Can you build a kitchen in solid wood?

Can you build a kitchen in solid wood?

If you visit The Met on Fifth Avenue in New York, you can see this cabinet. It’s 186 cm high, 81 cm deep and has four drawers and a door. It is made of pine.


You might think it’s a fairly ordinary cupboard. So why is it here at The Met, along with all the art classics?


Well, this cabinet belongs to the history of arts and crafts. It was built sometime in the early 1800s by carpenters in a Shaker community, probably in New Lebanon outside of New York.


We do not know much about this cabinet: just that it is built of solid pine, and that it is still going strong after 200 years.


200 years is about seven generations. Grandma’s grandma’s grandma’s mother …


“You can’t make kitchens out of solid wood.”


Let’s take a leap in time and space, from the Shaker community in the 19th century USA to Scandinavia today. Here, within the kitchen industry, it is sometimes claimed that it’s not possible to build solid wood cabinets; that the wood moves, that it warps and that it won’t last.


We scratch our heads in amazement when we hear such statements. Because we know the history.


The story about chipboard


For hundreds of years, carpenters have built solid wood cabinets. But over the past 50 years, kitchens have instead been built of chipboard, coated with melamine. When you open a regular kitchen cabinet, this is what you usually encounter: White plastic-looking melamine.


“When you open a regular kitchen cabinet, this is what you usually encounter: White plastic-looking melamine.”


Particleboard and melamine are dead materials. Not many would say that they are beautiful, but one of their advantages is that they are static. This makes them easier to handle for the big manufacturers who want to mass-produce kitchen cabinets in their factories. It is the same manufacturer that claims, “It is not possible to build kitchens of solid wood”.


Not possible?


If the Shaker carpenters, with the technology of that time, could build cabinets that have lasted for 200 years, surely it must be possible today? Yes of course it is


On the art of building in solid wood


Of course it’s more difficult to build with solid wood. To handle the individuality of each piece of wood, it must be built by hand. It demands fingerspetzgefuhl, which robots lack.


 “With just a little TLC, solid wood kitchens can be maintained and last for a long time.”


It’s generally known that wood is a living material. It moves a little, swelling and shrinking with the seasons. And there may be tensions in the wood, which the carpenter needs to take into account, but if he has the right knowledge it’s no problem.


A living material grows old gracefully


We’re a bit biased of course: There is a reason why our company has chosen to build only solid wood kitchen, never chipboard. We feel passionate about wood. We like its characteristics, even if it makes the production more difficult and expensive.


Because we think that wood ages with dignity and we know that it lasts for generations. Flaws that occur over the years can be sanded, oiled and re-painted. With small means, massive wooden kitchens can be maintained and last a long time.


Characteristics of the Scandinavian Shaker kitchen


How we build our cabinets


Our kitchens are built according to age-old furniture manufacturing techniques. The cabinets are built from of planks, which are made of slats that have been glued together. The slats are carefully selected, and are turned and positioned to avoid the occurrence of tension.


OK, on the subject of tensions that can make wood warp: The fact is that the entire manufacturing process of wooden kitchens – from selection of materials, drying of wood to joining and painting – is optimized to counteract movement in the wood.


Long planks without knots


All glued panels are full length, that is, each slat is as long as the cabinet itself. No ugly joints. Just a look of beauty and harmony.


In our kitchen frames we have chosen to use knot-free pine. Pine is a classic wood in furniture manufacturing in Scandinavia, and it grows just around the corner from our joinery. Pine is climate-smart too.


“Pine is climate-smart”


Our cupboard doors and drawer fronts consist of solid ash with a panel in birch plywood. Ash and birch are harder than pine, which is great for the fronts. It is less sensitive to knocks and scratches.


How we make our cupboard doors


Our Shaker door has a classic design: It consists of a four part frame, and a centre panel. It is of the same construction as the door in the Shaker cabinet in The Met.


It is therefore a very durable construction, made to incorporate the intrinsic stresses of the wood. A wooden door won’t warp if it is made properly.


