[David Hentzel, photo by BUILD LLC]

We’re just about wrapped up with our latest cabinet package and we’ve got some cool new cabinet innovations to share from our Special Projects Division Cabinet Shop. One of the best things about running a small custom cabinet shop in Seattle is that we can try new things and implement them swiftly. There’s no bureaucracy to battle and there’s no assembly line to contend with. When we feel like experimenting, master woodworker David Hentzel rolls up his sleeves and gets down to business.

The shots in today’s post are process shots, please excuse the dust.

Integral with our cabinet packages, we’re using steel panel faces at fireplace units. The panels conceal the mechanics of the gas fireplace (in this case the Heat & Glo Cosmo) and at the same time cope well with the heat. We also like the change of material at the fireplace bay. The panels can be custom sized to the bay dimensions and custom finished for a variety of different aesthetics -all thanks to our man in the field Bart Gibson. This particular application uses an orbital sanded finish and we think the natural steel compliments the walnut quite well. The steel panels are deliberately held ¼” off of one another for a crisp, machined look. The gap also allows just enough space to install the support brackets behind.

Recently, we started using aluminum frame doors that we’ve been applying to upper kitchen cabinets. We like the aluminum frames because of their super minimal profile and at the back side they still accommodate a standard European style hinge. In the case of a walnut kitchen cabinet package, the wood can become heavy (visually speaking) and the frosted glass lightens up the composition. Elemental makes several combination of frames and glass.

We now have the capability to mill aluminum in the shop and we’ve been testing out a few custom designed, custom fabricated cabinet pulls. The length of a continuous pull is limited only by the length of aluminum stock we can get our hands on -which means that pulls can be made to run the length of an entire cabinet, if so desired. The example shown above is a top mounted pull with finger grooves at the top and bottom of the pull. It also sits just slightly recessed from the cabinet box frame for a clean, modern look. The same pull can be mitered and run both horizontally and vertically like the example below. We’ve been using these pulls on our custom line of free standing cabinets which can be found at the SPD online shop.

We’re finding more and more applications for built-in bench seating with storage cubbies or drawers below. The more houses we design, the more we find that people love to be in and around the kitchen. During dinner parties that’s where all the action is, and it’s where the family gathers day-to-day. The built-in seating offers a landing pad for the kid’s to do their homework, a place for the family to have an informal meal, and a comfortable place to have drinks with friends. From what we’ve seen, built in seating located next to the kitchen gets used far more than formal dining room tables. The storage below allows for quick and easy deployment of place mats, napkins, candles, etc. The built-in shown in the photo below has been designed to work well with the adjacent accordion glass doors. It’s constructed from maple-ply with exposed edges and a clear finish. The composition will be supplemented with a stainless steel free standing table and maple ceiling panels.

Under-mount brackets at cantilevered countertops are nothing new, but we’re finding streamlined profiles that keep the structure to a minimum. At the same time, the granite countertop can float for a couple of extra feet lending to that sleek modern look we like so well.

With the numerous open shelves and bays at this living room composition, the cabinet install can be quite complicated.  Employing a system of hanging wall panels, we’ve engineered a method to limit the amount of on-site install time. By breaking the composition up into separate wall panels, simple wall templates can be made on site and the complicated work of fitting the cabinet bays and shelves together takes place at the shop. Ideally the site install is as simple as hanging the completed wall panels on site.

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