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

At Versatile Wood Products, we know how complex custom cabinetry design can be, and we are eager to help guide clients through the decision-making process. Versatile has inventive solutions to address all of your design challenges. Our experienced team specializes in balancing period-appropriate architectural design with modern performance standards. Utilizing Versatile’s expertise when will ensure you have maximized utility in custom cabinets that best fit the unique character of your home. 

Here are five important tips to consider when choosing cabinetry:

1.  Make Sure Your Cabinets Suit Your Home

Every house was built with specific style references. Whether your home is a Mid-Century Modern, Victorian, Craftsman, Tudor, Ranch, Dutch Colonial, or Queen Anne, each style has 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. How open are the rooms? Is there crown or base molding? What does the exterior of the house look like? What style are your windows and doors? Looking at the overall aesthetic of your home is important when choosing the best cabinetry style and finish for your space.

2. Consider Proportions Carefully

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 which 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 can sense that something is off. Don’t put 36” upper cabinets into a kitchen with a low ceiling just because that’s the standard size the cabinets come in or butt new cabinets right up against the wall to cram in extra storage. The experts at Versatile will ensure that your new cabinetry fits perfectly into your existing space.

3. Think of Cabinetry As Furniture 

In Germany, it’s common practice to take your kitchen cabinetry and countertops with you when you move into a new home because they’re seen as furniture. People buy very high-end, long-lasting cabinetry and counters and keep them forever, passing them down for generations. At the turn of the 20th Century, 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. While modern American homeowners might prefer built-in cabinets, choosing high quality cabinets will still improve the overall beauty and longevity of your home.

4. Open Kitchens Are Overrated 

The enduring trend of open kitchens is much like the over-used open office plan: they’ve been used for far too long, and they don’t work for everyone. Many people who cook actually tend to prefer closed spaces, even if they aren’t fully aware of it. You don’t want guests to see the mess you’re making, the piled up dishes in the sink, how much butter you folded into that soup, the spots of tomato sauce on your kitchen floor, or your reliance on too many canned ingredients. Even restaurants with open kitchens often have hidden prep kitchens, 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. Sacrificing storage and privacy to have an open kitchen often isn’t worth it. If you really desire an open feel, 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.  Mid-Range Cabinetry Is a Waste of Money

Cabinetry is available in different grades from inexpensive modular stock cabinetry to semi-custom cabinetry to high-end fully custom cabinetry. IKEA and other economical pressboard cabinets can be a great choice for certain projects as they provide a range of options for configuration and finish while being very budget-friendly. The step up from that is semi-custom cabinetry. Semi-custom cabinets are essentially stock cabinets that have the option of changing certain dimensions and details. Semi-custom cabinets are made with economy-grade materials, but require time and budget for a designer to make sure the details are perfect, and this leads to a big expense for an end result that is not appreciably different from stock cabinets. Perhaps stock cabinets are suitable for your project, or perhaps full-custom cabinets are 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 Design Week Portland event, Classic Cabinets: Modern Design

*NOTE* Date change: Aug. 05th, 2020 4:30pm-7pm

Versatile Wood Products Showroom


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