Israeli Couple Match Form, Function in Wood
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Israeli Couple Match Form, Function in Wood

The Shamba husband-and-wife team have carved their niche in custom and creative designs.

After 37 years with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and now with the AJT, , Jaffe’s focus is lifestyle, art, dining, fashion, and community events with emphasis on Jewish movers and shakers.

Ester and Kobi Shamba make a great team in Gratitwood’s workshop.
Ester and Kobi Shamba make a great team in Gratitwood’s workshop.

Craftsmen/entrepreneurs and husband-and-wife team, Ester and Kobi Shamba, created Gratitwood, specializing in custom cabinets, fireplace walls, built-ins, vanities, entertainment centers, banquettes, mudrooms, kitchen cabinets, and bookcases.

Kobi stated, “We take on different and interesting projects and recently completed custom nightstands, a beautiful accent wall and a game table. This is why our job is so exciting — we do not have a classic catalog. We do custom work according to the taste and needs of each client. One customer may request a simple cabinet, while another may ask for several large projects. We ask for an ideal budget, and options start from $1,000 to $20,000.”

Kobi made this tallit rack from solid maple

Ester impassions that, “It’s not just about cabinets, but also about helping people express themselves making their homes more functional and organized.”

Early on, Kobi was recognized for his artistic talent and “golden hands.”
Ester said, “When we came to the U.S, he decided to pursue his woodworking dream, being self-taught through YouTube and consulting with other experts. He has a remarkable ability to learn quickly and is incredibly passionate about woodworking. In a short time, he began attracting clients, and that’s how the business started.”

One client contracted for this mudroom — made of domestic plywood with maple doors, painted with SW 6991 Black Magic.

Now they make a strong team. Kobi handles the carpentry, from design to construction and project management, and Ester manages marketing, customer service, and the back office. She also learned graphic design, traditional marketing, and social media marketing, and said, “We’ve built our entire business from scratch with our own hands—quite literally. I designed our logo, website, and took photographs of projects. Kobi learned to sketch, create quotes, paint, and install.”

Three years later, they expanded to include a local photographer, virtual assistant, and cabinet designer. They work with five outsourcers in woodworking and installations. They have a 3,000-square-foot industrial workshop and office in Marietta.

Technically, Kobi said, “The most important tools we have that a homeowner wouldn’t typically have access to are industrial machines,” for example, a planer, jointer, drum sander, and a computer numerical control, a technology that uses computers to control machines in manufacturing processes. It’s a high-tech way to automate and precisely control the movements of tools and machinery in industries such as metalworking, woodworking, and even 3D printing.”

Gratitwood primarily uses wood, occasionally incorporating glass. The most popular types include plywood, MDF (medium density fiberboard), solid maple, and oak. They work closely with local wood and lumber suppliers, most of whom are domestic, and also import materials from Canada and Indonesia.

This custom blue game table is a “stunner,” made of maple, painted with SW 6783 Amalfi.

Ester stated, “While we haven’t used exotic woods from Brazil or Zebra yet, we are open to exploring new materials based on client preferences and project requirements. We encourage designers to contact us with specific requests.”

In terms of trends, most clients prefer traditional styles, particularly white classic shaker-style cabinet doors. The Shambas are noticing requests for more colors, flat modern doors, and more natural looks with coated white oak or walnut.

Affiliated with Congregation Ariel in Dunwoody, they had the honor of being part of a tallit stand donation. Ester said, “We charged a symbolic amount just for the materials and did everything else for free, happily. While we haven’t yet made an ark, it’s not quite our niche.”

This living room built-in is composed of birch plywood and maple doors, painted with SW 7004 Snowbound.

For background, Ester grew up in Bat Ayin, a settlement near Jerusalem, and Kobi is from Jerusalem. Both served in the IDF and met while working a security job after the Army. Kobi’s mother, Cyndy, an American, emigrated at 18. Her family, the Shtinbachs, immigrated to the U.S. after the Holocaust from Lithuania to Norfolk, Va.

In considering the company name, Ester said, “Gratitude is one of our core family values, bringing us happiness, optimism, and a positive attitude. Gratitude fosters more miracles. The moment Kobi suggested ‘Gratitwood,’ we knew it was perfect. ‘Gratitude’ and ‘wood’ encapsulate who we are in just two words!”

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