The choice between going modular and choosing a carpenter for home furniture might fall into a similar debate, swinging between the embracing of all things new, and bemoaning the lack of a personal touch, the loss of traditional craftsmanship.
There’s always a bit of conflict when it comes to choosing between the essentially modern and the tried and tested, the nostalgically traditional. We tend to get teary-eyed when we think of Ambassadors, clunky brick-shaped mobile phones, keypads, even emails have now become relics.
However, sentimentality aside, there are a few practical considerations that give modular furniture an edge over carpentry. They arise from the following questions:
1. How much time are you willing to invest?
One of the big benefits of going modular is the time saved. Most interior design agencies function on a deadline, usually of around three weeks. There’s a lot more hemming and hawing when it comes to carpentry, which follows a fine tradition of the extendable time, very familiar to the Indian context. If you’re willing to take on a wavering deadline and have plenty of patience, you might consider carpentry, if not, go modular!
2. Finding the right man/woman/agency for the job
This is more of a networking issue. Finding a carpenter involves if you don’t already have your contacts at hand and on call, a lot of referencing and cross-referencing. Your friend has a friend who knows a guy who called a guy who did a great job… If you’re more likely to do your research online, then you’re probably going to think modular.
3. The budgetary consideration
There’s some amount of thought required here. Is your budget fixed or flexible? Home-making brings with it many pitfalls in terms of runaway budgets. Going with an agency that provides modular furniture allows you to fix your budget and then get the design to match it. While the overall costs might be negotiable on both sides, you might find better control when you’re going modular.
4. How well do you know your materials?
Can you spot the difference between marine plywood and ordinary plywood? Do you know which supplier to go with? Most interior design agencies (if they’re working like they should) can give you a guarantee of quality material. It’s not teak or rosewood for sure, but it’s sturdy and you’re getting what you paid for. Hardware comes with a warranty and you can choose the quality and brand.
5. De-mystifying the process
Part of traditional craftsmanship is the air of mystery that comes with the process. Often, finishing dates are unknown, you’re not sure what’s going on and where it’s happening, you’re moving in a cloud of sawdust and your house-warming party is on a moving date. Agencies that provide modular furniture allow you to track the factory process, let you know what stage the work is in, and in general give you simpler answers to questions, without much sky-gazing. You might find this a bit of a relief!
6. Accessibility of more cost-effective materials
Some materials, like pre-laminated particle board, give you great options in terms of style, adding a distinctive touch to cabinet shutters. However, they need to be made in a factory setting as they cannot be worked upon with traditional hand tools. If you’re going for contemporary glossy style shutters, or just want to keep your options open, you’ll find that going modular gives you that.
So, when you’re making that choice between modular and carpenter-made furniture, nostalgia aside, you might find that certain practicalities might carry you into the wave of modernity.