The Right Kind of Wood

Deck1-Leesburg-aerial-of-fire-pitTaking advantage of summer and getting outside to work on different projects can be a lot of fun. Just make sure you’re using the right kind of lumber to endure the elements. Brunsell Lumber & Millwork can help you achieve the right look and durability. Let’s review some of the best woods that will ensure you have a sturdy structure for years to come. Continue reading

Firewood Rack

Firewood RackRight now you’re probably not thinking about throwing another log in the fireplace to heat up your home. The days are still hot and clouds of mosquitoes continue to circle. Now is actually the perfect time to start planning for winter though. Storing firewood properly can make it very accessible and dry. Continue reading

Built-Ins: Embracing Your Home’s Midwestern Heritage

The Midwest encompasses about a fifth of our nation—ten states full of farmlands and industry. People make a lot of generalizations about us, no matter how big our footprint. Mention Midwestern food, and people think of hot dishes, supper clubs, and the Friday night fish fry. Ask your non-Midwestern friends what the word Midwestern makes them think: Either they’ll bring up folk with funny accents and ear-flap hats, or they’re just being nice.

Photo Credit: The Daily Herald

Photo Credit: The Daily Herald

Many supposedly “Midwestern” things aren’t just Midwestern—tornadoes, casseroles… But Prairie Style architecture isn’t one of them. The style has been borrowed all over the place, but it was born right here on Midwestern soil. It’s decidedly ours. If you live here and don’t own a Prairie Style home, you probably know someone who does.

The Prairie Style home is near and dear to us at Brunsell, because original Prairie Style homes were built during the golden age of millwork. They were born amid a backlash against mass production, when people longed again for handcrafted work. Prairie Style homes also generally tended toward natural materials, which meant a lot of wood (floors, built-in cabinetry, wood casement windows, moldings, etc.).

We believe that a great way to upgrade a Prairie Style home while preserving its design integrity is to add built-ins—a bookcase under a stairway, for example, or a wall unit for your home media items. Built-ins are already a solid part of the established style. And, hey, the world didn’t have TVs, DVD players, and stereo systems at the turn of the 19th century, so it’s your job now to prairie-stylize the way you store and display these modern-day items!

Of course, it’s vitally important that your built-in be designed and crafted true to authentic Prairie Style, including details found carried over from the trim and the molding. No cowboying allowed because harmony of elements is a central idea to the Prairie Style. The minute you add a built-in that isn’t true to the style, you detract from the look and value of your home.

Speaking of which, built-ins done right can really appreciate your home’s value, because they stay with it and add functionality. They also reduce the amount of freestanding furniture needed, which creates an actual or perceived increase in usable square footage.

What would make your Prairie Style home more comfortable or functional? More multimedia storage? Better display space for your dishes? Come talk with us about how we can custom create for you a built-in based update that embraces your Midwestern home’s heritage!

In Praise of Curves

Roundness seems to be a universal human pleasure.”

–Eric Jaffe, for Fastcodesign.com

Marilyn Monroe, Corvettes, the Guggenheim—gentle curves have serious appeal, but so often homeowners don’t think to feature them in the permanent structures in their homes. Think about the woodwork in most homes. From mantels to crown molding and from cabinetry to closet designs, there tends to be a glut of corners and hard angles, more miter-saw work than jigsaw-work. Continue reading

Return of the Kitchen Larder

In pre-fridge days, back when your grandma’s grandma and her grandma’s grandma were wee, kitchen larders were as common as dirt. Without refrigeration, these storage spaces provided the next best thing—a cool, clean area that could extend the shelf life of food. Generally, the larder would be near the kitchen and on the side of the home that got the least direct sunlight. If it were a cabinet-style larder, it would be equipped with shelves and cupboards. Little windows covered in fine mesh would be incorporated, to fend off flies while allowing for circulation of air. If it were a room-style larder or even a detached larder, it might also have insulated containers of ice, and ceiling hooks for hanging game. Continue reading

Bright, White, and Out of Sight: The Latest Trends in Kitchen and Bath Design

Photo credit: Andrea Rugg, for Building Design & Construction

Photo credit: Andrea Rugg, for Building Design & Construction

It’s been three months since the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) issued its annual Kitchen & Bath Design trends report. Based on trend predictions from member-designers who answer a survey, the thing is practically a crystal ball most of the time.

