Imagination is more important than knowledge ...
We had always assumed we'd never be able to afford a hand-crafted solid wood kitchen, so we were resigned to the fact that we'd have to buy a factory-made MDF kitchen with Laminex veneer or 2-pack finish. I hate these "plastic" kitchens with a passion so wasn't at all looking forward to this compromise. I know they're easier to clean, but they just seem so unnatural and potentially hazardous to health.
Initially I went to our local chain store Kitchen Connection and they gave me a quote of about $20,700 (without appliances) for a standard "plastic" kitchen (MDF + Laminex or 2-pack finish + CaesarStone benchtop). Then I got a quote from Centre Coast Cabinets for $13,900 (same materials and inclusions). It pays to shop around!
We had come across a company called Greener Kitchens who exhibit at the annual GreenFest event and we were really impressed with their philosophy and products. We met with Druce at his Bardon office and he really knew his stuff. They use only the most environmentally friendly products they can source and also provide plenty of info on request. They came back to us with a really professional and competitive quote. We would definitely have gone with them had we needed more design assistance (we were already happy with the design we'd come up with ourselves) and had we not stumbled across the following companies.
I'd assumed a hand-crafted solid wood kitchen was out of our price range but I thought it couldn't hurt to ask, so after chancing on the Unleashed Furniture website we drove down to Mullimbimby to take a look at their workshop and get a quote. Their work is simply amazing and the quote came to around $22,000, but that included extras like LED strip lighting and invisible, soft-close drawer runners. We were really surprised that such craftsmanship would be competitively priced compared with laser cut "plastic" looking kitchens!
We were all ready to sign with Unleashed Furniture when a work colleague recommended we also speak to John Wood of Eumundi Originals. So, we went to his backyard workshop and were equally impressed with his workmanship. His quote was also in the same ballpark. I guess the main point of difference that eventually swayed it for us was that John doesn't make plywood carcasses. He uses almost 100% solid wood (Hoop Pine, Kauri Pine and others) in his carcasses, only using a little marine ply in some places.
So, our kitchen conundrum is over and the decision finally made! Now we await our hand-crafted, solid wood kitchen from Eumundi Originals. We'll let you know how it turns out.
EDIT 3/3/2010: Click here for final kitchen plans ...