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The Ultimate Guide to Kitchen Cabinet

Discover the ultimate guide to choosing the perfect kitchen cabinets for your home. Explore styles, materials, and trends for a timeless kitchen design.

Table of Contents

The kitchen is the heart of the home, and designing it requires your undivided attention. Out of everything else in a kitchen, cabinets are one of the most important accessories. That is why it is important to blend them with the interiors of your kitchen and tailor them as per your requirements.

So, where should you start from?

Picking up the cabinet styles or the material? Wherever you begin, it can all be overwhelming. Don’t worry because this ultimate guide is going to help you get the most exquisite kitchen cabinets. 

However, before jumping straight into buying kitchen cabinets, here are some points you should consider.

What are the Things You Should Consider Before Getting Kitchen Cabinets?

  • First things first: You have to determine your budget range from the start. This will help you narrow down your options and prevent overspending.
  • Select a door style that compliments your kitchen’s overall design. You can pick traditional, modern, shaker, flat-panel, and more.
  • Pay close attention to construction quality. Look for features like dovetail joints, solid wood frames, and sturdy hardware for longevity.
  • Plan the layout in such a way that you get maximum storage capacity and functionality from the cabinets.
  • You can consider features like pullout shelves, lazy susans, drawers with dividers, etc.
  • Pick handles and knobs that can mix well with the overall kitchen design.
  • Please select deep drawers for pots and pans.
  • Check for the quality of drawer construction; for example, a soft-close feature can improve the quality of your cabinets.
  • Choose reputable brands or manufacturers to get your project done.
  • Ask for a warranty period on all the products you are buying for the cabinets.
  • Before purchasing, grab a measuring tape and note down every size that is okay for the cabinets. 
  • Last but not least, pick something that has a resale value. 

Now that you know the important considerations that can save you a lot of time and money, let’s move forward to getting some kitchen cabinets.

What Are the Different Sizes of Kitchen Cabinets?

Kitchen cabinets provide you with the ability to store things aesthetically. To fulfill this purpose and make your kitchen look more neat & clean, here are the different types of kitchen cabinets you can pick from.

Kitchen Cabinets, different sizes

Base Cabinets

Base cabinets are the foundation of kitchen storage. Explore their functionality and storage capacity along with the liberty you have with design. 

Functionality and Storage

Design and Customization

Countertop Support

Ideal for stocking pots, pans, dishes, and large items.

No size limit; customizable width according to kitchen design.

Provides support for countertops

Option to include additional drawers, shelves, or both.

Ensures a stable and functional surface for food preparation.

Wall Cabinets

Next, we have wall cabinets, and as the name suggests, they definitely go on the walls above the countertops and base cabinets. 

Functionality and Storage

Design and Customization

Accessibility and Reach

Primarily used for storing items that are not needed daily.

Available in various sizes to fit different kitchen configurations.

Requires a step stool or higher reach for top shelves.

Typically installed above countertops, leaving room for customization.

Important to consider accessibility based on the user’s height and kitchen layout

Options for glass doors or open shelving for a more decorative touch.

May have pull-down or pull-out features for improved access to upper shelves

Pantry Cabinets

You can preserve dry goods, canned items, and kitchen staples in such cabinets. Install some organizers, such as pullout baskets, adjustable shelves, door-mounted racks, etc, to enhance the functionality of tall cabinets. Your pantry could never be more organized than this.

Functionality and Storage

Design and Customization

Accessibility and Reach

Specialized for storing pantry items like dry goods, canned goods, spices, and snacks.

Available in various sizes and configurations to fit different kitchen layouts.

Adjustable shelves for easy reach and organization

Options for walk-in or reach-in pantry cabinets based on available space.

Can be customized based on user choices and mobility considerations.

Tall Cabinets

As the name simply explains, they touch both ceiling and floor together at one time. Tall cabinets are designed to increase vertical storage space.

