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  • Chris Dehmer re-elected president of Cabinet Makers Association Board

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    Chris Dehmer (right) with fellow CMA members at the national conference in March

    The Cabinet Makers Association’s Board of Directors has voted to give Dark Horse Woodworks’ Chris Dehmer a second term as president of the board. The CMA is the industry group for professional cabinet makers and woodworkers in the United States and Canada.

    Before becoming president last July, Chris previously served as an at-large board member for two years and as vice-president for one year. 

    He will serve with vice-president Ken Kumph of Premier Builders (Georgetown, MA), treasurer James Fox of Fox Woodworking (Phoenixville, PA) and secretary Gregory Paolini of Gregory Paolini Designs (Canton, NC). The Members‐at‐Large are Monika Soos of Sofo Kitchens (Maple Ridge, BC), Brian Clancy of Clancy Woodworking (Sherman, CT), and Matt Wehner of Cabinet Concepts by Design (Springfield, MO).

    “It’s an honor to be trusted with another term as president,” Chris says. “We’re in the middle of an unprecedented situation for our country and our industry, and I know the Board is committed to working with Executive Director Amanda Conger to do whatever we can to support our members with ideas and resources, not to mention moral support and encouragement.” 

    With industry meetings cancelled for the near future, he says it’s going to be important to make the most of the CMA’s forums and other ways to communicate at a distance. 

    “Industry and CMA events offer such great opportunities to network and get to know other members, and I know I’m going to miss that. Nothing beats face-to-face time, but I hope we can come up with new ways to offer that kind of personal connection while meetings aren’t possible.”

  • A raucous meeting of the minds (no Zoom squares in sight)

    Long ago, in a world that now seems very far away, I got on a plane and flew to Chicago to meet up with my fellow Cabinet Makers Association members for our second national conference.

    “2020 Vision” was held in early March at the Q Center, a former college campus outside Chicago that has been transformed into a conference center.

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    The board kicked off day 1 of the conference.

    My fellow board members and I arrived in time to lend a hand to the one person who made the conference possible: Our executive director Amanda Conger created this complicated event almost singlehandedly (which involves a crazy amount of work, of course). We were glad to be able to help welcome and register CMA members as they rolled in from across the country and visit with them at the opening reception.

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    Helping out with registration and welcome duties was the best kind of “work” – it was great to talk with CMA members and start catching up with board members (James Fox, on the left) and ex-Presidents (Joe Knobbe, second from left).

    The speaker lineup over the next two days was impressive and diverse, and like many of the other attendees I talked to, I came away with a lot of food for thought about how to improve the way I run Dark Horse Woodworks.

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    Inova CEO Bucey (center) inspired everyone with his opening keynote.  

    But I have to admit that no matter how exciting the speakers are, my favorite part of any CMA event is the chance to spend time with the close friends I’ve made and meet new people. So for me, our time registering new arrivals, hauling boxes, chatting at breakfast and lunch, riding the bus to the shop tours and mingling at our cocktail reception and dinner were the highlights.

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    A lot of us have small shops, and we can go through our workdays only interacting with a few people (or none at all, depending on the day). It’s so great to get these opportunities to spend time with kindred spirits in the industry a few times a year, and I’m really glad that our 2020 Vision gathering squeaked through before the country began shutting down to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

    Other events, such as the International Woodworking Fair in August, have already been canceled; it’s a pretty big challenge to bring in thousands of people from across the world to a huge venue and feel good about keeping everyone safe and healthy. 

    It’s disappointing to miss a chance to gather again, but in the meantime, I’m keeping up with Amanda, the other board members and other CMA friends in all of the ways we’re used to connecting between events – Zoom meetings, “Hey, how do I fix [XYZ problem]?” texts and phone calls, and posts on the CMA forums. 

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    Post-conference gathering with friends at the Q Center

    The great thing about a strong community is that it hangs together even when times get tough, and time and distance stretch on. In a year that has brought quite a few challenges, I’m grateful to be part of such a supportive “village.”

    ~ Chris Dehmer

     

     

  • Chris Dehmer speaking at major industry show in Las Vegas

    Dark Horse Woodworks owner Chris Dehmer was scheduled to speak at two sessions during this week’s AWFS (Association of Woodworking and Furnishings Suppliers) show in Las Vegas.

    IMG_4107On Wednesday, July 17, Chris participated in a panel discussion titled “Taking the Leap to a Bigger Machine: What You Need to Know Before You Invest.” Chris and

     

    fellow CMA member Matt Wehner joined CMA Executive Director Amanda Conger to tell their stories of taking leaps of faith and investing in machines ranging from $50,000 to $250,000.

    Chris and Matt talked with Amanda about “what they’ve learned, what they wish they had known, and what they’d do differently if they had to do it again,” as the AWFS preview described it. “This session will cover it all – selection, negotiation, financing, moving, set-up, processes, compressed air, power, dust collection, tooling, the learning curve and all of the surprises that come with integrating a big machine into your shop.”

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    Today, Friday, July 19, Chris and fellow CMA member and former president Matt Krig will talk with Amanda Conger about “Boundary-Pushing with Your Nested-Based Router” – sharing tips for getting more out of your CNC router. 

    Chris and Matt will share “how they are using their machines, ways to simplify routine processes, and tactics to make additional revenue … how to push your machine to be more effective, and ultimately more profitable.”

    Being able to share Dark Horse Woodworks’ experience with others in the indu

     

    stry is one of the great things that has come out of our involvement in the CMA. AWFS will be the first major industry event since Chris was elected president of the CMA Board of Directors.

    Here’s the full run-down of CMA activities at this year’s AWFS – if you’re thinking about joining the CMA, this will give you a taste of the organization’s contributions to major industry events and thought leadership. (It could be you participating in a panel and sharing your experience at a national or international show one day!)

  • Chris Dehmer elected President of Cabinet Makers Association Board

    IMG_20190605_085045_01Dark Horse Woodworks’ Chris Dehmer has been elected president of the Board of Directors of the Cabinet Makers Association (CMA), the industry group for professional cabinet makers and woodworkers in the United States and Canada.

    Chris previously served as an at-large board member for two years and as vice-president for one year. 

    He joins newly elected vice-president James Fox, treasurer Matt Wehner and secretary Brian Clancy. Board members are Ken Kumph, outgoing president Leland Thomasset and former secretary Monika Soos. 

    “When I first became involved with the CMA in 2012, Dark Horse Woodworks was still fairly new,” Chris says. “In the beginning, I appreciated the impact of winning peer-judged awards for our work via the CMA’s annual Wood Diamond Awards. We were proud to be recognized for our work, but the awards were also a great marketing tool for us. It’s powerful for potential clients to see that you’re doing work that is honored by others in the industry.”

    Chris soon took his involvement to a deeper level, attending events, participating in discussions on the online forum and eventually joining the board in 2016.

    All-in

    Owning a small business is challenging and time-consuming, and taking on outside commitments is no small thing.

    But Chris sees the CMA time commitment and his growing leadership role as wise investments. In his inaugural “President’s Message” for the CMA’s quarterly magazine, PROfiles, he explains the value of being part of the community.

    “My involvement with the CMA is the single best professional development opportunity I’ve ever encountered, and being on this board has changed me and my business forever,” he wrote. “When you start a business, it’s tempting to want to go it alone and to look at the others in your line of work as competition – even if they aren’t literally vying for the same customers, you may see them as competing against you for awards or respect or reputation. That’s not the way it works with the CMA. The best part of being in this group is the ability to draw on the knowledge of other members.”

    The CMA also provided Chris with an opportunity to develop another set of skills: Public speaking and what many in the business world call “thought leadership.” He has spoken at national industry conferences and CMA events about his experiences as a business owner, craftsman and entrepreneur. 

    “It’s definitely rewarding to have started out as a novice and to have reached a point where I have knowledge to share with others who are just starting out or who may be changing gears,” he says. “I credit my CMA friends for helping me get to that point by sharing their hard-won expertise with me over the years, and I intend to keep paying it forward whenever I can.” 

  • A renovation tale: The finish line (Part 3)

    As promised, Dark Horse is happy to (at last) bring you the final installment of our “Professional cabinetmaker wrestles his own kitchen reno to the ground” story, complete with photos.

    As mentioned in earlier posts, there are distinct pros and cons to doing your own kitchen overhaul. 

    The good news is that you’re likely to end up with exactly what you wanted, down to the smallest details. 

    The bad news? That might take a lot longer than you’d imagine.

    When you’re spending most of your time working on projects for paying clients, it can really slow your progress to the finish line of your own kitchen. Just to be clear – for me, the finish line doesn’t mean you can put things in your cabinets or cook a meal in the kitchen. For me, it means every last detail is complete, and every aspect of the kitchen reno is so pristine that you’d feel at ease about bringing in a professional photographer to photograph the “After.” 

    After the bulk of the work was complete on my project, a handful of items lingered on the check list for months and kept me from declaring it finished. 

    Getting by with a little help from your friends

    A major woodworking trade show was held in Atlanta last August, and my friends and fellow board members from the Cabinet Makers Association came to town.

    I had the CMA crew over for dinner one night before the show got under way. Given that everyone knew about my reno, it was a great opportunity for them to see the mostly finished version. I planned to tell them about one of the lingering issues on my to-do list and get their advice: The wine fridge door wouldn’t open correctly. 

    It was hitting the divider to the right of it, and I hadn’t been able to figure out how to fix it. 

    Former CMA president Matt Krig came over first, and we looked at the problem door and talked through it; then board member James Fox arrived and joined the conversation. Eventually, Monika Soos and her husband Radu arrived, and I pointed out the problem to them. 

    “Why don’t you just reverse the door?” Radu asked.

    Of course.

    The very simplest and most obvious solution had never even crossed my mind – or occurred to the others as we stood around staring at the problem. 

