Lots of Projects but Short on Time

To-Do-ListMaybe you have memories of helping out in the garage when you were a kid. It may have taken all summer, but you helped Dad rebuild an old engine. It could’ve been a less complex project like building an epic tree fort in the backyard, or piecing together a lemonade stand. The thing that’s changed the most over the years is the amount of extra time you may or may not have to complete projects around the house. Continue reading

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

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

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!

 

Heavenly Doors: Why Custom Doors Are Worth It

High-quality doors add value and beauty to a home, last longer, and can reduce sound-seepage. They look good, feel good. As long as you’re going to invest in them, you might want to consider customization. A custom door can be made to fit not only any size opening but also so many shapes—while incorporating pleasing touches like arches, angles, and glass inserts.

One Size Does Not Fit All

One hang-up people tend to have when considering the doors for their home is the assumption they have to stick with a standard size, especially for interior doors. But you’re bound to those dimensions only when you buy off-the-shelf doors. With handmade doors you can go big, really big. You can also opt for doors that slide open, barn-door style, rather than swing open. Or you can go for the arched look that adds height and drama. A door that colors outside the lines in these ways adds instant drama.

The Devil Is in the Details

With custom doors, you also get select hinges, decorative nails (aka, clavos), knobs, and pulls. You’d be surprised what a difference this hardware makes. Basically, you treat the door like a canvas, and the result is a work of art.

Durability by Design

We handcraft the rails and stiles for our doors with materials and techniques that prevent warping. The jambs are just as important, framing and complementing the door and taking a lot of wear and tear, so we put just as much energy into crafting them with style and durability.

Changing the Tone of Your Home or Room

You can select from single-species or multiple-species wood design as well as a variety of hand-applied finishes. Working with these variables, you can easily warm up or cool down a room. (Note that not all wood species work well together, but our designers offer great guidance in selecting combos.)

A Touch of Glass

Adding clear glass adds sophistication, imparting a sense of space, openness, and accessibility. If preferred, textured/art glass can be used to allow in light and create warmth without sacrificing privacy. Again, think of the door as a canvas.

Brunsell Lumber - Custom Doors

The doors to your home, and to the rooms in your home, set the tone for what lies beyond them. They are the perfect opportunity to make a style statement. Whether from scratch or from inspirational photos/drawings you bring to us, we can design a just-right door for you that has both a pleasing look and pleasing feel. Forget run-of-the-mill doors and try custom milled doors instead!

Hole in the Wall: Our Little Place that’s Not So Little

You’ve heard the phrase hole in the wall, right? Maybe you’ve used it to describe your favorite tucked-away bar with the best Old Fashioned. Or the little fabric store in your hometown that sells vintage designs by the yard. Or the breakfast café with twelve tables and two waitresses that bring extra bacon, just because. At any rate, you know what is: a small, usually modest place—often one that’s way better on than inside than one might expect from the outside.

Our Madison mill and lumber yard aren’t particularly small, but they do appear that way to drivers passing by us. We’re tucked behind the Verona Road Home Depot and its neighboring stores and it’s sometimes difficult to see going 55 mph on the Beltline. In that regard, we might look like a little hole in the wall. But here are some of the things you’ll find inside:

Brunsell Lumber - Custom Millwork Brunsell Lumber - Custom Millwork Brunsell Lumber - Custom Millwork Brunsell Lumber - Custom Millwork

 

 

 

We work hard to craft and carry beautiful things—pieces with gorgeous curves, lines, and other details. Not only are our finished pieces eye candy but so also are the architectural “ingredients” we carry. These include a vast array of cabinets, countertop surfaces, cabinet hardware, decking, railings, stair parts and more. If you’re renovating or constructing a room or home, you’ll feel like a kid in a candy store here.

Our place is also a nice sensory experience, rich with colors and the smell of wood. But that fragrance isn’t all from the stuff in the showroom. It’s carried over from our expansive mill located just behind the showroom.

“I had no idea all of this was back here!”

We hear that a lot, even from people who’ve made a million runs to the Home Depot that neighbors us. Yet our mill is actually an impressively big and elaborate operation, where wood varieties of all kinds, fresh from the forest, are artfully crafted into stunning pieces and parts of a home. We are well known for our high-end work, which comes as the result of having the best tools and equipment wielded in the best hands in the biz. From our door shop to our cabinet shop, from custom closet-making to custom moldings, beautiful things are forged here by talented craftsmen who genuinely love their work:

Brunsell Lumber - Custom MillworkBrunsell Lumber - Custom Millwork Brunsell Lumber - Custom Millwork

Brunsell Lumber - Custom Millwork

 

 

 

If you haven’t visited our showroom and mill, consider this your invite. Now that the worst of the construction on Verona Road at the beltline is complete, it’s a lot easier to get to us again. And we’re confident you’ll learn we’re the kind of “hole in the wall” you’re glad you found.

Why a Custom Fireplace Mantel?

In cold climates like Madison, there’s nothing like a night by the fire. On top of the ambiance and warmth, a fireplace gives a mantel a reason for being. Mantels are under-appreciated in the design stages of a lot of homes, but they are easy to update and can make a huge difference in the aesthetics of a room.

Why are we thinking about mantels? Maybe because we know mantels get more attention around the holidays—stockings hung with care, a string of lights from corner to corner, maybe a glass of milk on the ledge for the man in the red suit. It seems like a good time to point out that mantels can actually serve as a focal point for any room all year. The fireplace naturally draws attention in any room already, and the mantel typically does the nice job of pulling room accessories up to (or near) eye level.

We create gorgeous, one-of-a-kind, custom fireplace mantels in our mill, giving attention to each curve and line and groove to create something that’s more than just functional. We want the end result to do for your crackling fire what the perfect picture frame can do for a cherished photograph: pull it all together.

Brunsell Lumber - Custom Mantel

We work with customers to design something that will complement the overall aesthetics of their fireplace and its surround. Our mantels can be designed by our skilled craftsmen to fit any shape or size of fireplace. And they can think outside the box with you to create something unique to your home.

For inspiration, try checking out some great mantel designs on Houzz and Pinterest. Then stop by and see what’s in our showroom and portfolio. It’s a great time to get a mantel that’s more than a supporting actor in your Christmas decorating!

Former Glory: Custom Millwork for Historic Reproductions

The city of Madison is nearly 170 years old. That’s just a baby by European standards, but in its time, it has accumulated many buildings of historic architectural significance. Look to the Queen Anne, prairie-style, and period-revival homes of University Heights. Look to the 1920s bungalows of the Marquette District. Look the Victorian houses of Mansion Hill. In Madison, you can see the gorgeous work of Keck and Keck, George W. Maher, Frank Lloyd Wright, and other nationally known architects. In fact, more than two dozen architectural styles are represented by the many homes here on the National and State Registers of Historic Places. Continue reading