Functionality and Storage

Design and Customization 

Accessibility and Reach

Primarily used for storing pantry items, brooms, tall kitchen appliances, and large cooking utensils.

Available in various heights and widths to suit kitchen needs.

Requires consideration for accessibility, especially for top shelves.

Customizable with pull-out trays, baskets, or drawers for enhanced organization.

Pull-out mechanisms or rotating shelves enhance access to items.

Specialty Cabinets

Hutches are basically cabinets used for display and storage. You can have open shelves, glass doors, or even a combination of both. Appliance bays can have kitchen things on display, like mixers, blenders, or coffee makers.

Functionality and StorageDesign and Customization
Storage and display of wine bottles.Wine racks may vary in size, accommodating different wine bottle configurations.
You can also keep wine glasses or accessories for display.Slider pull-outs can be integrated into different cabinet types based on storage needs.

What Style Cabinet is Timeless?

Let’s explore some kitchen cabinet styles, especially the ones that have proven to be timeless.

kitchen cabinet, ultimate guide

Shaker

Door Style

Material and Finish

Color Choices

Shaker cabinets feature a five-piece door design with a flat center panel. 

Wood Construction: Shaker cabinets are commonly made of wood, with options such as maple, cherry, or oak.

While white and off-white are popular choices, Shaker cabinets are versatile in terms of color. 

The door construction includes two vertical stiles, two horizontal rails, and a recessed center panel.

Neutral Finishes: These cabinets often come in neutral colors, providing versatility for kitchen designs.

They can be found in various wood stains and painted finishes, accommodating different design preferences.

Craftsman (Mission)

Door Design

Functional Features & styling elements

Color Palette

Flat panels with a simple and clean design.

It usually has open shelves. They allow you to display kitchenware or decorative items.

Earthy and warm tones are commonly used.

Often includes vertical lines or slats to add visual interest. 

May feature built-in storage solutions for efficiency.

Natural wood colors prevail, allowing the beauty of the wood grain to shine.

Showcases the natural beauty of wood.

Clean lines and squared edges create a simple yet elegant look. 

Stained or glazed finishes may be applied to enhance the richness of the wood.

Flat-Front (Slab)

Door Design

Functional Features & styling elements

Color Palette

A single, flat door or drawer front without raised panels, frames, or detailing.

Flat fronts offer easy cleaning and maintenance.

Neutral and monochromatic colors are commonly used.

Often includes vertical lines or slats to add visual interest. 

May include handle-free or touch-to-open mechanisms for a sleek, modern appearance.

White, gray, black, and natural wood tones are popular choices

Suitable for both residential and commercial spaces. 

The simplicity and modern appeal of the flat-front design.

Beadboard

Door Design

Functional Features & styling elements

Color Palette

Cabinet doors with vertical grooves or “beads.

The texture of the beadboard adds a touch of warmth and character to the kitchen.

A range of colors, but white or light colors are popular choices

These grooves are evenly spaced and run the length of the door. 

Open shelving, glass inserts, or other elements to enhance both functionality and aesthetics.

Painted in various hues to match different kitchen color schemes.

Handle-Free

Door Design

Functional Features & styling elements

Color Palette

Lacks traditional handles, pulls, or knobs on the cabinet doors and drawers.

Has touch latches or push-open systems, providing easy access without the need for handles.

A neutral color palette emphasizing simplicity and a minimalist aesthetic.

The absence of visible hardware contributes to a clean and contemporary look. 

Smooth, clean lines contribute to easy cleaning and maintenance.

White, gray, black, and other monochromatic tones are popular choices.

Raised-Panel (Traditional)

Door Design

Functional Features & styling elements

Color Palette

A door with a raised center panel surrounded by a frame.

The raised-panel design adds a classic and timeless aesthetic to the kitchen.

Rich and warm tones, such as deep browns, cherry reds, or creamy whites

The raised panel adds depth and dimension to the door. 

