17 September 2010

Martha Stewart commits another offense

The Home Depot just launched a new line of cabinetry and it has Martha Stewart's name plastered all over it. I mean that literally.

One of my favorite people in all of Bloggerdom is the ever delightful Raina Cox from If the Lampshade Fits. Raina likes to poke me with a stick through late night, one-line e-mails that she knows will get a rise out of me. Her latest arrived on Sunday night. The subject line read "Thoughts?" and the body of the message consisted of "Martha Stewart kitchens from Home Depot" and then she included a link to an LA Times article announcing the product launch. Predictably, Raina's message set off a flurry of internet searches and a round of back and forth messages that consisted of my bile venting.

Listen, I don't begrudge Martha Stewart one thing. In fact, I admire everything she's managed to do over the last 30 years. Our tastes diverge shall we say but aside from the taste thing I'm in awe her ability to turn every aspect of the character she plays on TV into another branded product.

With that said, she may have crossed a line here with The Home Depot.

From the LA Times:
Using her own utilitarian kitchen as inspiration, Martha Stewart has released her first special order line of cabinetry, hardware and counter tops.

Sold exclusively at the Home Depot, the cabinetry features clean lines and comes in 11 door styles and a variety of wood finishes. It also offers thoughtful accessories that show Stewart is in charge: cookbook pop downs, roll out shelves and pegged dish organizers.

From the sound of that press release regurgitation, somebody'd would be led to believe that Martha herself was very intimately involved in this project. That would be wrong of course.

Again from the LA Times:
Inspired from authentic all-American homes with enduring charm, these designs are rooted in classic styles and crafted expressly for the modern home.
Just like the Thomasville cabinetry sold at the big orange box, this is a licensing deal. Home Depot pays Thomasville and Martha Stewart for the use of their names. And just as is the case with Thomasville Cabinetry, Martha's are made by MasterBrand Cabinets. Masterbrand Cabinets itself is a division of Fortune Brands. This doesn't make them a bad product. It does however explain that they are a relatively inexpensive, mass produced cabinet. The brand names like Martha Stewart and Thomasville are there to distract people from the fact that what they're buying is not actually a premium although they're priced as if they are.

If you find yourself at a home center for cabinetry, and this pertains to a lot of people, just know what you're in for and adjust your expectations accordingly. Oh and by the way, cabinets aren't sold by the foot so don't believe the linear foot costs home centers like to scatter around their kitchen departments. real prices are somewhere between three and four times the prices on the signs.

Oh and by the way, the images scattered around this post are from Home depot's Martha Stewart Cabinets. The first photo's door style is called Mount Desert. It looks like a cheesy, home center, oak cabinet and that exactly what it is.

So whattya think gang, would you let Martha into your kitchen under these circumstances?


  1. Thanks Paul for beating me to the punch and preventing me from having to expose Martha and Thomasville. One of the Masterbrand facilities is a neighbor(as the crow flies) here and you are spot on about it being nothing more than a licensing deal. Having lots of experience in the manufacturing side of "semi-custom cabinet land", I marvel that they can produce 13-15 brands with a whole lot less assembly lines.

    The best sentence in the whole post, Paul: "The brand names like Martha Stewart and Thomasville are there to distract people from the fact that what they're buying is not actually a premium although they're priced as if they are."

    Talk about hitting the nail on the head.

  2. Well said, both of you. Buyer beware, indeed.

    That said, I echo Paul's admiration for Martha's business savvy. Smart, smart woman.

  3. I often wonder if Martha's nightmares involve her being trapped in a house and forced to use her sub-par branded products. Like, she wakes up on her 150 thread count KMart sheets, and then has to bake cakes using her awful cookware in a Home Depot kitchen.

    I bet prison was easier for her.


  4. Again, I got back to my ideal kitchen as something that does not have "furniture" in it. Cabinets are bookcases. Stainless countertops, overhead dishwasher sprayers, shelves. http://www.dogwalkblog.com/home-kitchens-are-not-functional.html

    Maybe I should license my own line of home kitchen.

  5. Thanks one and all. If I'm not mistaken Nick, the factory that makes Diamond for Lowe's and Thomasville for Home Depot and a bunch of other brands is pretty close to you.

    Becky: Note that I didn't slam IKEA. :)

    Adrienne: That's funny. What would make it even more hellish would be if she had to sit there and be served by Amy Sedaris and Sedaris' interpretations of Martha's recipes.

    Rufus: I'll bet you could get a licensing deal for that idea.

