I’ve decided to do an in-depth review of the company we used for our kitchen cabinetry, CliqStudios. The reason for the review is that when I was doing my own research for kitchen cabinetry this past summer, I read about CliqStudios, but didn’t find a lot of first-hand reviews from real homeowners. As a result, that had me struggling with the decision as to whether or not to use them at all. In the end, we decided to go for it, in part based on the great review we found a few months ago by a woman named Jo-Lynn on Living a Rewarding Life. And so, I’ve decided to continue adding to the mix by using Jo-Lynn’s review as the model for my own.
As Jo-Lynn said in her 2011 review, the cabinets are from a known brand (Six Square), and assembled here in the USA before being shipped to the customer’s home. We liked the samples they sent, as well as their initial customer service when we contacted them, and used them for our kitchen renovation.
And now, my review (remember, this is not a paid review nor am I someone involved with CliqStudios – I’m a regular everyday consumer who embarked on the process of renovating my kitchen):
The Rating Scale: 5 = Love it, can’t be beat to 1 = Don’t waste your time — REALLY!
Pre-purchase support – 4
Post-purchase support – 5
Price – 5
Overall Quality – 4
Door Style/Color Selection – 4
Inside of Cabinet functionality selection – 3
Finish – 5
Shipping – 3 (that is mainly for the freight company itself, not for CliqStudios)
Pros: Very timely communication with designer; quick customer service; good pricing – better than Big Box; and quick, hassle-free replacement of any damaged items during shipping.
Cons: Not much information provided for installer; not a lot of options for what you can do inside the cabinet.
Pre-sales support: Our designer was Shelly, who was working off a kitchen layout that was pre-determined by our architect. While the flow of the kitchen and appliance placement was in stone, the types of cabinets and general layout among them was not. Shelly quickly put together a great first design, and from there it was just tweaking through six more drafts. She was very quick to respond to emails and even when I emailed her on the weekends she was there with a response! Her turnaround time between my notes and her next draft was relatively quick – only once did I email to say, “Do you have them?” and it was merely my own excitement to see the next draft rather than any true delay on her part. The only “con” with pre-sales is that I had to pay very close attention from draft to draft with the changes. Sometimes I would refer to an option in a prior draft (i.e., glass front doors vs. solid front) and confirm that I wanted the ORIGINAL option, only to find that that change was not made. But these were few and far between and always fixed on the next draft.
Post-Purchase Support: We had three issues come up after we purchased the cabinets. First, the freight shipping company delivered 5 pallets even though our shipping slip clearly said there should be 6 pallets. When my husband alerted the driver to this fact, he merely crossed out “6” and wrote in “5” without bothering to explain about the missing pallet. I contacted the freight company directly and asked about the missing pallet. Sure enough – the driver had not picked up all six, and our last one was still sitting in their warehouse. We arranged delivery a couple days later. What made it more frustrating was that the freight company sent us a bill about a month later expecting us to pay a “storage” fee for that sixth pallet! I know this is not CliqStudios’ fault, but it was frustrating nonetheless. I contacted CliqStudios about it, who promptly told me to disregard the bill and they would clear things up with the freight company. As I have not heard from the freight company about an overdue payment, I believe CliqStudios did take care of it. However, they should consider looking into other freight companies if things like that happen a lot.
Secondly, once our contractor installed the cabinets, we realized that three of our cabinet doors were actually painted linen instead of painted white. When we ordered the samples, we remarked to ourselves the time that they essentially looked the same, but once the actual cabinets were installed, those three doors were clearly not the same color. I contacted our designer Shelly, and after emailing her some pictures to show the difference in color, they promptly sent us new doors. We also had a shelf that was chipped, for which they sent a replacement upon receipt of a picture of the damaged shelf.
Lastly, the third issue we had related to the mix of drawer-style cabinets and roll-out trays. When Shelly asked me what kind of base cabinets I wanted, my reply was that I wanted a good mix of drawer cabinets and roll-out trays. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize until AFTER our contractor installed everything that we ended up with four base cabinets that are just shelves – unmovable, 24″ deep shelves. As a result, you really have to bend down to see into the cabinet – especially the section of the cabinet right by the ground. I contacted CliqStudios and they didn’t have much of a response other than the fact that my detailed quote showed all of my cabinets and it was my responsibility to review that quote to ensure that each cabinet I was ordering was what I wanted. And to some extent they are right – I should have reviewed it more closely. However, I also stand by the fact that during our ONLY discussion of base cabinets, I said I wanted drawers and roll-out trays. Never did I mention static shelving in the base cabinets. CliqStudios offered to let us buy the gear to convert those cabinets into roll-out trays, but my husband and I decided to live with the shelves for now, and if they are driving us nuts in a year, we’ll circle back and order the roll-out trays. We’ve been in the kitchen for two months now and the static shelving hasn’t been a problem yet, so time will tell.
