Steve and Marilyn Emanuel enjoy living in New York’s Westchester County, just north of New York City. Their
Larchmont house is convenient to the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, yet their 2.5 acre property includes a
small wetland and makes for a welcome, tranquil setting. They share their home with three dogs, including
Herman the Great Dane puppy, whose beautiful gray and white coat served as the inspirational color palette
for their kitchen remodel.
When their 8000-square foot home was built in the year 2000, zoning laws required that a wetlands buffer zone
be observed. This meant an unusually wide-but-narrow design for the home, resulting in a
smaller-than-optimal kitchen and dining area. The Emanuels had lived in the home for about 15 years when
they decided it was time to remodel to enlarge the kitchen and its dining area.
They added an extra 400 square feet to the front portion of the main floor. This allows the kitchen to be
reconfigured into an elegant and spacious cooking and eat-in-dining area. The dining area was to include a
computer desk and a window seat, both built to match their kitchen’s cabinets. Instead of trying to match
the color and style of the home’s original cabinetry, the couple chose to start fresh and create a “unified
Local Kitchen Cabinet Showroom Sticker Shock
Marilyn and Steve’s first stop was a local kitchen showroom that had supplied the original premium-brand
high-quality cabinetry to the builder who had constructed the house. That showroom was known throughout the
community as the leading source of high-end kitchen design. However, when the couple saw the initial
six-figure estimate that didn’t even include the desk and window-seat cabinetry – they hit the pause button.
Steve, before he became a lawyer and a nationally-known author and publisher of law school study aids, had
majored in economics as an undergrad. So he did an economic analysis of their where-to-buy-the-cabinets
issue. “Everything I knew about the business world, and status of Internet retailing, told me that there had
to be somebody selling high-quality semi-custom cabinetry. In addition to being internet direct to the
home-owner, without a retailer as an intermediary.”
After less than an hour of research into online kitchen cabinet retailers, Steve was quite surprised.
He found only one Internet vendor that seemed to offer the same level of high-end semi-custom cabinets
sold by upscale local showrooms. “There are a lot of low-end cabinetry sources
online. However, I was not able to identify any other credible source to match the same quality as I
would get by going back to the house’s original local high-end supplier. So CliqStudios was the only
real contender if we wanted to buy online.”
Before the Emanuels were ready to make a full commitment, Steve continued his due diligence of
CliqStudios. First, he ordered free corner door samples in a couple of colors. When he and
Marilyn had settled on Harbor gray/green as the color they wanted, he ordered a full door with that
color. Finally, they purchased a single fully-built, functioning CliqStudios cabinet, one that had
the same model, door-style and color they proposed to use.
Cabinet Quality Was Meticulously Inspected By The Emanuels Contractor
They then submitted that cabinet to their “quite demanding judge,” Vito Luongo, their general contractor.
Vito would be installing the cabinetry into the new kitchen he was building for them. Vito is a true Italian
craftsman; he immigrated from Italy in the 1970s as a young mason. Over the last 35 years, he has built
Luongo Enterprises into one of the premier residential contractors in the Westchester area. Vito did a
meticulous inspection: he and his sons Peter and Joe scrutinized all the wood components, tested the hinge
and glide mechanisms, and reviewed the overall cabinet construction. When the review was complete, Vito announced
that he was really surprised with the result. Primarily, to see that a “dot com” cabinet company could
produce a semi-custom cabinet that was on a par with the ones furnished by the local high-end showrooms.
Throughout the cabinet-selection process, Max Parangi Architects , of White Plains,
NY and Englewood, NJ, was addressing the challenges of grafting. Grafting is an extension onto the
front of the house while preserving the home’s overall curbside look. The firm’s experienced staff
would ensure a seamless addition.
Max and his staff created architectural plans, including placement of appliances. But, they decided
to leave the specific cabinetry details to whatever cabinet supplier ended up with the job. The
Emanuels’ friend Jitka Exler, a Czech-born interior designer, helped them at this stage. She
coordinated the proposed cabinetry with marble countertops, tile flooring, lighting fixtures, and
The Emanuels then brought the architectural plans to CliqStudios, and left it to CliqStudios to figure out
all of the cabinetry details. For example, the kitchen and dining area, including final color selection, door styles, use of glass fronts, and the layout and
arrangement of the various cabinet types. (Typical issue: “How many horizontal slide-out utensil drawers
should there be, and where should they go?”).