  6. Wow Paul! I had no idea about her cabinetry line.
    I am super surprised that Martha Stewart would want her name on cheesy looking cabinetry. I find other lines she has done are much more tasteful.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  7. Don't most people know that licensing deals are usually products NOT designed by the name that's on their label?! In this case these cabinets look exactly like everything else at HD - I should know, I spent a lot of time there!

    The only brand name Martha product I use is the glitter because you can really tell the Martha touch. Amy Sedaris agrees with me completely.

  8. Catherine: I would love to know how much money Home Depot paid Martha Stewart Omnimedia for that name.

    Saucy: No, I'd say that most people DON'T know what's involved in a licensing deal. The marketing materials surrounding these licensed deals is skewed to keep people from making that conclusion and it works. I cannot count the number of times I've heard people talk about "high quality Thomasville cabinets from Home Depot" as if they were made by hand next to the sofas and end tables at an actual Thomasville furniture factory.

  9. Granted it was about seven years ago (and things can change quickly), but I replaced the cabinets in my kitchen with HD/"Thomasville's" top-of-the-line a number of years back and the cabinets were very solid, square, doors hung correctly, nothing needed to go back. These were upgraded to furniture grade plywood for the sides and back. The price was reasonable even with the upgrades and the cabinet options were sufficient to allow me to create a highly functional kitchen space.

    I do have a big complaint, though, which is that the topcoat they used reacts over time with the oils from your skin and, even if you keep the cabinets clean, that topcoat will start to come off around door and drawer handles. I would have to be certain that the issue was resolved before I again considered using their products. Frankly, I wonder about the durability of finishes in some high end cabinet lines - many seem designed to be looked at, not used.

  10. Like a girl at a frat party who's drunk, but with retail power, she's showing off everything she can to get attention while the rest of us pray for her to get caught. Oh wait, she did!

    So many injustices in this world.

  11. "Purestyle Laminate...the durability of laminate" Oh my! (belly laugh-chuckle) A new spin on cheap materials to make people think they are getting quality, ha, ha! Oh those marketing folks, they could sell rocks and convince people they were buying diamonds. The price ain't cheap either. For what you get for the money, it's wise to keep shopping.

    One thing I have to give them credit for, they packaged it was some great colors, doors, plenty of glass door options and accessories.

  12. Not speaking at all to quality... I kind of like the look of the second picture. I suspect however that I like the look of glass front cabinets out of some great longing to keep my kitchen spotlessly and well organized. A skill that I sadly do not possess.

  13. In my own defense, I only poke you with the really offensive stuff. ;)

  14. Aaron: The finish problem you're describing comes from using water-based top coats. Better cabinetry uses solvent-based stains and top coats and doesn't have the same problem. The use of solvent-based versus water-based finishes is a function of the size of the manufacturer and whther or not the manufacturer want to go along with our society-wide paranoia over VOCs.

    Cory: I love your metaphor.

    Laurie: I caught that bit about Purestyle laminates too. Next they're going to talk about the superiority of a metabox drawer.

    Lisa: You would not be the first to fall in love with a catalog photo.

    Raina: Keep poking. I enjoy every moment!

  15. Uggggg- Having been in the industry since the mid-80's, working in all capacities of cabinetry and design from building to installing to designing I've seen a lot of cabinet companies come and go along with their related branding. I was with the Home Depot when they first released the Thomasville line using Mill's Pride for the frameless line and American Woodmark for the framed lined and their god awful plastic "Life Style" centers they wanted us to use to hawk the stuff. Fail. Later, when the powers to be (Bob Nardelli's clowns and monkeys) decided to pass the Thomasville torch to Diamond at the same time that Masterbrand was retooling the Masterbrand lock facility in Auburn, Alabama to manufacture cabinets instead of padlocks, you can imagine the complete and total chaos of this and to this day I can not imagine how the Thomasville "brand" of cabinets has made it. Well, yes I can, the Home Depot always made it right, usually with money. It’s amazing what people will accept when you give them a little bit of compensation.

    As a salesperson at the Home Depot I found that Kraftmaid was the superior product with a very consistent delivery and quality built product, re.- I sold a lot of Kraftmaid because it meant I had to answer the pissed off customer calls less.

    I still sell a good bit of Diamond as my low-mid line and have decent success with them as long as I’m not forced to use it where it’s not meant to be (read: million dollar spec. homes.).

