Cabinetry, Clients, Architects & Control

For Mike Parker of Eidolon Designs in Raleigh N.C., cabinetry is a matter of control.

He started out as a carpenter in his early 20s, then moved on to on custom residential work.  Along the way, he discovered that the quality of materials was a constant battle, and something that could hold an entire project up.  It proved to be a frustration.

So he selected a specialty where he had some control over his materials, and stuck with it. For decades.  “I may not have the last word, because there are also the client, the architect and the budget, but at this point I do have a lot of control,” he said.

He’ll order a pattern of wood from a vendor, based on a sample he’s already viewed.  If the order comes in and doesn’t meet his specs, he’ll send it back.  “It might be beautiful, but if the characteristics aren’t right – the right species or the right cut – it goes back,” he said.

His largest project was a 2,000 square-foot lobby for a condominium in downtown Raleigh, with library and billiard room, all in paneled white oak.  It was finished in his shop before it was installed and built before the walls had been erected.  His smallest job was 200 linear feet of moldings, designed to fit the architect’s intent.

“We focus on the limiting factors, like style and interiors, or even electrical, and pull them up front at the beginning of the estimating stage, so we don’t have to deal with them in the field” he said.  “We ask about how much time and trouble they might be.  Then we resolve them, and move on to the drawing stage.”

The result, as pictured in the residential work for a pair of architects here, is an elegant and restrained solution in wood, paint and Melamine.

“We look at a drawing and change out techniques to meet the architect’s design,” he said.  “We’ll re-invent the wheel, job to job.  It’s very challenging, but very interesting.”

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