Post-Tour Post

Kanda and Nandi spent Friday and Saturday, April 26th and 27th, representing Rivendell at the Children’s Support League of the East Bay’s 2013 Heart of the Home Tour. By donating $1,000 to help disadvantaged kids in our community, we became one of the organization’s “best friends” and were invited to participate in the classic charity event.

April Gruber of AG Design Studio worked hard to coordinate the designer showcase home on Muir Avenue. Since we built the kitchen and beyond in this beautiful house, our representatives were stationed there, where they could answer visitors’ questions and point out special touches.

The owners got together following the event to discuss their experience.

“It went really well,” said Nandi. “I feel like we made a lot of connections. We got to see a lot of people and a lot of people got to see our work. I was surprised at the sheer number of people that came through. They expected 750 per day.”

“They had a great turnout,” Kanda said. “They ran out of programs by Saturday afternoon.”

“It was good to see people’s reactions to the kitchen,” said Nandi. “There were a lot of people who were wowed. The comments that came up again and again were about the attention to detail, which was nice to hear, because attention to detail is something all of us here at Rivendell see, but I’m not always sure that everyone else outside of Rivendell sees. People appreciating our work was reassuring that we’re doing things right.”

“It was kind of funny,” Kanda mused, “but the one thing more than anything else people asked about was the 1930’s oven from the original kitchen that was remounted in the new cabinets as a working warming drawer. Everyone would say ‘What’s that?’”

“The warming drawer was definitely a conversation starter. I think it was a lead in for those of us that worked on the space to talk about other things.” said Nandi. “I enjoyed chatting with designer Carlene Anderson, contractor Mike Swenson and Becca Lauffenberg, who did the ‘finishes’ as she put it. Everyone was proud of what they contributed to this project. It was really nice to be able to say that we did what I think was the best kitchen on the tour, and then to say that we did this owner’s previous home, and to say that we did another home on the tour down the block too!”

Although the Lafayette Avenue house had been sold since Rivendell did the kitchen, few changes were made other than alterations to accommodate new appliances.

“The Muir kitchen showed very well, you can’t even tell it’s a year and a half old,” said Kanda. “The one across the street, on Lafayette, also showed well especially considering it’s close to seven years old… it’s still in excellent condition! The important thing to keep in mind about these two kitchens is that they are both the more difficult style of cabinetry, the flush inset style, where the doors and drawer fronts have to be mounted precisely, in a precise way, or it doesn’t work. In a typical kitchen with the overlay style of cabinet, there is a lot of fudge and wiggle room. There is no wiggle room in this style of cabinet and they are still holding up after all these years.”

“I thought it was very impressive that we could return to a job that we did a year and half ago, or six and a half years ago, and everything was still exactly how we left it in terms of door adjustments, drawers, everything was closing properly, everything lined up just like how we intended it,” Jeremy added.

The owners agreed that the Heart of the Home Tour was a wonderful opportunity for Rivendell to support an amazing organization and showcase our outstanding woodwork as well.

“It’s hard to tell if we will be in a home on the next tour, but it would be great if we were! We got lucky to be in two houses this year,” said Nandi. “We hope to be involved next time too… it’s for a great cause.”

Heart of the Home

Some say that the kitchen is the heart of the home. We would be inclined to agree, especially because we built the kitchen in this year’s designer showcase home for the Children’s Support League’s Heart of the Home Tour.

Since 1986, the Children’s Support League of the East Bay has used their annual Heart of the Home Tour to raise funds for at-risk youth in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. This volunteer organization has contributed almost 3 million dollars so far to non-profit programs serving disadvantaged children in these communities.

On Friday, April 26 and Saturday, April 27, the 2013 Heart of the Home Tour will provide an intimate peek into five sensational Oakland and Piedmont properties.

Rivendell did extensive work in the Muir Avenue designer showcase home. The impressive kitchen includes a wonderful walnut island and fabulous flush inset face frame cabinets. Our craftsmanship here earned us an Honorable Mention from the Cabinet Makers Association’s 2012 Wood Diamond Awards national competition. In addition to the kitchen, we built cabinets for the family room, home office, bathroom and mudroom.

“This is a unique opportunity to see some of Rivendell’s work in a private residence that have been generously opened to the public,” said Nandi. “Attendees can also meet the talented team that put it all together. It was a pleasure collaborating with designer Carlene Anderson and contractor Mike Swenson on this project.”

Rivendell also built another Heart of the Home kitchen at the Lafayette Avenue tour stop. It features some alluring atypical curved elements. We even upgraded cabinetry in the home hosting the VIP 25th on the 25th Silver Anniversary Celebration the night before the tour.

