Sunday in the cabinet shop with Aaron

It’s time to work out the cabinet plan for the kitchen. Aaron Pratt from Central Texas Custom Cabinets volunteered his Sunday morning, knowing that Jacquela would not be able to escape the office during the week to participate in the design of her kitchen.

We started this piece of the remodel adventure months ago, doing our homework.

Jacquela and Steven first met Aaron in November 2014 as he finalized the Deer Pass Project, another Ranserve remodel in Austin. We watched his work over time, visited the shop, came away convinced he could design, build, install and warranty the Euro cabinets we wanted — frameless, glossy white surfaces, 90-degree corners, clean, flat, minimal, strong boxes, easy to keep clean, tons of storage.

During February and March, Aaron sent Steven on a field trip to the warehouse that supplies Aaron with cabinet-grade plywood, to research different types of white melamine finishes and materials; Steven and Jacquela also visited Ikea to explore the new Sektion system of kitchen cabinets — and experimented with Ikea’s online planning tools, attempting to turn concept into the outline of a plan, to be able to explain that concept visually using generic Ikea components (“show, don’t just tell and wave your hands in the air”), complete with preliminary numbers to help set the budget for the kitchen cabinets.

Then we went back to Deer Pass as Ranserve was pushing to complete the gig. Remarkably, the kitchen countertops there are similar to the concrete gray and marbled white quartz that Jacquela and Steven selected from Austin Stone Works. Aaron matched these with flat-white cabinets around the perimeter of the kitchen, and walnut at the island.

That proved to us he could turn our ideas into the kitchen that compelled this down-to-the-studs-whole-house remodel, forced on us by the inability to install new copper wire next to old aluminum.

As demo progressed and framing got underway, Aaron visited Emerald Hill to get rough dimensions. This past week, he walked the kitchen with Steven, placing imaginary cabinets into position, talking through near-final dimensions, wiring constraints, drawer heights, what goes into each drawer, appliance locations, lighting, how to run power down which wall with a cut in the slab out to the island, framing suprises.

Today, Sunday, is the day Aaron printed out the first draft of the detailed plans. We sat across the plastic folding table in his office extending vertical and horizontal lines across cabinet faces to add dimension and define function — these drawers will be used for cooking utensils, these for plastic storage, these pantries for cans or cereal boxes. The dog station at the end of the run of cabinets that includes the dishwasher, sink, trash cans, storage and induction cooktop will get a drawer at bottom and top, with the top of the bottom drawer set 12 inches off the floor and sealed as a platform for water and food dishes. The drawers are for pet supplies — meds, leashes, treats. Delete the two upper cabinets proposed to flank the exhaust hood and leave the focus on what is planned to be a slab of red back-painted glass that visually punches through the white and gray kitchen. A wide cabinet to the left of the sink will be narrowed to use standard Rubbermaid trash cans for waste and recycling. The adjacent space is freed to be used, instead, as vertical storage for knives and cooking utensils within easy reach inches away from the right side of the induction cooktop. The island gets two pop-up Hafele power outlets. Opposite the dishwasher, the drawer bottoms of the 36-inch-wide chest-height cabinet will be reinforced — half-inch plywood bottoms instead of quarter-inch, to prevent bowing when they are loaded with knives, forks, spoons, plates, bowls. The pull-out pantry to the right of the refrigerator will become, instead, a tall door with pullout shelves behind it — because the pull-out pantry systems on sliding rails start at $1,000 if they are heavy duty and built correctly; Aaron’s experience is that the less expensive “knockoffs” quickly fail and he doesn’t enjoy the warranty calls.

Step by step, box by box, drawer by drawer, door by door, hinge by hinge, full-extension slide by full-extension slide, the kitchen is formalized. Aaron will present plans later this week for approval, to begin construction. A very productive 2.5-hour Sunday-morning visit with the cabinetmaker.

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