40 Plus Years Later McPhie Cabinetry Remains on Main
Western Home Journal – Summer / Fall 2018 – By Aaron Kampfe
Anyone who thinks “Main Street businesses in America are all but dead” hasn’t strolled along Bozeman’s Main Street. Despite big-box stores, sprawl, cheaper land in the county, and online retailers, downtown Bozeman thrives.
Main Streets represent an ideal: small, independently-owned businesses that offer specialty products and services. While this “Mom and Pop” storefront ideal may seem like a nostalgic notion of life in the 1950s, in Bozeman it is commonplace. The time-honored values of honesty, hard work, community engagement, customer service, and family remain intact, but in an ever-changing business climate, those who embrace technology, keep abreast of trends, and innovate remain in business…even on a traditional Main Street.
In the late 1970s, while Kristie and Scott McPhie were visiting Scott’s parents in Salt Lake City, they observed his folks’ kitchen remodel, which was nothing like the kitchens being installed in Bozeman. With backgrounds in art, design, and construction, Kristie and Scott had the genesis of combining their talents to form a contemporary cabinetry shop based back in Montana. McPhie Cabinetry was founded in 1977 and, 40-plus years later, remains on Main Street.
Kristie McPhie says, “We have always been innovative with designs, styles, materials, renderings, installations, and technology, but our real asset is our staff. Since our conception, we have been involved in the National Kitchen and Bath Association. All of our design staff have degrees in art or design, but more can be learned as the industry is always evolving. We send our staff to trade shows and trainings. They bring that knowledge back to Bozeman and are able to offer the latest products and most up-to-date designs to our clients.”
“Kristie’s warm, gentle, and thoughtful demeanor puts everyone at ease and not just us…her entire staff. But you know that underneath is a very precise, observant, budget-minded, and technical professional.”
– Margaret Dowling, Client
Jennifer Martin, who has been a lead designer with McPhie for five years, says, “No project is typical. Because every homeowner is different and unique, every project is different and unique. Our job is to explore the world of possibilities to find creative solutions that are specifically tailored to each client. Making new friendships and getting the opportunity to see how an updated space can enhance a client’s lifestyle and dwelling is the passion behind our process.”
When working with a client, McPhie begins by asking questions and listening. How do you use your kitchen? How do you entertain? Who cooks? What do you like to cook? Who does dishes? The layout and design begins with the pragmatics of how the occupants use the space. The design needs to be intuitive for a user and take workflow into consideration.
Next, styles are selected. Kristie says, “We find out what appeals to the client aesthetically and also how the kitchen or bath will fit in design-wise with the rest of the house. We stress being up-to-date but caution against being trendy. What will stand the test of time? Also, what will appeal to a homebuyer if the home is sold?”
The design and installation of cabinetry in kitchens is far more involved than people initially realize. All of McPhie’s cabinetry is built to fit an existing space and built to order. Their skilled design professionals have to understand and consider every detail: flooring, lighting, appliances, electrical wiring, ventilation, tile, plumbing, and surfaces. Computer software can offer detailed plans for the installation process, but ultimately, the install team will need to have the background, training, and skills to organize the sequencing and physically assemble every component as prescribed by that designer. McPhie has that.
In kitchens, one of the more important design decisions is the countertop. The McPhies have years of experience selecting surfaces and they work with highly reputable slab fabricators. Ari Kaufman, the manager at Montana Tile & Stone Fabricators, says, “When working with expensive materials like granite, precision is paramount. Every link is important as an eighth of an inch matters. McPhie ensures that everyone in that chain is up-to-speed and in communication with one another.”
McPhie Cabinetry works with architects, builders, and interior designers. Mary Harris, an interior designer, says, “When I propose designs that are custom, the designers at McPhie don’t unravel from the complexity, but embrace the challenge. Working with them is very relaxed because they communicate so well. Furthermore, Kristie’s freehand sketches in three dimensions quickly provide a schematic rendering that we all can understand. This is time-saving for me and my clients and thus cost-saving for everyone.”
Margaret Dowling and her husband Jim Thompson recently remodeled their kitchen in their Springhill home. She says, “I didn’t expect the process to actually be…fun. You’d expect to be stressed out but we laughed a lot during the process. Kristie’s warm, gentle, and thoughtful demeanor puts everyone at ease and not just us…her entire staff. But you know that underneath is a very precise, observant, budget-minded, and technical professional.”
This year, McPhie Cabinetry has repurposed their showroom and storefront for another business. With information online and less need for walk-in traffic, McPhie Cabinetry has consolidated their office space to the back studio and basement of their building at 435 East Main. As Kristie says, “After over 40 years, we are still here, still innovating, still offering contemporary designs with cutting-edge technology, still developing one of the top cabinetry staffs in the valley, and still on Main…you will still walk through the front door but now you’ll need to continue to the back and down the spiral stairway where you’ll still find McPhie Cabinetry.”