    Sometimes you can’t get out of your own way.

    (Thank God they came over.)

    The details

    Aside from those final tasks dragging on for longer than I’d have liked, I couldn’t be happier with the way the kitchen turned out. 

    It has the look and feel we were going for – a mix of modern and retro elements (you can read more about the thinking behind the design in this earlier installment). 

    The color scheme was an off-white that had a green tint with red and gray accents. Designers Christy Dillard and Heidi Pearce helped with the overall color schemes (including working around the red oven).

    Here’s a rundown of the main features and details in the new kitchen: 

    • The cabinets are transitional, somewhere between modern and Art Deco style, painted with a color called Tapestry Beige. The material is routed MDF.
    • The countertops are quartz.
    • The idea of having some glass-front cabinet doors was appealing, but that limits what you can store in those cabinets if you want to keep the overall look of your kitchen aesthetically pleasing. To steer clear of that limitation, we went with ribbed glass and put a panel painted the same color as the cabinets behind the glass on the upper cabinets. 
    • The decision to use unusual/retro-style appliances was an important part of the design scheme. Viking offered a double oven in factory red  – one of the two ovens has a traditional pull-down door and the other is a French-door style. The placement of the ovens in the corner of the kitchen is a bit unusual, but it’s very effective.

    • Unfortunately, we could not find a red retro refrigerator to match. Thanks to a brilliant suggestion from the staff at appliance dealer Howard Payne and Co., we found a stainless steel model and took it to an auto body shop where it was painted to match the ovens.
    • All appliances were made by Viking, with the exception of the wine fridge, which was made by Jenn-Air.
    • The Blum Servo Drive touch-to-open system (a last-minute addition to the budget that was well worth it) is a favorite feature. Only two things in the kitchen require opening: the dishwasher and the wine fridge. In addition to the convenience of the touch-to-open system, the lack of hardware also makes for clean lines.
    • The backsplash was created from made-to-order tiles in shades of brown, cream and pale green. 
    • The pendant lights came from Etsy. 
    • The flooring is porcelain tile.
    • There are some other cool features scattered through the kitchen, including a roll-out pantry and a deep drawer with inserts to corral long-handled kitchen utensils.
    • Where a desk used to sit in the old kitchen, you’ll now find the wine fridge (the one with the “problem” door), a cabinet to hide the microwave, toaster and coffee maker, and big, deep drawers (liquor bottles are tall, after all).
    • A 27-inch iMac is mounted in the corner cabinet, which makes it easy to look up/display recipes or stream movies/TV while cooking.

    The reno didn’t increase the square footage of the kitchen, but taking the cabinets all the way up to the ceiling added a lot more storage. The adjacent laundry room also got an update with a new stacking washer-dryer set and new flooring to match the kitchen. 

    I also added a small, matching cabinet in the adjacent sitting room (which was converted from a sleeping porch during an earlier reno). This cabinet serves as a bar area and has extra storage. 

    The bottom line

    So was it worth it to bring my work home, so to speak, and slog through all of the disruptions and delays? 

    Absolutely.

    I spend my days giving my clients their dream kitchens, and it’s really satisfying to finally have a dream kitchen waiting at home.

    ~ Chris Dehmer

    Postscript: Here’s a photo of the previous kitchen as a reminder of where we started. To see more “before” photos, read the first post in the series. 

  • A year of milestones and opportunities

    Before the first month of 2019 is gone, I wanted to post a quick thank-you to everyone who helped make 2018 a great year for Dark Horse and for me. 

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    We continued to stay busy creating a variety of cabinetry for modern renovations and new builds. We’re fortunate to have so many talented builders and design firms in the Atlanta area, and I’m grateful that we get to collaborate on so many innovative projects.

    At home, the full kitchen reno my wife and I launched in 2017 was finally wrapped up (we just had a few minor things to check off the list). We love the new kitchen, but it was not a walk in the park to get there. I shared a couple of blog posts about what it’s like to renovate your own kitchen when you do this kind of work for a living, and I’ll be sharing the final installment and full “reveal” (to use some TV renovation show lingo) soon. Meanwhile, here’s Part 1 and Part 2 of the story.

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    In the throes of our kitchen reno

    Continuing a great relationship

    My involvement with the Cabinet Makers Association continued in 2018 and brought more great opportunities:

    • I had several opportunities to share my experience and work on my public speaking skills, thanks to being invited to participate in panel discussions and presentations at the CMA’s 20th Anniversary conference in Denver in March and at the International Woodworkers Fair (IWF) in Atlanta last summer.
    • Dark Horse was one of three stops on CMA’s Atlanta shop tours ahead of IWF. After being on the visitor side of some great CMA shop tours, it was an honor to welcome 50 fellow members from all over the country to our place and get their feedback. Hopefully, some of our visitors took away some ideas that might be helpful in their shops, too. We also threw a surprise barbecue at the end of the day that was a lot of fun.

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      CMA Shop Tour Day at Dark Horse

    • I enjoyed being on the judging end of the CMA Wood Diamond Awards for the first time; it’s always inspiring to see the quality craftsmanship and beauty of the work produced by CMA member shops in the United States and Canada. (You can take a look at the winners on the CMA Wood Diamond Awards page.)

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      A screenshot showing some of the 2018 Wood Diamond Award winners on the CMA site

    • I was elected vice president after serving as a board member for several years, and I’m looking forward to collaborating more with my friends and fellow CMA leaders this year.

    Wrapping up and looking ahead

    As I closed out the year, I checked a really unpleasant item off of my big-picture “to do” list: having much-needed knee-replacement surgery in early December.

    Recovery hasn’t been fast and seamless, but the business has been able to continue chugging along. I’m grateful to my team, and as I wrote about on the blog earlier, I was also grateful when a CMA friend offered to get on a plane, fly across the country and come run things at the shop for a few days, post-surgery. That’s friendship! (I didn’t end up taking him up on the offer, but it meant a lot to know I have that kind of back-up through my CMA friendships.) 

    On a more festive note, my wife and I hosted the annual Dark Horse holiday party at our house, a tradition that was even more fun with our kitchen complete at last. For years, we had used the holiday party as both a scheduling nudge and an excuse when we talked about scheduling our reno project, and it was nice to have the few lingering to-do items in the new kitchen checked off before the party. (I’m including a few pre-party photos below; I’ll save the new kitchen photos for our final reno post.)

    Finally, Dark Horse marked our 11th year in business on December 28: Here’s hoping 2019 continues to bring us many great opportunities, both in our work for clients and in our connections to others in the cabinetry/woodworking community.

    Thanks for your ongoing support!

    Chris Dehmer

  • Giving thanks

    Orange Leaves Illustration Thanksgiving CardIn December, I’m going forward with long overdue knee replacement surgery.

    No one looks forward to surgery, recovery and physical therapy, but when you run a small business like Dark Horse, it’s especially challenging to figure out how to keep things on track when you’re out of commission, even for a short time.

    It’s not like owning a store, where you already have people in place who are trained as managers and well-versed in running things –– not to mention the fact that you’re selling things that have already been made. 

    When the stress is worse than the surgery … 

    I have great people on the Dark Horse team, but unless you’ve run a manufacturing business and shop, it’s hard to step in and take charge of everything. In baseball, if your manager had to leave the game, you wouldn’t plug in the pitcher, shortstop, etc. to take over; they know their expertise, but without a manager’s big-picture view and experience, it would be pretty hard for them to run the game.

    We have projects to keep on track, and on top of that, I found out that the installation date for one project had to be delayed, a pretty big deal when you’ve been trying to plan your absence right down to the last detail.   

    All that is to say: I’ve been stressed about this surgery.

    … until a guardian angel shows up.

    A couple of weeks ago, I confided in a friend I’ve gotten to know through my involvement with the Cabinet Makers Association, aka the CMA, over the past few years. He has many more years of experience in the industry, and I often call on him for advice or ideas on challenges I might have on a project. 

    I told him I was really concerned about how things were going to hang together while I was out, especially the first few weeks – and especially with the installation schedule change. 

    After offering up other suggestions to help ease my mind, he said, “If it comes down to it, Atlanta is a short flight, and I’ll come down and oversee things while you’re out.”

    I was stunned – and sure I must have misunderstood.

    But when I said as much, he said he meant it.

    You know, I don’t often admit to it when something strikes an emotional nerve, but my friend’s offer bowled me over. I’m sure there was a long silence on my end of the line before I could get my wits about me and thank him.

    Gifts of all kinds

    There are many different kinds of gifts and there are many kinds of gifted people, and my friend has the quality of both generosity and a sincerity that makes it crystal clear that when he offers you a gift, he means it.

    I believe most of us find it hard to admit that we sometimes need help, and it’s even harder to actually follow through and accept that help. I’m pretty sure this kind of stoic attitude is something we all need to try to let go of, because it’s a rare human being who never needs help. 

    I’m going to implement his other suggestions and see how that goes before asking him to be away from his business. No matter what happens, this Thanksgiving, I’d like to share my deep gratitude for my friend who is not only willing to take time away from his work, but also go through the hassle of getting on a plane to give me peace of mind. 

    I’m thankful for his time and talents, but also for the gift of being made to feel as though his offer was one I should feel just fine about accepting.

    He would never want to be named, but I decided I had to share this story even without his name attached to it. 

    The Dark Horse team and I wish you a great Thanksgiving and hope that you, too, have a community like the one I’ve become part of with my CMA friends.

  • CMA’s Atlanta shop tour wraps up at Dark Horse

    Dark Horse Woodworks shop sets up for tour stop.

    We had a great time hosting a Cabinet Makers Association shop tour at Dark Horse just ahead of  the International Woodworkers Fair in Atlanta in August.

