Our Cabinet Shop

Our Cabinet Shop

Whether in the kitchen bathroom or elsewhere, cabinets are a focal point of craftsmanship. This is why we maintain our own cabinet shop.  To be totally honest, we are cabinet snobs.  We demand 100% solid wood cabinets, built to exacting specifications, we use the very best hardware to ensure durability and functionality and we build each piece custom fit to its exact location. .

A well-built cabinet is a piece of furniture that will last more than a life time. A poorly built cabinet is a liability that will find its way to the landfill.

The first sign of a quality cabinet is the materials used to build it. A favorite low-cost material for many cabinet manufacturers is Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF.) This material does not hold a fastener well and it swells with minimal moisture contact. Over time MDF got a bad reputation. Rather than giving up on an inferior low-cost material many manufactures simply renamed it “furniture board.”

Another sign of inferior quality is thin plywood. Where ¾” plywood should be used, many manufacturers use 5/8” and even ½” plywood. And locally the most common method of building cabinets is to build them right to the wall without a plywood box. Any movement due to an unstable foundation or changes in humidity will cause the doors and drawers to become misaligned.

Many builders will further cut corners by using plywood face frames. The face frame is the front of the cabinet that the doors and drawers fit to.  Rather than using solid wood which is more expensive plywood is used. Opening the door on a cabinet will reveal if it is plywood or solid wood. You will see the laminated layers of plywood if this has been done. Though some manufacturers will put a thin veneer band on the plywood to mask it. The disadvantage of plywood is that it will delaminate over time and sanding can expose the underlayers of veneer.

Hinges and drawer slides are other places where costs are often cut at the expense of durability and function. A well-made cabinet will close gently and will hold an adequate load over the years. The drawers will slide out far enough to reach everything in them.  The majority of hardware used in today’s homes will not function well and/or endure well. Well-made drawer slides cost more.  This is an unseen cost that can easily be cut without most homebuyers realizing the added cost and frustration over time.

Do You Need A Remodeling  General Contractor for Your Remodeling Job?

Do You Need A Remodeling General Contractor for Your Remodeling Job?

Of course, you do! Well, I’m a general contractor, what did you expect. Now let me convince you with five key reasons why you need a remodeling general contractor.

1.       Knowledge Base –  People who have been successful at a few home repairs often get overconfident about what they know and what they can do. A remodeling general contractor who is working all day every day on a multitude of projects will avoid many of the mistakes that a less knowledgeable person will make. Often these mistakes are catastrophic causing extensive damage.

2.       Relationships – Most remodeling projects require various trades such as plumbers, electricians and heating and cooling subcontractor. While anyone can hire these people, they are much more easily managed and scheduled by someone who has an ongoing relationship with them. A general contractor gives his/her trades a good deal of work every year making them more beholden to the General Contractor than they are to a do-it -yourselfer. This duration of relationship allows the General Contractor to know the strengths and weaknesses for their subcontractors allowing them to know where extra oversight is needed and where to ask for more input for an improved job.

3.       Frustration – It looks easy on TV, but the finesse of craft is honed over time. Tasks that look simple on TV can quickly become frustrating and end up looking less impressive than the vision had been. What takes a skilled craftsman an hour may take many hours for a hobbyist.
Business handshake of two men closing a deal - remodeling general contractor

4.       Oversight – Any one can hire a mason. Not everyone knows what is required to get a beautiful job that will last a long time or how long it should take.  Managing the various trades while making sure that the right material is on the job at the right time, and managing quality control takes a lot of knowledge, experience, good systems and skill.

5.       Cost – Certainly, if you don’t calculate your labor you can reduce the cost of remodeling. Our best clients are those who have done remodeling projects themselves because they understand the value of skilled tradespeople. A good general contractor will not only have volume discounts on both materials and subcontractors, they are also able to get things done much quicker, which reduces cost and frustration.

>>Learn Why We Have a Mission Haiku Not a Mission Statement

In Texas, there is no license require to be a remodeling general contractor. So, it is more than possible to hire a less than professional general contractor. But if you follow some simple rules for hiring a general contractor, you will be able to find a great value.

Stearns Design Build Opens Custom Cabinet Shop

Stearns Design Build Opens Custom Cabinet Shop


College Station, TX, Stearns Design Build, a local residential remodeling company, has announced that they are now offering furniture grade cabinets to the general public. For some time, Stearns Design Build has built high-quality custom cabinet for their remodeling clients.

In a desire to better control quality in cabinetry Stearns Design Build started building their own cabinets rather than subcontracting this work as is done by most general contractors. Owner, Hugh Stearns said, “This was a significant commitment in staffing and equipment investment, but it was worth it in the level of quality that we can provide.”

custom cabinet

Stearns Design Build recently hired David Oddo to manage their cabinet shop. Oddo is a third-generation woodworker and journeyman carpenter. He previously owned his own woodworking shop in Houston.  In addition to managing the cabinet shop, Oddo also assists in the design of custom cabinet. “I look at each project as an opportunity to build a relationship through creativity,” said Oddo.

