Italian Flair: Kitchens for Who You Are

The two women who share this home in Edina went to Valcucine looking for modern, minimalist, and clean cabinetry. Photo by Hubert Bonnet

The two women who share this home in Edina went to Valcucine looking for modern, minimalist, and clean cabinetry. Photo by Hubert Bonnet

Cabinets can devour the bulk of a budget during a kitchen remodel because they are a major investment (and one that’s not likely to be made again anytime soon). This type of decision isn’t one to take lightly, but the team at Valcucine helps buyers sort through the available options and make choices with confidence.

Valcucine is one of the world’s most innovative and ecologically thoughtful cabinet lines. The Twin Cities showroom opened as Valcucine Minneapolis in 2004, offering the full line of luxury Italian cabinetry. Valcucine’s designers, project managers, and installers work alongside clients and their teams to create truly extraordinary spaces. In 2012, Valcucine partnered with the New York distributor to offer even more Italian products for clients who were tired of hauling pieces around to New York, L.A., or Chicago to furnish their homes. Now known as DOM Minneapolis, they offer products for every corner of the home: bathrooms, living rooms, closets, lighting, doors, bedrooms, and accessories in addition to the fabulous Valcucine kitchens. The DOM staff works to be a one-stop resource for modern living.

While sometimes mistaken for custom cabinetry, Valcucine is actually a modular furniture system. Modular furniture (or cabinets) is pre-made or ready made furniture which can be used according to the need and room spacing (think sectional sofas). “The advantage of Valcucine’s modular system is that the material and hardware has been mercilessly tested and approved before being added to the catalog,” says Emily Little, a manager at DOM Minneapolis and Valcucine designer. “When things are machined, there’s additional assurance that what you’ve ordered is precisely what will arrive so clients can be confident if construction begins prior to the cabinetry’s arrival.”

According to Little, the cost of custom cabinets versus pre-made cabinets is a great question without a great answer because there are so many variables that determine the price. “Some custom options are like wearing a sweater Aunt Delores made you: lots of love but not so hot,” she says. “And other custom options are truly incredible crafts people with amazing capabilities, so clients really need to inspect and do their homework when choosing custom.” This is similarly true with modular cabinetry. Some cabinets are mass produced with more concern about volume than precision. Quality modular cabinets really come down to refinement, innovation, and materials. She adds, “Just as you wouldn’t mistake a Fiat for a Ferrari, there is no mistaking Valcucine for anything else.”

Photo by Hubert Bonnet

Photo by Hubert Bonnet

Valcucine designs are able to stretch as far as a customer’s imagination. Little says, “We have hundreds of cabinet options and some seriously amazing storage innovations, but every now and then the right answer is something we don’t offer so we’ll explore a custom piece here and there as long as we don’t feel like there are any safety concerns.”

Customers need not worry, Valcucine products are made for the long haul. According to Little, in Italy and other parts of Europe, families will take their cabinetry with them when they move or add on as the family grows. Here in the U.S. we’ve been blessed to work with clients over and over again as they move residences, though rest assured, if they wanted to bring their cabinets to the next home, they could be loaded up and reconfigured.”

Valcucine even has a special future program guarantee that protects clients for 20 years by guaranteeing the availability of elements required to modify and complete a new layout. Little adds, “This is because Valcucine, contrarily to what is more and more common nowadays, plans the future of its products by extending their durability. The current trend toward consumerism exploits objects and then very quickly discards them. From Valcucine’s point of view this is wrong because it is detrimental to the planet and doesn’t keep in mind the ecological principles of responsibility toward the future generations.”

All varieties of customers find their happy ending with Valcucine. Whether the project is pretty much planned out already or the customer is in the beginning stages, Little says she and her team are open to the challenge. “We are very adaptable in our approach and open to any cast of contributors the clients bring with them: interior designers, architects, contractors, cousins,” she says. “We’ve spent days, months, or even years on projects depending on the scope and homeowners’ desired pace. Most often it’s a very collaborative process. Clients tell us about their lives and their vision for their kitchen and we provide product knowledge, experience, and design right along side them.”

Photo by Hubert Bonnet

Photo by Hubert Bonnet

But wait. Doesn’t Italian cabinets mean a homeowner will have a longer wait period for a project to be done? According to Little, yes and no. The average kitchen installation usually only takes a week to ten days, but there is additional planning that goes into crossing the ocean. Everything is from Italy and there is nothing in stock. Each kitchen is made just for the customer so the lead time is three to four months. This sounds like a long time, but Little says it’s a rare occasion when clients are actually ready when the cabinets arrive.

Valcucine’s drawing boards are currently full of colors and textures that are on trend and progressive: soft grays and whites, natural looking woods, and mellow blues and plums. Little says many clients are asking for fewer wall cabinets or none at all, while seeing a resurgence in pantries and cabinets that hide small appliances.

But Little says to place all of that to the side when planning a kitchen. “There are no wrong answers but we encourage people to work with us to design a space that they love rather than trying to predict what some future user will like or worrying about trends,” she says. “We can serve clients best when we know what type of cooking or baking or entertaining will be done in the space. Whether or not you’re really going to cook a 20lb turkey every year or if you have never used an oven before.”

Ultimately, the kitchen is the home’s epicenter where people entertain, are nourished, gather, and play. Little says, “It’s very important to get the aesthetics right and to dig deep into whether we’re designing a kitchen for who the clients wish they were or who they truly are.”

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