Storage solutions, such as pull-out trays or organizers, to enhance functionality

Stained or glazed finishes are common to highlight the natural beauty of the wood

Glass-Font

Door Design

Functional Features & styling elements

Color Palette

Glass panels into the cabinet doors.

Glass-front cabinets may have adjustable or fixed shelving to accommodate different items.

Frame colors often complement the overall kitchen color scheme.

May cover the entire door or be inset, allowing visibility into the cabinet’s interior.

Can be used strategically to break up solid cabinet designs and create focal points.

Allows for a visually appealing display of items inside.

What Are Framed and Frameless Cabinets?

Now that you know about different cabinet styles, you must know that you have two options for cabinet frames. You can either keep them framed or unframed. Let’s see what the real fuss is. 

Kitchen Cabinet Guide Framed and Frameless Cabinets

Framed

  • Construction: They have traditional construction with a face frame. It provides structural support and acts as a visible frame around the cabinet opening.
  • Doors and drawers: For framed cabinets, doors and drawers are attached to the face frame.
  • Installation: Easier to install, especially for DIY projects, due to the added structural support provided by the face frame.

Frameless

  • Construction: Frameless cabinets, also known as European or full-overlay cabinets. They lack a face frame, resulting in a sleek, seamless appearance.
  • Door and drawers: Here, the doors and drawers are directly attached to the cabinet box. You can have a more minimalistic look with them. 
  • Installation: You have to have more precision with frameless cabinets because there is no frame for support here. Align the doors and drawers accurately.

Choosing a Door Overlay

You can pick from the three-door overlay options below.

Partial Overlay

  • Design: These cabinets have doors and drawers that cover only a part of the cabinet face frame. Some portion of the frame is visible here. 
  • Space utilization: There is less storage space because of a visible face frame.
  • Cost: It is more cost-effective than the other two options mentioned below.

Full Overlay

  • Design: These kinds of cabinets have doors and drawers that cover the entire face frame. 
  • Space utilization: There is more interior space because of the absence of a face frame. Allows for a more clean and efficient design.
  • Cost: Slightly more expensive than partial overlay because of large doors and additional material.

Inset

  • Design: Inset cabinets have doors and drawers that fit into a cabinet frame. This creates a flush surface with a face frame.
  • Space utilization: Have less interior storage space. The doors and drawers are sitting within the frame.
  • Cost: This is more expensive because of construction and additional hardware requirements.

Door Design Options

Here are some interesting door design options for you to explore. 

Door Design Options

Raised-Panel Doors

There is a raised center panel by a frame. You can have details on the frame and contribute to the traditional and sophisticated look.

Features:

  • Classic and timeless designs
  • Adds depth and dimension

Cathedral

This door design has an arched or curved top panel resembling cathedral windows. They can surely become a focal point in your kitchen.

Features:

  • Elegant and intricate
  • Ideal for a formal or luxurious setting

Shaker-Style Doors 

This is a five-piece door with a flat center panel. There are square edges, and it is suitable for both traditional and modern kitchens.

Features:

  • Simple, clean lines
  • Versatile for various design styles

Beadboard

You will see vertical panels with narrow grooves. This type of door brings a more rustic charm to the kitchen.

Feature:

  • Adds texture and charm
  • Ideal for cottage or farmhouse aesthetics

Slab 

You can have single, unembellished flat panels. These kinds of doors will create a smoother and more streamlined look.

Features:

  • Sleek and minimalist
  • Easy to clean and maintain

Louvered

There are horizontal slats or louvers that allow airflow while adding visual interest. 

Features:

  • Provides ventilation
  • Adds a unique, tropical, or beachy vibe

Finishes

If you are confused about whether to finish your cabinets or keep them unfinished, don’t panic. Read about their benefits and then proceed.

Kitchen cabinet guide Finishes

Unfinished Cabinets

  • Appearance: You will have raw woody cabinets without any painting or staining.
  • Aesthetic: Definitely you can embrace the natural beauty of the wood grain.
  • Customization: There is huge liberty for you to apply stain, paint, or whatever you want to.
  • DIY-Friendly: If you want to do a DIY project, it is good to go.