    When I left the Depot in 2004 I was turning a Million Dollars a year is sales consistently, that’s a LOT of $15,000 kitchens and since I ran credit checks on a good majority of them I had a pretty good feel for the income level I was dealing with, the middle to upper-middle class. This is, depending on who you listen to, about 65% of Americans. We can only assume that the lower classes do not purchase a lot of cabinets and the upper classes, for the most part, shop in cabinet saloons and boutiques, or where I am now, the independent showrooms. Now knowing that Home Depot and Lowe's sell more cabinets in the U.S. than all other companies combined (I forget the exact ratio, sorry) we have to assume that the vast majority of cabinet shoppers in the U.S. like crap and have no taste if the assumption of your commentors are correct, that in fact the Thomasville/Martha Stewart/Diamond/Masterbrand/Kraftmaid/Masco line's of Cabinets of the world are not fit for these fine people of nobility and class.

    I guess my longwinded and rambling point is, just because marketing has attached a name to a cabinet we can not automatically assume that the finished product will be crap. Design, installation, a customers willingness to trust their designer (I wouldn't tell my CPA how to count) all play a large part of the finished product, not Martha Stewart.

    P.S. Since Diamond has used a catalyzed solvent-based top coat for as long as I've worked with them I believe the problem Aaron is having with his cabinetry is most likely damage caused by finger nails / acrylic nails slowly etching away at the top coat and exposing the base coat which is sensitive to oils and cleansers, I would recommend that he goes back to the original place of purchase since Diamond carries a lifetime warranty. It may take a little pushing but they will fix your problem.

  16. I would never let Martha into my home under any circumstances!! Well, OK, I admit, I did once -- but I doubt she made much money off me when I bought her $1,560 coffee table for $400 at HomeSense :-P

    Never been a fan, never will be a fan.


  17. I agree with Kelly, never been a fan and never will be. I don't believe in stepping on little people to get to the top. Years ago I had an experience with Martha that showed her true colors to me. She was doing a speaking engagement at a huge charity luncheon. The group of woman that put this on were all friends of mine so I got the first hand comments of what she was like behind the scene. So speaking of thread count, she refused to sleep on the sheets in the room at the local Hilton they had reserved for her. She brings her own sheets where ever she goes. Her table for the event was at the front of the room and after she spoke she refused to stick around and meet any of her fans that had spent good money to see her let alone listen to any of the other speakers. Thats right she spoke and then left. Very rude. She was suppose to be there for a book signing after. She couldn't be bothered. We were all beneath her. Everyone on the committee said she was a night mare to work with. This was just as she was starting out. I have never respected her since then. Yeah she is a brilliant business woman, but I wouldn't want to do business her way. Ohh I do feel better to get that off my chest...........This is always a good place to vent.

  18. JC: Sounds like somebody has an opinion and yours is always welcome around here. Thanks for your comment.

    Kelly: My problems with her are aesthetic primarily.

    Sue: I know people in New York who have worked with Martha and lived to tell about it. Their stories will make your hair stand on end. However, in Martha's defense, her being jailed in 2004 changed her. From what my sources tell me, jail turned her back into a human being.

  19. LOL! Kelly and Sue --when it comes to Ms. Stewart's design sensibility (talent?) I so have to agree! Though, I've found her foibles and adventures amusing over the years. When my mom was alive she and her quilting buddies formed a friendship group called (you guessed it) "The Marthas." When she was released from the joint they had a potluck in her honor but I don't think any of the foods were from Martha's recipes. They were old and thought Martha's recipes would take too long to prepare (per her directions).
    JC said: "Now knowing that Home Depot and Lowe's sell more cabinets in the U.S. than all other companies combined (I forget the exact ratio, sorry) we have to assume that the vast majority of cabinet shoppers in the U.S. like crap and have no taste if the assumption of your commentators are correct, that in fact the Thomasville/Martha Stewart/Diamond/Masterbrand/Kraftmaid/Masco line's of Cabinets of the world are not fit for these fine people of nobility and class." Made me LOL again! Having been a QC rep for HD for a brief period and a designer having been a purveyor of said crap (you forgot Marilat), couldn't agree more! They are certainly better than the builder specified crap in most developments that I've been charged with replacing. These cabinets are the epitome of the concept of built-in obsolesce. Not that that's a bad thing. You get what you pay for and who wants to pay for cabinets that will out-live fashion preference and technology... Oh yeah the re-facers! Well somebody will be glad for those that over-built for the neighborhood!

  20. It all looks the same as high-quality cabinet brands. But we're not totally sure about the real quality behind the influential name as big as Martha Stewart. I'd still stick with my preferred brand, not that popular but you're certain that it's made of great materials, and not that expensive too.

