How to Choose Kitchen Cabinets?
When you’re in the middle of designing a new kitchen, choosing the right style of cabinets can be daunting. There are SO many different styles, colors, and materials to choose from. Do you get modern cabinets and risk being unfashionable in a few years, or do you go with traditional cabinets that could make your house look dated?
The cabinet doors are one of the first things people notice in your kitchen, so they have to make a positive impact!
Styling and décor aside, your kitchen cabinets can also be very important for storage and organization in your kitchen. As such, you need to take a good hard look at your cooking habits to decide what kind of cabinets would best serve you and your family in terms of meal prep.
There’s a lot to think about how to choose kitchen cabinets for a kitchen remodel, but here are Kitchen Infinity’s 12 tips to help with your decision.
1. Decide Whether You're Going Custom or Prefabricated
If you’ve got the budget to spend, custom cabinets are a great way to go. A professional kitchen design firm will take a blueprint of your space and figure out all the best ways to maximize the storage, style, and efficiency of your new kitchen cabinets.
You can get corner cabinets shaped perfectly to your walls, pull-out drawers that slot perfectly into the most convenient places, appliance garages nestled just where you’d want them – the options are limitless when you have custom cabinets. You can really build the perfect kitchen for the way you personally cook.
Don’t settle for generic cabinets for the kitchen – they should appeal to you!
Of course, the downside is that custom cabinets and kitchen design is very expensive. On average, you’re looking at around $500 per linear foot for well-made bespoke custom cabinets. On the other hand, stock cabinets start at around $70 per linear foot, so you can easily get a lot more bang for your buck even if they’re not tailor-made.
Ultimately, it all depends on you, your budget, and your needs. If you’re unsure, you could try semi-custom cabinets, whose price range falls in the middle. These semi-custom designs use stock inset doors styles and colors but they can be tailor-made to fit your kitchen more specifically.
2. Maximize Your Storage (especially in a small kitchen)
If you’re the sort of person who does a lot of cooking (if you’re reading this, then you probably are) then you probably have a lot of appliances, utensils, white goods, and foodstuffs to be storing away. If you’re in a smaller house or apartment, you probably struggle to find places to store everything in your kitchen.
As such, it’s a good idea to think about ways of maximizing the space in your kitchen cabinetry. For example, kitchen drawers are becoming more commonplace in contemporary designs because they improve organization and allow you to store more things in a stacked vertical manner.
For instance, a standard cabinet in the kitchen which is 3 feet high might be neglecting lots of potential storage – especially if there’s lots of empty space at the top. Installing practical drawers turns this into several levels of storage, maximizing the vertical as well as the horizontal space.
You also don’t need to mess around with doors!
With that said, wall cabinets are a great way to take advantage of additional storage without limiting your countertop area. Both base cabinets and wall cabinets can be designed in such a way as to take up less space. If your like natural wood tones, then adding simple plywood cabinets or medium density fiberboard shelves will add statement to your kitchen. And they’ll serve the purpose. Win, win!
It sounds so simple, but many people overlook these simple ways to improve their storage solutions. Ideally, you want to maximize every inch so you’re never having to throw things away or stop yourself from buying new blenders and food processors because you have nowhere to put them!
3. Think About How You Want Your Kitchen to be Organized
If you’re a bit of an organization junkie, then kitchen remodeling can really satisfy your inner control freak! There are so many unique ways to make your kitchen more organized and tailored to the way that you like to store your appliances, utensils, and food.
For instance, utensil dividers are an easy way to keep baking tools away from knives or keep meat-roasting thermometers separate from frying tools. If you have different types of kitchen utensils for many different types of cooking, separating these tools is a great way to keep you organized mid-bake.
No one wants to go searching for kitchen tools halfway through cooking!
Use a lot of spices? Consider a dedicated spice rack to keep all your seasonings in one place. Need to dispose of garbage easily? Try a pull-out trash can that stays hidden and keeps nasty smells concealed. You really can customize your kitchen to match your cooking style and keep everything in its place.