Stained Cabinets

  • Appearance: These are wood cabinets treated with a stain to enhance and darken the natural color of the wood.
  • Aesthetic: It showcases the wood’s grain pattern.
  • Traditional look: This is more common in traditional and rustic kitchen designs.
  • Variety: They are available in various grain colors, from dark to light shades.

Painted Cabinets

  • Appearance: Coat your cabinets with paint and get a smooth and opaque finish.
  • Aesthetic: The kitchen can become even more versatile.
  • Customization: You can pick from a wide range of paint colors.
  • Contemporary look: It is good for a modern and contemporary kitchen style.

Thermofoil Cabinets

  • Appearance: You will have a smooth and seamless surface with consistent color and finish.
  • Material: It is like vinyl. It is heat-applied to MDF or engineered wood.
  • Durability: It is resistant to moisture. You can have them in your kitchen and bathrooms,
  • Contemporary design: They are commonly used in modern and minimalist kitchen designs.

Duraform-Finished Cabinets

  • Appearance: They offer a seamless, sleek finish with a consistent color.
  • Material: It is a durable, thermofoil-like material, the one applied to MDF.
  • Durability: It is immune to warping, cracking, and peeling.
  • Contemporary design: You can have modern kitchen cabinets that need a clean and uniform appearance.

Lacquer

  • Appearance: High-gloss finish because of multiple layers of lacquer.
  • Aesthetic: It creates a sleek and reflective surface.
  • Maintenance: You have to clean it carefully to avoid any scratches.
  • Contemporary design: It is often used in modern and high-end kitchen designs.

Which Finishes Are Used In Kitchen Cabinets?

There are various finishes available that you can use for your kitchen cabinets. Choose the one suitable for your liking and your kitchen interior.

Matte Paint

AppearanceLow sheen, no shine or gloss.
CharacteristicsIt offers a smooth and flat finish, hiding imperfections well.
UseSuitable for a modern and contemporary look.

Satin Paint

AppearanceLow to medium sheen.
CharacteristicsStrikes a balance between matte and glossy finishes.
UseVersatile and suitable for various kitchen styles.

High-Gloss Paint

AppearanceReflective and shiny.
CharacteristicsProvides a sleek and modern look.
UsePopular in contemporary and high-end kitchen designs.

Water-Based Stain

AppearancePenetrates the wood for a natural look.
CharacteristicsQuick drying and low odor.
UseEnhances the wood grain, commonly used in traditional and rustic styles.

Oil-Based Stain

AppearanceDeeply penetrates for a rich finish.
CharacteristicsSlower drying time, may have a stronger odor.
UseEnhances the natural beauty of the wood, fit for various styles.

Polyurethane Varnish

AppearanceClear and protective.
CharacteristicsDurable and resistant to scratches and stains.
UseCommonly used for sealing and protecting wooden surfaces.

Conversion Varnish

AppearanceClear and durable.
CharacteristicsRemarkably long-lasting and immune to moisture, chemicals, and heat.
UseHigh-end finish often used in custom or luxury cabinetry.

Glazed

AppearanceClear finish with added color accents in crevices.
CharacteristicsEnhances details and adds depth.
UseCommonly used for a traditional or antique look.

What is The Best Joinery for Cabinets?

It is not easy to find the right pieces and get a perfect cabinet just like that. You have to have the exact joint. 

The Best Joinery for Cabinets

Dovetail Joints

  • Strength: They have exceptional strength and good durability because of interlocking teeth.
  • Common use: You can use them in high-end custom cabinetry.

Mortise and Tenon

  • Strengths: They are strong and durable. You can have a solid connection between each joint with them.
  • Common use: You can use them both in traditional and modern cabinetry.

