Lianne Ford launches new semi-handmade cabinets

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When Semihandmade founder John MacDonald called Leanne Ford to ask if she'd like to design a line of semi-custom cabinets for the brand, she had only one request: “We have to work with white oak.” On numerous occasions, the designer has brought white oak door fronts to projects only to have them stained a yellow-orange color (the result of a protective sealant). “One time, 10 of us worked all night with hand sanders trying to peel the plywood off,” Ford recalls. Her goal was to leave it looking unfinished and natural. “I wondered why no one would just give it to us as is,” she adds.

And in a SemiHandmade sponsored exclusive collaboration (available today!), Ford drove to Ohio and worked with several manufacturers to come up with the perfect stain formula. Naturally, the designer had to also include the option of fronts painted a warm white using one of his favorite hues: Sherwin-Williams' Shoji. “I wanted this collection to suit anyone, any style, anywhere,” Ford says. The edit of doors is similarly tight, sticking with classic Shaker, flat slab, and what they call frames, which are slimmer versions of the Shaker profile. Though SemiHandmade is a highly regarded resource for IKEA kitchen hacks, this collection technically falls under the brand's own semi-custom line, meaning you'll receive actual cabinet boxes all the way through when you order.

Want to use Ford's cabinet collection in the same way she did? Check out her latest project: a historic home on Pittsburgh's Church Lane that the designer purchased, renovated, and recently put on the market. Below, in Ford's own words, are seven tips for achieving a designer-grade kitchen on your own.

Free yourself from the kitchen work triangle

Oak Kitchen Cabinets

Photography: Erin Kelly, Styling: Hilary Robertson

Before boarding [Semihandmade‚Äôs] Look at the website and think about the layout of your kitchen. Are you the type of person who wants to put the stove in the middle of the party? Or do you never even light the stove? Think about all of that. People always talk about the “work triangle.” I've moved away from that triangle a lot of times in my life because I personally don't mind taking an extra step.

Hack your own custom island

White closet with island

Photography: Erin Kelly, Styling: Hilary Robertson

Here's another fun hack: In the closet, we put the cabinet lines over a vintage island. We literally just threw it in there. It's beautiful on all sides.

If you're not sure which door style to choose, start with knobs and pulls.

White bar cabinet

Photography: Erin Kelly, Styling: Hilary Robertson

If you're not sure about the style of door, first think about the hardware. Do you want it big? Small? Hidden? That will help you decide. You can use any hardware, even the weirdest and wildest, like this super simple slab. Or you can do what I did and powder coat the hardware to make it less noticeable. Same goes for frames, which give you more options. Shaker is super traditional and classic, so I would keep it simpler and smaller hardware.

Always hide electrical appliances

Refrigerator Cabinet

Photography: Erin Kelly, Styling: Hilary Robertson

A non-negotiable for me is panel-ready appliances. I never want to see a dishwasher, I never want to see a refrigerator. I want that gone and built into the cabinets.

Add some art to your countertops

Bathroom Sink

Photography: Erin Kelly, Styling: Hilary Robertson

I always use polished marble rather than shiny marble. I don't mind it getting stained or damaged. At Church Lane we worked with a lot of scrap marble. We filled the joints and made the grout lines wider. It's a beautiful, artistic expression. You don't have to aim for perfection; perfection can get boring.

Shallow closet with S-hooks

White closet in bedroom

Photography: Erin Kelly, Styling: Hilary Robertson

We like to live minimalist lives, but we all have clutter. We couldn't fit deep cabinets in this bedroom, so we stacked boxes from floor to ceiling and installed an internal bar with S-hooks for hanging things like denim jeans.

Knowing when to stop woodworking

Cabinets on either side of the range

Photography: Erin Kelly, Styling: Hilary Robertson

You don't have to fill your kitchen with cabinets from left to right, Semihandmade offers side slabs that can be closed off to allow space for a beautiful vintage table or butcher block island.

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