  21. Whoever (amongst these million comments) said "it's we kitchen designers who have to answer to our clients got it right. We can only hope that justice will prevail and quality (or lack of it) will prove itself.

  22. Unless you are talking about those people who want to pay $50,000 or more to install new cabinets, the Mastercraft brands, including Martha Stewart, are extremely nice looking, long wearing and cleverly designed. My kitchen has Aristokraft, one of those brands. They have been just fine. I just saw the new Martha cabinets at my local Home Depot, and I was pleasantly surprised how nice they were for a reasonable price. They seem to have some little niceties that other cabinets don't have. Perhaps they were designed by a woman? Good for Home Depot!

  23. Stop exaggeration and stop hiding behind an anonymous comment. I'm sorry if your feeling were hurt because everybody's bad mouthing Masterbrand but at the end of the day they aren't well made and there are plenty of better-made products out there that cost less. You won't find them in a home center though.

  24. SoCal Homeowner01 October, 2010 23:35

    I think you just saved me a lot of money, Paul!

    I can't afford custom cabinets, but I am in desperate need of new cabinet doors and drawers. Do you have any recs for something decent that doesn't cost an arm and a leg and is reasonably durable?

    Ideally I'd like to spend $5000 or less (for a pretty small galley kitchen.) Am I delusional?

    And I did notice you didn't slam Ikea. Should I take that to mean they are decent, or are you just saving your ammo for another post?

  25. SoCal: You could do a lot worse than IKEA! They aren't at all bad for their price point and they fit you budget. Your doors and drawers plan doesn't always work though. If you have standard-sized, modular cabinetry, find a local dealer for Quality Doors. Quality Doors is a Masco Company and the doors and drawer fronts they sell are made in the Kraftmaid factory in Ohio. Replacing all of your cabinetry for under $5000 is possible and your best buy in that department is Silverline by Medallion. Find a Medallion distributor close to you and look into Silverline. They are sold at a builder-grade price point, but they are extremely well-made. You can find a distributor through www.medallioncabinetry.com

    Good luck!

  26. SoCal Homeowner03 October, 2010 16:41

    Paul, I can't thank you enough for all the info. I am going to look into Silverline right away. My house is such a nightmare, I can't even pull out my pull-out under the rangetop!

    Thank you again. You rock!

  27. I see lots of comments here about hating Martha Stewart and hating branding but very little being said about the cabinet line. I am not sure what the Purestyle Laminate is but I do know there are several different things that "laminate" can mean for cabinets some of which is garbage and some of which is very durable and used in high end modern cabinets. I am having trouble getting an answer on exactly what Purestyle laminate is. Is it a high pressure laminate, melamine, or thermofoil???

  28. "High end modern cabinets" and Home Depot are a contradiction in terms.

    PureStyle Laminate is marketing speak for thermofoil.

  29. OH Stop!!!!!!!!!!! What do you expect? It's HOME DEPOT not Christian Dior! It's Target, Home Decorators, KMart, Wall Mart not Neiman Marcus, Hinkle Harris, or Snobs are Us!. It's cheap!!!!! It's for those of us who don't make $100,000 a year it's for the middle class. And if Martha Stuart was Bill Gates no one would look twice at her male behavior. I had my 1958 middle class home done at Home Depot. It was $10,000 less than the quote by the hoity-toity custome cabinet maker. No it won't last 100 years,but neither will I. I even had mine upgrade to the wood cabinet, and you know, I wish I'd stayed with MDF! I'm not even going to be here anther 10 years. How long does anyone live in any particular place anyway?

    If you want top-of-the-line go somewhere where they sell it. But don't expect it for those prices!

  30. Gina,

    Please read my post again and this time pay attention. Then, let go of your self-consciousness and realize what I'm saying. Martha Stewart for Home Depot is putting lipstick on a pig. You and everybody else would do better (and spend less money) at a local, independent cabinet dealer. At a local dealer you will get a better product for less money. Home Depot and Lowe's count on people believing the lie that a home center can do a better job with home improvements but it's simply not true.

    When you bought your Home Depot kitchen you spent more money than you should have. Not only that, the money you spent went to Home Depot's headquarters in Atlanta. The people who sold it to you make a subsistence wage and the people who installed it were low bidders. Every penny of that maximized profit left your community.

    had you spent your money locally, you'd have spent less money and the money you did spend would have gone to paying the people who brought you your kitchen a living wage. With that living wage those folks would feed, house and clothe themselves and their families.

    Buying a renovation from a home center cheats everyone involved except for the home center itself.

    So when your local unemployment rates are what they are and the number of people in your community who are defaulting on their mortgages continues to increase at least you know why.