Dado

  • Strengths: They provide good structural support and align the components properly.
  • Common use: You can use them in mass-produced cabinets and bookshelves.

Rabbet

  • Strengths: They are simple and quick to produce. You can have decent strength from them.
  • Common use: You can find them commonly in mass-produced or budget-friendly cabinets.

Butt Joint

  • Strengths: They are simple and quick to assemble. You can use them for basic cabinetry.
  • Common use: Use them for budget-friendly projects or DIY cabinets

Kitchen Cabinet Accessories

You will need these kitchen cabinet accessories, i.e., pantries, pullouts, dividers, etc. 

KraftMaids Innovations-Storage Accessories

Pantries

  • Purpose: It provides more storage space for food items, small appliances, or kitchen supplies.
  • Types: You can buy freestanding pantries, pullout pantry shelves, or built-in pantry cabinets.
  • Benefits: They can increase the organization space and accessibility of kitchen essentials.

Pullouts

  • Purpose: They can increase cabinet space and improve accessibility.
  • Types: There are pullout shelves, pullout spice racks, or pullout trays.
  • Benefits: You can have easy access to items stored at the back of cabinets, optimizing storage efficiency.

Dividers

  • Purpose: They can separate and organize items within cabinets or drawers.
  • Types: There are tray dividers, utensil dividers, or adjustable dividers.
  • Benefits: They can help in decreasing the chaos and promote a tidy and organized interior.

Wastebaskets

  • Purpose: They are good if you want a designated space for waste disposal within the cabinet.
  • Types: There are pullout wastebaskets and under-sink wastebasket cabinets.
  • Benefits: They can conceal waste bins, maintaining a clean and streamlined appearance.

Organizers

  • Purpose: They help streamline storage and improve accessibility.
  • Types: There are cabinet door organizers, pullout organizers, or tiered shelving.
  • Benefits: You can maximize space usage and keep kitchen items neatly arranged.

Toe Kicks

  • Purpose: They cover the space between the cabinet and the floor.
  • Types: You can find decorative toe kicks or functional toe kick drawers.
  • Benefits: They enhance the aesthetics of the kitchen while providing a finished look.

Corner Solutions

  • Purpose: With them, you can utilize and optimize corner cabinet space
  • Types: There are Lazy Susans, pullout shelves, or swing-out trays.
  • Benefits: It eliminates hard-to-reach corners, making the most of available storage.

Rollout Trays

  • Purpose: They improve access to lower cabinet items.
  • Types: You can have pullout trays or rollout shelves.
  • Benefits: They provide easy access to pots, pans, or other items stored in lower cabinets.

Spice Racks

  • Purpose: They are useful to organize and provide easy access to spices.
  • Types: You can have pullout spice racks and built-in spice drawers.
  • Benefits: They keep spices visible and accessible for efficient cooking.

Cutting Board Pullouts

  • Purpose: They can create a convenient cutting surface within the cabinet.
  • Types: Buy some pullout cutting board trays.
  • Benefits: You can save countertop space and have a dedicated area for food preparation.

What Do Kitchen Cabinets Cost?

If you are wondering how much it is going to cost to upgrade the kitchen cabinets. Here are the details.

DIY stock cabinets

Because these cabinets are pre-manufactured and are available in standard sizes, they are a more affordable option. 

  • Cost range: $50 to $400 per linear foot.
  • Installation: It can save you labor costs. But to make them more aesthetic, you might need to spend some for a polished look.

Custom Cabinets With Professional Installation

They are made to order. You can get personalized designs, sizes, and features. 

  • Cost range: $500 to $1,500 or more per linear foot. 
  • Installation: For a seamless fit, you’ll have to spend money on professional installation

Material choice

However, the entire cost does matter on what kind of material you are choosing. 

Cost range: 

  • Laminate or Thermofoil: $50 to $300 per linear foot.
  • Wood veneer: $100 to $400 per linear foot.
  • Solid wood: $200 to $800 or more per linear foot.
  • Exotic woods or high-end finishes: $500 to $1,500 or more per linear foot. 

