Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 16
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

Prudential Fox and Roach, Realtors

Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate

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It’s New to Us by Jean Stratton

CUSTOM CABINETRY: “Our niche is that we design and sell premium custom cabinetry and integrate it within all the other aspects of the kitchen.” Bill Noval (left) and Bruce Timbie, owners of Spyglass Design, Inc., stand in front of Neff “Anigre” wood cabinet panels.

Top Quality Kitchen Cabinetry Is Specialty of Spyglass Design

Bill Noval and Bruce Timbie want you to have the kitchen of your dreams. The Hopewell natives opened Spyglass Design, Inc. at 31 West Broad Street in their home town in 1997, and demand for their elegant designs and custom cabinetry continues to grow.

“I think of us as a 10-year overnight success!” says Mr. Timbie, with a smile. “As the business expands, there’s a lot of work. And every year, I’m amazed at the improvements we’ve made.”

Formerly in corporate finance, Mr. Timbie handles the business end of the Spyglass operation. The company sees the project through from concept to completion, he explains. Custom cabinetry is its specialty, and it also provides the overall kitchen plan which integrates all aspects of the space.

“We are on the site continuously,” he points out. I oversee the flow of the project from beginning to end. The amount of detail and the number of decisions that go into every project is the biggest challenge. You have to be organized and on top of everything.”

Creative Aspect

An architect, Mr. Noval is the lead designer at Spyglass. “I really enjoy the creative aspect of the work,” he notes. “Especially the part of the process when it’s just beginning, and you can capture someone’s vision with sketches, and they say ‘I never envisioned it could look like that; or ‘it’s exactly what I wanted.’”

There are so many elements to take into account in the design, he adds. “Of course, we get into the budget and determine what is possible and what constitutes good value for the client’s needs. Then, we take into consideration their life-style, how the kitchen is used, who cooks, are there kids and pets, how many people in the kitchen, etc.?”

As the “heart of the home”, the kitchen is a key gathering place — not just for cooking but for conversation — and it continues to evolve. Once primarily a functional focus, it has become an attractive social space as well.

Kids do homework, watch TV, and moms and dads pay bills at the kitchen table. Some kitchens even have computer work stations along with the latest state-of-the-art coffee-makers and wine coolers.

“The trends are for bigger kitchens, more functionality (optimizing space and storage, easy work places, high technology), white cabinetry, and we’re also seeing interest in exotic veneers,” says Mr. Timbie. “Also, in the last three years, there is a big emphasis on being ‘green’. All of our brands are as environmentally-friendly as possible. Even in the manufacturing. For example, safer off-gassing processes in glue are practiced now.”

Spyglass carries Neff Kitchens’ contemporary line of custom cabinets and the more traditional Christiana line from Lancaster, Pa., both state-of-the-art.

Custom Design

“Neff and Christiana allow us to make our own style within their lines,” continues Mr. Timbie. “They allow the designer to design and stress individuality. Everything we do is custom, so we are always doing something new. We do a wide range of designs and styles — everything from contemporary to Old World traditional. Our design practice is very interactive functionally and stylistically and within the client’s budget.

“We also need to know the client’s choice for appliances, and then we work with that. For example, a customer might say, ‘This is the stove I want,’ and then we build around that stove.”

Stainless steel is still popular for appliances, he reports, as is the integrated refrigerator. SubZero and Miele are favored, and he notes that “SubZero is currently the only true integrated refrigerator. It’s the gold standard of integrated.”

Granite is the top choice for countertops, along with soapstone and wood. Tile is popular for flooring, as is wood. White cabinetry (in various tones) is increasingly popular, reports Mr. Timbie, but there is truly a choice for everyone — from high voltage hues to soothing neutral shades; handsome cherry, sleek stainless steel, and painted, glazed, or stained are all options.

The majority of Spyglass Design’s work is renovation of existing kitchens, although projects involving new homes are also part of the business. And clients are from all over, says Mr. Timbie. “Our geographic range includes Princeton to Martha’s Vineyard to New York to Bermuda. We also often work on customers’ vacation homes, and if they move, we are frequently called to design their new kitchen.”

Once the Spyglass designers (also including Laura Todd and Gayla Olson) provide a plan, and the homeowner is on board, then Spyglass will often suggest general contractors and installers.


This is a very important part of the process, explains Mr. Timbie. “We really know who the highly-preferred people are to work with, and this is major to the success of the project. For example, there is all the fine-tuning of the cabinets. It’s not just installation, it’s fitting.”

A major project can take from four to nine months from beginning to end, including discussing the plans, he adds.

Spyglass Design’s reputation continues to grow. Mr. Noval has been asked to present seminars at the Miele headquarters on Route One, and he has appeared on HGTV shows. Spyglass is also consulting on the kitchen for the upcoming Princeton Junior League Show House, and the company is a member of the New Jersey Better Business Bureau.

“We are set apart by our overall design sensibility and functionality,” says Mr. Timbie.

Mr. Timbie and Mr. Noval look forward to many more years of offering clients the best in kitchen design. A Spyglass kitchen can last 20 years or more, they note, but of course, styles can change in that time.

And Mr. Noval points out, “This is a wonderful time in the business. Manufacturers are making so many interesting products, and customers are often well-educated in the products. When the right energy goes into the project, you know it, and you can feel a great sense of accomplishment.”

Spyglass is open Tuesday through Saturday; appointments are recommended. (609) 466-7900.

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