Making Fluted Accent Columns Useful

Fluted accent columns add a custom look. Here are some ideas for making them earn their keep as doors or pull-out fronts, too. September 8, 2007

A client wants fluted accents in the kitchen. I've never paid much attention to these things, and I'm curious how people approach them. I'm installing frameless cabinets with overlay doors. I'm thinking I can put columns flanking the sink and the range top, maybe one on the dishwasher end panel. I figured I'd make them 4" wide, maybe make them drawer fronts for scrawny slide-outs for cutting boards or towel racks. Does this sound typical? Do these things get in the way of the doors opening past 90 degrees?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor T:
The ones I've seen are simple fluted boards mounted onto two side pieces to give some stability and then set in between the base units. You can set the fluted board slightly inward or set back for variation.

From contributor R:
I usually try to make them a functional cabinet door, with a spice rack inside, or even just a baking pan cabinet. Isn't that the whole point of custom, to use every available inch? But I have done them as dead space behind them. I'm actually doing just that on a kitchen I'm in the middle of right now - spice rack on one side of the oven, space for baking pans/cookie sheets on the other. I actually like the split island legs better than fluted panels, and they're usually less expensive to buy, but it's the customer's choice.

From contributor L:
There are many ways of accomplishing this look. The simplest is the three-sided fluted spacer that contributor T mentioned. Face frame cabinets can have the flutes cut right into the stiles. I prefer to build a separate narrow cabinet with the fluted face either a pull-out or hinged as a door. Put a carved corbel above the flutes and a fancy base moulding wrapped around the bottom of the column for a foot, and the clients love them. I try to make each kitchen a little different, to give each client something with their own character.

Each situation will be different as far as the swing of adjacent doors. You must plan for this situation. If the columns are flush with the face of the other doors, there is no problem. If you want the column to protrude and give the build-out more character, you must take this into account and use a specialty hinge or a spacer/filler to give the proper clearance. However you figure out how to do it, the effort will be well worth it. Accents add class to a project and the clients love them.

Make sure that you photograph them. Once you start showing previous projects with this and other details to new prospects, you will be amazed at how everyone wants something similar. I sell something similar to this in nearly every project.

From contributor H:
Rev-a-shelf makes several pull-out models 3" or 6" wide. Easy to install.