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Kitchen Cabinet Selection Basics: Style and Design

You already know what to expect in kitchen cabinet quality, now it's time to decide on design and style

Kitchen cabinet design and style require careful consideration. After all, they'll be in place for a very long time and may act as the focal point for the upper landscape of your kitchen. The choices are endless -- woods, laminates, composites, stainless steel and lacquers. Some of these decisions are easily solved by the decor you choose, whether it is traditional, arts and crafts, contemporary, or country, to name a few.

One design choice to consider with regard to funcationality and flexibility is: Do you want frame or frameless? In the former, shelving and boxes are typically particle or pressed board (plywood) unless cabinetry is custom built for a high-end home. In a mid-range, you may find the box is comprised of a laminate that is less susceptible to moisture. The frame at the front of the box will be made of solid wood and some of it will be visible around the door. Frameless doors (also known as European style) are sized to fit the outer diameters of the cabinets and act as the front frame. Both are equally durable, but frameless cabinetry allows for a little more interior accessibility.

Next, you may want to think about see-through doors. No doubt these can add an openness and rich styling for any setting, and they're elegant when storing finer serving pieces. If you're the organized type with plenty of shelf and storage space, these can add tremendous appeal to a kitchen. They also can really open up a small room by adding depth. However, if you have too many dishes to stash away or tend to pile things into your cabinets, these may not be the best choice. It's far too easy to create a cluttered look if things are not neatly in place.

The wood you choose will affect the price with oak and pine at the least expensive end. Cherry and maple are up the scale a little and teak or mahogany are generally among the highest. With the many finishes available today, you may simply want to save a little money on the base and spring for a custom finish.

In fact, the finishes in today's market are quite astounding: white-washed or distressed, glazes, and trendy new stains are popular. Also, the choice of hardware can make a fashion statement, especially with the many exposed hinges and handle options. You may even choose to use your old hardware if it's in good shape. There are new spray paints available that are made for woods and metals that will give you a dramatic color or patina change when your budget is tight.

Study your storage issues as well before making any purchases. Do you need pull-out shelving or revolving corner cabinets?

Unless you're an accomplished do-it-yourselfer, it's best to seek the help of a professional to configure the layout and size of cabinets needed. You'll find expert help at most home improvement stores and, of course, at specialty shops. Even after purchasing the cabinetry, you can still make the installation, but it is at least a two-person job. If upper cabinets are not plumb, the doors will sag and overall appearance will be sloppy.

Buying new kitchen cabinets is no easy task. Plan ahead, shop the styles and compare pricing before you decide on a design. New or refurbished cabinetry will give your space an exciting new appearance!



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