    Dark Horse was the final stop on a three-shop tour – the August 21 tour also included two other Atlanta-area shops, Atlanta Cabinet Shop and Custom Creative Furniture.

    Give and take

    We were able to show our 50 guests – fellow CMA members from all over the country – our set-up and the technology we use, and answer questions about how we operate.

    And as I’d hoped, we also got some feedback and ideas about how we could improve our way of doing things. The ideas ranged from workflow suggestions to little tweaks we could make to save steps (and therefore time) – for instance, shifting the location of an assembly table.

    We knew our lighting wasn’t great, but we didn’t realize how bad it was until getting several questions and comments about it; we’ve already added some additional lighting and plan to add more.

    The most surprising question during the tour? “Hey, since you don’t use that [fill in the blank] much, can I buy it from you?” It’s pretty obvious what equipment we don’t use because it’s all shoved into one area that’s completely inaccessible unless you move other things around. (The answer was always, “Sorry, no.”)

    Perks

    Image of Blum sponsorship area.

    Our tour stop was sponsored by Rugby Architectural Building Products (which distributes plywood, specialty panels, and hardware); Blum (hardware manufacturer); Jones Metal Molding (local company that is a distributor for Blum and other cabinet hardware); and CAMaster, the maker of Dark Horse’s CNC machine.

    Signs thanking sponsors.

    Thanks to Hitachi Koki USA, there was a drawing for a Hitachi power tool, and Hitachi and Blum offered demos.

    And to cap off the day, we had some surprise Southern hospitality planned for our guests. Around 4:15, a truck arrived, pulling an already-smoking smoker loaded with food for a post-tour barbecue.

    It was truly a feast, and I don’t think it would be bragging (or an exaggeration) to say that a good time was had by all.

    Thanks to the CMA for including Dark Horse in such a great event.

    ~ Chris Dehmer

    CMA member and past president Matt Krig of Northland Woodworks in Minnesota enjoys a little (?) Southern cooking at the end of a great shop tour day.

  • Chris Dehmer to be featured presenter at International Woodworkers Fair

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    The International Woodworkers Fair (IWF) is being held in our back yard (well, in our city), and Chris Dehmer is putting all the travel time he’s saving into sharing his experience with fellow cabinet makers and woodworkers who are in Atlanta for the show.

    In addition to Dark Horse being one of the featured stops on a pre-IWF shop tour organized by the Cabinet Makers Association (CMA), Chris is participating in four CMA panel presentations at IWF. 

    “I’ve always learned a lot from my fellow cabinet makers at IWF and other shows, and it’s great to be able to return the favor and share some of the lessons I’ve learned since starting Dark Horse 10 years ago,” Chris says.

    If you’re going to the show, check out these descriptions of the presentations he’s participating in and stop by to hear what Chris and his fellow CMA members have to say:

    • Wednesday, August 22, 9:00 -11:00 am 

    “Working with Architects & Designers” – Chris Dehmer (Dark Horse Woodworks), James Fox (Fox Woodworking) and Joe Knobbe (Exclusive Woodworking)

    • Wednesday, August 22, 1:00 -3:00 pm

    “Buying that Big Machine” – Leland Thomasset (Taghkanic Woodworking), Matt Krig (Northland Woodworks), Chris Dehmer (Dark Horse Woodworks) and Matt Wehner (Cabinet Concepts by Design)

    • Thursday, August 23, 10:30 am -12:30 pm

    “Boundary-Pushing with your Nested-Based Router” – Leland Thomasset (Taghkanic Woodworking), Matt Krig (Northland Woodworks) and Chris Dehmer (Dark Horse Woodworks).

    • Friday, August 24, 1:00 -3:00 pm

    “Acing that Modern Job” – by Chris Dehmer (Dark Horse Woodworks), Shelley Wehner (Cabinet Concepts by Design) and Joe Knobbe (Exclusive Woodworking)

    For details on other CMA presentations and events during IWF, please visit www.cabinetmakers.org/IWF18.

  • Dark Horse to be featured on CMA shop tour during IWF 2018

    routerphotonewThe International Woodworkers Fair (IWF) is coming to Atlanta in August, and Dark Horse is pleased to be a featured stop on a pre-IWF shop tour organized by the Cabinet Makers Association (CMA). 

    The all-day tour on Tuesday, August 21, will include stops at several Atlanta-area shops – Atlanta Cabinet Shop and Custom Creative Furniture are participating along with Dark Horse. (CNC Factory is sponsoring the event.)

    “My experience being on the CMA board inspired me to participate,” says Dark Horse owner Chris Dehmer. “It’s great to be part of a group that is so generous with its time and so willing to share its experience. I’m inviting people to come on the CMA tour and tell me what we’re doing wrong!”

    Dark Horse has invested in technology to optimize its capabilities and work flow as well as the quality of its products. Tour participants will get a chance to see how a small shop makes use of innovations such as Zero Edge technology and a CNC router.

    The shop tour event gets rolling early with a 7:30 am breakfast at the Embassy Suites (Centennial Olympic Park) and continues throughout the day.

    Registration includes group transportation as well breakfast, lunch and an evening reception.

    The shop tour cost is $55 for current CMA members and $75 for non-members. Student/Instructor members can participate at no charge, while non-member students/instructors will pay a discounted rate of $25. 

    You can register via the CMA website.

  • A renovation tale, Part 2: Demo Day(s)

    In Part 1 of this story, you heard about the lead-up to the kitchen reno I’ve been working on at home, and the ups and downs that come with being a professional cabinetmaker overhauling my own kitchen. 

    After working on so many awesome kitchens for clients, I wanted to have an amazing kitchen at home, too. So my wife and I had to put ourselves in the shoes of clients and find our way to a design we could agree on. Once we got all of our ducks in a row, it was time for that made-oh-so-famous-by-HGTV step in the reno: Demo Day. 

    Or, in my case, Demo Days. 

    Because one of our dogs can’t stand loud noises, we had decided that I’d skip a vacation with extended family over Labor Day weekend last fall and take care of the demo while my wife and the dogs were away. 

    I’d finished the new cabinets in August, and I was ready to get rolling. 

    My own worst enemy  

    The kitchen we’re replacing was a DIY project that I tackled before starting Dark Horse (you can find more details about that in Part 1). For an amateur job, it was fine and served us well for 15 years. All in all, I couldn’t complain about my first big kitchen project. 

    But when I started in on the demo, I began to feel differently. 

    I’m glad there were no TV crews on hand for the Dehmer Demo because it turned out to be a lot more complicated and frustrating than swinging a sledgehammer. I had some unprintable thoughts about the job that Amateur-DIY Chris did on installing that kitchen. 

    It sucked. In a word, it was overbuilt. The fact that I built it in place meant that the entire kitchen was basically one big cabinet (the cabinet makers who are reading this will instantly understand the problem this creates for dismantling a kitchen). 

    As I wrestled with those cabinets, I thought about how we do things at Dark Horse now and cursed my overzealous ways. In spots where one screw would have been fine, I had used five. It was mind-boggling. 

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    In this photo (taken as installation of the new cabinets got under way), you can see a piece of an original wall cabinet that was particularly stubborn.

    In the end, I had to cut the cabinets off the wall, and demo took every bit of the two and a half days I had. In addition to the hard physical labor it required to get the cabinets out, demo-ing the floors turned out to be labor-intensive, too – pulling up each board and getting the nails out was no fun. 

    All that is to say: While I understand that smashing up a house pre-reno makes for great TV, it’s really not much fun, especially when you find yourself doing battle with the younger, less savvy, more meticulous version of yourself. 

    And then there was none

    Anyone who’s gone through a kitchen reno is familiar with the work-arounds you have to resort to in the post-demo phase, and we used them all – eating out, ordering take-out, making good use of our grill and (of course) washing dishes in the bathroom sink.

    when the dog gets into take out trash

    When your renovation work-around strategy consists of eating a lot of take-out meals, we recommend dog-proofing your trash can … just saying.

    Meanwhile, we were dealing with all of the bumps in the road that come with actually installing the new kitchen … delays, last-minute changes, trying to get on the same page about all of the big and little decisions you’re faced with in real time. (Didn’t we make all these decisions during the design and planning phase?? you both think every single day.)

    Even someone who does this for a living can’t sidestep issues cropping up unexpectedly, not to mention those moments of decision paralysis (for us, it was the paint color for the walls) or last-minute inspiration. 

    My 11th-hour decision to use Blum Servo Drive to open all the drawers required a fair amount of work that would have been much easier if planned for up front. (Servo Drive is an “electric motion support system” that allows you to open and close drawers just by tapping them.)  

    Once the floors were finally finished, it was a bit of a free-for-all for awhile, and then we got back to following the usual rules of a kitchen installation. 

    Cabinets went in, followed by counter tops. Once the counters were in, appliances were installed, plumbing was hooked up and the final electrical work was done. All of that happened in about three days once the tops were in. 

    Then it became a matter of tying up loose ends: Moving some lighting, building and installing one last cabinet once the rest were installed and a little trim work. (Some of these loose ends are still loose!) We also had to complete some other reno tasks in the laundry room and sunroom – these spaces became part of the kitchen reno only because the flooring needed to be extended into those rooms so it would all match.

    Light at the end of the tunnel

    In the final post, I’ll show you the finished kitchen and tell you more about what went into it (literally) – cabinets, appliances, floors, backsplash, hardware, etc.

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    Early days of installing the new cabinets

    To close out this post about the messiest part of the project, I’ll leave you with this bit of perspective/advice about creating or renovating a kitchen: Just go for it. Get what you want. 

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    For our reno story, the Blum Servo Drive system was the major “go for it” feature. We had talked over and over again about how much we’d love to have it in our kitchen, but we always ruled it out because of cost (about $2,600). At some point during our reno, I was talking to a client and making my usual soapbox speech about all the reasons not to skimp, and I realized I was ignoring my own advice.