We think it’s nice to see if a trend grows real legs, has staying power, gains traction, sticks—whatever you want to call it—before shining a spotlight on it. (Otherwise, everyone runs out and impulsively spends a quarter of their annual income on dusty-rose bath fixtures and avocado-green kitchen appliances, only to spend the next 40 years wondering what the heck they were thinking.) Continue reading

A Better Kind of Sink

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Sink. It’s a heavy word. Think of the Titanic, of the earth suddenly opening up to swallow a home, or of hearts dropping in disappointment. Yeah, it has some bad connotations. But in kitchen and bath designs? A sink can be gorgeous. It can even serve as a statement piece. Right now, the queen of them all is the undermount sink. Continue reading

The Risks of Reclaimed Wood

Railroad ties, palettes, old planks pried from forgotten farmhouses: These are the stuff Pinterest dreams are made of, the eye candy of people who love a warm, rustic look. What with all its rich-toned, old-timey, perfectly imperfect character, reclaimed wood has maintained high popularity for so long, we’re pretty sure it’s here to stay. It’s proven irresistible to furniture sellers, home builders, home remodelers, and home-improvement do-it-yourselfers. It’s definitely beautiful, but…

Brunsell - Reclaimed Lumber Continue reading

How to Tell If You’re Buying Quality Kitchen Cabinets

When they’re brand new and professionally lit in a showroom, pretty much all kitchen cabinets look handsome, even the bad ones. That’s not an optical illusion; it’s a façade. And it’s one that can get shoppers into trouble, leading them to mistake good looks for good quality. But most of us know, at least by the time we’re old enough to be buying kitchen cabinets, that all that glitters is not gold!

What are you to do, then, if you weren’t a cabinetmakers kid? How are you supposed to know quality cabinetmaking when you see it? Here are some tips to help you separate the wheat from the chaff, so you can get exceptional kitchen cabinets that are more than just a pretty face:

  • Front pieces should be solid wood and relatively free of imperfections—no sanding marks, knots, or color or grain irregularities, etc.
  • Corners should have mortise-and-tenon joinery, preferably with long tenons and deep mortises. (Tenons are wood tongues, and mortises are slots carved out of wood into which tenons fit. Dovetailing is the most widely recognized mortis-and-tenon joint.)
  • Drawer fronts and cabinet panels should be made from solid wood.
  • Drawer sides should be made from hardwood that is more than a half-inch thick.
  • Side and floor panels inside the cabinet should be least a half-inch thick.
  • Side panels should be routed with a groove to support the drawer base.
  • Floor inside the cabinet should be fitted into the routed side panel.
  • Shelves inside the cabinet should be least three-quarters of an inch thick.
  • Hinges should be adjustable to align with the face frame.
  • Door panels should not be glued or fastened into their frames. They should be fitted into deep, lightly padded grooves routed into the frames. That way, their natural response to humidity changes over time—expansion and contraction—won’t cause cracking or warping.
  • Each drawer should be supported by two side-mounted slides rather than a single slide.
  • Shelves should be adjustable and supported by metal—rather than plastic—brackets.

Bottom line, the worth of kitchen cabinets makes itself known over years of use. But if you know what to look for in cabinet construction, you won’t need to wait all that time to find out if you chose wisely.

Brunsell Lumber - Kitchen Cabinets

Brunsell’s custom cabinets are built by true artisans in our mill. We work with clients to come up with designs that fit their budget and style, giving them as much unique as they want. Because we use time-tested craftsmanship and pour or hearts into our kitchen cabinets, their good looks don’t fade, and they stand up to whatever you dish out. Come take a walk through our showroom to see what high quality craftsmanship looks like, and maybe find the right cabinets for your home!