Seamless Solution – Plywood kitchen

Plywood kitchen

Sometimes it’s the case that a client comes to us with plans for a kitchen that have been drawn up by an architect, as part of the design of a whole house project, and they are simply looking for an experienced cabinetmaker to turn those drawings into a working kitchen.

Elizabeth and Malcolm Shaw’s contemporary bach in the Wairarapa is a case in point, when she approached Stephanie Barnes and her team at Mastercraft Kitchens Wairarapa (Carroll’s Joinery) with building plans from architect Michael Cooper and the award-winning team at Crosson Architects.

It’s all in the detail

“When I first walked into the Mastercraft Kitchens showroom, I spoke with Stephanie and explained our situation, giving her a detailed brief outlining materials and other requirements,” says Elizabeth. “She was very good and came back to us with lots of good ideas. There were so many things that I hadn’t thought of, and she took me through the whole process. From there we were able to come up with the final detailed joinery design, which was a collaboration between Mastercraft Kitchens Wairarapa, Michael Cooper Architects and myself.”

Stephanie say that the majority of her clients are still looking for a design-and-build solution for their new kitchens, but Elizabeth’s request was something they were more than happy to accommodate. “Elizabeth knew what she wanted in terms of the look of her new kitchen. It was our job to ensure everything worked and looked good together… and also to coordinate all the joinery that was needed in the other rooms in the bach.”

Interior cladding – Poplar plywood

The interior of the bach was to be completely clad in a poplar plywood from Plytech, and that included the kitchen. At first glance, the kitchen looks fairly rudimentary in its design – just plain timber finish, with no handles or complex shapes. How hard could that be? However, the simplest designs are often the hardest to execute. Because everything is on show, the exposed end-grain profiles and butt joints needed to be absolutely perfect, and the negative details between the cupboard doors and the walls had to be accurate to the millimetre. 

“The craftsmanship of the finished joinery is excellent – everything aligns and sits beautifully flush. The guy that did the install, Terry, he was incredible,” says Elizabeth. “I can’t fault the work. What they built is just beautiful.”

Building is not a perfect science, however. Even though there may be detailed plans to follow, there is a constant stream of challenges that need solutions, says Elizabeth. “Stephanie was great at working out all those details. For example, the black furniture linoleum on the front of the birch-ply cupboard fronts. They hadn’t done anything like that before, but they weren’t scared to try something new, and I tell you what, they did a beautiful job of it.”

As well as finding a solution for the linoleum cabinetry fronts, Stephanie said they also had to find a suitable matching material for the sliding doors on the overhead cabinets above the cooktop. “We couldn’t use linoleum-covered plywood – they would have been too heavy and besides, the linoleum would have worn off along the runners. Instead we found a matte-finish black Perspex that worked perfectly.”

Project management assistance

Elizabeth says she was particularly impressed with the way the team at Mastercraft Kitchens Wairarapa handled the project management of her project. As well as organising the cabinetry, they also dealt will all the other contractors, subcontractors and suppliers, making sure everything was well coordinated and that the job ran smoothly.


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This kitchen was proudly designed, manufactured and installed locally by Mastercraft Kitchens Wairarapa.