How to Clean Kitchen Cabinets

It might seem like a cumbersome job, but if you follow a routine, you’ll get it done in just a few minutes. 

Styles with Deep Crevices

For these kinds of cabinets, you should: 

Routine Dusting

Use a delicate, lint-free cloth or microfiber duster.

Surface Wiping

Wet a cloth with a mild, soapy solution for crevice cleaning.

Polishing

Polish with a furniture wax or oil suitable for the cabinet material.

Finishes Like Satin

If you have cabinets with satin finishes, you should follow this routine:

Routine Dusting

Dust regularly with a gentle cloth or duster to prevent buildup.

Surface Wiping

Wipe with a wet cloth using a mild detergent or soapy water.

Polishing

Polish with a soft, dry cloth to maintain the satin sheen.

Harder Woods Like Hickory and Oak

It is not that hard to clean harder woody cabinets; just follow through:

Routine Dusting

Dust surfaces frequently to prevent scratches from particles.

Surface Wiping

Wipe with a damp, well-wrung cloth to clean and protect the finish.

Polishing

Use a recommended hardwood polish to enhance and protect the wood.

Kitchen Cabinet Installation/ DIY Friendliness

You can have a friendly DIY session or ask for a professional worker for complex fittings. 

Basic DIY Skills

For the basic DIY process, you need the following:

  • Measuring tape
  • Power drills
  • Screwdriver
  • level

For ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets, read the manual carefully. If you follow each instruction precisely, you’ll be able to get your cabinets ready to use very quickly.  

More Complex Skills like Fitting Mortise-and-Tenon Joints

For high-end cabinets, you need to fit mortise-and-tenon joints. This is a more advanced job and requires you to cut and join the components precisely. You can do this if you know how to use a table saw or router.  

Refacing Existing Cabinets is a Viable DIY Project.

This basically means updating the cabinet surface while keeping the old framework intact. You can apply veneer, paint, or replace cabinet doors and hardware. Just pay attention to details and have patience. 

What Is the Best Material for Kitchen Cabinets

If you have decided on the type of cabinet style you are going to go with, it is time to choose the right material for those cabinets. Well, there is wood, plywood, and more. 

the Best Material for Kitchen Cabinets

Laminate

It is a synthetic material with layers of paper or fabric bonded together to a wooden core. Let’s explore its benefits.

Advantages: 

  • Resistance to stains
  • Easy to clean. Wipe off the spills easily with a wet cloth
  • Smooth surface

Solid Wood

Wood is a traditional choice and has a timeless appeal. Wood has been used in kitchen construction for years. 

Advantages: 

  • Classic and timeless appeal
  • Adds a bit of character to the entire space
  • The more inviting atmosphere in your house

Steel

Steel is used because it has a sleek appearance, is durable, and gives your kitchen a modernist aesthetic. 

Advantages:

  • Durable
  • It is non-porous and easy to clean
  • Steel is resistant to environmental factors 

MDF

The full form of MDF is a medium-density fibreboard. It is a cost-effective option for solid wood. It is made with the help of wood fibers and resin. Well, the process involves compressing wood fibers with resin. One of the finest examples is the Iridescent MDF Kitchen Cabinet.

Advantages:

  • Smoother and more even surface
  • Consistent paint application
  • The modern appearance of your kitchen’s interior

Plywood

When you mix plywood with cross-grain layers, you can get exceptional stability. It can resist warping and cracking. Even better than MDF. 

Advantages:

  • Keeps your cabinets running for a long time. 
  • Durable
  • Exceptional stability

Wrapping Up!

Apart from everything else, like choosing the highest quality materials, you have to maintain the cabinets on a regular basis. You can either hire reputed professionals or use mild cleaners to clean the cabinets. You should do it to keep the cabinets running for a long time and identify any loose hinges before you lose the entire cabinet. 

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