    While I understand that budgets matter, I recommend that you think about the big picture. The kitchen is the most-used room in your house: Don’t compromise.

    Postscript: We love our touch-to-open drawers and doors, and we have no regrets about adding them to our budget.

    ~ Chris Dehmer

  • Chris Dehmer elected VP of Cabinet Makers Association Board

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    New CMA VP Chris Dehmer with Matt Krig, former CMA president and fellow CMA board member, at last summer’s AWFS (Association of Woodworking and Furnishing Suppliers) Fair in Las Vegas. 

    After serving two years as an at-large member on the Board of Directors of the Cabinet Makers Association (CMA), Dark Horse Woodworks’ Chris Dehmer has been elected vice president of the industry group for professional cabinet makers and woodworkers in the United States and Canada.

    The CMA describes itself as a professional organization “where cabinetmakers and woodworkers from both the residential and commercial markets get together and share their hard earned knowledge and experience to help one another.” 

    Chris joins new president Leland Thomasset, treasurer James Fox and secretary Monika Soos.

    “Being a board member has opened up new communication lines with other board members,” Chris says. “It really has taken my involvement to a whole new level.” He points to a visit that he and former CMA president Matt Krig made to Thomasset’s workshop in Maine when they were in the area for a regional event. Their idea was to take advantage of being nearby to have a hands-on working visit with Thomasset.

     “We showed up in work clothes and were able to work on a project and see how Leland’s shop works, get ideas from him and offer ideas from our own shops,” he says.

    FDMC magazine even ran a feature about the collaboration. 

    “Being on this board has changed me and my business forever,” Chris adds. “Being a member of the CMA was great, but being a board member forces you to be involved – and being involved is the only way to get maximum return on membership. 

    “Without my board experience, I probably wouldn’t have agreed to be a part of the CMA shop tours this coming August when the International Woodworking Fair comes to Atlanta,” he says. “Before, pride and ego would have gotten in the way. Now I’m inviting people to come on the CMA tour and tell me what we’re doing wrong. It’s great to be part of a group that allows me to get to know people who are so generous with their time, experience and expertise.

    “My involvement with the CMA is the single best professional development opportunity I’ve ever encountered, and I’m happy to take on a new role this year.”

  • You really do get what you pay for

    I recently had the eye-opening experience of seeing some high-end homes that had surprisingly low-end cabinetry. While many of the cabinets looked nice when you glanced at them with the doors shut, you only had to inspect them a bit more closely to figure out that the materials and construction were not exactly top-of-the-line.

    Frankly, it was a shocker.

    How did such shoddy work end up in such exclusive, expensive projects?

    When you’re in a craft profession, this kind of thing can be frustrating.

    Walnut house kitchen for quality blog

    We’re grateful to have gained the trust of clients who have hired us to create their dream kitchens and other projects; this is the project we call “The Walnut House.”

    Knowledge matters

    Coming across this less-than-impressive work in otherwise well-crafted, big-budget homes made me stop and think about how these decisions are made.

    Do the homeowners just not worry about the details that make the difference between a high-quality project and a shoddy one? Or do they not know? 

    For those who are considering a remodel or new construction, I thought I’d pass along some insider perspective based on the Dark Horse approach to custom cabinetry.

    First, it’s my experience that while clients know the big picture of what they want (style, color, etc.), they almost never tell you what they want when it comes to materials and construction.

    For that reason (and many more), we have a spec sheet that we share with potential clients that outlines the type of materials we use. We’re careful to say, “This is what you’re getting.”

    Our specs are identical 99 percent of the time; we never approach a potential job with the idea that we’ll customize our specs and use lower-quality, cheaper materials in order to give Dark Horse a better chance of winning a bid.

    We’ve built our reputation on executing client projects the best way we know how, and in addition to the level of craftsmanship we offer, we make a point of seeking out the best products and materials available.

    Here are a few examples:

    • Every cabinet box we build is two-sided, pre-finished and US-sourced.Why US-sourced? Once, we tried cheaper Chinese import plywood for some shop projects; when we cut the material, it smelled funny, and the sawdust from the cut was blue. Consistency in thickness is more critical than ever since we incorporated a CNC into our production – we have to tell the machine how thick the material is so that the joints come out tight. Domestic plywood tends to be much flatter – I’m not sure why this is but my guess is that it has something to do with the imported plywood sitting on a ship during transport.

      To give you an idea of the difference in materials, the domestic plywood we use costs $65-70 a sheet; some companies use particleboard that costs $18 per sheet (similar to what you see in IKEA furniture).

    • We don’t use prefab drawers, and that makes a huge difference in both looks and function.
    • We also use Zero Edge banding on our cabinetry, which is more heat- and moisture-resistant than typical edge treatments. But that advantage comes at a price – 80 cents per foot instead of 2 cents per foot for traditional hot glue edge-banding.
    • We use soft-close doors, slides, etc. – in short, the best hardware we can buy. It costs a little more, but it’s worth it. (There’s a lot of cheap, shoddy hardware out there.)

     

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    Here’s an in-process photo showing the kind of 3/4-inch prefinished plywood cabinet box construction that goes into all of our projects; this happens to be my own kitchen, which my wife and I decided to renovate last year. (There’s no top because this is a sink cabinet.)

     

    What’s the lesson you can take away from this insider view?

    You get what you pay for.

    A company with a solid reputation and happy customers obviously excels at the craft of cabinet-making, but that company also begins with high-quality materials, and those materials cost more. (I have yet to find a magical source of stellar materials at bargain basement prices, but if you have any leads, I’d love to hear about them.)

    Our Golden Rule

    Some companies have the advantage of a showroom where clients can see examples of their work; that would be a great way to show our clients what quality materials and craftsmanship look like, but a showroom is not an option for Dark Horse.

    So instead, we just try to emphasize to clients what we choose to use in our work and why we choose it.

    And the “why” is simple – it’s the way I would want it done in my house. If I wouldn’t put it in mine, I won’t put it in yours.

    ~ Chris Dehmer

  • A renovation tale: Shoes for the cobbler’s children (Part 1)

    In this modern version, I’m the cobbler, and it’s way past time for me to build a new kitchen at my house.

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    Our first kitchen reno – pre-Dark Horse

    I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to build dream kitchens for clients year after year and not want to create your version of the ideal kitchen.

    Long ago, about six years before chucking my day job and starting Dark Horse, I renovated our kitchen on my own. When we’d moved into our Craftsman-style house, the kitchen was tiny, maybe 10×10. It had a sink and a refrigerator, and that was it. The original giant cast iron sink was rusted and not very practical. The metal cabinets were not deep enough to hold modern dinner plates, and there was no stove or oven.

    Kitchen Before

    When we first bought our house, this was the state of affairs in the kitchen.

    Kitchen Before2

    And another view; this kitchen is a cabinetmaker’s nightmare.

    The renovation I did as an amateur with some solid skills was fine – and it was certainly a huge step up from what we started with. The style we went with then was traditional, and the kitchen has served us well.

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    But about three years ago, I reached the point where I had to do something with all of that inspiration I’d been getting from my Dark Horse work. While there was nothing wrong with our kitchen, it was not what I’d call “awesome” – and I wanted to come home to a truly awesome kitchen.

    My wife and I were on the same page, and the decision was made.

    Getting started

    There’s no doubt that there are advantages to being a professional when you’re doing a personal kitchen reno project. But I’ve learned firsthand that there are some hurdles you can’t escape whether you’re an amateur or a pro, and other things that become more complex because you do this stuff for a living.

    For instance, I quickly figured out that when the goal is agreeing on a design and making all the other decisions that have to be made, having professional expertise in the mix can complicate matters instead of speeding them along.

    Most couples setting out on a renovation are starting from the same place, after all, learning as they go.

    The unique challenge for my wife and me was the fact that we brought two very different perspectives and sets of experience to the table. Because I do this for a living, I have what is probably an excruciating amount of knowledge about everything that’s involved. On top of that, building kitchens for a living also means that I have strong preferences.

    To sum up what I mean, picture this not-so-imaginary scene: My wife rolls her eyes as I explain why we must have XYZ feature/material/hardware in the new kitchen. Minutes later, I throw my hands up because she just doesn’t appreciate the great wisdom I’m bringing to the process. Repeat scene – many times.

    Beyond the difference in perspectives, doing your own renovation also makes you appreciate the ease of working with clients on a kitchen that isn’t yours.

    I have many conversations with clients about what their dream kitchens will look like, and I now recognize what a breeze this part of the process is for me. During the planning and design step, I get to lay out the options, explain the basics and then exit the process. The clients go away and hash things out, and we meet again to finalize everything.

    When it’s your kitchen, you can’t step away from the process and let other people make the decisions. You have the same challenge as all of your clients who are doing a renovation with a partner: You have to work through it all with the other person, make a case for your (strong) preferences and end up as close to mutual satisfaction and civility as possible.

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    Another shot of the first kitchen I installed; it’s all gone now.

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    Desk area included in our original reno kitchen

    Finding common ground

    So how did we get through the decision-making phase?

    My wife had been looking at a website called Houzz since we first started talking about the project three years ago.

    In case you’re not familiar with Houzz, the short version is that it’s a website filled with home design ideas, photos of real-world, finished projects, vendor pages and a lot more. Dark Horse and pretty much any other company involved in building or renovating homes have a presence on Houzz because so many homeowners go there to search for ideas. Houzz turned out to be the main driver for my wife to figure out what she liked.

    My past projects were a big source of inspiration for me, of course, and I knew from the start that I wanted to move away from the traditional look of our current kitchen. I liked some aspects of the modern kitchens that have become our specialty at Dark Horse.