  31. SoCal Homeowner02 January, 2011 20:32

    You don't need me to defend you, Paul. You did a good job all on your own. But I feel the need to jump in here.

    No one is expecting custom cabinet quality at a Home Depot price. It's not just about price. It's about price AND quality.

    Martha has a reputation for being (let's put it nicely) particular in her tastes. If she puts her name on something, you'd expect, based on her persona, that it would be good quality. Not custom quality, but decent quality. Paul's point is, it isn't. Her cabinets are overpriced for what you get because you are paying for her name.

    It has nothing to do with her being a woman. I'm a woman. It has to do with her reputation, and the products she slaps her name on not living up to that reputation.

    Ok I'm done. And I haven't started on fixing my cabs yet, but I will. And I will be using Paul's recommendations.

  32. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!
    you have all educated me so much.....thank you especially for the classes on local economy support and branding....my questions are for further clarification.

    1) so local shops don't get their cabinets from the same companies/factories that mass produce for the large chain stores?
    2) does the same go for sinks, bathroom vanities, and lighting?...how do i find out who the factories are (for the local shops?)


  33. It's my pleasure Jackie, let me answer your questions.

    Martha Stewart Cabinets are made for Home Depot by MasterBrands. MasterBrands also makes their Thomasville cabinets as well as their Shrock cabinets. They also make Diamond for Lowe's.

    MasterBrands makes Decora, Omega, KitchenCraft, Georgetown, Maple Creek and Kemper for independent dealers. There are others but they're the brands I can think of now. Bear with me.

    How mass merchandising works is this. When you buy $20,000 in Martha Stewart cabinetry at Home Depot, the profit margin on that sale is around $11,000. The person who sold those $20,000 in cabinetry makes between $8 and $15 an hour so some of that profit gores to pay him or her. Part of it too goes to pay taxes, building costs and other payroll costs. The thousands of dollars that are left then go to Home Depot's headquarters and out of your community.

    When you go to an independent cabinet dealer and buy a set of KitchenCraft cabinets for say, $18,000. You're buying the same thing made in the same factory as the Martha Stewart branded stuff at Home Depot but you're paying less money for it. You're buying it from a designer who makes between $40,000 and $60,000 dollars a year --a living wage. Your $18,000 purchase also costs the independent $11,000 and that leaves behind a $7,000 profit. That $7,000 pays the wages of the designer, the building costs and taxes. The profit that's left goes into the bank account of the independent dealer and he or she uses it to expand his or her business or give himself a raise or whatever it is he or she decides to do. That money stays in your community, pays local taxes, and pays living wages that allow the people who live in your community to pay their bills, educate their kids and all the rest.

    Chain stores, chain restaurants and chain grocery stores suck money from your local economy and send it somewhere else.

    Every market in this country still has independent plumbing and lighting showrooms and dealers. All of whom need your money and your support. Buying a Kohler sink at an independent plumbing dealer usually costs the same as it does at a Home Depot. But at an independent, the person who sells it to you makes a living wage.

    Trying to save a dollar by shopping in a Home Center is a short-term strategy at best and over the long term is economic suicide.

  34. Unfortunately I did not have any of this info before purchasing my "Martha" cupboards from HD in October 2010. They were installed (well, installation was started) in January '10. Can we all say nightmare!? Not only were many pieces wrong, but even with only offering one shade of white in her line there are 3 different shades of white on the cupboards! And we're not talking minor shade differences. ANYONE interested in seeing pictures is welcome to them. Wish I had been as smart as the people who posted here, I liked the style and believed this was a real Martha endorsed product and therefore had credibility - what a joke! After thousands and thousands of VERY hard earned dollars I still have an unfinished mess. Shame on Martha Stewart for allowing her name to be licensed to such a poorly made and product with absolutely NO quality control. mluther@hotmail.com - I don't have an account with any of the sites listed but have no problem letting anyone know it through my hotmail account.

  35. I'm sorry you're having such a hard time with your renovation. Would you be interested in letting me write a story about your experience> I have a pretty broad platform here and the odds are good that Home Depot would right your wrong. Even if it's only for PR purposes.

  36. Paul where does the local tradesman go to buy his home inprovement products after making a nice wage on my community spent money?

  37. I also wish i had this info.. before buying and trying to have this installed. as Anonymous before said nightmare! I am on my 4th set of drawers for some of my cabinets.. they have come broken in boxes before they could even be installed. have had the rep here 3 times so far...

