Isiah Dorn

One of our core values here at Versatile is sharing our story. We believe in sharing our experiences, embracing feedback, and taking responsibility for our actions. We share our stories with each other and encourage our clients and partners to do the same. This week, towards the end of the day, as the shop dust was settling, our carpenter, Isiah Dorn took time out of his busy day to sit down and share his story with us. And although Isiah isn’t as keen on being interviewed as he is on working on big projects in the shop, he soon shares many things about himself that we feel honored to learn about and lucky to share with you.

Isiah has worked in his family’s landscaping business for years, but carpentry had always appealed to him. In October of 2016, Isiah applied for our shop apprentice position. With a high profile and challenging project building windows for the DeMuro Award-winning Towne Storage building, he was put to the test immediately. We soon learned that Isiah was the type of person to jump right in and win together with a team!  

A year after his apprenticeship, Isiah was promoted to our Carpenter 1 position and became well-versed in the basics of window manufacturing.

The cabinetry department is about one third of the size of the sash and door department, with two to three carpenters on staff. A smaller crew and a different kind of build means more independence on projects. Buy Isiah enjoys the challenge and collaborative effort of working on a team to make high-end cabinetry the best it can be.

“I enjoy cabinetry because I get to work either by myself or with a small team of carpenters on a lot of different types of projects.

Isiah is proud to have grown up here in Portland, Oregon. Outside of work he enjoys playing basketball, going to the gym and spending time with friends. He also listens to a lot of music, which he describes as his favorite artform.

One of his favorite things about his job is the friendships he’s developed within the Versatile team and when I asked him to sum things up he shared with me some words of wisdom from rapper J Cole: 

“There’s no such thing as a life that’s better than yours.” 

As a quickly rising star in the shop, Isiah is a big reason why our cabinetry department runs as smoothly as it does. 

Come meet Isiah and learn more about our custom cabinetry at our Cabinets and Cabernet event on Wednesday, April 10th from 4 PM – 7 PM!  We’d love to see you there!

5 Tips for Choosing Cabinetry

Versatile is known for coming up with inventive solutions for design challenges. Our experienced team specializes in balancing period-appropriate architectural design specifications with modern performance standards. We combine historic techniques with modern technologies. Versatile’s product design experts are uniquely qualified to bring your ideas to life. 

We know how complex custom cabinetry design can be, and we are eager to help guide clients through decisions and choices. Utilizing Versatile’s expertise when planning your cabinets will ensure you have maximized utility while designing cabinets that best fit the unique character of the home. Here are five important tips to consider when making your selections:

1. Pay attention to the details

Every house was built with specific style references. Mid-Century Modern, Victorian, Craftsman, Tudor, Ranch, American Colonial, Storybook, Queen Anne—sometimes in combination. Each style has rules and conventions that should not be ignored. Look at the details from every aspect of the house and consider how they can relate to your cabinetry. Is there crown or base molding, what does the front of the house look like, how open are the rooms, what does the front porch look like, what do the windows and doors look like, what does the bathroom cabinetry look like? These questions are essential for choosing the best cabinetry style and finish for your space.

2. Proportions are more important than style

As important as the details are, considering the proportions is even more crucial. You may make eclectic design choices for the style of cabinetry, but whatever you do, you must observe the proportions of the house. Each house adheres to a strict set of proportions. These proportions instantly tell a trained eye when the house was built. Deviating from these proportions will be immediately apparent to a design professional—and even untrained eyes will sense that something is “off”. Don’t put 36” upper cabinets into a low ceiling kitchen just because that’s the standard size they come in, or don’t butt new cabinets right up against the wall to fit as much storage there as you can. There are specific proportions for how close to the wall they should be, how far away from the ceiling they should be, etc. You can get away with different style cabinetry and still have it look good if it is proportioned correctly.

3. Think of cabinetry as furniture 

In Germany it’s common practice to take your kitchen cabinetry as well as countertops with you when you move into a new home because they’re viewed like appliances. People buy very high end, long lasting cabinetry and counters and keep them forever, passing them down for generations. At the turn of the 20thcentury it was very uncommon to see built-in cabinets or islands in a kitchen. Freestanding Hoosier style cabinets and islands with ornate millwork details and legs were much more common. Back then cabinets were literally furniture, but it’s possible to still have that same feel today with built-ins. If you think of your cabinetry the same way you think about a bed frame or a couch or table – really making sure it fits the space and compliments other design aspects of the house – then you’re likely to end up with much better cabinets, both in quality and in style.

4. Embrace the cozy feeling—or consider the space transition 

The enduring trend of modern-chic open kitchens is much like the over-used open office plan. It started with a famous designer, but has been poorly copied for far too long. The problem is that many people who cook actually tend to crave closed spaces, even if they aren’t fully aware of it. Nobody needs to see you cut yourself, see how much butter is going into the meal you’re making, or see you use canned ingredients. Think about a restaurant: even a restaurant with an open kitchen has a hidden prep kitchen, and most restaurants don’t have the kitchen visible at all. There is a line between showmanship and comfort that needs to be observed, and intelligent cabinetry design will address this. Don’t be afraid to embrace tall cabinets that fill your kitchen. Sacrificing storage and privacy to have an open kitchen or open counters for showmanship isn’t worth it. Don’t be afraid to pack in the cabinets (as long as you’re observing the correct proportions, of course). If you really desire the open space, consider opting for open front cabinetry with an interesting wallpaper or paint color to make the room feel as if it’s transitioning seamlessly into the walls, while also giving you a nice room accent and plenty of storage.

5. “In-between” cabinetry is a waste of money

Cabinetry is available in different grades. You have inexpensive modular stock cabinetry, semi-custom cabinetry, and high end full custom cabinetry. Ikea and other economical pressboard cabinets can be a great choice for certain projects. You get a decent amount of options for configuration and finish while keeping it very budget-friendly. The step up from that is semi-custom cabinetry. Semi-custom cabinets are essentially stock cabinets that you can change certain dimensions and details of. The issues with semi-custom cabinets are with the quality and the time. Semi-custom cabinets are made with economy-grade materials, but require time and budget for a designer to make sure the details are perfect—a big expense when the end result is not appreciably different from stock cabinets. Designers take on all the responsibility that comes with a full kitchen remodel, but they end up having to do the same amount of work as if they were full custom cabinets, so in the end the only difference is the quality and materials used. Perhaps stock cabinets are suitable for your project, perhaps full-custom is the way to go—but don’t mess around with the in-between.

Versatile Wood Products is here to bring your custom cabinetry designs to life. Whether you bring us ideas or a full set of plans, trust our skill and experience to make sure your cabinets are perfect. We invite you to come to our Cabinets and Cabernet event in our showroom on April 10th from 4:00 – 7:00 PM! Enjoy some wine and snacks, shop tours, and a fun and informative presentation from our Product Design manager, Rex Vaccaro.

Special thanks to Anne De Wolf for sharing her insights with us for this article.