Kitchen Cabinets Shopping Guide

Kitchen Cabinets Shopping Guide

Although Utilitarian in nature, cabinetry is one of the key decorative elements of any kitchen. Besides gracefully storing all of your essentials, cabinetry defines a kitchen's overall look, setting the tone and mood for everything that follows. Outfitting a kitchen with rich, cherry cabinetry creates a warm enclave, while a kitchen featuring painted white cabinets evokes a crisp, country appeal. The design impact of cabinetry has resulted in more available options including elaborate moldings, hand-carved details, distressed looks, and modern finishes. There are many things to consider before you make any decisions. Visiting home design and hardware stores and jotting down ideas and notes of what you like and dislike will help narrow your search and save you time.

Buying Basics

Before allowing yourself to be swept away by the beautiful cabinet choices that are currently available, do some homework.

Prioritize Your Needs

Do you want to maximize your storage space or are you just ready for a new look? For inspiration, look through magazines, visit manufacturer's websites and request product brochures, go to cabinet stores, and visit showrooms at home improvement stores. Showrooms will have displays that feature various materials, finishes, and detailing.

Know Your Materials

Cabinets can be built from solid woods such as oak, cherry, pine, walnut, or maple. These cabinets are durable but can be expensive. Most cabinets are made from wood composites and faced with wood veneer, laminate, or metal. Those give the same effect as solid wood but at a much lower cost.

Be Smart About "Custom."

Custom cabinets are built to fit exact specifications including style, size, and storage requirements. As with any custom made product, you can get exactly what you want made to order, but the costs will be higher. With semi-custom, you can have cabinetry made to your order in a factory. Choosing from the manufacturer's selection of materials, sizes, finishes, and styles can save you money.

Consider "Stock" Options

Stock options are ready-to-ship styles that allow designers to design a variety of preconstructed units to fit just about any space. These work best for budget-conscious renovators. Many designers can obtain a customized look with stock cabinetry simply by the way they arrange them, paint them, add moldings, or upgrade the hardware.

Finer Points

Fine points matter when it comes to cabinetry. The little details will add to both function and style. For example, cabinets can be framed or frameless. Face-framed cabinets, a more traditional look, have a support around the front of the cabinet creating the appearance of a frame around the door. Frameless models feature a doweled construction. This allows the doors to fit flush with the cabinet box and creates a more contemporary look. Cabinet doors are also available in a variety of styles from traditional to country to contemporary, and your options don't end there. You can choose from a host of construction styles including:

  • Raised-panel squares
  • Raised-panel Roman arches
  • Raised-panel classic arches
  • Recessed panels
  • Shaker style
  • And More!

Once you've chosen a door style, natural choices in terms of finish and decorative hardware become evident. Choose a finish that compliments the construction material you've chosen. For instance, a finish that appears distressed or softly color washed works well with farmhouse-style cabinetry. One of the easiest ways to update the look of your kitchen is by replacing cabinet knobs and pulls. Whether you choose sleek metal pulls  or antique drawer handles, hardware adds the finishing touch to cabinets and offers a chance to make a strong personal style statement.