    At some point along the way, I spotted a kitchen I really liked in my wife’s saved projects on Houzz. I had never seen a style quite like it, and I’m sure that’s what caught my attention. By the time this kitchen entered the picture, we were on about version 6 of our project design attempts; the fact that we both liked this one was big, and we knew we needed to run with it.

    There were still compromises to be made along the way, of course – for instance, my wife wanted painted cabinets, and I preferred wood grain. In this case, I decided not to push my preference since the overall design was something I liked.

    Chance encounters

    On top of the challenge of getting on the same design page, we also experienced another common renovation struggle: Getting to the starting line.

    Building other people’s cabinetry for many hours a day can certainly take a toll on your personal renovation plans, and even the goal we’d picked as an incentive ended up being a convenient excuse to delay the project. When we’d decided to go forward with the reno three years ago, our goal was to have it completed before the Dark Horse holiday party that we host in early December every year.

    But for the next couple of years, when work projects and personal obligations began to stack up in the months ahead of December, we’d throw in the towel. “Well,” one of us would say, “there’s no way we can get it done before the party now, so we might as well wait.”

    In the end, it was a chance encounter that threw the switch on the project at last.

    In January 2016, with the latest holiday party behind us and the renovation still not scheduled, I headed to a big industry show in Orlando. While I was checking out new hardware and other products for Dark Horse, I stumbled across some cool retro appliances, and they gave me a new shot of inspiration.

    I came home and sent an email to a design team I know and asked them if what I had in mind was up their alley. They sent back an enthusiastic “yes,” and by the end of January, I had sent them a list of the appliances and other things we liked.

    Full-steam ahead

    By the end of February, the designers had sent us options for finishes, floor tiles, walls, backsplashes, etc.

    The style we landed on doesn’t fit neatly into any of the usual categories, so maybe “eclectic” is the best way to describe it. There are modern elements, such as clean lines and minimal door hardware. The raised panels on the doors (kind of a reverse Shaker) give a nod to the Craftsman style of the house, and we added some retro touches via the appliances, tile floor, backsplash and reeded glass doors.

    Once we hashed out the design particulars, the project fell into a good rhythm.

    In March, we made final decisions on appliances, and by Memorial Day, I had begun building out the cabinetry. Around the first of August, the cabinets were done, and I decided to start demo the week of Labor Day. One of our dogs is petrified by loud noises, and we decided it would be better to have him out of the house; my wife and the dogs headed out of town to join family for a long-planned vacation, and I got ready to dismantle that kitchen I had labored over all those years before.

    On HGTV shows, everything I’ve just described takes place in a span of days, not years, and “Demo Day” is a pretty exciting highlight for everyone, with homeowners and TV hosts alike bashing walls and ripping cabinets apart.

    In order to keep some suspense and excitement going in my reno story, I’ll wrap up Chapter 1 (“before”) here and begin Chapter 2 (“during”) with the thrills of Demo Day; be sure to tune back in to find out what a Demo Day is like in the real world!

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  • Celebrating 10 years of Dark Horse Woodworks

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    I was tempted to keep this photo to myself, but decided I may as well put it out there, especially since fellow small business owners will relate: That first check was cause for celebration!

    In the middle of the holidays, I realized that another important occasion had crept up on me: the 10th anniversary of Dark Horse Woodworks. Our first day of business was December 28, 2007, and like many of my fellow cabinet makers, our first place of business was my garage.

    When you go out on an entrepreneurial limb, it’s both exciting and terrifying. Taking my sideline full-time was a risk and a leap of faith, and back then, I wouldn’t have dared think ahead to whether the company would still be around a decade later.

    I’m very happy to be one of the people whose leap of faith paid off; big anniversaries like this one are nice because they make you stop long enough to look back and take stock.

    A character-building experience

     

    There’s no question that running your own business brings plenty of headaches, trial-and-error learning and moments of sheer panic. Even when your venture becomes a success, you go through times when you feel nostalgia for the days when your business was smaller and you had less on your plate.

    Some days, success means keeping your sense of humor and perspective intact long enough to avoid crossing that dreaded boundary where the thing you love becomes the thing you dread.

    Thankfully, along with all of the challenging times and learning curves, Dark Horse has also seen more than our fair share of high points – positive changes in the business itself, exciting honors and gratifying feedback for our work, and great relationships with peers in the industry.

    Bigger space, bigger ideas and a bigger universe

    Dark Horse Woodworks’ growing physical footprint may be the most obvious change we’ve seen in the past 10 years. Looking back, the thing that astounds me most is the fact that I built a few kitchens for people in my 400-square-foot garage. Now that I have 6,000 square feet (and wish I had even more), it just seems impossible.

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    Early garage shop days…

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    A tight squeeze.

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    Using every bit of space – vertically and horizontally.

    Along with the increase in square footage, we’ve also expanded the technology we have on board, which has enabled us to expand the services and types of cabinetry we can offer. (We’ve written on the blog about our Zero-Edge technology and about the CNC router that we added just this past year.)

    We also joined the Cabinet Makers Association (CMA), the association for professional cabinet makers and woodworkers in the United States and Canada. This turned out to be a huge decision for us; after all, at 10 years old, Dark Horse is still a newcomer compared to many CMA member shops that have been around for several decades. I always learn a lot thanks to the generosity of more experienced CMA members.

    On top of the relationships and resources, we’ve also been recognized with multiple CMA “Wood Diamond” awards every year since we joined; being recognized this way by our peers is important validation that our work is hitting the highest marks.

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    Accepting one of our 1st-place Wood Diamond awards from CMA president Matt Krig in July 2017

    A couple of years ago, I was honored to be elected to the board of the CMA, and I always enjoy being part of the regional events, shop tours and trade show activities. In March, I’ll be doing a presentation at the CMA’s 20th Anniversary conference in Denver, and this summer, I’ll be a CMA speaker at the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta. It’s a good feeling to have gone from being a novice in the cabinetry/small business world to having learned enough to be able to share some often hard-won lessons with others; starting and building Dark Horse has been a little like getting a 10-year business and entrepreneurship degree.

    Teamwork

    We would never have made it this far without clients, architects, designers and homebuilders who trusted us to team up with them on their projects.

    I have some really great clients who have become great friends since we did their projects, and I’m especially appreciative of the folks who hired Dark Horse back in the early days before we had a track record.

    And of course, I could never have made the business a success without the people who have worked for me over the course of our first 10 years; thank you for helping Dark Horse deliver quality and workmanship to each of our clients.

    Icing on the cake

    We would be bad marketers if we didn’t share the good news when our work gets coverage in the media, so if you follow our blog, you may have already read about some of these things.

    But marketing aside, seeing your work in a publication or recognized in the community is pretty thrilling on a personal level, so I wanted to mention those kinds of high points in this anniversary post, too:

    • The Friar Tuck project was featured in a New York Times real estate story.
    • The Oakview home was featured in Dwell magazine magazine.
    • I was glancing at Dwell’s website one day and found more of our work in several of their online features.
    • Curbed Atlanta featured a home with a Dark Horse kitchen (created with Zero-Edge technology) in July.
    • Dark Horse was the cover story in the Winter 2017 issue of PROfiles, the CMA magazine.
    • The CMA invited us to participate in a video series in 2017 and gave me a chance to talk about how we got started, why I love what I do and some of the technology that is taking Dark Horse into the future. Feel free to check out the interview (it’s a bit over two minutes long).
    • Our work has also been included on the highly respected (and popular) Modern Atlanta home tour three times.

    Thanks to everyone for your support and cheerleading; I’m looking forward to seeing what our next decade brings.

    ~ Chris Dehmer

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  • A lucky glimpse of our work on a “mid-century modern treasure”

    Screen Shot 2017-08-18 at 4.46.51 PMFor most of our projects, we create cabinetry for multiple rooms in a home, and we end up with extensive photos of the final “product” that we share in our gallery.

    For a recent project, we worked on only one room, creating high-gloss kitchen cabinetry with the Zero-Edge technology we invested in last year. In this case, we did not do the installation, which is rare for us. Work is hopping, and I never followed up to get post-installation photos of the finished kitchen.

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    Fortunately, this beautiful mid-century modern home went on the market not long ago, and it drew the attention of Curbed Atlanta, which featured the home in July (“In Druid Hills, midcentury modern treasure is ‘unadulterated’ for $799K”).

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    It was great to see the finished kitchen, and thanks to the kindness of the staff at Domo Realty, which is handling the sale of the home, I’m able to share screenshots of the kitchen here.

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    A view of the kitchen from the dining room

    If you enjoy mid-century modern, I highly recommend that you take a look at the Curbed Atlanta feature, as well as the Domo Realty listing for extensive photos of this distinctive home.

    And the folks at Domo also passed on a compliment that we appreciated: The house is under contract, and they told us that the kitchen helped sell the house. We enjoy seeing all of our projects through from start to finish, and that kind of feedback is the icing on the cake.

  • Dark Horse wins four 1st-place awards from the Cabinet Makers Association

    I headed to Las Vegas last week for the AWFS (Association of Woodworking and Furnishing Suppliers) Fair, one of the biggest events for our industry. There are always new products to see and great ideas to bring home, and this year, I also got a chance to promote the Cabinet Makers Association (CMA) in my role as a board member.

    I enjoyed all of that, but there was another very important highlight of my trip: Four first-place “Wood Diamond” awards from the CMA, which held its awards dinner during AWFS.

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    CMA President Matt Krig took time to offer his congratulations for our awards during AWFS

     

    As I’ve said before, the awards mean even more because we know our fellow cabinet makers truly “get it” – they look at our work and understand the time and attention to detail we put into it.

    So what is a Wood Diamond Award? “The CMA was founded on the principles of sharing one’s experiences and ideas with other members in an effort to promote success and professionalism in the woodworking business,” says the association’s Executive Director, Amanda Conger. “The Wood Diamond Award program allows yet another outlet for that purpose to be fulfilled.”

