Three years ago, Champaign, Ill., remodeler Darcy Bean began to exclusively use cabinetry built by Amish craftsmen in his kitchen renovations. “It has a furniture-like feel, flexible design, and there's a range of finish choices; whatever you can dream up they can make,” he says.
His customers also react positively to the beautiful cabinetry — in a way they never reacted to stock or other custom cabinetry. Bean has not had to market the cabinetry at all; he just takes his customers to see recent installations and they are sold. He says clients enjoy the process of choosing finishes and details that reflect their personal style.
Bean works with a kitchen designer who uses only Amish-made products. Bean had used Amish cabinets in the past, but the group's religious belief of eschewing electricity and phones made it difficult to communicate changes. His designer lives near many of these shops and is able to convey information about changes in person.
According to Bean, Amish cabinetmakers use a wood finish that is both beautiful and durable. “Unlike most stock cabinets, the Amish start with a wood conditioner, which allows the wood to evenly absorb the hand-applied stain,” he says. They also add two coats of catalyzed varnish. The shops use full-extension slides, create finished interiors, and make corner cabinet doors that pull shelves forward when opened.
For one kitchen remodel, a shop made a custom base cabinet specifically tailored to hold the client's set of pots and pans. The custom cabinetry is more reasonably priced than higher-end stock cabinet lines. However, Bean does adjust his schedule because the Amish cabinetry takes eight weeks for delivery versus three weeks for stock cabinets.