When to Choose an Artisan: Custom vs. Pre-fab

It’s a pre-fab world out there, because pre-fab is affordable. But, sometimes you can’t afford not to go the custom route.

Sponsored and inspired by Coastal Cabinets.

Many feel that cabinetry and storage space can change everything in a home – the look and feel, how organized its inhabitants are, and the overall energy of place.

But, sometimes designing exactly what you want, exactly where you want it is just not practical.

So, when does custom make sense and why?

Custom Cabinets – The Perks

The quick skinny on the benefits of custom cabinetry are as you might expect – superior quality and design, excellent customer service, longevity, and craftsmanship.

“Obviously, if you want the best quality and service, you need to go the custom route,” said Michael Powell, president of Coastal Cabinets in Wilmington, NC. Yes, fluted rails, french legs, cathedral arches, and the like, are all among intricacies and decorative touches that artisans bring to the table. But, even in the case of simplistic design, custom cabinetry is superior in that it’s built to last far beyond the alternative.

You won’t find particle board in custom work.

Craftsmen not only exclude the use of  inferior materials, they also incorporate a much better construction method,” said Powell. “And, better cabinets and better finishes equate to less maintenance.”

In a new home or when remodeling, functionality is as relevant as design.

Custom fit is an important attribute to hand-crafted cabinets. You’re asking for trouble if you try to force a set size cabinet into a space,” said Powell. 

Sometimes Pre-fab is Perfect

There are instances that saving 20-50% by going the pre-fab route makes sense. For instance, if the design of a space or the actual home is a temporary solution (as in the case of rentals), you may want to explore the pre-fab option. Really, in any case where temporary functionality is all that’s needed, pre-fab can be a good solution.

A couple of other reasons to go this route? Kids grow up, room styles change, and walls come down. If you anticipate major renovations along with any of these variables, then consider going with pre-fab cabinets until you settle in…or, until they move out!

From the Expert

Powell, a native Wilmingtonian and second-generation cabinet maker, has been in the custom cabinetry business since he could use a table saw. He founded Coastal Cabinets 35 years ago. 

What he loves about the process? “A new project is like a blank canvas,” Powell said. “There’s a limitless arena of finishes, details and one-of-a-kind pieces to be made.” 

Custom cabinetry, he says, is an art. It offers style, functionality, and longevity you just can’t get from a big box store. 

View Coastal Cabinets’ Portfolio on Houzz


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