And while we’re honored that homes highlighting our woodwork were chosen for this acclaimed charity event, we’re honored to be helping out this amazing organization as well.

“The Heart of the Home tour allows local businesses like us to give back to the community that’s given so much to us,” said Nandi.

One of the ways Rivendell has been able to give back is by donating $1,000 to become a Children’s Support League Best Friend.

Last year’s tour raised $205,000. This year, on the tour’s 25th anniversary, we’re hoping to raise $225,000. You can help us reach our goal. Tickets are still available. We look forward to seeing you at this outstanding event that assists underprivileged kids in our community.

At the Cabinet Makers Association Meeting

Kanda and Nandi recently attended the Cabinet Makers Association’s San Francisco Regional Event held at the historic Western Dovetail drawer manufacturing plant on Mare Island in Vallejo. Most of the attending members were from the Bay Area, with a few coming from other regions in Northern California, but none traveled as far as Executive Director Dave Grulke, who flew in from Wisconsin to anchor the meeting. In addition to presenting an advertising seminar, he introduced the CMA’s Professional Certification Program.

Venders set up booths and demonstrated their latest and greatest wares, including prototypes. Blum, a premium supplier of Rivendell’s hinges and slides, was on hand to exhibit their next generation of merchandise.

“I’ve been working with Blum products for years,” said Nandi. “I consider myself a whiz with them, but even I learned a couple new tips and tricks!”

After presentations, attendees were treated to a gourmet lunch and full factory tour of Western Dovetail’s operations.

“I want to give props to Western Dovetail for hosting and catering such a nice event,” Nandi said. “It was fun to go on their shop tour. One really cool thing is that they have invented and built a number of their own tools. Rather than taking the route of looking outside for solutions, they looked internally and were able to solve some of their problems by innovating new machines. We’ve done some of that too. I think about how we at Rivendell built our CNC router. Seeing how creative they’ve been with their products is an inspiration for us to continue being creative with our own.”

When asked what had been the highlight of their visit, Kanda replied, “A very valuable aspect of the CMA is networking with other cabinet makers in small shops like ours. We have similar concerns and similar challenges, and can share what we’ve learned and what we know. It was nice to connect with everyone there.”

Nandi agreed, “It was most valuable reconnecting with the cabinet community in this area, talking with and getting reacquainted with everybody, hearing the same stories. They’re going through what we’re going through.”

It makes sense. The Cabinet Makers Association’s mission is to get woodworkers together and share their hard earned knowledge and experience to help one another. They believe that working together is the best way to improve individual companies as well as the industry as a whole. Rivendell believes that too, which is why we’ve been members of the CMA since 2005 and look forward to the benefits of continued membership.

“The CMA is a great organization,” said Nandi. “Every time we go to one of these meetings it reminds me that I want to get back on the forums and be active in the cabinet community. It’s a mutually beneficial, self-supporting club. Members definitely get out what they put in.”

Open Shop

We held our Annual Open Shop last Thursday, celebrating 35 years of business in our community. In addition to expressing our appreciation to all the customers, contractors, architects and designers we’ve worked with in the last year, we also had a few things to show off. We showcased an enormous wine refrigerator, the tallest cabinet we’ve ever built, as well as a custom kitchen table, built to last a lifetime. The highlight of the evening was our live demo of RivBot, our shop-made CNC, who created illustrations for everyone with a sharpie pen.


Thank you everyone who came out and made this night a success! Here’s our time-lapse recording of the evening’s celebrations.

Green Building Forum and Year-End Celebration

Nandi and I attended the year-end celebration of Build it Green on December 9th in Berkeley. It is a state-wide organization of environmentally concerned builders and subcontractors and we have found that this group dovetails with our own interest in building “green” cabinetry; that is, cabinetry that is built from sustainably harvested wood and panels, using non-toxic glues and components.

The first part of the program included presentations by leaders in the green building industry. We discovered that while Europe is gearing up to have all building standards in ten years to require “net zero” energy usage, California is following close behind. “Green” building, and by extension, “green” cabinetry is the future of the industry. Good thing Rivendell is on board at the start!

The forum was followed by a celebration with food, wine and live music, including the presenting of awards to builders who have distinguished themselves in green building. We rubbed elbows with builders we enjoy working with, including Bill Jetton of Jetton Construction, who was awarded Green Builder of the Year for residential home, and Seth Melchert of Master Builders, who embodies positive energy and enthusiasm for the year to come. May 2011 by the best year yet for all of us!

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