Local Designer Series: Custom Cabinet Trends with Wolstenholme Associates

The Freedom Millwork team often collaborates with local designers and vendors to bring homeowner projects to life. This is the second of a series of blog posts where we sit down with our favorite local experts to capture their insights on trends and best practices to help you create the home of your dreams. 

Recently, we sat down with the talented team at Wolstenholme Associates, a full-service architecture and interior design firm, to gain insights into their approach to remodeling projects, the trends in custom cabinets they’re noticing, and the art of timeless design.  

Custom Cabinets: More Than Just a Design Choice 

When it comes to creating a home that stands the test of time, the key lies in the details. Custom cabinets are one detail that can make a big difference in aesthetics and functionality. According to Caitlin Meskill, lead interior designer for Wolstenholme Associates, the misconception that custom cabinetry is prohibitively expensive often leads people to settle for off-the-shelf options. However, she emphasizes that custom cabinets offer more than just aesthetics; they provide tailored solutions for storage, ensuring every inch of space is optimized to meet the homeowner’s needs. 

“Not every space is the same size, and installing custom cabinets, or even semi-custom, is more beneficial than opting for the off-the-shelf store brand cabinets,” she says. 

Kelly Adomsky, Wolstenholme’s director of operations and business development, also emphasized the importance of the relationship between designers and millwork shops like Freedom Millwork when it comes to functionality and durability. Custom cabinetry not only allows for personalized designs but also guarantees a level of quality and after-sales service that store-bought cabinets cannot match, meaning your cabinets will last as long as you need them. 

Cabinet Design Trends on the Horizon for Kitchens and Bathrooms 

Custom cabinetry opens the door to a world of design possibilities. From intricate detailing to innovative storage solutions, you can personalize every aspect when you opt for custom cabinets. And if that sounds overwhelming, Wolstenholme Associates and Freedom Millwork are ready to help you through the process, offering great advice based on their years of working with homeowners on remodeling projects. 

As we approach 2024, Caitlin points to some exciting trends on the horizon. White oak, with its warm tones and natural grain, continues to gain popularity, reflecting a shift towards organic and sustainable materials. Gray cabinets, once the most frequent color option, are making way for bolder choices like dark blues and purples. Woodgrains are also making a comeback, with both white oak and darker options like walnut becoming popular choices.

In terms of colors, current kitchen cabinet color trends include soft neutrals and muted tones like shades of blue and green to bring a sense of tranquility to the space. Warm metals like brass and copper are current cabinet hardware trends that add pops of color.

Functionality also plays a part in design trends. The Wolstenholme team is seeing an increase in metal laser cut designs and welded wire metal mesh insets for mud room cabinets that allow air to circulate around damp clothes and sneakers and reeded glass panels that lighten the look of a cabinet panel while still allowing you to keep the contents tidily out of sight.

Combining Trends and Timelessness 

The ability to customize wood tones, incorporate innovative inserts, and integrate unique features ensures functional and visually stunning cabinetry. However, trends come and go in the ever-evolving interior design landscape (as we’ve seen with gray cabinets!), and Wolstenholme Associates advises homeowners to consider the longer term.  

“Good quality custom cabinets are going to be there for 30 years or more,” says Caitlin, “So it’s important to balance trends with timelessness.”   

The team recommends homeowners consider styles that offer a clean, classic look that transcends passing trends. “One trend right now is inset cabinets, the shaker style, that’s very clean and easy to wipe down. But I do think it has a more modern feeling, “says Kelly. “Right now, if a client wants a more timeless look, I recommend they think about a full overlay cabinet…maybe something that has a little beaded inset, very simple but still classic.”

Color can also contribute to a more classic feel. While white cabinetry is considered a staple that will stand the test of time, the Wolstenholme team also suggests opting for timeless kitchen cabinet colors like soft neutral creams and beiges or light blues and greens to help ensure your space remains stylish for years to come. As for hardware, brass is currently on-trend, but timeless options like dark bronze also remain a safe bet. 

It’s also crucial to consider your personal style; the cabinets you choose should work with your home’s overall look and feel. This is important because cabinets are a major design feature in the kitchen and bathroom. Choosing cabinets that harmonize with the rest of your home creates a more cohesive look and feel throughout the house. 

Functionality: Where Style Meets Practicality 

Beyond aesthetics, the Wolstenholme team stressed the importance of functionality in design. Embarking on a remodeling project can feel overwhelming, and it’s easy to miss things. For instance, spatial planning, where you will place appliances, and ways to avoid dead spaces are all crucial aspects in selecting custom cabinetry that homeowners often overlook. 

Wolstenholme’s advice is first to consider your needs and lifestyle. Are you a culinary enthusiast needing ample storage for kitchen gadgets? Or perhaps you want a spa-like retreat in your bathroom or space for wet coats and boots in a mud room? There’s a solution that works for every room; you just have to be clear on what you need.  

Defining these requirements guides the design process, ensuring your cabinets align with your daily life. Custom cabinet designers can help you make sure you’re maximizing your space and avoiding common pitfalls, like installing cabinets in places where the door can’t open fully or disrupting the flow of your kitchen by putting the cutlery drawer in the “wrong” place. Kelly highlights another common oversight professionals can help you avoid: “When you buy an inset cabinet off the shelf, you may not realize that you lose an inch and a half of storage space because of that inset,” she says. “So even though the measurements look right, it’s not going to fit that pan you want to store in there.”

Aside from snags like that, the most common mistake homeowners encounter is impulsive decision-making. Rushed choices often result in regret. Take your time, explore various styles, and consult with professionals who can offer valuable insights. It’s also a great idea to visit showrooms to test layouts and configurations before making final decisions.  

Wolstenholme Associates and Freedom Millwork’s Partnership 

Wolstenholme Associates has cultivated strong relationships with builders and other vendors in the area, including Freedom Millwork. Wolstenholme’s interior designers are deeply involved from the start of every project, providing essential consultations and assisting with the schematic design layout so that when clients begin selecting furniture and light fixtures, things like outlets and windows are in the right place, minimizing the potential for change orders during construction. This proactive approach helps the firm deliver exactly what clients need within their budget constraints. Freedom Millwork then works closely with Wolstenholme to meticulously select and customize materials, finishes, and details so that cabinetry aligns with the project’s aesthetic and functional goals. 

“Collaborating directly with millwork shops allows architects to achieve a high level of customization and quality in the millwork elements of their projects. It requires effective communication, attention to detail, and a clear understanding of the design intent,” says Kelly. “Freedom Millwork offers this to their clients, and we have used them for much more than cabinetry in many projects.” 

Crafting Homes That Last 

Crafting a home that stands the test of time requires more than just a keen eye for design—it demands a deep understanding of the homeowner’s needs and a commitment to blending form with practicality. From initial spatial planning to the final choice of cabinet finishes, every decision needs to reflect the homeowner’s lifestyle. 

By prioritizing functionality, custom solutions, and a balance between trends and timelessness, Wolstenholme Associates and Freedom Millwork work together to create a beautiful interior that can meet your needs today and evolve gracefully with the passage of time.  

Ready to start your home remodeling project? Contact the Freedom Millwork team today for expert guidance and personalized designs. 

Visit Wolstenholme Associates’ website to learn more about their architecture and interior design services.