  38. Does anyone know what PureStyle is? I was told it is "European". I'm not opposed to engineered products--love my vinyl windows--but don't want white cupboards that will yellow, get ugly in ten years, etc. Is it "tried and true"?

  39. We are at the planning stage of a kitchen rennovation.

    Thank goodness i stumbled across this blog!!

    Aside from the Silverline brand, what other cabinets DO you recommend for entry-level to mid range budget??

  40. Silverline's my big one but talk to any independent showroom. All showroom feature good, better, best lines so see what's available in your area. There's a whole universe outside of the home centers, believe me!

  41. Ok, a couple of points here. First in honesty I do work for the orange box as a designer and am definitely not a Martha fan. For the few that have asked exactly what Purestyle is, it is NOT a thermofoil. It is true laminated material. Which means it is thin layers of material (usually paper based) fused together with a protective coating for a finish. Think formica countertops and you're real close. Thermofoil is a vinyl material fused to an underlying material, typically MDF plywood, using heat and vacuum. If it is exposed to heat again it can separate from the substrate. Purestyle doesn't react to heat llike thermofoil does and has the durability and ease of cleaning of thermofoil. Secondly Paul, I have to comment on your recommendation of buying from indepentdent dealers. What I can sell at my store with the buying power of 2500 stores behind me, lets me sell a better product at a lower price than you will ever find at a independent dealer. Your profit assumptions are way off also. I work in a top 15 market in an affluent area and have sold exactly 3 kitchens over $20,000 in the 7 years I've worked here. Most times the profit margin on these products is under 30%. As to where the money goes, you may have a shop of 5-7 people in an independent dealer that may spend part of thier money in the community. Typically the orange store hires over 120 people from the community to work at each of those stores, that live near the store. So who is returning more money to the community? Also, I don't work on commission, as compared to the independent, so my sole interest is in getting the most for my customer. Regardless of what they buy, my paycheck is the same. Unlike the majority of independents, who work on a strict commission basis. So whose best interest is he really looking out for? Lastly I took a look at silverline cabinetry and the first thing that jumps out at me is the fact that they are made by Elkay, which if I'm not mistaken,is another large corporation that makes a myriad of different products including kitchen sinks, faucets and other products. In looking at the cabinet line, it has an entry level price point which would be equal to the big boxes. By the time you get to a cabinet with equal features ( cushion-close drawers and doors and solid hardwood drawer boxes with dovetail joints) to the standard semi-custom cabinet offered at the big box, the price at the independent is significantly higher. My company and my job is far from perfect, but I do like the fact that I can come to work each day and honestly say I work for my customers to glive them the best kitchen I can, at the price they can afford.

  42. You've done a great job of drinking the Kool-Aid. Home Depot pays you less money than you'd make at an independent dealer and you somehow turn that into a good thing.

  43. Paul - Your posting on January 9th and several others had more errors than I could count. I think you need to get your facts straight if you're trying to influence consumers. How much actual experience do you personally have with the Martha Stewart cabinets and various cabinet manufacturers?

  44. This from someone so cowardly he or she leaves a comment as "anonymous." I don't make factual errors.

  45. Wow... Not even sure how I stumbled on this thread but this has been very interesting reading.

    I work at an independent kitchen store and we carry 4 lines of Masterbrand cabinets -- Aristokraft, Diamond, Decora and Kitchencraft. I'm quite sure you'll accuse me of "drinking the Masterbrand Kool-Aid," but I believe we offer a great product at a good price. I don't say "great" price because I have lost several kitchens to the "big box" stores due to price (as someone else said - they have tremendous buying power). I do work on commission, but as someone who watches her own money, I am never one to try to push someone into a line / design they can't afford. I do feel that I offer a service that not everyone would get at a "big box" store -- more attention to the design, working to coordinate all selections (cabinets, countertops, floors, backsplash, lighting...) I say that, but then again, I've never shopped for cabinets anywhere, so maybe Home Depot / Lowe's employees do help customers do all of that (based on anecdotal evidence I would say they don't, though).

    I'm not sure what my point is in posting - other than I agree with previous posters that there is a market for Martha's / Diamond / Thomasville, etc. cabinets, and there is really no need to disparage them. While I admire you're wanting people to support local stores (like the one I work in!), I think someone else's analysis of the number of people Home Depot employs, etc, kind of killed your argument, but clearly you would never admit that.

