March 2011

The New 'Face' Of Kitchen Remodeling: AMERICAN WOOD REFACE - Brings Dream Kitchens To Life

Author: David Gignilliat | Photographer: Photography by Anne

Joe and Peggy Pantano’s Kitchen, remodeled by American Wood Reface

American Wood Reface owner Bruce Zaidman might have done his best sales work on his newest employee, designer Shari Severson—and she didn’t even buy anything from him.

Severson knows a thing or two about kitchens. After over 30 years designing high-end custom kitchens for clients in Chicago’s posh North Shore, she knows good work when she sees it. Bad work too.

Given her background, a local interior design colleague suggested she sit in with an older client who was considering kitchen work and had invited American Wood Reface to her home. Severson agreed to help. She’d be a fly on the wall, observe and report, maybe ask a few questions. As a favor to a fellow professional, she’d make sure her friend’s client was being treated fairly. For all the cabinet rep knew, she was just an interested friend, neighbor or relative.

“So I’m sitting there, watching and listening. And I’m thinking to myself, ‘Hmm, they’re really on to something here.’ This was not typical of work I’ve seen,” Severson said. “And so I started asking a couple of questions. Right off the bat, he [Zaidman] realized I wasn’t just a regular consumer.”

The chat quickly turned to business and their shared passion for remodeling kitchens. Zaidman needed someone to help him in the Hilton Head/Bluffton area. (The four-hour gap between his home office in Charlotte and the Hilton Head area was beginning to take its toll.) Severson, originally from Wisconsin, was intrigued by the opportunity.

“So we get to talking, and he says he needs someone in the area to rep for him,” said Severson, an accredited Professional Kitchen and Bath Planner (PKBP). “So, I said, ‘Well, I’d want to see your work first before I even consider it.”

Severson followed Bruce’s crew for three days, watching his team of master craftsmen and carpenters complete a large kitchen project in Colleton River Plantation. By the time the installers had finished, Zaidman had found himself a new wood refacing convert and his newest employee.

“I just couldn’t believe how it turned out. It looked like those people had spent about $70,000 on that kitchen,” said Severson, who agreed to take the job.

The decision has worked out well for everyone, including the company’s growing list of clients. American Wood Reface has quickly established itself as one of the Lowcountry’s sought-after remodelers since completing its first local kitchen in December 2009. The company installs new, handcrafted hardwood cabinet door and drawer fronts, hinges and hardware. Existing cabinets are custom wrapped with quarter-inch-thick wood on cabinet faces, not a laminate or a thin veneer. With over 400 combinations of styles, woods and finishes, color and style can be customized to fit nearly any kitchen. And unlike companies that replace entire cabinets, a customer’s “dream” kitchen can be delivered in a matter of days, not weeks.

“These days, it’s not too hard to spend a ton of money and get a nice product. But it’s hard to give people true value today, and that’s what we do,” said Zaidman, who also helps clients with countertops and other kitchen upgrades. “We give clients a great product, with great workmanship and at a very fair price. With refacing, you can spend $10,000 or $15,000 and it looks like you spent $30,000 to $40,000, so your return on investment is much higher.”

Joe and Peggy Pantano bought a timeshare on Hilton Head in the early 1990s, drawn to the area’s friendly climate and the turnkey family vacation. Like many visitors, after a while, a one- or two-week visit wasn’t enough. When Joe’s company offered him an early retirement package, he took it as a sign and accepted the offer. The Patanos sold their home in Ohio, and moved to Eagle’s Point in Bluffton nearly nine years ago. The property had previously been used as a model home and an office for Centex, the community’s homebuilder, and was showing some signs of wear and tear. The Pantanos have steadily upgraded the inside of the home over the last several years. Last year, Zaidman and his team at American Wood Reface changed the cabinets from a light maple to a darker pine and helped redo countertops.

“I was absolutely flabbergasted. Everything was spic and span. No sawdust—nothing,” said Joe. “After they were gone, you never really knew they were here, and everybody loved the changes. It’s made a complete difference in the look of the home.”

After living in Palmetto Hall for many years, Paul Schrader thought it was time for a smaller place. He and his wife sold their home and moved to a property in Indigo Run. The existing kitchen cabinets were dark and were starting to show age. Hoping to brighten the room, Schrader hired American Wood Reface. “The kitchen went from looking like it was built back in 1985 to looking like a very modern kitchen,” said Schrader, who works for RE/MAX Island Realty. “You look at my cabinets, and you’d never know they weren’t just put in brand new.”


The American Wood Reface showroom is located at 40 Pennington Drive, Suite C, off of Highway 278 in Bluffton. The company has an A+ rating with both the Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List (a website that aggregates consumer reviews of service companies), and is fully licensed, bonded and insured. For more information, call (843) 815-6700 or visit

  1. That Bruce Zaidman sounds lucky to have found Shari Severson!

    — brian    Mar 3, 09:19 am   

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