>>Learn Nine Ways to Save Money on a Kitchen Remodel

In addition to custom cabinet, Stearns Design Build also provides custom entertainment centers and built-in furniture as well as a full line of residential remodeling including kitchens, bathrooms, and additions. “Often clients want a custom entertainment center or built-in without doing a full remodel. Now we offer that as an option. We will work with the client to design a piece that fits exactly what they need,” said Stearns.

Stearns Design Build has served the Brazos Valley for 25 years. Twice the recipient of the Newman Ten award, last year the company achieved national acclaim by being named to the Remodeling Big50, an award for remodeling excellence that goes to fifty of the top companies in America and Canada every year.  Stearns Design Build also received the GuildQuality Service Excellence Award, which goes to the five companies of the Big50 class that had the highest customer satisfaction ratings. For more information Stearns Design Build can be found on the web at www.stearnsdesignbuild.com or reached at 979.696.0524.

Bring Remodeling Outdoors with an Outdoor kitchen

Bring Remodeling Outdoors with an Outdoor kitchen

Spring is here in College Station and Bryan and summer is just around the corner. Everyone already wants to spend more time enjoying the outdoors! It’s a perfect time to start planning and building your outdoor kitchen.

A great outdoor kitchen is at least a couple of notches above a nice patio furniture set and your portable barbecue grill. We all love that picnic feel, but if you are going to spend your evenings entertaining or just relaxing and enjoying the cooler evening temperatures outside, you may want more amenities. Plus, an outdoor kitchen is a great way to keep your home cooler by avoiding the use of your oven and other appliances inside.

You can start your unique outdoor kitchen by placing a grill into stonework and creating custom-built counter-tops on either side.  This gives you easy-to-navigate areas for food preparation, cooking, and serving.

Next, you can add lights so that you won’t be limited to enjoying your outdoor kitchen during daylight hours. You may either choose to run electricity or install battery- or solar-powered lights. Since you want to enjoy the natural light as much as possible, you really just need enough light to be able to prepare, cook and serve safely. If you choose to run electricity to your outdoor kitchen, you can also add a small refrigerator to keep your favorite beverages and condiments handy.

Here are a few other ideas:


For shade during the summer, you can build your kitchen under an existing covered porch, add a pergola, or buy a large patio umbrella.


Adding a water line to your outdoor kitchen will allow you to install a small sink for food preparation and clean up.


Add a fireplace or portable fire pit if you want to keep using your great outdoor space when the weather turns cold or just to add a little ambiance for the adults and a way to make s’mores with the kids!


A gas line will allow you the option of barbeque fuels and adding a small cook top or oven can stretch your outdoor culinary choices even further.

The possibilities for your outdoor kitchen are numerous and really depend on the frequency that you intend to use your kitchen and your budget. You can always start small, building around your existing home’s features and your existing barbecue, and add on next year.

The key is to make it cool, keep it classy, and enjoy our wonderful spring and summer climate here in Bryan and College Station.

We also love Screened in Porches

Brick and Other Exterior Masonry: Not a Great Choice for Our hot humid climate

 In this project, we used wood and brick siding to not only promote green building, but to also reduce the thermal mass of the house, to cool the temperature of the home.

In this project, we used wood and brick siding to not only promote green building, but to also reduce the thermal mass of the house, to cool the temperature of the home.

Don’t you love the look of Austin stone on a home? Many neighborhoods in Bryan and College Station require a high percentage of brick or other masonry products on the exterior of their homes. It is a great look but not a great approach, especially if you are interested in green building or even just reducing your utility bills.

Brick and other masonry products are known as thermal mass. Thermal mass is the ability of a material to absorb and store heat, in this case, your siding material’s ability to absorb that heat.  In other words brick heats up all day and disseminates that heat to the house.

But, you may be wondering, what about adobe? Adobe is used in hot dry climates, not hot humid climates. The difference is that in a dry climate, temperatures cool down at night. The heat absorbed by the adobe does not make it into the house before it is cooled by the night air.   Water in the air also serves as somewhat of a thermal mass, holding heat longer than dry air, which is what keeps or night time temperatures higher than in the desert. 

The vernacular architecture of hot humid climates usually feature siding for a reason. But, if you are stuck with neighborhood controls requiring a high percentage of masonry or if you just like the look of stone, there are some things that you can do mitigate the negative impact of a thermal mass. 

Perhaps the most effective thing to do is use a veneer stone which is much thinner than traditional stone. Also try to avoid masonry on the west side which tends to get more direct sunlight at the hottest part of the day.  Want to learn more about siding that we recommend. For even greater shading use larger than normal overhangs where possible. 

As always, use landscaping as a design element for beauty and function. Deciduous trees on the west provide crucial summer shading while allowing the sun through in the winter.  

Brick can also create moisture and potentially rot problems if a proper drainage pan is not created behind it. Of course any cladding can become a problem without proper moisture sealing. This is an area that you should question a builder about before hiring. There are no requirements in Texas for builders to have knowledge of building science and this is a place that lesser builders tend to get themselves into trouble.