Choosing Kitchen Cabinets?
Learn kitchen design,
cabinet styles, layout ideas, and
storage solutions
for real people and real budgets.

A beautiful kitchen island on the showroom floor

The choices for kitchen cabinets are overwhelming!  If you've been looking at Lowe's or Home Depot cabinets, or (Heaven help you!) a dedicated kitchen showroom, did you:

  1. desert the salesperson because your patience and concentration left faster than you did?
  2. suddenly feel like a jogging... away from the overwhelming selection of cabinet door samples, colors, and finishes?
  3. have a jaw-drop moment when someone gave you a quote?   

No worries.  Get a first rate education so you can make decisions that are right for you... and not your supplier! 

You'll find all the info and kitchen design tips from how to choose among cabinet types, plan your kitchen layout, choose a cabinet manufacturer, and more. 

Even if you're not a gourmet chef, you can love to cook in your new kitchen! And for those of you on a budget (who isn't?), you'll find all the money saving tips the industry doesn't want you to know.

Kitchen Design with You in Mind

Designing a kitchen involves two aspects: beauty and function.  Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder.  But there are lots of kitchen design rules of thumb to help you make decisions along the way.

And since the kitchen is a major workspace in the heart of the home, you will need to make sure it really works for you, your family, and your lifestyle (not someone else's!).  

Function means your kitchen interior design choices work for your lifestyle, and the layout makes cooking a breeze.  So there are actually two aspects to making the kitchen work for you...

The Two Aspects to Kitchen Functionality

First:  Choose materials that are appropriate for your household.

Second:  Choose a layout that works for you and whoever else has activities in the kitchen.

You need a kitchen that works, whether you are:

  • a mom of 4 kids and 3 dogs
  • single (and loving it!)
  • a microwave cooking dynamo (guilty!!!)
  • vegetarian
  • gluten-free
  • a once-a-month cooking queen
  • a low carb wannabe foodie (guilty as charged again!)

No matter what kind of chef you are, you have unique storage needs.  The work triangle is not all you need to know, so make sure your kitchen works for you!  See kitchen designing secrets.

Cheap Kitchen Cabinets  = Cheap Kitchen Remodeling

One way to save is by using stock kitchen cabinetry.

Please feel free to use the phrase "spectacular value" if the the word "cheap" gives you the hives.  Now, for those of you on a budget (umm...who isn't?), see if my math makes sense to you...

Cabinets are one of the most expensive parts of a kitchen remodel, and one that's difficult (and did I mention expensive?!?) to change.  To keep your overall renovation budget in control, you need to get the most bang for your buck on cabinets as your first priority, whether they are thermofoil over mdf, or custom cherry cabinets with mahogany inlays. 

Only then can you budget accordingly with your leftovers (pun intended!) for countertops, appliances, and even floors and backsplashes. Why?  Think about it... it's much easier to replace any other element of a kitchen. 

Countertops, appliances, and flooring are easier to upgrade than replacing cabinets.

Plus, your kitchen remodel has many costs, several of which are easy to reduce but can look cheaper too (use black appliances instead of stainless steel, for example).  But kitchen cabinets give you so many more options for reducing overall kitchen remodeling costs, without necessarily affecting the final look!  It's really a great place to save.

After you've spent time figuring out what your heart really desires, you won't want to replace cabinets any time soon anyway.... so we'll look at all the money saving tips the industry doesn't want you to know. 

Even if you have champagne taste and a beer budget, you can get a great value! Explore ways to reduce your kitchen cabinet costs.

Choosing Your Kitchen Cabinets' Design Style...
Without Losing Your Mind!

While those glossy kitchen photos are beautiful, nothing in those brochures about kitchen cabinets gives you a clue how to decide on cabinet doors, stain color, or even painted kitchen cabinets.  Unless you see a photo of the exact kitchen you want that also fits your space, budget, and kitchen storage needs (ha!), how do you choose? 

Everyone knows it's good to have a rough idea of what you want before you shop, but did you know it's really best to finalize your cabinet style before you begin picking cabinet dimensions and box types?  (Find out why here.)

With raised panel doors and glazing to suggest age, Kraftsmaid Portsmith Maple is a great example of a traditional cabinet style.

The first step to picking a kitchen cabinet style is to decide on an overall kitchen decorating style, which you probably already have in mind.  The overall kitchen style should match the style of your cabinets because they take up the largest amount of visual space in the kitchen.  Are you:

  • Traditional and Classic
  • Country
  • Modern
  • Something else?

If you're not sure, learn more about kitchen design styles.

If you already know your style, you'll need to decide on materials:

  • maple? knotty pine? metal? bamboo? what about rich cherry cabinets with a white kitchen island?

...and cabinet box types

  • (frameless/european or traditional?).

We'll talk about which materials and box types go naturally with which kitchen design styles (try saying that five times fast!) since your decorating style will influence the type of box construction and materials you choose. 

Rejuvenate or Replace?  That is the question...

