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Creating Custom Furniture: An Interview with Kevin L. Amey of Kevin L. Amey Cabinetmaker, Inc.

By Kevin Amey

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

While he was still in his late teens, Kevin was already laying a solid foundation for his future. The basis of that foundation came from spending all of his spare time being taught and learning about early furniture, and for seven years, throughout high school and college, he repaired antique furniture for a neighbor who owned an antiques shop. From 1988 to 1997, Kevin "borrowed" his father's barn to operate his own business. At first, he restored antique furniture. However, because he preferred creating his own pieces rather than repairing items made decades ago, he easily made the transition into designing and building new furniture. His present shop, built in 1997, was well thought out before construction began, making sure that he would have the room to build large entertainment centers as well as simple cabinets. He also has space for his carving, faux painting and custom finishing.

What are some important questions the client should ask you before the process?

Many clients get my name from word of mouth referral, or from their designer, in which case they already know the quality of my work. If a client would contact my business cold, (without knowing anything about it) I would expect them to ask for references, ask me how long I had been in the business, as well as ask to see my portfolio of previously constructed projects. Aside from that, it would be beneficial to ask for my time frame (when they could expect that I would begin and finish their project), my payment schedule, and ask for my suggestions on how to best complete the project using their vision and thoughts.

If you could, please list the steps of the general furniture design and making process:

First thing would be the conceptual phase. After speaking with the client and getting an idea of what they want done, I make a drawing of the project and go over it with the client. If it meets with their approval, I make a cut list of the pieces needed, and procure all the other pieces essential to the project. (hinges, stains, paint, etc) We fabricate the pieces in the shop, and make the piece of furniture or go to the client's home and install the project in the home.

How do you suggest clients prepare for this process?

Have a general idea of what you want. Do you want shelves for books and pictures, a mantle over the fireplace, window seats installed, or just a piece of furniture or island for more prep room? After the design is finished, and the project is ready for install, it is very helpful to have the room ready for us. i.e. furniture moved, pictures taken off the wall, etc.

What are some common issues you face when it comes to designing furniture?

Some of my biggest issues in my business are matching paints and stains to other items in the room. If a more exotic wood is desired for that special, custom look, sometimes it can be difficult to obtain, and I spend a lot of time searching for suppliers. This goes for finding the perfect hardware for pieces too. As far as designing goes, one of my biggest issues is making a fireplace the center of the room. This means that if a TV is also in the room, it is mounted over the fireplace so everyone can see it comfortably from the seating arrangement. That can create a different design issue-how to make the TV fit aesthetically over the mantle and yet have it so people can view it without hurting their necks by looking so far up.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you?

The best way to contact me is by phone (610-593-2492). I can also be easily reached by email (custom@klameycabinetmaker.com)

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