    CMA members who were not participating in the competition served as judges; this year, the awards recognized 34 award winners from 17 member companies.

    Here are the details on our awards and the projects that were recognized:

    1st place ~ Kitchen: European (Under $25,000)
    Wildwood

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    1st place ~ Bar, Residential: European ($25,000 – $50,000

    Project 36

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    1st place ~ Fireplace Surround: European (Under $25,000)
    Project 36

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    1st place ~ Closet: European (Under $25,000)

    Wildwood closet and mudroom

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    I’ve said this when we’ve won awards in the past, and it rings true any time our work is recognized. Without design-savvy clients, designers, architects and all of the other talented people we partner with on projects (and their commitment to quality), Dark Horse would not have award-worthy work, so we share this recognition with all of them.

    ~ Chris Dehmer and the Dark Horse team

  • Christmas in March

    routerphotonewAt Dark Horse, we’ve always had an Old-World emphasis on craftsmanship, quality and attention to detail.

    But we don’t believe that having Old-World values means you can’t embrace ways of working that are very much New-World. In our 10 years in business, Dark Horse has experienced first-hand the benefits that great technology and an open mind can bring to our process and to the final product we deliver to clients.

    Awhile back, we shared photos of Wildwood, our first big high-gloss kitchen cabinetry project that was made possible by the Zero Edge technology we invested in last year.

    In March, we had another red-letter day on the technology front: Our very own, shiny new CNC router was delivered.

    For those who aren’t in our line of work, it may be pretty challenging to convey just how exciting this was, but we’ll give it a try.

    So what is a CNC router?

    Let’s start with CNC.

    We found a pretty straightforward definition online at technologystudent.com:

    CNC [stands for] Computer Numerical Control. This means a computer converts the design produced by Computer Aided Design software (CAD), into numbers. The numbers can be considered to be the coordinates of a graph, and they control the movement of the cutter. In this way, the computer controls the cutting and shaping of the material.

    Dark Horse will now be using a method sometimes called “screen to machine” to cut the parts for our custom cabinets in-house.

    We draw the components on a computer screen with design software, which then sends code to the CNC router. The machine takes that data and cuts all of our cabinet parts so that they come off the machine ready to go — all holes for hardware are drilled, etc.

    Thanks to the interaction of the software and the machine, the router grabs the right tool for the task at hand, then changes to another tool automatically when needed.

    With screen-to-machine production, the possibility of injury is greatly reduced (fingers are on a keyboard, not next to spinning blades), and the accuracy is ridiculously good (1/1000 inch).

    To see the router in action, check out this time-lapse video of our new machine cutting trolley signs to be sold by South Atlantans for Neighborhood Development (SAND).

    A logistics win

    There are many intricacies that this process makes possible – including generating a single file with a unique name for each sheet of material that is going to be cut and a label for each piece.

    Basically, once the design is approved, files are sent to our network that tell the machine every operation that is required for the parts on each sheet; in addition, a printout is made for each sheet that has a barcode at the bottom corresponding to the file name of the sheet to be cut.

    The operator scans the barcode at the bottom of the page, the machine loads the correct file, and then it begins the process of cutting.

    After the cutting is finished, the Dark Horse team can take each piece off of the machine, apply its unique label, and sort the pieces according to the type of edgeband they are going to receive. We can start the edgebanding of those pieces while the next sheet is being cut.

    Another member of the team can then begin to put the boxes together as soon as all of the parts for that assembly are made.

    Flipping the process

    My interest in programming and software has led me to approach decisions about technology investments in an unusual way. Many businesses invest in expensive machinery and then learn how to use the software that makes it run.

    At Dark Horse, we’ve always gone in the opposite direction; to me, it doesn’t make much sense to have an expensive machine sitting idle in my shop while my team and I spend time wrapping our heads around how the software works.

    So we buy the software first and learn it inside and out through tutorials or videos.

    By the time a new machine is delivered, we’re ready to roll. This doesn’t mean we never have questions once we start using it; that’s a given. But those questions are easier to resolve quickly if you have a solid understanding of your software and machinery.

    I believe this philosophy has been a major factor in our success. With this machine implementation, we were up and running at full speed as soon as the machine was integrated into our software, which was only one day after the machine installation was complete.

    Two months in, we are completing projects that fully utilize our new technology in about one-third of the time we were spending before bringing the CNC on board.

    ~ Chris Dehmer

  • Join an industry group for an instant network and plenty of great ideas

     

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    One of the shop tours organized by the Cabinet Makers Association

    If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you know that Dark Horse is a big fan of the Cabinet Makers Association (so much so that I became a board member last year).

    The best part of being in this group is the ability to draw on the knowledge of other members; in the grand scheme of things, Dark Horse is a “newcomer” compared to some shops that have been around for several decades, and I always learn a lot thanks to the generosity of others.

    And it’s always a great moment when we find that we can offer some wisdom to other shops.

    On-call help

    The idea for this blog came up when we were putting together a post (we’ll publish it soon) about our new CNC router, a game-changing technology/machinery addition at Dark Horse.

    We chose to invest in the software that partners with the router first, and learn our way around that piece of the process before buying the router.

    Now that we have the router, and we’re gearing up to put it all together and start cutting our custom cabinetry pieces in the Dark Horse workshop, I have no worries about any questions that are sure to come up in real time and need quick resolution.

    Why? Because I know that I can always pick up the phone and call one of my CMA friends who already have a lot of hands-on experience with CNC routers.

    As with many situations, your personal network of friends and industry colleagues can often deliver the answers you need even more quickly and effectively than a manufacturer’s customer service “hotline.”

    And this advice isn’t just for building industry types … 

    When you start a business, it’s tempting to want to go it alone and look at the others in your line of work as competition – even if they aren’t literally vying for the same customers, you may see them as competing against you for awards or respect or reputation.

    You’ll miss a lot of opportunities to learn if you think this way.

    I highly recommend that you find the equivalent of the Cabinet Makers Association for your industry and join up and be active; with groups like this, you get out what you put in.

    I’m looking forward to my next chance to pick up some new ideas in a couple of weeks: Just before one of our big industry events in Chicago, the CMA is sponsoring one of its shop tours so we can check out nearby cabinetry companies.

    I’ll be there, looking for ways that Dark Horse can up our game.

  • Grateful: A quick look back at a year full of opportunity

    NYT kitchen

    It’s been another great year for Dark Horse, and none of it would have been possible without the faith that our clients place in us when they hire us to help build their dream projects.

    Below are a few of the 2016 highlights we featured on our blog over the course of the year; click through to read more details about each story if you’d like.

    Thanks to all of our clients, supporters and friends for sending us work and reading our stories over the past year: We wish you all a great 2017.

    ~Chris and the Dark Horse team

    NYT kitchen

    April 13, 2016

    Dark Horse featured in the New York Times

    Our work debuted in the New York Times in the spring!

    The Friar Tuck house, a beautiful modern home renovation we worked on a few years back, was on the market, and the Times chose to feature it in its “What You Get” real estate series. Each story in the series features three properties of varying styles in different areas of the country that are for sale in the same price range.

    In the story, $1,800,000 Homes in Kentucky, Atlanta and New Mexico,” we were called out for the award-winning kitchen cabinetry in the home.

    August 26, 2016

    Chris Dehmer elected to Cabinet Makers Association Board of Directors

    Chris was honored to be elected to the board of the Cabinet Makers Association (CMA), the association for professional cabinet makers and woodworkers in the United States and Canada.

    “Being part of the CMA has given Dark Horse the opportunity to connect with and learn from many stellar wood-working businesses across the US and Canada,” Chris says.

    September 1, 2016

    Dark Horse wins 5 Awards from the Cabinet Makers Association

    You can imagine how excited we were when the CMA recognized Dark Horse with four first-place Wood Diamond awards and one third-place award at the CMA awards ceremony in Atlanta this summer!

    The Balmoral project

    First place, Euro Kitchen under $25,000 category

    The Wesley bar

    First place, Residential Bar (European) under $25,000 

    The Olympic house 

    First place, European Library under $25,000

    Third place, European kitchen under $25,000

    The Stonehaven project

    First place, Mudroom under $25,000

    October 5, 2016

    Seamless: Dark Horse acquires “Zero-Edge” capabilities

    We’ve acquired the technology to produce cabinetry and furniture components with seamless edges. Zero-Edge Technology, as it’s usually called, is a game-changer for our company and the industry as a whole.

     

     

  • Dark Horse holiday tradition: Collecting toys for kids in need

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    At our company holiday party earlier this month, we kept up our tradition of collecting toys for the children served by CHRIS 180 (formerly CHRISKids), a wonderful Atlanta nonprofit whose mission is to “heal children, strengthen families, and build community through mental health counseling, training, providing safe housing, and real-world skill building.”

    I’m so grateful for all that CHRIS 180 does in our community, and it always brightens our holidays to be able to help make the season special for the children served by this organization.

    Thanks so much to our team, friends and clients for their generosity in helping us make this possible: At the end of our party, we were happy to find that we had collected about 100 toys – from dolls to bicycles.

    We hope our clients and friends are enjoying the holiday season so far!

    ~ Chris Dehmer

  • Seamless: Dark Horse acquires “Zero-Edge” capabilities

    We have big news that our friends in the furniture and wood-working world may understand best: We’ve acquired the technology to produce cabinetry and furniture components with seamless edges.

    Zero-Edge Technology, as it’s usually called, is a game-changer for our company and the industry as a whole.

    Why is it such a big deal?

    In short, because it’s always a challenge to add edge-banding to panels without a noticeable seam that is prone to fail eventually. Zero-Edge banding is more heat- and moisture-resistant than typical edge treatments.