If you are not in a new construction situation, sometimes it's best to simply reface the existing kitchen cabinetry, rather than make a huge mess (and a bigger expense!) by renovating the kitchen down to the walls.  

Question: Are these new or refaced cabinets?

Answer: New. Some people worry that refaced cabinets will look like they've only been refaced.  But most new cabinets do not match the interior wood to the exterior, so there's no way people will know which you've done- unless you tell them!

Refacing cabinets can change the whole look of the room without changing out the cabinet boxes themselves, saving you loads of cash and renovation time.  Just make sure the boxes are structurally sound and the overall layout works for you before considering this option. 

Cabinet refacing allows you to change the color, finish, and even door style without breaking the bank.  You may even have enough leftover to change the plumbing or electrical, or knock a wall down!  Unfortunately, you can't really change the layout.   But that's the trade-off for getting a fresh look at a big discount. 

Refinishing your current cabinets is another (but messier!) alternative.  You can strip the finish from cabinets, just like furniture, and give it a new life with a new stain color for a (nearly) instant update.  If you are not a DIYer, you'll be able to find local companies offer refacing and refinishing services.

Kitchen Storage Ideas for Stock Cabinets, Custom Cabinets, or Your Current Cabinets

Whether you're building a new kitchen or rejuvenating the current one, after market cabinet organizers can save you money and frustration.  If you're buying new kitchen cabinetry, ask yourself if the cabinet manufacturer really gives a good value for all the impressive organizers they offer (are solid 3/4" wood drawer dividers a good value and good use of space? Maybe yes, maybe no!).

Another organization solution might fit your needs better and be cheaper to boot.  If you are open to options, you can find good values from manufacturers and bargain aftermarket kitchen organizers.

Are upgrades always a good idea?  It depends on your budget, priorities and goals for this integrated utensil organizer drawer.

Before even buying a simple food storage container, consider what type of cabinets (or pantry) will house them.  And where are you going to put those small kitchen appliances like the coffee maker, vacuum sealer, Cuisinart, and Vitamix? 

Don't make the mistake I made in my last kitchen design...not enough hidden storage (in the right place) for appliances acquired after I moved in!  And what about giant stockpots, spatulas and favorite frying pans?  Endless supply of bakeware?  Remember everything you want to keep needs a home.

And some storage methods simply work better for certain kitchen gadgets.  Do you need drawers, or pull out shelves behind doors?  What size drawer boxes are best?  You'll want to know before you choose cabinet sizes and cabinet box types...

If you have a small kitchen, design can be a real challenge.  You will really need to be on your toes to get all the storage needed (even if you pare your supplies down).  

Designing a small kitchen has its perks, though... you won't waste many steps to get your supplies!  (I'm serious about not wasting steps- it really is a benefit!)  Plan it well, and you too can love your kitchen.

Organizing the Kitchen Your Way

Plan for snacks when you organize your kitchen!

Kitchen cabinets are the workhorses of organizing your kitchen.  Storage and organization is the goal of kitchen cabinets, but there's usually multiple ways (with varying price tags) to store the same items.  And, kitchen cabinets aren't the only way to keep the necessities- other storage solutions like pot racks, freestanding furniture, and other innovative ideas can save the day.

Where should you store a particular item? That depends on you. 

Whatever your kitchen size, find out what type of storage options are best for your wallet, and how to organize your kitchen whether you're using cabinet organizers from the cabinetmaker, or aftermarket kitchen organizers.

Working with Standard Kitchen Cabinet Sizes and Types

Budget Tip:

Know your total budget for a kitchen renovation before going to the first store or showroom.  It's not so fun to eat Ramen Noodles every night because you blew your budget on the counter where you eat them!

You can never have too much space for storing your kitchen gear.  Where are you going to put your Cuisinart, stockpots, spatulas and favorite frying pans?  Some cabinets simply work better than others for certain types of kitchen items. Think about what you own, and what you plan to acquire.

Drawers are versatile, but can be pricey.  Here are a few things to consider:

  • Do you need drawers or will pull out shelves work (hidden behind regular cabinet doors)?  If so, how high should the sides be?
  • What size drawer boxes are best? 
  • Do you need glass cabinet doors to display a cherished collection? 
  • Do you have a heavy set of Le Creuset that would bring any lazy susan cabinet to its knees?  Drawers are sturdier when well built. Consider the weight of items to store.

Heavy pots like Le Creuset need super sturdy storage options.  This strong, full extension pullout shelf under a cooktop is the perfect cabinet type in the right place.  Using pullout shelves instead of drawers allowed more flexibility in the height between them, and therefore more storage capability. 

Heavy pots like Le Creuset are best kept in shallow or pull out shelves so you don't have to crouch to reach them.

You may want to make a list of what you're storing before you pick your kitchen cabinet sizes and types.  Find out which types of cabinets are best for your kitchen.

Kitchen Cabinets Design for Everyone

Kitchen cabinets are an integral part of a beautiful and functional kitchen.  Learn more about:

I hope you'll come back and visit... I'll be adding new content just as fast as my children let me.  ;)


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