A place for everything and everything in its place. It’s a simple concept but a lofty goal. A clean, uncluttered interior appears effortless but is, in fact, the result of thoughtful planning. Taming mess and clutter is a multilayered task: assessing problem areas, tackling the size and shape of objects to be stored, and customizing required storage to harmonize with the objects within and architecture without.
When choosing a cabinet style for storage areas throughout a home, let the kitchen cabinetry set the tone, says Brian Yahn of Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry. While homeowners want to keep the overall door and drawer fronts consistent from room to room, they can get creative with finishes, opting for different but complementary paint colors in separate areas.
Subtle but important construction details ensure the highest level of historic authenticity. Maine-based Kennebec Company specializes in period-inspired cabinetry and uses traditional woodworking techniques, including mortise-and-tenon joinery and dovetailing. They prefer hand planing, which tears the grain and creates an uneven texture for a natural antiquing effect. They even match the grain in a succession of drawers by cutting each drawer head from the same board.
Keep in mind that early American homes contained individual furniture pieces as opposed to more modern groupings of cabinets. A stand-alone pantry in the kitchen or an armoire in the bedroom adds modern storage opportunities without detracting from traditional appearances. Decorative moldings, pediments, and distressed finishes ensure an aged effect. “They are essentially custom cabinets that double as decorative furniture,” says Yahn. “Inside, they can be configured any way imaginable, but outside they can look 200 years old.”
“It’s all about how you live,” says Yahn of the design process. “Our designers sit down with homeowners and ask very pointed questions. The size of wine glasses, the length of serving trays, and the diameter of plates are vital considerations. We design our cabinets around the items needing to be stored.”
Organizing personal lifestyles requires customized solutions, agrees Lindsay Farnsworth, a designer with Crown Point Cabinetry. “We are always accommodating special requests,” she explains. “A recent client of mine was remodeling a small laundry room. She liked to air dry certain articles of clothing but didn’t want bulky racks everywhere. We designed a base cabinet with what looked like regular drawer fronts, but when you pulled out each ‘drawer,’ a piece of tightly stretched mesh allowed for the flat drying of sweaters or other garments.”
When space allows, almost any room can benefit from optimized storage. Pantries and wet bars save a busy kitchen from space-hungry items such as glassware and bulk food supplies. An elegant hutch protects special-occasion linens and serving ware in the dining room. Built-in drawers, pegs, and cubbies keep coats, shoes, toys, sports equipment, and pet accessories under control in mudrooms and entryways.
Using literally every nook and cranny to its fullest potential maximizes even the smallest interiors. Open shelving or custom cabinets can fit virtually anywhere, including along a hallway wall, in the triangle underneath a staircase, or just in an unused corner. Built-in drawers are easily incorporated underneath benches and window seats.
Display-worthy storage units are popular as well. Farnsworth describes a past client who desired a beautiful and useful way to group her gift-wrap and crafting items in one spot. “We designed an elaborate wrapping station for her office/craft area,” says the Crown Point designer. “It involved long dowels for wrapping paper, short dowels for storing ribbon, and pigeonhole drawers for various other crafty objects.”
Drawers and cabinet doors can look traditional on the outside while masking the latest advancements inside. A closet or dressing area, for example, can include shoe racks, tilt-out hampers, belt/tie/scarf racks, and velvet-lined drawers for jewelry, with modern materials such as rubber, plastic, and chrome hidden behind more traditional paneling and hardware.
Other ease-of-use features that don’t affect historic appearances include soft-close drawers and full-extension runners, which allow easy access to the very back of drawers. Crown Point offers touch-push technology, whereby a cabinet door opens with a simple tap on its top. “I recently incorporated this technology into can storage, concealed by spindles, on either side of a range,” says Farnsworth. “The homeowner only has to tap the spindle’s top, and a three-tiered shelving unit rolls out, filled with spices and cooking oils.” Farnsworth recommends touch-push for trash and recycling units—a quick push with a knee saves cabinet fronts from dirty hands.
Televisions present unique challenges to traditional styling. One option is to hide the TV when not in use. “We offer a mechanism that is essentially a lift,” says Farnsworth. “It allows a TV to rise up out of its hiding place in a beautiful stand-alone hutch or built-in with the touch of a button.” In areas where cell phones and tablets tend to gather, she recommends incorporating a charging station to keep cords and blinking devices behind closed doors and out of sight.
Indulging in technology doesn’t mean it has to be on display full time. Custom cabinets offer the perfect combination of modern conveniences efficiently packaged inside a period-inspired exterior.