Essential Features for Kitchen Cabinetry

Kitchen cabinetry is one of the most important elements of any kitchen design. The right cabinetry provides both form and function, adding style while also providing essential storage and organization. When selecting kitchen cabinets, there are several key features to consider to ensure you choose options that are high-quality, durable, and customized to your cooking and lifestyle needs.

Construction and Materials

The construction and materials of kitchen cabinets impact how well they withstand daily use and last over time. Opt for solid wood or plywood box construction over cheaper particle board options. Dovetail joinery and full-extension drawer glides also provide enhanced durability. Choose cabinets coated in high-quality finishes to resist scratching, scuffing, and other signs of wear and tear. Common material options include:

  • Solid Wood: Cherry, maple, oak, and hickory woods add beauty and withstand heavy use. More expensive than plywood but highest quality.
  • Plywood: Made from bonded wood fibers. Provides durability at a lower cost than solid wood. Veneer covers plywood to give attractive cabinet face.
  • Thermofoil: Vinyl coating applied to medium density fiberboard (MDF). Provides uniform finish that resists chipping or peeling. Easy to clean. More affordable option.
  • Laminate: Paper coating adhered to particle board or MDF. Prone to chipping over time but budget-friendly.

Storage Capacity

The layout and storage options of cabinets should accommodate everything needed for cooking and kitchen tasks. Consider the number of base cabinets, drawers, pull-out shelves, and other organizational features needed to hold pans, small appliances, pantry items, and more. Other aspects impacting storage capacity include:

  • Door/Drawer Front Style: Full overlay doors cover cabinet face fully while inset leaves portion exposed. Drawers should have full-extension glides.
  • Adjustable Shelves: Allow customization of cabinet interior space.
  • Lazy Susan: Help access items in corner cabinetry.
  • Roll-out Trays: Make items in back of cabinet reachable.
  • Drawer Dividers: Separate flatware, utensils, or other items.


Don’t overlook the importance of hardware like knobs, pulls, and hinges. Hardware should be sturdy enough for frequent opening and closing. Opt for soft-closing hinges and slides to prevent slamming. Choose hardware finishes and styles aligning with your kitchen’s overall design aesthetic. Key hardware considerations include:

  • Hinges: Look for durable, self-closing varieties with lifetime warranty. Concealed hinges provide clean appearance.
  • Pulls/Knobs: Choose based on comfort, grip, and visual appeal. Larger pulls easier to grasp.
  • Drawer Slides: Full extension slides fully reveal drawer contents and allow access to back. Side-mount slides mount out of sight on drawer sides.
  • Finish: Match other metallic finishes in kitchen like light fixtures. Oil-rubbed bronze, matte black, brushed nickel, and chrome popular options.

Customized Storage Solutions

Stock cabinet sizes may not fit needs or space precisely. Custom cabinetry tailors storage to your cooking style, items owned, and kitchen layout. Semi-custom offers modified sizing while full-custom allows completely unique designs. Customization options include:

  • Cabinet Dimensions: Adjust height, width, and depth. Accommodate large or oddly shaped appliances. Fill awkward spaces fully.
  • Specified Storage Features: Add only needed drawer divider configurations, roll-outs, blind corner access, etc.
  • New Cabinet Styles: Create unusual shaped cabinets for angled walls or other unique spaces.
  • Premium Features: Integrate features like garbage/recycling pull-outs, charging stations, under-cabinet lighting.
  • Premium Finishes: Upgrade to inset cabinetry, glass fronts, or unique finish options not offered for stock pieces.

Installation Methods

Proper cabinet installation is key to functionality and aesthetic. Securely fastened cabinets remain sturdy with use. The installation method also impacts ease of future remodels. Primary methods include:

  • Face Frame: Most common. Cabinets hang on frame attached to wall studs. Allows easy repositioning.
  • Frameless: Cabinet boxes mount directly onto wall. Provides modern, sleek appearance but harder to relocate/alter.
  • Inset: Cabinets set into frame openings with finished cabinet fronts flush with frame. Premium look but less accessible.

Additional Features

Don’t overlook smart features that increase convenience and customize cabinets to your needs:

  • ** Appliance Garages:** Hide small appliances like coffee maker or toaster behind a roll-up door. Keep counters uncluttered.
  • Wastebasket Cabinets: Contain garbage out of sight but keep easily accessible. Features like slide-out bins for recycling/trash make waste disposal easy.
  • Blind Corner Access: Lazy susans, pull-out baskets, or diagonal doors provide access to difficult corner cabinet spaces.
  • Stemware Holders: Sturdy racks allow secure stemware storage vertically to save space.
  • Mixer/Appliance Lifts: Specialized lifts raise mixers or appliances into cabinetry so counters remain open when not in use.


What are the most popular cabinet door styles?

The Shaker, slab, and raised panel styles are among the most popular. Shaker features a simple center panel. Slab cabinetry has a flat center and clean lines. Raised panel has a framed center that sits higher than outer frame.

What thickness should quality cabinets have?

5/8 to 3⁄4 inch thicknesses denote sturdier cabinet construction that will last longer without sagging or warping. Avoid 1⁄2 inch thick or lower.

What species of wood makes the best cabinets?

Maple, oak, cherry, and hickory are excellent wood species for long-lasting cabinets. Their density provides durability. Maple has a light appearance, while oak is darker with distinctive grain.

Should I choose pre-assembled or ready-to-assemble cabinets?

Pre-assembled cabinets install faster but cost more. RTA cabinets require assembly but allow DIY installation to save on labor costs.

What is the benefit of soft-closing hardware?

Soft-close hinges/slides prevent slamming which can loosen shelves or damage contents. They operate smoothly and quietly. Soft-close hardware is strongly recommended for ease of use.

How much should I expect to pay for new kitchen cabinets?

Mid-range stock cabinets cost $75-$250 per linear foot installed. Semi-custom runs $200-$500 per linear foot. Full custom cabinetry averages $500-$1000+ per linear foot.


Your kitchen cabinetry should check all the boxes for appearance, durability, and storage solutions tailored to your lifestyle. Carefully evaluate construction, storage amenities, hardware, customization options and features when selecting cabinets. Investing in quality materials and customization now will ensure your kitchen functionality and style stand the test of time even with heavy use. With some smart planning and decisions, your dream kitchen is within reach.