One of our favorite organization tools for modern kitchens is the appliance garage. These pull-up cabinets sit on top of your countertop, hiding all your commonly used appliances (blenders, toasters, etc.) when they’re not in use. It’s a great way to instill minimalism and tidiness in your cooking space, especially when you’re not using it to cook. Perfect for a classy kitchen remodel!
4. Decide Whether You Want Kitchen Drawers or Cabinets
Choosing kitchen cabinets’ designs is one thing, but have you considered kitchen drawers? In old-school kitchens, you could expect a ton of dark wooden cabinets, but in more modern styles, we’re seeing a lot of glossy drawers instead. A lot of people have a combination of both drawers and cabinets depending on their aesthetic and needs.
As mentioned earlier, kitchen drawers are great for maximizing your storage and enhancing your organization – it’s a lot easier to use things like utensil dividers and panty pull-outs when you’re working with a drawer-based kitchen. But of course there’s a drawback (no pun intended):
Drawers are more expensive than cabinets.
While cabinets may have a shelf or two inside, drawers require sliding mechanisms that are fragile, prone to breaking more easily, and more expensive to initially install. So while drawers are better on the whole, there’s a lot more hassle to deal with.
Conversely, if your space is quite large and storage space isn’t an issue for you, kitchen cabinets have a timeless aesthetic that can add a quirky pop to your home without costing a fortune or giving you lots of maintenance problems. They’re also much easier to clean and wall cabinets make use of additional space.
5. Think About The Appliances That You Use Most
There’s no point in having a kitchen designed for baking if you only ever make pasta. Similarly, there’s no point having drawers and drawers of kitchen storage if you only use the same few spoons and spatulas for all of your meals. You’re the only person who knows how you cook, so you can plan all the design elements for that.
Why have a kitchen designed for someone else?
For instance, modern kitchen cabinetry often comes integrated with built-in charging stations for electronic devices, which is great if you like to follow recipes on an iPad or tablet – you can keep it charged up while you cook. This is a perfect example of making your kitchen cabinetry work for you. Adding even such a small design element will add texture to your kitchen
Similarly, if you’re always using the same toaster and food processor for almost every meal, then adding a simple plywood cabinetry can that texture and utility to your kitchen! That way, you can effortlessly tidy them away when they’re not in use but have them instantly revealed when you want to get cooking.
Nice and easy!
Your cabinets should not be the focus of your kitchen – they should just help to make your kitchen easier to use. If there are large appliances that need space on your countertops, plan your cabinet designs around them instead of taking up valuable overhead counter space and making things awkward.
6. Modern vs. Traditional vs. Transitional -- Which One Are You?
Cabinet styles are all about personal taste. Your kitchen cabinets take up a lot of your kitchen’s aesthetic, so they can make the room pop if done correctly. Nonetheless, the style of your cabinets needs to marry up with the décor overall. A dark-wood classic kitchen with glossy white, glass fronts modern cabinets would look strange.
Modern cabinets are the way to go for many people, especially if they’re looking for an ROI as they plan on selling their home in the next few years. Shaker style cabinets are an example of a modern and traditional hybrid. Although trends are always evolving, interior design trends don’t tend to change radically fast, so you can bet that a modern design with slick frameless cabinets will still look pretty fashionable in the next 5 years.
There’s no guarantee, but it probably will!
With that said, modern cabinets run the risk of becoming dated and unfashionable as time rolls on, looking like they’re stuck in the past. On the other hand, traditional designs have stood the test of time and there will always be a large portion of the population who enjoy them, so they’re perhaps best if you want to sell your home in the next 10 years.
It’s wise to keep reselling in mind at all times.
If you’re not sure whether to go with old-school particle board cabinets or modern white glossy drawers, consider a transitional design instead. Transitional kitchens cabinets adopt elements of old and new, marrying them together for a unique look. Wooden drawers painted white with long metal handles are a good example of transitional cabinets – there’s a blend of new and old features. You might even find a nice, timeless cabinet box.