  46. I swear this post has the longest legs of any I've ever written. Deborah: I'm not disparaging Masterbrand cabinetry. I'm disparaging Home Depot's constant attempts to pretend Masterbrand products are anything what they are. I don't care how many people Home Depot employs, the economics of shopping at a big box undo all of that. Big box stores suck money out of local economies and put people like you out of work. Please keep doing what you're doing and selling what you're selling. There's a real need for your services and I hope people can find you and will continue to patronize you business. Your expertise alone ought to be enough to make people drive past the big orange box but unfortunately it's not. I'll keep doing my part to promote independent businesses so long as I have breath in my body.

  47. Whew! Lots of very opinionated people here who obviously have issues with Martha. I'm in the process of ordering some of "her" cabinets at Home Depot and, from what I can see, the prices are relatively good AND the cabinets are exactly what I want. Will they last forever? Doubtful, but I won't either. With reasonable care, I expect these cabinets to last until someone else buys my house years from now and wants something different. Given my budget and design esthetic, I'm happy with my choice and wish people who have a bone to pick with Home Depot or with Martha would either relax or offer to pay the substantial difference in price so I can have "better" cabinets!

    And I will say, I owned some Mill's Pride cabinets and, when the thermafoil started separating on the door edges, I contacted the company and they replaced every single door FOR FREE! I think the PureStyle finish on Martha's cabinets is an improvement in technology and I feel confident if there is a problem in the future, Home Depot will take care of it.

  48. Wow. All these anonymous comments supporting Home Depot. Maybe it's just me but I smell a rat.

  49. Just like to make a small point about something posted by Anonymous (the Home Depot kitchen designer).
    Anonymous said, "As to where the money goes, you may have a shop of 5-7 people in an independent dealer that may spend part of thier money in the community. Typically the orange store hires over 120 people from the community to work at each of those stores, that live near the store. So who is returning more money to the community?"
    This is an unfair comparison. 120 Home Depot employees vs. 5-7 people working in an independent cabinet store? A more fair comparison would be to add up the employees of the cabinet shop, the local hardware store, the lighting store, the plumbing supply store, the garden center, the appliance store, the tile store...
    Or you can just count up the number of those in your department.
    You are skewing the stats to support your argument which lacks merit.

  50. Amen anonymous! Big box stores are local economy killers. They promise low prices but how expensive are those low prices when you add up all the damage?

  51. Interesting comments. Basically what I think you are saying Paul is that Martha cabinets are like brand named clothing. They are made in the same factory as the lower end clothing but have a brand-end name and price tag attached to them. You are saying as a middle class purchasers, I'm getting ripped off.

    So, what is a middle class person to do when they have around $10,000 to spend on cabinets (I wouldn't be opposed to spending less - I'm not an idiot) and can't buy IKEA cabinets because they don't fit? Are you saying that I get more for my money if I buy Silverline by Medallion?

    BTW - you are correct about the IKEA cabinets. I remodelled a property using them and they were easy to install and performed well.

  52. That's exactly what I'm saying.

  53. I'm the previous middle class person with 10,000 to spend. I checked out Silverline Medallion online and didn't like the designs. Is there another option? What I did like about the Martha line was the Dunmere design in Sharkey Grey color. Is there something that would look similar to that design but not be a rip off?

    I didn't mention before that the independent businesses, who I'd rather support, deal with highter end clients. I live in an oil and gas town where people throw money around like confetti at a wedding. I can't afford going independent in this town. I have the beer budget but would like a kitchen that looks like I have champagne taste. I also want to be as eco friendly as possible but have checked into bamboo and it's out of my price range. Any suggestions?

  54. You have a ton of options. Can you shoot me an e-mail? Just click the e-mail me button in the sidebar. I can help you better if I know where in the country you are.

  55. Hi Paul - we are just about to go with Martha Stewart cabinets when I came across this post while looking for reviews. We did go to some independent places but the prices were substantially higher for what appears (??) to be similar products. We also had a hard time getting quotes back from some of the independent dealers - it's almost as if we aren't worth the work for them as they would rather deal with high net worth individuals. I checked out the Medallion line but they don't appear to be in Nova Scotia, Canada. Anyone else you can recommend? Thanks for your help.

  56. I agree with everything Paul has said. Home Depot and Martha Stewart? I was really excited about this combo...and the fact that the door styles from "her" line actually didn't totally disgust me, as my style leans more toward the modern/chic/mid-century realm(something not exactly supported by any big box home center). But alas after reading, and checking out the prices....PHEW!

    I understand paying good money for fabulous, quality cabinets, but Paul is indeed right. They are overpriced crap compared to what you can get for your dollar somewhere else. Ikea even has great quality for the dollar compared to the lowest end kitchen on the Martha/masterbrand line. And at least you have more options(can we say blum hinges...standard?)

