Ask An Expert: Josh Briere

Ask An Expert: Josh Briere

Ask An Expert: Josh Briere
We caught up with Josh Briere, CEO of Elite Design and Construction, a company that specializes in high end quality finish carpentry and remodeling. Josh has worked on everything from high end and celebrity estates to major casinos and restaurants projects.

Ask An Expert: Remodeling Made Easier with Josh Briere

Josh BriereWe caught up with Josh Briere, CEO of Elite Design and Construction, a company that specializes in high end quality finish carpentry and remodeling. Josh has worked on everything from high end and celebrity estates to major casinos and restaurants projects. Josh is here today to give some professional insight on the cabinet maker industry as whole, current trends, and the advantages of custom building.

So, if you are planning a remodel project and have some doubts on where to start, keep reading to see some of Josh's tips.

Doug Mockett: What cabinet styles are trending in the home market for 2017?

Josh Briere:The 2 main cabinet styles I see here on the west coast of the US that are trending right now are Craftsman Era/ Shaker Style and Modern/ Contemporary style.

The Craftsman Shaker Style Cabinetry being commonly used today is not 100% true to the Craftsman Arts and Crafts Era however. It seems to have been modernized; therefore some designers and architects are saying Modern Craftsmen to differentiate the two. Typically craftsman architecture and millwork is known for simple and clean lines with large square profiles with beveled/ softened edges, tapered columns, beams and exaggerated joinery. Today's Modern Craftsmen borrows a lot of the same ideas from the craftsman arts and crafts movement, such as the proportions and lines. The two however are completely different from each other. I am also seeing a lot of 2 tone finishes where the cabinetry colors are completely different, but it all ties together. I could talk for days about this and how so much of today's design is borrowed from the Arts and Crafts/ Craftsman Era...

The modern cabinetry is becoming more and more popular, and it is not going anywhere any time soon. Some of it is being borrowed from the Art Deco Era of architecture from the 1940s-1970s, however colors and textures have changed significantly. You're seeing today flat panel doors and drawers with little, if any, mouldings are being used. The finishes are either matte or high gloss, with highly saturated colors and exotic hardwoods and veneer (usually the go-to colors for the stain grade jobs falling in the grey tones). The most commonly requested wood I am seeing is rift sawn white oak. There are different ways to mill a tree to get the look you want out of the grain. The rift sawn process yields the consistent striped vertical grain look without showing the flecks and rings of the wood.

What's worth mentioning is that the brushed stainless steel/ nickel hardware is fading, chrome and polished brass is becoming more popular in the higher end projects.

DM: What are the key components driving workplace design right now?

JB: The design of today’s offices is largely driven in response to two main factors - speed and mobility. Today’s new enterprises are built to grow fast, often outpacing the facility changes necessary to support them. This is why many offices relegate workstations to simple, plain desktops, easily added to and immediately reconfigured as needed, and where everyone becomes their own facility manager, troubleshooting their own workstation productivity needs in order to not interrupt the pace of the work at hand. And as mobile devices and cloud computing are redefining work from a place-based activity to a space-based activity, the “plans” of our open plan workstations now extend far beyond the walls of our offices themselves.

DM: What are the advantages of having custom built cabinets, quality and price-wise?

JB: This is a very overlooked question and I am glad you asked. Let’s compare the store/ online bought vs local custom cabinet shop. Most of the cabinets you buy from the store are not domestic and come from oversees. Their materials, adhesives and stains/ paints they use are not US regulated. The quality of the build is just not to the same standard of a custom cabinet from a local shop. The biggest issues that arise are usually found during install and in warranty work. The joinery of the wood fails often because it is changing climates, and moisture content significantly affects the furniture when traveling across the seas. Wood expands and contracts with temperature and air moisture content. This can happen after your cabinetry is installed as it acclimates to your home or business. If you need to have a cabinet replaced because it is the wrong size or it is faulty in some fashion, you have to usually wait weeks and sometimes over a month to get that new cabinet or part. If you have to stall your project and all the contractors involved in your remodel, that can cost a significant amount. Plus, you’re without your project being completed that much longer. The cabinets usually come prefinished (painted or stained), so when you have to replace a door or a cabinet during or after the installation process, they sometimes will not be a 100% match in color.