If you want an aesthetic that won’t age badly and will appeal to future buyers, transitional cabinet styles are a great all-rounder style of décor.
7. Decide Upon a Cohesive Color Story
Your kitchen’s color story must be cohesive, even if it’s a simple one. Your color story is basically the color palette of your kitchen and how all of the hues marry together to make the space feel warm, comfortable, spacious, and stylish. Nobody wants a kitchen that’s all one color – it’s boring and lacks dimension.
We’re after style here!
For example, if you’ve got a light beige floor and taupe walls, then matte black cabinet doors add that accent of darkness that you need to break up all that light. On the other hand, if you’ve got a solid wood flooring with duck egg blue walls, some off-white wood cabinets with black fittings pop as a feature of the room.
Take the opportunity to make your cabinet doors a feature of the room!
If you’re working with interior designers or kitchen designers, then make sure to talk to them about, especially if they’ve got a color palette to style in mind. While cabinets are practical for storage, they hit the eye sooner than your walls, countertops, or flooring, so it’s essentially to get that balance of colors just right.
8. Think About The Finish You Want For Your Kitchen Cabinets
Speaking of color stories, another important element of your kitchen’s aesthetic is the finish of your kitchen cabinet doors. The finish of your cabinets can make them pop as an accent or make them fade away into the background of the room, depending on the style you’re going for.
For instance, a glossy cabinet door is a staple of sleek, modern designs, while solid wood and particle board tend to be associated with traditional designs. If you like the idea of a transitional aesthetic, cabinet doors with lacquer and matte paint finishes tend to be used well for that classic-meets-modern vibe.
Your finish can make a huge difference in how your cabinets translate within the context of your cooking space. With the wrong kind of design, a lacquer gloss could look tacky and “too much” while a matte paint finish could look drab and understated, even if the color story its beautiful.
Ultimately, cohesiveness in your kitchen design is what you should be looking for while you are going through the kitchen remodel.
If you’re not sure which finish style is right for the cabinets in your kitchen, you can start by reading our blog exploring the best finish for kitchen cabinets by comparing 4 different paint finishes. Or speak to an interior designer or the team of kitchen designers at Kitchen Infinity who can help guide this process for you.
Also bear in mind that some finishes, like gloss-style, are easier to clean than others. If you’re prone to making a mess regularly, old-school wooden cabinets could prove hard to clean and increase your chance of bug infestations down the line.
If you want the ultimate wipe-down convenience, you could even go for stainless steel drawer pulls and cabinets, but you run the risk of looking like a restaurant kitchen rather than a cozy home cooking space!
9. Choose Fittings That Are Practical and Stylish
You might think that a door handle is just a door handle, but these fittings and small pieces of hardware can add a unique feel to your cabinets and help to support the kitchen’s theming overall. The color, design, finish, and materials of your door handles and cabinet knobs can say a lot about the feel you’re going for. A classic dark wood design with modern stainless steel handles will put the whole vibe off!
Kitchen cabinet handles, cabinet doors and fittings are especially important if you’re going for a transitional aesthetic where classic and modern references combine. A modern cabinet with an old-school iron handle could help to pull your aesthetic into the transitional zone, while classic wooden drawers with touch-to-open hardware make your old-fashioned kitchen feel newer.
The devil’s in the details, as they say!
Touch-to-open drawers are very popular in home kitchens these days, and they’re especially good if you do a lot of complex cooking and baking where you’re often having to search for different utensils. These drawers can also reduce the amount of hand-washing you need to do, as it’s easy to bump them open with your leg or arm if your hands are dirty.
Don’t underestimate the need for well-designed fittings, handles, doorknobs, cabinet doors and general kitchen cabinet hardware. Think about what’s practical yet also stylish and chic. There’s no point going for traditional iron cabinet handles if they’re awkward to open and a pain to keep clean!