Perhaps the biggest design issue was cabinet color. Luckily, there was a generous amount of natural light
entering the space. Because of this, Marilyn was able to convince her traditionalist husband to forego classic white cabinets
in favor of a bolder color. Steve was eventually won over by Marilyn’s idea to balance the Harbor cabinets
with the lighter-colored features of the rest of the kitchen. The cabinets, combined with a very light gray
floor and a set of one-of-a-kind Italian marble black-white-and-purple countertops with matching backsplash,
all blended to create a stunning space.
Unit Pricing Allowed The Emanuels To See Exactly Where Their Money Was Going
Here’s how Steve describes the couple’s design experience on the cabinetry: “Even though we were
working with an architect and a freelance designer, we made major use of the kitchen designers at
CliqStudios, with whom we had many conversations over more than a month. The designers were happy to
do sequential versions of proposed plans, even though we had not yet made any financial commitment
to buying from CliqStudios.
We never felt that going with an ‘online vendor’ led to any sacrifice in the level of complexity,
care, detail or customization compared with a local showroom.” Steve continues, “In fact, I would
say that CliqStudios’ obviously-large investment in technology, and its ability to generate and
revise elaborate kitchen drawings showing the full detail of each cabinet, gave us a feeling of greater
control over every element than I think we would have had with a local showroom.” He adds, “An extra
bonus was our ability to get a matching bill-of-materials-and-unit-pricing document with each
iteration of the plans – that way we could see exactly where our money was going, and we could
choose feature-by-feature based on whether the item was a true ‘have to have’ or just a ‘nice but
not worth the cost.’ ”
Steve sums up his final take on the local-showroom-versus-CliqStudios choice this way:
“It’s true that there are some important merits to the ‘local retail
cabinet-shopping experience,’ like the ability to inspect a range of samples in the showroom, and the
ability to have the showroom’s design personnel visit the roughed-out kitchen space during the design
process. But I ultimately concluded that these advantages were vastly outweighed by the advantages of
working with a technologically-advanced, much-lower-cost, large-scale supplier like CliqStudios, especially
since CliqStudios assigned us a pair of patient, highly-skilled designers. ‘Buying on the Internet’ turned
out to be perfectly consistent with ‘getting high-quality semi-custom cabinetry to match our exact space and
needs.’ If I were a local kitchen showroom operator, I wouldn’t want to compete with the folks at
Steve’s final assessment: “The cabinets are gorgeous. Westchester County is certainly a
‘fancy’ part of the country where people are used to a high level of fit and finish in home construction and
renovation. Our neighbors and friends, including folks in the building trades, have been universally
impressed by our CliqStudios cabinets.”
Here’s how Marilyn sums it up: “A total wow! I have no words. It’s absolute perfection. I
recommend CliqStudios to anyone who is doing a kitchen.”
Did these countertops come from you as well? If so, what is the style name. Looking at a similar style but will hopefully be getting cabinets from you so I thought it would be good to do both together if possible.
Harbor is quite a unique color. It can appear to shift from greenish to bluish, depending on the quality of the light. Your best bet would be to order a couple free samples and see how it looks in your own home! http://www.cliqstudios.com/kitchen-cabinet-samples
I have a sample of harbor and it seems to have a green undertone. I also noticed that in another picture in your website the term harbor gray was used.
1.are there 2 different kinds of harbor colors? harbor and harbor grey?
2. would this mix well with your new color navy in a two tone kitchen?
Hello Mayra - Harbor is a really unique color, and it does shift from greenish to blueish, depending on the quality of the light. "Gray" is sometimes a shorthand term that we use. Yes - Harbor would work beautifully with our Navy paint.
Beautiful article everybody at CliqStudios. Thanks for also mentioning our name in your online article. We will let you know what happens April 12 at the Westchester Home Magazine awards. We are one of 3 finalists for best 2017 design. Cheers Max Parangi Architects and team.
We are also Iin the process of remodeling our kitchen, actually whole house and adding on amore square footage. Would love more info.
This looks beautiful. I love the design and space it affords. As a retired chef still love to cook for all my family.