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  The gist of the comment was simply that most of what we build seems out of date.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!


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