When you order cabinets, they build them one way - their way. No kitchen is the same size. Not all appliances are the same size. If you pick certain appliances and/or a layout, you might not be able to use them because you’re limited to widths and heights the manufacturer uses. Let’s say you need a 28" wide cabinet to fill in a certain area. The factory you order from only makes the cabinet style you’ve chosen in a 24" cabinet. Now you will have to have to install what’s called a filler piece, installed between the 24" cabinet and the next cabinet or wall to fill that void. It doesn't look ideal and its 2" wasted. Think about this though - if you had 6-10 fillers in your kitchen (very common) that could add up to a whole small cabinet worth of space. We all know that there is never enough room in a kitchen to get everything where you want it. If you have your kitchen custom made by a quality shop, this and many other issues that cost money and time are not prevalent. Custom cabinets are exactly that, custom to your specs and wants. Your design, colors, styles, accessories and quality expectations are not limited. In the end and after your kitchen is completed, sometimes a custom made cabinet and/or kitchen can be less in cost then something bought in a store or online when considering the cost of install and the other trades involved. Even if that's not the case and it does cost more, your budget and desires might not warrant the higher upfront cost. My advice is to thoroughly investigate your options and get the best quality you can. Even if that means saving more and waiting until you can afford that higher quality. In the end it is always worth it.

DM: Are there any key points you take into consideration before buying hardware for the furniture?

JB: Absolutely, cost. Not in the way you would typically think. If it is cheap in price, its more than likely cheap in quality. It might look ok, but manufacturers have become quite talented at making things seem like they are something they are not. Sometimes it’s even hard to tell the difference between a faux chrome handle and an actual chrome handle. Cheap drawer slides, hinges, handles and knobs and even the fasteners that are used to install them will fail eventually in some way or another if they are “cheap”. These items are the moving parts of your project. Think about it like this: if you were to restore a car you would drive every day, why put your whole budget into the body of the car and your paint job, but put in a cheap motor that would eventually fail? Budget for the well built reliable motor, budget for the quality hardware.

DM: What are some challenges you face when you start a project with a client?

JB: The most common challenge I face as a contractor is knowing a clients budget; a cost between what they are prepared to spend, but do not want to exceed in spending. I, as a contractor, need to know those budget figures so I can determine if the project they want can be done for the price they want it done for. It’s not something that a lot of clients feel comfortable saying. Some may even feel that if I know their budget, I will then do the least amount of work possible and extort the highest amount of profit as possible out of the budget. That could not be further from the truth. They have no reason to feel differently sometimes based on their previous experiences. With that being said, the hurdle is still there for me to jump over.

The way I overcome this obstacle is I explain what my process is and why. I need a budget, a way of knowing they want to spend between A and B. I also need to have an idea of what the client wants or expects with that budget so I can find out if their expectations are too low or too high. I ask potential clients to show me pictures from Houzz or Pinterest of what they want. Once I have the facts, I know what I have to work with and I can tell the client what I can do for those prices. It is imperative for me to find out quickly if their budget does or does not match their expectations, saving the client and I precious time. Giving a budget isn't committing to a price or the scope of work, its just a means of getting everyone on the same page right away.

Let your contractor tell you where you fall within your allocated budget and you might be pleasantly surprised. I tell people to stay away from contractors that practice used car salesman tactics, because in this business, you get what you pay for. Do not hire the cheapest contractor you can find, it never works out for the better. Instead hire a contractor that has a good portfolio and satisfied previous clients. My pricing reflects the quality of work and the experience I give to my clients.

Learn more about Elite Design and Construction at:


Ask an Expert: Josh Briere


Topic: Ask an Expert: Interior Design, Ask an Expert: Industrial Design