

And then there is a personal standard that comes into play.  Each cabinet maker develops a style, if you will...  We've talked in the past about ways cabinet makers will make certain adjustments to cabinet layouts in order to lower their bids.  Tricks like eliminating Drawer Banks, or taking a larger cabinet and reducing two doors to one.  These tricks may help make one bid seem better than another, but it also speaks to the character of the cabinet maker himself.

Even though a cabinet maker may use all the right materials, build a custom cabinet and follow the design specifications given to him by the customer, there are still ways he can compromise his product.  He could use inferior hardware or take shortcuts in production to save time and money.  The drawer boxes could be built from inferior quality material compared to the box.  But it won't be noticed in the context of the drawer front and the box itself.

Making a decision...  Choosing a cabinet maker is no simple task.  Especially if you're planning on building your own home as an owner/builder.  

So what else do you look for when you consider a cabinet maker?

One of the best ways to find a cabinet maker you feel confident with is to check out their work.  Ask to visit current jobs and spend some time walking through a newly installed kitchen or bathroom.  Open doors and drawers.  Pay attention to the layout and see how functional it feels to you.  Observe the detail of the design.  Is it vital?  Fresh?  New?  Exciting?

Another way to choose a cabinet shop is their willingness to work with unusual mediums.  Maybe you suggest a less popular, more difficult wood like Oak.  A company who isn't afraid of a challenge will take up a challenge of a different wood species.  

Bring some interesting ideas to the table.  Think of something unusual and ask the designer if it's possible to build that piece.  An innovative company will consider the possibility of doing something interesting and new.

Even though major design magazines might suggest trends in cabinet making and design, we've found over the years design trends in Southern Utah seem to have a life of their own.  Visiting home shows and checking out open houses of new models will give you some idea what's happening locally.  That doesn't mean you should ignore national trends.  Especially if you like them.  But it's a good indicator if a company is staying current with local design trends.

The true test of a cabinet maker in Southern Utah is innovation, style and the ability to incorporate a client's vision to create a truly unique custom cabinetry set.

The quality is something you can expect.  So look for the more interesting aspects of a company to determine their ability to do your job.

Of course, Goodwin Mill And Cabinet, LLC is exactly the kind of company you're looking for.  On this matter, I'm certain.  But don't take my word for it, put us to the test and see how we measure up.

There's no harm in setting up an appointment today.  And no harm in getting a bid on your job.  Make sure you get the latest in style, innovation and technology.  That's just what you get when you choose Goodwin as your cabinet maker!