My holiday reading included McCloud's '43 principles of home'. In this book chapter 15 is devoted to 'things at home not worth investing in' and one of the sections in this chapter is 'kitchen cupboards and doors'.
"The bits that matter in the kitchen are the machines that so the work and the bits you come into contact with." Chapter 16 of the same book is devoted to things worth investing in and include kitchen door handles, taps and worktops. Knives and pans are also important. But door cupboards aren't. And frankly, the best made kitchens in the world are still 'carcassed out' using orientated strand board, chipboard or plywood. Structurally there's negligible difference in quality between a $10k kitchen and it's $100k equivalent. Moreover, high-street merchants like Ikea have got wise to this and are now retailing budget kit kitchens that mimic the bespoke German ones. It also seems daft to spend vast quantities on an aspect of the home that the next owners will invariably rip out and replace. Which they will, because it's human nature to territorialise the new cave with a new kitchen. All of which demands that you invest in kitchen units and doors that are ecological, recyclable and for that matter probably recycled in the first place. (McCloud then suggest a suitable company for sourcing your kitchen carcass from.)"
So to be fair this issues probably needs the context of the entire book. But this little tidbit of advice worried me because it seems like sound advice, and yet I don't like the idea of a chipboard kitchen from Ikea or from bontempi for that matter. But does it make sense to get a carpenter in to hand make all my cupboards in native hardwood?
Intuitively I'd have thought this was the right thing to do. Although we're not planning on moving, are kitchens are so subject to trends and fashions, and am I so merely mortal that 10 to 20 years the life span for a kitchen? And if so, is chipboard ok?
I remember your post of kitchens through the ages... So the evidence is weighing in on the side of limiting the investment in the carcass.
Ikea carcass and doors tricked up with wolf appliances a subzero fridge an integrated stainless steel sink bench top on one side of the galley and a cool stone bench top on the other (for rolling pastry and for pasta making) on the other, and the best taps and handles to finish it off.... Would this work?
That was a long question I know, but I thought it was important to run the whole thing. The question came to me from Fleur, a reader from Australia and she raises a couple of good points. Before I could answer this I had to dig in a bit and find out about the source of her question, Kevin McCloud's 43 Principles of Home.
Kevin McCloud is a designer, writer and television presenter based in the UK. He has an enormous following there and in the rest of the English-speaking world. Everywhere it seems, except for the US. His latest book, 43 Things isn't available in the US and it drives me crazy that I can't get my hands on it. Maybe I'll find it in Germany in a few weeks.
The book's published by Harper-Collins-UK and they prepared this overview video I found on YouTube.
I like this guy's style and I like what he has to say. Sort of. I know more about the renovation scene in Europe than I do the scene in Australia unfortunately, but from what I've learned from other Australian readers, it's quite different from that in the US and Canada. As I understand it, there's a wide middle of the market here that's not quite so wide in your part of the world but there are a couple of things that hold true everywhere.
Kevin McCloud's opinion not withstanding, there's an enormous difference in the quality of a $100K when compared to a $10K kitchen. There just is. Whether or not a carcass is made from particle board, MDF or plywood isn't an automatic indicator of quality. There are plywood-sided cabinets I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy and there are particle board-sided cabinets I'l give a kidney for the privilege to own. What makes a quality carcass is the thickness of it and the manner in which it's joined. You make a $10K set of kitchen cabinets by making those carcasses thinner and less well joined. Another way you make a cheap set of cabinets is you skimp on the quality of the finish on the door.
A $10K kitchen will need to be replaced in ten years or less. A $100K kitchen will last forever. It's not possible to separate the doors from the carcasses, especially when you start customizing the sizes of things. Even when you don't customize, manufacturers build both together and they do so using proprietary sizes. A door from company A won't fit a carcass from company B properly. Part of that door and carcass package and what's usually a bigger driver of quality than either is the hinges. Hinges tend to be made by third party companies and they come in a wide variety of qualities and price points. A nice-looking, well-made cabinet door with a cheap hinge makes for a cheap cabinet.
So what there is to do is learn from the good stuff and find a more cost-effective supplier who uses as many of those quality points as you can find. Most people don't need or want a forever kitchen. However, nobody wants a kitchen that falls apart in five years.
So look for things like hinges and hardware from Blum, a German hardware manufacturer with plants all over the world. Pay attention to the thickness of the sides of a cabinet and the manner in which the sides join the back and the floor. Ask about things like rabbeted joints and catalyzed glue. You may get funny looks but those things are important. The US market is starting to become flooded with cheap in every sense of the word cabinetry from China. I'm sure that stuff hit Australia before it washed up on our shores. Avoid it.
Back to your actual question though, people do combine cabinetry from IKEA with Wolf/ Sub-Zero appliances all the time. There are a couple of pitfalls to this method though. Sub-Zero refrigerators are built in and don't come with finished sides. Better cabinet lines sell the parts to finish them off but cabinetry from IKEA can't panel in a Sub-Zero. So be sure the refrigerator model you buy and the design you choose for your kitchen work with the cabinet supplier you end up with.
The kitchen you describe sounds wonderful but be careful about spending too little on your cabinetry. When it comes to building products, price point is a pretty good indicator of quality. A $100 faucet is one you'll be replacing in a year. A $3000 faucet is overkill for most people, but you can rest assured that it will never need to be replaced.
Does that help?