    But cabinetry? You'd be better off shopping elsewhere if you want more bang for your buck!


  57. Thanks Matt! This post has taken on a life of its own I swear. I hope that it keeps people from making expensive mistakes.

  58. Paul, Ive found a good local dealer who sell Omega, Dynasty, Showplace, and Homecrest. Would you receommend any of these brands?

  59. It sounds like you're in the right spot. Between those four brands, that dealer can accommodate what ever budget you're working with.

  60. Martha Stewart cbinets by MasterBrand are terrbile. MasterBrand actually shipped us cabinets with their own Quality Control rejection slips inside. Their cutomer service is worse than a joke. Theyve shipped the order many times and their motor freight carried keep breaking the cabinets AND losing parts of theorder. We are going to have Home Depto take back the entire lot. It's been 4 months of pure hell. Don't waste your time dealing with this highly inferior company.

  61. So the basic arguments are: Big Orange kills local business, sells crap Masterbrand cabinets, therefore, buy from local or smaller manufacturers, that sell better quality. All consumers are dumb and tricked by the big evil orange into thinking Martha actually hand makes each one, and all consumers have crap taste that buy at big box stores.

    First off, it is true that big stores kill local business. But so what, get over it. We live in a global economy, and an ever changing world. The basic laws of economics is all about supply and demand. If the general populace is driven towards big box stores, then that's where consumers are putting their money.
    Sure it is sad that the local craftsman are getting muscled out, but that's economics. The same arguments were made during the industrial revolution and people were complaining they were losing their jobs. The local stores will have to adjust and re-tool to either niche or fit in the new economy. Basic economics.

    Secondly, the argument that local stores give better quality is also not true. A lot of local trades do the exact same type of work, but at a higher price point. Lots of them are also fly by year stores that have no warranty, that you have no idea will be around 10 years from now. If you pick the wrong one, you could still end up with 'crap' so to speak. At least with big box companies, you'll know they'll honor their warranty. Local stores and non name brand cabinets can be equally 'junk' if you are not careful.

    The whole debate over Martha Steward / MasterBrand being junk is not right as well. Negative posters would have you believe that you are throwing your money out the window, when you could be spending less or a little more for better quality elsewhere.

    That couldn't be further from the truth. They are fine cabinets, and are an excellent value. I find that the posters here are just biased because they have a set mindset that is against big box stores.

    At the end of the day, if you go take a look at the cabinets, you like the style, it feels solid enough, and the price is right -- don't have a negative bias just because its from a big box store and has a 'celebrity name', so to speak, attached to it.

    For every one that claims to have had a 'horrible experience', you will also find those who have dealt with smaller stores or so called custom stores with equal amounts of pain. There's always going to be hickups, the trick is to roll with the punches and give you money to a business that you have a reasonable amount of faith in. And like it or not, big orange is one of those companies.

    1. Cowards leave anonymous comments on blogs by the way. My name is out there for the world to see and I'd suggest that in the future you own your opinions.

      Now, to your comments, it's not at all a case of simple economics. The big boxes get tax incentives to locate where their stores are. And their tax advantage is how they bring lower prices to you. Part timers are encouraged to go on Medicare and Medicaid and at the end of the day, all of us end up footing the bill for those stores. Big boxes cost our society a fortune in externalized costs.

      Your local lumberyard, or plumbing showroom or cabinet person can't compete on price when the deck is so stacked against him or her. The lower prices you pay as a consumer come at a serious cost to your community.

      When someone goes to work at an independent retailer, he or she gets a job that starts at around $13 an hour and he or she goes to work for someone who's your neighbor. This employee gets a benefits package and a career path.

      If that same person gets a job at the big orange box, he or she will start at around $9 and will be let go after ten years because that employee is determined to be too expensive. Not only that, he or she isn't rewarded for product knowledge, just product sales volume.

      Employees who can learn how to manage themselves in a corporate environment may climb upward but most of them end up as greeters at Wal-Mart (another, heavily subsidized business) if they can find jobs at all.

      I used to be a trainer at one of the big boxes and the way we considered our employees was beyond immoral. Not only that, we couldn't compete with the independents when it came to price. But people flocked to us because they assumed they were saving money.

      In fact they weren't saving anything but what they were doing was propping up a heavily subsidized business.

      Saving a buck in those places actually harms your community and at some point all of us need to ask if the dollar we save is worth the harm we cause in that saving.

      I say that as someone who loves nothing more than to save the occasional buck, but I'll never do it at someone else's or my community's expense.


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