10. Consider Childproofing Measures
If you have children, you need to consider ways to childproof your kitchen. Children are very good at getting into places you don’t want them to be, and there are plenty of things in the kitchen that you don’t want them to get their hands on. Childproofing must be a key element in your design if this is the case.
When you choose your face frame style, don’t forget about the prying little hands in your home! Maybe open shelving is not the best idea?
For example, if you store bleach and kitchen cleaning products under the sink, it’s wise to consider childproof locks on these cabinets which make it difficult for children to open but easy for adults to open. There are various styles of child-locks for cabinets, from magnetic locks to pull-cord locks and spring-release locks. Find the one that’s right for you.
On a similar note, you might want to consider soft-close style drawers for your kitchen. This makes it impossible for your children to get their fingers trapped in the drawers as you shut them. These drawers are designed to close normally until they get about 1 inch away from being shut – then they slowly and safely close themselves to completion.
Children are a joy, but these kinds of childproof measures are essential in the modern kitchen!
11. Look Into Under Cabinet Lighting Effects
In the past 10 years or so, it’s become very fashionable to use under cabinet lighting in your kitchen. Usually, LED light strips are placed underneath your wall-mounted cabinets in a way that cannot be seen by the naked eye. When they’re turned on, you get a wonderful warm glow that illuminates your countertops and makes the space feel very homely.
Under cabinet lighting is both stylish and practical – it gives your kitchen a chic lighting vibe while also making it easier to see your countertops at night. You can get built-in lighting with traditional tungsten bulbs if you want that warm, cozy feel. On the other hand, LED light strips have a cooler feel in terms of color temperature.
They’re also a lot cheaper and easier to manage.
The good thing about LED undercabinet lighting is that you can often change the color to whatever hue you want. Although this can easily look tacky, it’s possible to create some really interesting interior design style with colored under cabinet lighting that contrasts with the color story of your cabinets and countertops.
Under Cabinet lighting will obviously take a fair chunk out of your budget, but do not underestimate the difference that lighting can make to a home. The right lighting can make a drab space look interesting or a chic space look dull, so be careful to use under cabinet lighting to your advantage, both aesthetically and practically.
Nobody wants to cut onions in the dark!
12. What Cabinet Door Styles Do You Like?
There are hundreds of door styles to choose from and your kitchen cabinet door style is essentially the way that the actual cabinet door locks itself. Traditional designs like a Raised Arch cabinet doors evokes the feeling of an old, wholesome cottage kitchen, while modern designs like Slab doors are very minimal and place the eye’s focus elsewhere in the room.
If you look at kitchens with the old-meets-new transitional style, you’ll often see Recessed Square cabinet doors which are painted in matte colors. The cabinet profile immediately tells the onlooker what type of kitchen this is and where you want their eye to be drawn.
Hopefully their eye is drawn to the excellent style of your new kitchen!
Cabinet doors can be a feature or can be downplayed, depending on how you choose to use them. The material and finish of the new cabinets will often inform their profile and vice versa – it depends on the effect you’re trying to create and the design inspirations you’re drawing from.
Some people also choose to have glass door cabinets when they are choosing their new cabinets, making their plates and dishes easy to see. While this is great for convenience and practicality, it can make your kitchen look very “busy” if you do it too much, so be careful how you choose to present your cabinets. The same applies to some types of frameless cabinets.
So Which Kitchen Cabinet Should You Buy?
There are so many 100s of ways to use kitchen cabinets in your home, whether they’re serving practical purposes, storage purposes, aesthetic purposes, or a combination of them all. And before you make a sizable investment you might be curious about how often cabinets last or need to be replaced, the answer could surprise you.
Ultimately, your cabinets should speak to the larger design of your kitchen while maximizing the efficiency and comfort you feel when making home-cooked meals for you and your family.
We hope you enjoyed these 12 tips on how to choose kitchen cabinets! Our Kitchen Infinity consultants can take some of the pressure off and help you choose the perfect cabinets. Schedule a free in-home consultation today!