Variations in solid wood


As we have seen, wooden furniture has all the properties to last for a long time. At the same time it is important to know that a wood cabinet will never be 100% straight. The wood is alive and moves slightly.


If you are thinking of buying a solid wood kitchen this is something you need to know. If you cannot tolerate small deviations – that a gap between the door and the frame might differ a couple of millimetres from the top to the bottom – then you should choose a kitchen of non-living material, such as chipboard or plastic.


“As humans we are drawn to other living things.”


It’s all a matter of taste: On the one hand, the fact that wood is alive means it’s perhaps not 100% exact, on the other hand it is this very life that makes wooden furniture so appealing. We humans tend to like living things.


That’s why they have wooden cabinets that are 200 years old at the art museum.

The unbeatable feeling of limestone

The unbeatable feeling of limestone

The natural stone is on the rise and is becoming increasingly popular in Scandinavian homes. But what makes it so sought after? And what feeling do we want to achieve with natural stone in our homes?


We had a chat with Alexandra Olausson, owner of Vårvik & Co, who specialize in limestone.

– I have been working with limestone for almost two years and really love it, says Alexandra Olausson. Limestone is unbeatable when it comes to feeling, and it is a fantastic material to use in the home.


Before Alexandra found her passion for limestone she worked in sales at telecom.


– I usually say that I have gone from working with a digital product in physical channel to a physical product in digital channel. Many things are the same – such as marketing, sales and customer contact – but the product is completely different.


– I have long been interested in stone, and I’ve almost always had it in my homes over the years. Some time ago my family and I moved to a house where limestone is used throughout and that led to a job offer to work as a consultant with the sale and marketing of limestone.


– In the spring (2018) I chose to invest in my own supplier and now work entirely with my own company that I co-own with my husband.


So, living in a house with lots of of limestone, you have opinions on how limestone works in a home?


– I certainly have! When you live with limestone, you experience its many sides. For example: it felt as though a feeling of summer rain came into our bathroom after we showered, and that’s due to minerals that are released when the stone gets wet and it smells wonderful. The stone doesn’t get too slippery either, which makes it a good choice in bathrooms.


“Both the look and the feel of limestone is much “warmer” compared to, for example, marble.”


– Another great thing about limestone is that it is a “warmer” stone both to see and feel compared to, for example, marble which is also a very beautiful but “colder” stone. In the summer, limestone floors are wonderfully cool in the home and do not get hot even if the sun is pouring in.


– Last but not least, limestone is a flexible and practical choice of material in everyday life. The “greige” shades of the limestone are great for hiding dust and dirt. It’s a good idea to choose a grout in a similar shade to the stone because a white or light joint will get dirty over time.


But be honest: Isn’t limestone very sensitive and delicate?


– I often get questions about how limestone works in a household with toddlers – dirt, spills and general abrasion. And I always say that you should think about your needs and lifestyle, but that you should never refrain from limestone because you are afraid of wear and tear.


“Yes, it might get a few marks on it but over time this just creates a beautiful patina.”


But limestone wears out doesn’t it?


– Yes, but limestone is a natural material which grows old gracefully. it might get a few marks on it but over time this just creates a beautiful patina.”


– If you decide you want limestone in a kitchen where there is a risk for acids, you can combine it with amore sturdy surface such as stainless steel.


How do you care for limestone in order to maintain its beauty?


– If you have limestone in your kitchen then you should be careful to remove spills immediately before they get absorbed. Also it is good idea to maintain the surface with linseed oil soap which cleans, protects and smells good too.


There are many different kinds of limestone with various shades and patterns. Is there anything you should think about when choosing limestone?


– If it’s for your kitchen you can either start with the colour you have chosen for your kitchen and look for a stone that works with it. Or, you can turn it around and adapt the color of the kitchen to the stone you have chosen.


– It is important to think through all the stages and make an informed choice based on color, hue, warmth and light input. Limestone comes in many different hues and shades depending on where it comes from, which is important to keep in mind when deciding what feel you want to achieve.


Facts: Vårvik & Co


Vårvik & Co sell limestone for floors and walls in kitchens, bathrooms, basements and halls etc. The stone is light grey with a warm tone and a speckled pattern.


