A Kinship with My Cabinetry

Custom Kitchen Photography

Greenspiration Home kitchen cabinets made from all North Carolina grown wood.

By Trish Holder

Why I’m So Glad I Sourced Locally
From seed to completion, my kitchen cabinets never left the state of North Carolina.  Not many people can say that, but I can, and it makes me very proud.

I’m a North Carolina gal with generations of North Carolina blood pumping through my veins.  As goofy as it sounds, I’m happier in my kitchen because I’m surrounded by a product that was grown and made in my home state.

My cabinet boxes are made from North Carolina made plywood that happens to be made from North Carolina grown trees.  My cabinet doors are made from North Carolina grown maple.  My kitchen island and bar both have gorgeous wooden countertops made from North Carolina oak.  Most, if not all, of my cabinet hardware was even manufactured in North Carolina.

I know you’re probably thinking, “Geez, who in the world is going to go to all that trouble to build their cabinets?” but it really wasn’t hard.  I simply asked.  Once my kitchen designer and cabinetmaker understood that I was trying to source local materials, they were totally onboard.  They conferred with their wood suppliers about local choices and presented me with the species options.  Done.

Was it more expensive?  Not really – not when you compare it to the cost of any other custom kitchen cabinetry.  Prefabricated, mass-produced components that almost never come from anywhere close by are cheaper.  But people choose to have custom cabinets made all the time and when they do, selecting locally sourced wood can actually save a little money in terms of shipping costs and possibly even materials.

The “Feel Good” Factor
I have some really great North Carolina companies to thank for their help and enthusiasm for my initiative, including Distinctive Designs, Blackstone Cabinetry, Wurth Wood Group, Signature Custom Woodworking, and Columbia Forest Products (If only all my contractors had been so eager to satisfy my whims!).  But North Carolina wood people are generally good, down-to-earth people and they had a true appreciation for what I wanted to do.

China (and other low cost countries) have not been kind to the wood or furniture business in North Carolina, and that includes the small family-owned growers, the wood mills, and the manufacturers.  Building my home brought me closer to their stories and their plight.  Suddenly it became very clear to me how one simple decision can impact so many.  That’s when selecting my kitchen cabinetry became more than a decision about form and function. It became more meaningful.  As a result, I feel differently when I walk into my kitchen.

There are literally hundreds of opportunities to support local industries in the building or renovating of a home, no matter what state you live in.  I highly recommend giving it some thought and some time.  More often than not, these choices carry less of an environmental impact as well.  Most of all, they may just end up making your house feel more like a home.

10 Responses »

  1. Great idea, Trish. The better quality of hand-wrought wooden cabinetry makes it so much more durable.

    At my home, we have some hand-made pieces from an Amish woodwright in Pennsylvania. They are so heavy, and so well made! And about cost? For the same authentic styles that are available at the upscale repro stores—and the furniture may be made in Thailand, not Pennsylvania—our cost was 30% less than elsewhere. Painted tin (google “toleware”)? Hand-hammered copper and tin panels? The maker’s actual hand-written name on the back? Try to find THOSE in pieces at the “Luxuriously Overpriced” boutiques. Oh, and you can even shake his hand and thank him for excellent worksmanship and value!

  2. Trish, in choosing local you may have unknowingly done several things: For a start, you have supported both conservation and sustainability principles. Your timber came from an accredited source, from managed forests, so you were not party to deforestation, illegal logging, environmental degradation and all the ills associated with unsustainable timber exploitation. Your timber, from the time of felling, conversion etc. was processed with health and safety of operators and workers in mind, waste was reduced to the minimum, and care was taken to avoid environmental pollution. If you had opted for imported timber or furniture, you would have had little knowledge of the provenance of the timber, whether illegally obtained or not, whether sourced from mismanaged forests. Neither would you have known whether the timber was processed, or furniture manufactured with no consideration to health and safety of workers, unnecessary waste production, environmental pollution, low wages, or even child labour. I have mentioned only some of the unacceptable practices that we unknowingly support or contribute to when we source materials or goods from uncertified sources.

  3. Hello Trish
    What a magnificient kitchen. And I fully agree with the two comments above. On a different tangent, what coatings were applied? Did you also follow the same principles or did you cabnitmaker use what he usually uses?

    • Glad you asked, Angela. They made sure they used low VOC everything from adhesives to finishes. Can’t tell you the specifics, but it was all green. As far as principles, I think he built them the way he would have built any other custom set of cabinets.

  4. Trish, Great story & truly a greenspiration for all of us. My thought is to try and promote “smart consumers” and “smarthomeowners” who with a little more research, can save themselves time, money and reduce their impact on the environment.

  5. Hey Trish:

    We’re renovating in Raleigh NC and would like to do the same thing. Would you be willing to chat about your contractors, etc? We’re using NC sourced cypress on the exterior of the home and reclaimed hardwoods on the floors. We’re trying very hard to make the who renovation as green as possible. I’d love to chat with you. My email is acrworley@gmail.com.



  6. I would be most appreciative of information on purchasing NC made cabinets (or even cabinets with US grown wood!).


    • Marcia,

      I suggest you start with plywood products from Columbia Forest products. I used these in my own house and have been very pleased. I also know that many cabinet makers favor the product. Columbia uses locally grown trees and has plywood plants in North Carolina and Virginia. Any custom cabinet maker can and should be able to help you source locally grown woods. Its something we have plenty of here in NC and you will be supporting a very old and very important North Carolina industry.

      Good luck & keep me posted!

      Trish Holder, Publisher
      Greenspiration Home LLC


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