Last year, Colorado finally got an IKEA. The clouds parted, the angels sang, and cheap Scandinavian furniture was only an hour away now. We’ve only been once, but it was a pretty big deal locally.
Part of what seems to get people so excited about IKEA, besides the meatballs, are the inexpensive, modular kitchen solutions. You can put together a pretty great kitchen with cabinetry from IKEA. My parents did it for an old farmhouse they remodeled in Washington and it turned out really nice. But Anne and I were worried that with a new IKEA on the scene, there would be a glut of IKEA kitchens in the next few years, and we really wanted our remodel to stand out from the crowd. So we chose to go in a different direction.
If cabinetry from IKEA is at one end of the spectrum, fully custom cabinetry is at the other end. You dream it and someone builds it for you to your specifications. You get exactly what you want, and you pay a lot for it. Sometimes quite a lot. There are local cabinet shops that can build you your dream kitchen, and then there are high end cabinetry brands: Boffi, Poliform, Henrybuilt, etc.
I don’t remember when I first became aware of Henrybuilt — several years ago — but they’ve been my favorite ever since. While the European brands are sleek and modern, they also feel a bit clinical and cold. Henrybuilt is sleek and modern, but also warm and textural. They don’t treat wood like an outdated material from a bygone era. And they’re an American company. I appreciate that.
But alas, our entire kitchen budget could be easily consumed by Henrybuilt cabinetry. They remain a source of inspiration, and perhaps an aspirational goal, but out of the realm of possibility for us now.
Along came Viola Park
In 2009, Henrybuilt launched Viola Park - their “affordable” line. Designed as a collection of interchangeable components at standard sizes — like the IKEA concept but with higher build quality and a more pronounced style. It’s basically a semi-custom line; the options are limited, but the cabinetry is built to order.
At the time, I thought “neat” but didn’t think much else since a kitchen remodel wasn’t on our radar. Fast forward a couple of years though and Viola Park became a very strong contender for use once we started planning our remodel.
Viola Park is very open with their pricing — you can find a price list for all components freely available on their site. And they are definitely more affordable than a fully custom Henrybuilt kitchen. But “affordable” is still a relative term. This is absolutely a splurge for us. Our cabinet package will probably end up costing three or four times what the same components from IKEA would run. We sought out a quote from a local custom cabinet shop that ended up being about half of Viola Park’s number (but took too long to get to us, and came after we had already signed the contract with Viola Park). This is not an inexpensive line item on the kitchen budget. But we think the look and the quality will be worth the premium we are paying. We plan to get several good years out of this house and this new kitchen before even thinking about moving on, so this is an investment for our use and enjoyment, not an investment for mass-market resale.
Viola Park has been a pleasure to work with. Everyone we’ve dealt with has been helpful, friendly, and interested in our project. Our kitchen remodel is a DIY affair, so having the in-house designer assigned to our project to bounce layout and functional ideas off of (since we don’t have an architect) has been extremely helpful.
We’re finalizing our cabinetry package now, and if all goes well it will be signed off on and go into production before the end of the month. It’s a significant investment, but we couldn’t be more excited.