    REHAU, a polymer company, agreed to let us share these images from a presentation they created:

    rehau-1rehau-2

    One of the trends we’re seeing in our work is the increasing demand for high-gloss cabinetry, and to create these cabinets, you have to have zero-edge capability.

    With gloss acrylic, you can’t have a glue line, so the zero-edge machine melts the back of the edge and trims it off so your creation appears to have always been a single component.

    If you happen to be fascinated by technology, design and woodworking/cabinetry, and getting into the nitty-gritty of this sort of thing interests you, the folks at Woodworking Canada have written a great article about the future of Zero-Edge technology. Here are a few of the highlights/excerpts from the article:

    “If what’s happening in Europe is any indication, and it usually is, then the demand for zero edge will increase dramatically in North America and Canada, and most experts agree that in as little as two to five years, invisible edges will make up a significant portion of our market as well.” ~ Murat Dugan, president of IMA Canada Corp, a pioneer in edge-banding

    How does it work? 

    “Using a co-extruded, active layer that is colour-matched – rather than applying hot-melt glue as is the norm in traditional edge-banders – the new system creates a zero edge or invisible glue line that is difficult to distinguish from one produced using a laser unit.”

    What are the advantages?

    “Not only is zero-edge aesthetically pleasing, but it also makes for stronger and longer-lasting edges and offers anti-bacterial benefits that make it a great solution for restaurants, health-care and similar public uses.”

    And zero-edge is often necessary for “contemporary, slab or high-gloss cabinetry, which continues to grow in popularity.”

    We love being ahead of the curve at Dark Horse – thanks to our new investment, we can produce the high-gloss acrylic cabinetry called for in our next two projects. The zero-edge machine also opens the door to commercial projects and will enable us to provide some services that shops and even homeowners in the region have not had access to until now.

    Stay tuned to see what new territory Dark Horse heads into next!

  • Georgia’s Gorilla Golf tourney to support Dian Fossey fund’s conservation efforts

    screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-3-05-30-pm

    On September 27, Dark Horse Woodworks’ Chris Dehmer is participating in the 6th Annual Gorilla Golf tournament in Atlanta, which raises funds to help gorillas in the wild.

    The tournament is organized by Ape Conservation Effort (APE), a Georgia non-profit comprised of volunteer members who share a passion for animals and a commitment to saving the great apes (bonobos, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans).

    Want to make a donation? Here’s a note from Chris:

    Dear friends of Dark Horse:

    I’m excited to be golfing in this year’s Gorilla Golf Tournament; playing involves raising a minimum of $500 for this great cause, and I wanted to share info on the event in case this is a cause you feel strongly about, too.

    100% of the proceeds raised will benefit the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (DFGFI), headquartered in Atlanta. Gorillas in the wild are critically endangered and desperately need your help; there are fewer than 1,000 mountain gorillas left in the world.

    For more than 45 years, DFGFI has been dedicated to gorilla conservation through daily protection, anti-poaching efforts, research, education and helping neighboring communities. Your contribution will make a difference: Extinction is forever, but endangered means there is still time.

    Want to help me raise money for this great cause?

    If you’d like to be a sponsor, you can make a contribution online or via mail.

    • Online: Visit the “sponsor a golfer” page on the APE website and look for my name.
    • Mail: Make checks payable to Ape Conservation Effort (please be sure to include my name on the memo line). Send your donation to:

    Ape Conservation Effort

    800 Cherokee Avenue, SE

    Atlanta, GA  30315

    Thanks for considering this great opportunity to support DFGFI, and for helping Ape Conservation Effort raise funds and awareness to save this majestic animal.

    ~ Chris, Dark Horse Woodworks

  • Dark Horse wins 5 Awards from the Cabinet Makers Association

    BalmoralBarViewIn our relatively short history – Dark Horse was created in 2007 – we’ve had a lot of good news come down the pike.

    If you follow our blog, you know that our work has ended up in Dwell magazine a few times; that homes we’ve worked on have been featured on Modern Atlanta tours; and that a home we worked on years ago was featured in the New York Times a few months back.

    But there’s nothing quite like being singled out by our peers across the United States and Canada with Cabinet Makers Association (CMA) awards. We’ve been fortunate to win Wood Diamond awards every year since we joined; these honors means so much because we know that our fellow cabinet makers truly understand the time and attention to detail that goes into every one of our projects.

    So you can imagine how excited we were when the CMA recognized Dark Horse with four first-place Wood Diamond awards and one third-place award at the CMA awards ceremony in Atlanta last week!

    So what is a Wood Diamond Award? 

    The awards recognize cabinetry companies of all sizes in the United States and Canada for work submitted in 38 categories. This year the CMA added a third project budget classification to further narrow down the submissions by dollar amount. CMA members can now submit projects that fall into three project budget categories: Projects Under $25,000; $25,000 – $50,000 projects; and projects costing more than $50,000.

    All judging is done by CMA members who did not submit any projects for consideration.

    Hats off to our visionary clients and partners

    Without design-savvy clients, designers, architects and all of the other talented people we partner with on projects, Dark Horse would not have award-worthy work, so we have to share our thanks for this year’s Wood Diamond projects; below are a few details about the work that was recognized.

    The Balmoral project

    First place, Euro Kitchen under $25,000 category

    For the Balmoral project, we created a sleek kitchen featuring a bar area with suspended cabinetry above it. The kitchen island incorporates open, lighted wine storage, and we also created a hidden pantry.

    Balmoral house

    Read more about the Balmoral project.

    The Wesley bar

    First place, Residential Bar (European) under $25,000 

    walnutbarasyouenter

    Our assignment with the Wesley project was to create an elaborate bar inspired by a bar in a Los Angeles hotel that the homeowner liked; while we might have enjoyed a field trip to check out the LA bar in person, we took the photos provided by the homeowner and ran with those as inspiration.

    As you’ll see in the photos, we did grain-matching throughout the bar — a process that is always complex but gratifying when the work is complete.

    Read more about the Wesley bar.

    The Olympic house 

    First place, European Library under $25,000

    The Olympic home, designed by Lightroom Inc. (architecture) and Suzanne Seymour Interior Design, is a beautiful three-level modern home with detached garage and a separate studio apartment.

    Olympic library

    The library features floating stained walnut veneer shelving, held up by steel supports hidden behind the sheetrock; each shelf is rated to hold 1,300 pounds, so the clients can bring on their heaviest books and treasures!

    Third place, European kitchen under $25,000

    thumb_IMG_2382_1024

    The Olympic kitchen features custom gloss-white cabinetry and Thermador appliances. Unlike most kitchens we work on, we had to finish the tops of the cabinetry due to the unique design of this home, which is open from the main floor to the rooftop terrace 30 feet up.

    On this solid walnut island with waterfall edges, the grain is matched from the sides to the top.

    Read more about the Olympic project.

    The Stonehaven project

    First place, Mudroom under $25,000

    In the mudroom of this home, we were asked to incorporate four lockers – one for each family member – and then use the remaining wall space for cabinets to store other household items. The exterior of the cabinets in the mudroom were painted after installation.

     

    Read more about the Stonehaven project. 

    Sometimes, there’s no need to come up with new ways to say what’s true, so I’m going to end with what I said when we won Wood Diamond awards for the first time several years ago: We’re proud to have been recognized, but we’re equally grateful to our clients. Without people who value craftsmanship enough to give their business to Dark Horse instead of making a visit to the instant-gratification furniture showrooms and discounters, we wouldn’t have a livelihood, much less an award.

    Thank you.

    ~ Chris and the Dark Horse team

    Read more about the Awards and our fellow CMA member companies who were recognized for their fine work. 

  • Chris Dehmer elected to Cabinet Makers Association Board of Directors

    IMG_5387We’re happy to share the news that Dark Horse Woodworks’ Chris Dehmer has been elected to the board of the Cabinet Makers Association (CMA), the association for professional cabinet makers and woodworkers in the United States and Canada.

    The CMA is a professional organization enabling “cabinetmakers and woodworkers from both the residential and commercial markets [to] get together and share their hard earned knowledge and experience to help one another.”

    Chris was elected to join Mike Mitchell of Burger Boat in Manitowoc, Wis., and Keith Smith of Keith Smith Custom Builders in Greer, S.C., as members-at-large on the board of directors.

    Dark Horse joined the CMA just a few years ago, and we’re proud to have had our work recognized in all of the organization’s Wood Diamond Awards competitions that have taken place since then; the CMA awards covering our walls are great marketing tools for us because they tell prospective clients that our work lives up to the high standards of our peers in the industry.

    (You can read about some of our CMA-award-winning projects here and here.)

    “Being part of the CMA has given Dark Horse the opportunity to connect with and learn from many stellar wood-working businesses across the US and Canada,” Chris says. “Dark Horse was just a few years old at the time we joined and I didn’t have a background working in a shop, so it’s been invaluable to learn from other CMA members and be part of such an active and educational organization. I’m honored to be able to join the board and become more involved.”

    ~ The Dark Horse team

     

  • 3 tips to take to heart before you start your dream project

    We’ve put in a lot of time helping people make their dream homes – or dream renovations – a reality, and today I thought I’d throw out a few kernels of wisdom that may be helpful to people considering a dream project.

    I’m not going to be the first or last person to share this advice, but I believe that some of these rules of thumb can’t be repeated enough.

    11084197_10153309355942044_8587171072116637067_o

    One of the dream projects we were honored to help bring to life

    1. Please understand that the real world does not operate like the world of HGTV. 

    I can’t tell you how often those of us who do this for a living away from cameras run into the notion that miraculous things can be achieved in a week … or less.

    If you want a great, lasting result, you should not suggest that your contractors do your renovation at warp (or TV show) speed.

    1. Regarding your budget: Think ahead and make sure your early decisions/upgrades/changes don’t translate to scary shortcuts on the back end. 

