February 2010

When Your Kitchen Needs a Face Lift

Author: Paul deVere | Photographer: Photography By Anne

Let’s say you just had one of those popular granite counter tops installed in your kitchen. It’s beautiful, stylish, even dramatic. And it makes your cabinets look, what’s the word? Shopworn? Not quite up to the classy look that slab of granite added? On the other hand, new cabinets would be a budget buster in these “interesting” economic times.

There is an option. Islander Karen Couser found it. “We are thrilled with our kitchen redo! Bruce and his team did an incredible job of turning our white builder’s grade cabinets into a stunning high-end kitchen. It now looks like it could grace the cover of a magazine,” Couser said.

The “redo” Couser referred to was a refacing of her kitchen cabinets by American Wood Reface, a company that serves northeast Ohio, Charlotte, North Carolina, and as of the fall of last year, Hilton Head Island and surrounding communities. The company’s showroom is located in Sheridan Park in Bluffton.

“Anything you can think of in custom cabinets, we can do with refacing,” said Bruce Zaidman, one of the company’s principals. “We also make modifications. We can build custom cabinetry, glass doors, shelving. If the customer needs new drawer boxes, we can do custom made, solid wood dove tail jointed boxes with full extension glides,” he added.

While refacing cabinets has been an option for homeowners for quite some time, it wasn’t looked upon too favorably. The refacing material was usually a very thin veneer. But the big difference with American Wood Reface, Zaidman said, is the material used combined with the craftsmanship. “It’s the beauty of the whole system. We cover all the end panels, the bottom of the cabinets, the frames with quarter-inch furniture grade plywood. That’s exclusive to us. Doors are attached with a full European hidden adjustable hinge. Every door gets a soft close feature. We replace shoe molding, add light railing under the cabinets” he said.

“There are several advantages to refacing,” Zaidman explained. “There’s generally a significant cost savings. When you compare it to the cost of new, high-quality cabinets, the price can be less than half in some cases.”

The customer selects the type of wood, the finish, and new handles and pulls to be used. At that time, the customer can also select upgrades, like adding a Lazy Susan, trash bin, wine rack, trim moldings, valances and decorative shelves. Even the height of the counter top can be adjusted if new flooring was put in. Once the project is decided upon, it takes about 30 days to fashion the materials in the company’s facility.

But when the materials arrive, another advantage kicks in. Installation takes one to three days. “The kitchen isn’t ever out of commission during the process,” Zaidman said. “At the end of the day, everything is cleaned up and out of the way.”

The reasons people choose refacing are not only the age of the original cabinets. Zaidman said he had worked with a developer who was trying to sell a very expensive new home and had a couple ready to buy. The one problem holding them back was the kitchen cabinets. “They hated them. (The developer) wasn’t going to rip out 30- or 40-thousand dollars of brand new cabinetry. He had us reface the kitchen and the house sold,” said Zaidman.

Similar situations occur in newer homes where, to cut costs, relatively inexpensive or simply plain kitchen cabinets are used. Zaidman stated that refacing gives new homeowners an abundance of choices. “We do all the different species of hardwood and any style of door, raised panel, shaker, mixed wood. We have the new glazed look. And we have 30 stains for cherry. When you walk into the kitchen, you cannot tell it’s been refaced,” said Zaidman. “The thing I like to say is the quality is good enough to go into a million-dollar home, but it’s reasonable enough to go into a $100,000 condo. We do both.”

American Wood Reface opened its doors in 1979 as a family-owned business just outside of Akron, Ohio. Zaidman became involved in 1988 and opened the Charlotte office in 2000. He then chose the Lowcountry because it seemed like a perfect fit, both because of the age of the homes and the trend to add value to a home through remodeling. “It definitely was the right place,” he said.

Other than the materials and craftsmanship, Zaidman said that what appeals to him and his customers is that the company specializes in kitchens. He doesn’t do decking or siding, just kitchens. “We offer a lifetime warranty for everything we do,” said Zaidman. “Our carpenters and craftsman have an average of 25 years in the business. I also like to say that what we do is an upgrade that’s not major, but it’s definitely a major change. It only looks expensive.”

As to the quality of the work, Zaidman said, “We don’t have to make service calls.”

But homeowner Karen Couser may have said it best: “I want to be in the kitchen all the time now, just to look at it!”

For more information, visit www.woodreface.com or call (843) 815-6700.

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