By Gary Eisner
So you ready to install some millwork in your new apartment and want to know what your options are. Let’s say you are redoing your kitchen which we can narrow down to three basic choices: IKEA, a local custom millshop, a high-end kitchen fabricator. There are pros and cons to all three of these but it basically comes down to price, quality, and timing.
IKEA is cheap and available, and honestly, the quality has come a long way from what it used to be. The downside of IKEA is the limited options and the restriction of customizable pieces. You want to make sure your contractor is familiar with IKEA products and has done one before. IKEA is also much easier to pull off with a modern style, rather than classic or shaker style. They use real wood for the rail and stile, but the inlay panel is flimsy and feels IKEA cheap.
At the other end of the spectrum are the high-end kitchen manufacturers, like Poggenpohl, Bulthaup, Boffi, Seimatic, as well as a number of others. If you have the money AND the time, then these are high quality and highly engineered products, but are highly expensive. They also take a great deal of planning and preparation so again, make sure your contractor is fully coordinated with the design. The other major thing to keep in mind is the long lead time. If the kitchen is coming from abroad, it’s not only the fabrication time but the time on the water and the time waiting through customs, usually about 12-14 weeks from shop drawing approval.
A third option, and my preference, is using a local custom millwork shop. Typically you will spend about half of what the high-end kitchen fabricators would cost and you are not limited by a catalogue of details, styles, and options. You can create and customize anything you want, basically only limited by your imagination, although your wallet plays a part as well. You can also very easily check on progress as they are fabricating and review your actual kitchen in their shop before delivering to the site. If any adjustments or modifications need to be made, it can happen before it is installed. This option should also cut your lead time down to 6-8 weeks. Plus, during construction, or down the road, if anything needs repair or adjustment, they will not be too far away.