In the 14 years since he created Henrybuilt in a shed on Vashon Island, Washington, Hudson and his team have made significant strides to that end, melding the flexibility, creativity and warm modernist aesthetic of high-end American custom kitchens with Europe's integrated approach to kitchen design. Henrybuilt is named after Hudson’s grandfather Henry Spurgeon Hudson, a cabinetmaker, carpenter, stone mason and farmer in rural North Carolina.
Now Henrybuilt is ready to show off its work at its first-ever California showroom, which opened earlier this summer in the former Mill Valley Auto Service space at 356 Miller Avenue.
“The last place we wanted to be is on kitchen system row or near a design center in the traditional sense,” Hudson says of the Miller Avenue showroom. “Working with Henrybuilt is not about ‘shopping’ for a kitchen. Here we were able to establish a destination in an amazing space in a community with a great history and feel with which we share a lot of values. Coming to Mill Valley to see Henrybuilt sounds like a pretty nice day, doesn’t it? “
Though the 4,000-square-foot space is the firm’s first in California, Henrybuilt has been working on projects in the state for years, with more than 500 projects in the Golden State to date, include several in the 94941. And the Mill Valley space plays a major role in the company’s plans: it’s the only showroom outside of Manhattan or Seattle, the latter of which is the company’s headquarters and home to its 40,000 square foot engineering and manufacturing facility, where the lion’s share of Henrybuilt’s 50 employees work.
“We love Mill Valley,” says Lisa Day, Henrybuilt’s director of marketing. “It’s got a great vibe, it really fits with us and it’s a great destination for people on the way to Napa or Sonoma.”
The Miller Avenue showroom is designed “to highlight Henrybuilt’s focus on what it feels like to live with its products as well as its ability to create tailored design solutions for every room in the home.”
So what exactly is a kitchen system? Henrybuilt says it’s the only American company that has managed to strike a balance between the two predominant ways high-end kitchens are made – similar to the famous Mac-PC divide.
In the U.S., most high-end kitchens are completely customized, one-off projects that see a homeowner or architect directing multiple manufacturers on each component, from backsplash and cabinets to countertops. That frequently ends up being a costly and time-consuming venture and lacks a unified design, Day says.
In Europe, it’s quite the opposite, with all of those components designed to work together – “the kitchen almost as a car” without the flexibility of a custom kitchen.
Hudson saw that both approaches had merit but wondered, “why can’t I get the industrial design sophistication of a system but with the quality of a real high-end mill worker and that focus on user experience?”
Day says that Henrybuilt’s combination of system engineering and holistic design solutions has done just that.
The 411: Henrybuilt’s Mill Valley showroom at 356 Miller Ave. is open Monday–Friday, 10am–5pm and by appointment. 415.360.2915. More info.