    Sometimes, our involvement comes later in the process, and by that point, it’s not uncommon to find that clients’ budgets are shot. This can then lead them to decide that they’re going to go with cheaper cabinetry to make up the budget shortfall. We’re obviously biased about this, but we think it’s a bad idea to have to resort to low-end, non-custom cabinetry at the last minute, especially when the rest of your new home or renovation has gotten the high-end treatment.

    Save yourself from these late-in-project dilemmas by making budget decisions all along the way that keep the entire project in mind.

    3. No matter what time estimate you hear at the beginning, make a mental note that it will probably take double that amount of time. And I’m not sure doubling is even enough. You may have the very best contractors and specialists working on your project, but even then, things happen. Unpredictable things. Big things. Or a succession of small things. Or a mix of the two. Regardless, the more mentally and logistically prepared you are for these things to come along and delay the move to your dream home, the more sane you will be when move-in day actually arrives.

    We hope these reminders are helpful and not daunting – we can tell you from experience that when you’re patient and committed to the project you’ve dreamed up, the outcome will be worth it.

    ~ Chris Dehmer and the Dark Horse team

  • Floating

    At Dark Horse, we’ve created quite a few things that float. (And nope, we haven’t run away from home to become magicians.)

    In design parlance, floating simply means that a shelf (or a table or bench or whatever you dream up) appears to float on a wall, with no visible brackets holding it there.

    For this #ThrowbackThursday post, here are a few of the floating features we’ve created for clients.

    In the Oakview home, we created a floating library:

    Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 11.29.23 AM.png

    … and two colorful powder-coated steel vanities for the bathrooms:

     

    … and a beautiful walnut floating vanity for another spectacular bathroom in the house.

    1053255_10151695367382044_2081993252_o

    In the Highland House, quite a few things float. When you come in the front door, you see our floating lockers in the entryway:

    11080844_10153309355572044_9179875606394250766_o.jpg

    Both the large walnut vanity and a simple bench float in this Highland House bathroom:

     

    In this bedroom, two “live-edge” nightstands float on either side of the bed. (“Live-edge” means that the natural edge of a piece of wood is incorporated into the design of the piece.)

    11136188_10153309355052044_3873632321186502006_o

    In the Friar Tuck home, which was recently featured in the New York Times, we built elegant floating Macassar ebony vanities for two of the bathrooms:

     

    … as well as a floating dresser:

    466024_10151294998907044_404598111_o

    And for the Olympic house, we built another floating library. This stained walnut veneer shelving is held up by steel supports hidden behind the sheetrock; each shelf is rated to hold 1,300 pounds, so the clients can bring on their heaviest books and treasures!

    Olympic library

    We love doing all of this sleight-of-hand work for our clients (especially since it’s tough to make a living as an actual magician), and we hope these creations give you some inspiration for your next renovation project.

    ~ Chris and the Dark Horse team

  • Dark Horse featured in the New York Times

    NYT kitchen.png

    We’re happy to announce that our work debuted in the New York Times today!

    The Friar Tuck house, a beautiful modern home renovation we worked on a few years back, is on the market, and the Times chose to feature it in its “What You Get” real estate series. Each story in the series features three properties of varying styles in different areas of the country that are for sale in the same price range.

    In the story published today, $1,800,000 Homes in Kentucky, Atlanta and New Mexico,” we were called out for the award-winning kitchen cabinetry in the home:

    The kitchen has quartz countertops, a 16-foot-long island and stainless-steel appliances. The room’s rift-sawn oak cabinets have a single continuous grain across the doors. The work of Dark Horse Woodworks of Atlanta, the cabinets received an award from the Cabinet Makers Association. Off the kitchen, there’s a bar designed to be handy to the pool through sliding glass doors. Additionally, there’s a library, set off with pocket doors.

    We created extensive cabinetry throughout the Friar Tuck home, including the bar referenced in the excerpt above, and the article called out some of that work as well (though without crediting Dark Horse specifically – hey, you can’t win ‘em all):

    The master bedroom is outfitted with extensive ebony cabinetry, including a television cabinet above a gas fireplace and dressers in a closet. The bathroom has a vanity with double sinks and a quartz countertop, as well as a frameless glass shower. 

    Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 3.53.21 PM

    Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 3.52.46 PM

    We hope you’ll check out the article as well as the slide show (just click past the photos of the first home to get to the Atlanta house photos). The photos include our kitchen cabinetry, the bar, and the shelving and a TV enclosure we built for the fireplace/living area.

    Interested in seeing the rest of the Dark Horse creations not pictured in the NYT slide show? Check out our own coverage of the Friar Tuck project.

    Links, all in one spot: 

  • Setting the bar high

    In the building and design world, the kitchen is what comes to mind for many people when they hear the word “cabinetry.” At Dark Horse, we relish the opportunity to work on projects that go far beyond the kitchen, and we had a great time creating this beautiful custom bar.

    Inspired by a bar in an LA hotel that the client liked, the bar we created as part of the Wesley project features grain-matching throughout; grain-matching is complicated and painstaking, but the result is well worth the effort.

    The Walnut Bar

    The Walnut Bar

    The inside of the bar – yes, we grain-match everything because that's how it should be done.

    The inside of the bar – yes, we grain-match everything because that’s how it should be done.

    Grain matched panels on the upper soffit. We created a door on a pivot hinge to lead to the back of the bar.

    Grain matched panels on the upper soffit. We created a door on a pivot hinge to lead to the back of the bar.

  • Details: The kitchen that needed a library ladder

    We like new twists, and this is one that we haven’t covered on the blog: For a very cool mid-century modern home in the Decatur area, we created kitchen cabinets that are more than 11 feet high from floor to ceiling.

    To ensure that the homeowners can easily use the cabinet space at the top of the cabinets (oak veneer with a custom gray stain), the contractor decided to add a library-style ladder.

    The bad news?

    The photos were taken before the ladder was added. (Fortunately, we know all of our followers have vivid imaginations and can picture how cool this would be.)

    But if you look closely, you can see another cool feature in the photo below. That tall cabinet on the far right may look like pantry space, but it’s actually the refrigerator in wood “camouflage.” But these clients have kids, so we added a steel panel on the side of the fridge so they would still have a spot for a kitchen art gallery.

    It’s unique requests and finishing touches like this that make every project a blast.

  • Our favorite kind of deja vu

    Dark Horse Woodworks has just been honored for a third time with Wood Diamond awards from the Cabinet Makers Association.

    We’ll post more soon about the specific projects and their award-winning ins and outs, but for now, here are the Dark Horse awards in the 2015 competition; as always, we are especially honored to be recognized by our peers.

    Entertainment Center, Face Frame, <$25K

    First Place: Dark Horse Woodworks (Atlanta, GA)

    doncaster

    Library, European, <$25K

    First Place: Dark Horse Woodworks (Atlanta, GA)

    Kitchen, European, <$25K

    Second Place: Dark Horse Woodworks (Atlanta, GA)

    Kitchen, European, >$25K

    Honorable Mention: Dark Horse Woodworks (Atlanta, GA)

    Honorable Mention: Dark Horse Woodworks (Atlanta, GA)

    ~ Chris Dehmer

  • Come and see our work firsthand during the Modern Atlanta tour June 6-7

    It’s always a pleasure to collaborate with visionary architects, designers and clients. We’re honored to have our work on three amazing collaborations featured on the Modern Atlanta Architecture tour again this year.

    This year’s Modern Atlanta tour includes wide-ranging satellite locations (from Athens to Asheville to Raleigh and beyond), but the main Atlanta tour takes place this coming Saturday, June 6, and Sunday, June 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    We hope you’ll take time to visit the beautiful homes on the tour, including the ones that Dark Horse was privileged to work on – the Karaga house, a custom home designed by our friends at Dencity West (architecture) and Difference Design Lab (interior design); the Olympic home, designed by Lightroom Inc. (architecture) and Suzanne Seymour Interior Design; and the Little John home, designed by Plexus R+D (architecture) and DKM Interiors & Plexus R+D (interiors).

    The Karaga home

    We created cabinetry for nearly every room in this unique house, which was crafted largely with rich walnut and 186 tons of stacked stone. You can read more about it and see many photos on the Dark Horse Woodworks’ website gallery and in a recent Atlanta Constitution-Journal article.

    Kitchen, Karaga home

    As with the Karaga home, Dark Horse work is in nearly every room of the Olympic house.

    Olympic house: Custom walnut veneer bed with floating vanities. The headboard is wire-brushed walnut, finished with a clear coat.

    We created kitchen cabinets and island; the surround above fireplace; floating shelving in the study; all bathroom vanities; master closet; laundry cabinets; lockers and a Murphy bed.

    Fireplace surround, Olympic house (not visible in this shot: a hidden space for a TV). This is fashioned from walnut that we wire-brushed, leaving all of the saw marks from the mill. We then finished it with clear lacquer.

    In the Little John home (not pictured here, but check out the MA Tour site for a quick look), we created cabinetry for the office, laundry room and master closets.

    Visit the Modern Atlanta tour page to buy tickets and check out the many homes that you’ll get a chance to see. (Interested in getting a copy of the “MA Design is Human” tour book? Purchase the MA Tour – ALL LOCATIONS ticket for $35 and a copy will be yours; see the tour website for more details.)

    We hope to see you this weekend!

    Entryway lockers, Karaga home

  • Dark Horse work in the news again

    We were happy to see our work on the “Highland House” in the Atlanta-Constitution Journal May 21; be sure to check out the story, “Warm modern on tour in Virginia-Highland,” and accompanying slide show.

    You can see the home – and the custom walnut cabinetry we created – in person June 6-7 during the Modern Atlanta tour; check out the Modern Atlanta tour site for more information.