The limestone comes from a quarry in Estonia. The stone is quarried by hand without large machines. The stone varies in colour and quality depending on which layer it comes from. The processing of the stone also causes variation.


Vårvik & Co markets its stone mainly through their instagram account but they also have a showroom in Saltsjöbaden.

Which is the best stone for worktops in your kitchen?

Which is the best stone for worktops in your kitchen?

There are a so many worktops to choose from when putting the finishing touches on your new kitchen. What should you take into consideration when it comes to materials, design and sustainability?


We asked Anna Granstig – Marketing Coordinator in at Cosentino Scandinavia:
Which materials are most popular right now?

– We are seeing new trends in the type of worktops the customers choose, says Anna Granstig. For a long time, laminate worktops have been the most common in Sweden, but wood and stainless steel have also been popular.


“Marble, granite and limestone are more popular than ever.”


– In recent years, natural stone has been on the increase. Customers prefer to use stone if they can. Marble, granite and limestone are more popular than ever and sales have increased steadily.


Anna Granstig goes on to explains that the trend for more colourful kitchens – in contrast to the white kitchens of the last decade – affects the choice of worktops.


– Generally, people are daring to introduce more colour into their kitchens. This includes choosing use worktops that go towards darker or warmer colors. Even more patterned materials have increased in popularity.


– Your choice of worktop will, of course, be affected by the style of the kitchen.


“Classic kitchens like bistro, shaker or the country kitchen look good with worktops that have a natural stone look.”


So, you mean different worktops suit different styles of kitchen?


– Absolutely! I use to say that to every kitchen a certain type of stone is suitable. Classic kitchens, like bistro style kitchens, shaker kitchens and farmer’s house kitchen, goes together well with natural looking countertops. Modern and minimalistic kitchens goes together well with one-coloured countertops.


– You usually want to create a contrast by matching glossy cupboard doors with a matt worktop and matt doors with a shiny worktop. This gives a nice overall look.


– Amongst the new kitchen designs, we also see the industrial trend of surfaces with a concrete or rusty appearance growing in popularity.


– Minimalistic doors in light wood are also making a come- back. They look really good with white, light or sand-coloured natural stone in our materials Silestone or Dekton (see fact box below).


What’s the best worktop for a family with kids?


When choosing a worktop, however, there’s more to think about than current trends and Anna thinks it’s important to think about your lifestyle and how the surface will be used.


– I often get questions from families with toddlers where the kitchen is being used all the time and where parents want the children to be able to join in with the cooking. I usually suggest that they should choose a worktop that is sturdy and durable so that the surface will always look good despite spills and abrasion from pans etc.


Anna Granstig says that some natural stone, such as limestone and marble, is not always the optimal choice in a kitchen because its surface is soft and porous.


– Spills from, for example, coffee and various acids can damage the surface and cause stains that cannot be removed. It’s worth considering whether a worktop of Silestone or a dark or patterned polished granite might be a better choice.


“Many people use way too much detergent when they clean their kitchens.”


How should you treat your worktop so that it will last a long time?


– Many people actually use too much cleaning fluid when they are cleaning their kitchens. When customers call us to ask why their worktop has lost its sheen, it’s almost always because the cleaning agent has formed a dried layer on the surface of the worktop.


How do you get rid of that?


– It’s easily removed with a little pine-oil soap and lukewarm water. Then polish the surface with a microfibre cloth until it regains its natural lustre. With the right materials and a little loving care, you will have a worktop that you can enjoy for many years.


Facts: Silestone and Dekton, by Cosentino


Silestone consists of quartz stone. Dekton is a mixture of minerals and is produced by using similar technology to that used to create quartz composite, porcelain and glass.


With these materials you get surfaces that are extremely resistant to scratches and stains and stay looking good for many years.


Silestone and Dekton are available in hundreds of different designs, ranging from various patterns resembling natural stone to single colours and with different surface polishes.


Silestone and Dekton are very easy to maintain and generally require only water and possibly some detergent to remove stains.