Price: When we placed our order there was a promotion going on to save 20% off your total order. When I initially contacted CliqStudios I had a price in mind of what I was willing to pay. When they asked for my budget, I gave them a price $2K less than I had in my head, figuring that they’d try to oversell to me and I would cave and say, “okay, I take that dinglethorpe that I don’t really need but sounds really cool.” Alas, when all was said and done, our final price came in $1,800 under budget! AND we got free shipping to boot.
Overall Quality: So far, I am very happy with the cabinet quality. The soft-close on drawers and roll-out trays is terrific – no more pinched fingers if I move too slow! We ordered the 36″ wide base cabinet drawers for my Fiestaware dishes, and despite the heaviness of that dinner china, the drawers slide well and cleanly, while not throwing my china all over the place when we pull open the drawer. As promised on the CliqStudios website, the drawers all have dovetail joints and the cabinet boxes are plywood construction. The only negative is that with two of our drawers, the rails shift and the result is that the door of the drawer sticks out about an inch and doesn’t lay flat. The correction involves pulling out the drawer and using an implement of some kind to straighten out the rail so the drawer will close flat.
Door Style/Color Selection: I have absolutely no complaints here because they had exactly what I wanted. Their Dayton door was the door I envisioned when the hunt for a cabinet company started. They also seemed to have a nice color selection although we also knew we were going with either white or off-white as our choice. Do their selections measure up to the Big Box? I doubt it – those stores seem to have an overwhelming style to choose from. But for what we wanted, CliqStudios had the style and color. YMMV.
Inside Cabinet Options: I won’t lie – Kraftmaid did some serious wooing of me when it came to cabinet options. Their brochure of cabinetry is heavenly to sift through and dream. To that end, when sifting through CliqStudios’s website, it was plainly obvious that they didn’t have nearly the razzle-dazzle of the Big Box brands. Our budget dictated we concentrate on the overall functionality of our kitchen, not the bells and whistles. And so once the rose-colored wishing glasses came off, and we got down to business, it was no big deal that Cliqstudios didn’t offer tons of add-ons. And as Jo-Lynn pointed out in her own review, there are many retailers that now sell the fancy inside cabinetry options so upgrading down the road is not out of the question for us. Those upgrades just weren’t necessarily all available from CliqStudios themselves. But you know what? I came in under budget for that very reason.
Finish – Our maple cabinets are very smooth to the touch, and clean well. My husband used one of those Mr. Clean erasers to one of the cabinets and I cringed, envisioning the paint coming right off the cabinet door. But it didn’t! The paint is evenly applied and very bright white – just what we wanted to counterbalance the almost-black bamboo floors we had installed.
Shipping: I’ve already mentioned the problem we had with the freight company earlier in my review, but I will say that out of six pallets, we only ended up with 1 shelf that was chipped. Everything else arrived in perfect condition. So there are no complaints whatsoever on the quality of delivery. Well, wait – there is one thing. The driver who brought the five pallets expected my contractor to help him unload the pallets from the truck. My contractor said never in his life has he ever been asked to help unload cabinets from the freight company, and that the guy was very rude when my contractor said no (rightly so – who is liable if my contractor gets hurt while moving the pallets – me or the freight company)? But it could just be that our delivery man was having a rough day, between forgetting our pallet and not wanting to unload his pallets. But the pallets were shipped in a timely manner, and without damage. That’s the main thing.
At this point I’ll quote Jo-Lynn’s review. My contractor didn’t have an issue with organizing the cabinets to install, but Jo-Lynn’s had a different experience:
The cabinet numbers noted on the boxes are NOT the same as the numbers on the legends provided by cliqstudios for you/your finish carpenter to lay out your install. I would recommend tagging each unit with the legend number associated with it immediately upon unboxing so that you don’t have to wonder where any of it goes later on.
So far, two months into the kitchen, I’m extremely pleased with the decision to go with CliqStudios for our cabinetry. My contractor thought they were very nice cabinets, and we like how they look in our kitchen. Our designer, Shelly, was fabulous and other than one minor glitch (forget my base cabinet directive), she did a great job with our kitchen. I liked that even after I placed and paid for my order, she continued to be in communication with me, and quickly helped me resolve not only the damaged shelf but the random storage fee collection attempt by the freight company.
All that is to say that I definitely recommend you consider using CliqStudios.com for the new cabinets in your new home construction or remodeling project!
And now – the pictures!
I hope folks who find this post find it helpful. I normally close comments after 30 days, but I’ll leave this one open indefinitely so people can comment and asked questions about our kitchen. Thanks for reading, and good luck with your own renovation/construction project!
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The Floorplan on May 16th, 2008
The Floor Plan - Second Floor on May 16th, 2008