A New Company Making Custom, English-Style Kitchens Available a la Carte

A New Company Making Custom, English-Style Kitchens Available a la Carte

Kitchen Design

The story of a new custom cabinetry company involves a career change, a magnifying glass, and a trip through Amish country.

In 1983, Jean Stoffer went to work as an admin for a Chicago designer shortly after graduating with a business degree. After a few years, she found herself more drawn to the design work than the administrative, and started her own firm, which became known for its kitchen design. Now, some decades later, she’s making her style of custom kitchen widely available through Stoffer Home Cabinetry.

The company, which launched last week, makes use of Stoffer’s kitchen expertise, her love for English-style cabinetry, and her hard-won manufacturer: a workshop in rural midwestern Amish country.

A New Company Making Custom, English-Style Kitchens Available a la Carte
A New Company Making Custom, English-Style Kitchens Available a la Carte

Stoffer’s fascination with kitchen design began soon after she started her own firm. “I gradually became aware that kitchens were my sweet spot,” the designer tells House Beautiful. “I’m much more of an analytical mind, and kitchens have to be so precise and involve a lot of mechanicals and moving parts.”

But, as a designer, she knew form was as important as function, and Stoffer found that the typical options in the U.S. were lacking. She stumbled upon the British style of kitchen cabinetry, which typically features flush-inset doors, as opposed to the overlaid styles more common in American homes. “I would buy British kitchen design magazines and study them, using a magnifying glass,” the designer recalls.

She was determined to create her own. “At the time, I was in Chicago and I knew of an Amish community in central Illinois and I went down there, because they’re known for their cabinet-making skills,” the designer recalls. Since the Amish shun electronics—including phones—Stoffer and her husband went door-to-door inquiring until they found a craftsman willing to take on the challenge.

“That was 1991, and he has made every single kitchen of mine since then,” Stoffer says. “It’s my secret sauce.”

Now, people other than Stoffer’s interior design clients have the chance to get some of that secret sauce, thanks to the designer’s new custom kitchen model. “We discovered that so many people were inquiring about it, but as a custom design firm, we can’t handle all the work that’s coming our way,” the designer explains. “We started to think, what if we develop a line that’s very curated, enough to do a great English-style kitchen but that doesn’t require going to the full unique design?” Enter Stoffer Home Cabinetry.

So how does it work? Interested customers can review Stoffer’s comprehensive brochure, complete with her thoughtful election of finishes (four woods and 12 paints) and hardware, and calculate cost using the pricing guide. Then, they’ll submit measurements and current photos of their home to Stoffer’s team, who will put together ta design proposal and get back to the customer with a design fee (which can be put towards the final cost). Once a deposit is received, the proposal is sent to the cabinet maker, who begins work on the project.

Unlike many cabinetmakers, who only offer customization in 3-inch increments, Stoffer Home Cabinetry is customizable down to the single inch. “It’s a curated line, but it’s enough to really fit a kitchen well,” says Stoffer. “And for what it is, it’s an extremely good value.”

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