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Re-Thinking Your Kitchen Design: Why Custom is the Way to Go

As the heart of the family, updates in the kitchen can add huge value to your home.  Today’s homeowners face many options when re-designing a kitchen, from ready-made cabinetry to custom designed. spoke with Tina Wu of JH Kitchen, a kitchen design company serving the GTA, about the advantages and disadvantages of each.


Pre-made kitchen cabinets are shipped from overseas and while they may be of solid wood, Wu says differences in climate between the manufacturer’s country and Canada can cause the wood to warp. “In south of China, for example, the climate is very moist, but in Canada it’s very dry.  As time goes by, if it’s too dry, the wood cannot feel comfortable so it will crack or warp,” says Wu.  JH Kitchen’s cabinets are all made in Canada from Canadian wood.



A custom kitchen can cost more than double the price of a pre-made kitchen, but discussing budgets with a designer can help homeowners bring down the price of a custom kitchen to accommodate tight finances.  Extra accessories such as wine racks, spice racks, crown moulding, glass doors or under counter lighting can quickly add to the cost of the kitchen.  The type of wood selected can also affect the budget.  Maple and oak are more economical choices than walnut, for example.  Although MDF is the cheapest wood, Wu cautions homeowners about using this material in the kitchen, especially in homes where the stovetop is used regularly.  “MDF will absorb water [from steam] and make the door panel bend,” she says.



Pre-made kitchens aren’t able to offer the same customizability.  “With a pre-made kitchen, you have limited colours, limited material and limited sizes,” says Wu.  While pre-made cabinets often come in a small selection of colours – Ikea’s AKURUM kitchen series for instance comes in 10 colours – custom kitchens have endless colour possibilities.  JH Kitchen has their own spray booth where they can create any colour cabinet desired.  White is currently a popular kitchen colour choice, but while a pre-made kitchen may come in one shade of white, a custom manufacturer can create a white with beige undertones, white with gray, antique white, and many more.  Pre-made cabinetry also comes in standard sizes, which can pose a problem for awkwardly-shaped kitchens.  Custom cabinetry can be made into any dimensions, eliminating troublesome gaps and leaving homeowners with endless design possibilities.

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