Kitchen Solutions: Considering Cabinets

Kitchen cabinets play a crucial role in any kitchen design. They provide essential storage space while also being a major focal point in terms of aesthetics. With so many options available for cabinet styles, materials, colors and configurations, making the right cabinet choices can be overwhelming. This comprehensive guide covers key factors to consider when selecting kitchen cabinets to ensure your new or remodeled kitchen looks beautiful and functions efficiently.

Design and Style

The design and style of your kitchen cabinets lays the foundation for your entire kitchen’s look and feel. Carefully consider what style best suits your needs and design vision.

Cabinet Door Styles

Shaker – Characterized by a simple, flat center panel and square edges, Shaker style cabinets offer a timeless and versatile look that works with both traditional and contemporary kitchens. Shaker cabinets feature a clean, understated aesthetic.

Slab – Slab cabinet doors are a flat, solid panel without any framing. This creates a seamless, minimalist look. Slab cabinetry gives a sleek, modern appearance.

Rustic – Embracing natural materials and visible wood grains, rustic cabinets have an earthy, weathered charm. Rustic kitchen cabinets bring a cozy, farmhouse vibe.

Inset – With inset cabinet doors, the door sits flush within the face frame. Inset cabinetry has a classic, high-end look and feel.

Partial Inset – These doors are partially set within the cabinet face frame, with a portion of the door overlaying part of the frame. Partial inset cabinets have a traditional yet distinctive style.

Distressed – Intentionally worn and distressed cabinetry adds antiqued character. Distressing gives new cabinets an aged, timeworn look.

Finishes and Colors

From natural wood grains to bold, saturated hues, your cabinet finish choice impacts the kitchen’s overall look and feel.

Painted – Offering limitless color options, painted finishes are highly popular. Painted cabinets work for all kitchen aesthetics from modern to cottage.

Stained – Staining highlights the natural wood grain patterns and textures. Stained cabinets bring warmth and dimension.

White – Classic, clean and timeless, white cabinets suit any kitchen style. White cabinets create a light, airy aesthetic.

Dark – Deep colors like black or charcoal make cabinets a dramatic focal point. Darker cabinets feel luxe and sophisticated.

Custom vs Stock

Custom and stock each offer unique pros and cons:

Custom Cabinets

  • Fully customized design, size, style and storage configurations
  • Tailored precisely for your kitchen’s dimensions and layout
  • Pricier than stock cabinetry
  • Requires accurate measurements and lead time for production

Stock Cabinets

  • Pre-configured cabinet box sizes and designs
  • Affordable, mass manufactured option
  • Quick availability
  • Limited sizing and customization capabilities

Materials and Durability

Kitchen cabinets face extensive daily wear and tear. Choosing durable materials that stand up over time is key for long-lasting function and beauty.

Wood Species

Oak – Prized for its pronounced grain patterns, oak is extremely strong and durable. Oak resists scratches and dents. Stains and finishes beautifully.

Maple – With fine, straight wood grains, maple cabinets have a smooth, uniform appearance. Maple is dense, making it very resistant to damage and wear.

Walnut – Subtle flowing wood grain patterns give walnut a rich, elegant look. Walnut offers incredible durability and scratch resistance.

Cherry – Renowned for its reddish-brown coloration and distinctive flowing, wavy grain patterns. Cherry cabinets age beautifully over time.

Alder – Alder wood has minimal knots and a mellow grain texture. It offers a more affordable option compared to pricier hardwoods. Stains evenly.

Alternative Materials

Beyond natural wood, kitchen cabinets are also fabricated using:

Laminates – Durable, cost-effective laminate resists scratches, moisture and stains. Easily mimics pricier natural materials.

Thermofoil – A laminated plastic coating applied to composite wood substrate. Provides consistent finish and water/impact resistance.

Metal – Used for high-end contemporary designs. Stainless steel, copper and brass make a bold style statement.

Bamboo – Made from highly renewable bamboo grasses. Bamboo has a beautiful grain and impressive strength and hardness. An eco-friendly material.

Storage Capacity and Functionality

Kitchen cabinet configuration directly correlates to functionality. Carefully thinking through your storage needs ensures your new cabinets fulfill their essential purpose.

Drawers vs Shelves

Drawers and shelves each offer advantages and disadvantages:


  • Provide full access to contents
  • Easy to see all stored items
  • Contents less likely to be forgotten about
  • Custom organizational compartments and dividers
  • Weight capacity limits


  • Can hold more weight than drawers
  • Unrestricted height clearance
  • Avoid the cost of drawer slides/hardware
  • Harder access to items at back
  • Lack compartments for organization

A balance of both drawers and shelves in lower and upper cabinets typically provides optimal storage.

Interior Storage Solutions

Take full advantage of every cubic inch inside your cabinets with storage aids like:

  • Spice drawers with built-in dividers
  • Tiered Lazy Susan revolving trays
  • Pull-out shelves and roll-out wire racks
  • Waste bin tip-outs integrated into cabinetry
  • Drawer dividers and cutlery trays
  • Appliance garages for small countertop appliances
  • Pantry pull-outs for dry goods and canned goods

Cabinet Dimensions

Standard kitchen cabinet sizes:

  • Floor cabinets: 34 1⁄2” H x 24” D
  • Wall cabinets: 30” H x 12” D
  • Tall cabinets: 84” H x 24” D

But fully customized sizing tailored to your exact storage needs is always an option, given the higher cost.

Standard cabinet depths accommodate most needs, but deeper cabinets increase storage capacity. Consider your unique kitchen items storage when deciding cabinet sizes.

Quality of Construction

Top quality cabinet construction ensures your investment withstands daily wear and tear over the long haul. Hallmarks of first-rate construction include:

Solid Wood Doors and Drawer Fronts

Quality solid wood doors resist warping and withstand daily use. Plywood door panels risk delaminating over time.

All Plywood Cabinet Box Construction

Opt for plywood rather than lower quality particleboard for the cabinet boxes. Durable plywood construction prevents sagging shelves and drawers over years of use.

Dovetail Joints on Drawers

For superior strength, opt for solid wood dovetail joints on drawer boxes rather than weaker butt joints prone to loosening over time.

Soft-Closing Drawers and Doors

Soft-close drawer slides and door hinges prevent jarring slamming noises. Soft-closing mechanisms smoothly catch doors and drawers before fully closing.

Quality Hardware

Look for sturdy hinges, slides, and pulls made from durable materials like stainless steel rather than plastic. Quality door catches securely hold doors closed.

Cost Considerations

Numerous factors impact the total cost of new kitchen cabinets. Being aware of these key considerations helps estimate your total investment.

Material Costs

The type of material used — natural woods, laminates, metals — directly affects the cabinet price point. Exotic hardwoods cost substantially more than economical options like pine.

Door Styles and Finishes

Elaborate door designs, custom finishes and specialty glazes increase costs over simple flat panel doors and stains. Custom painted cabinets run higher than standard satin finishes.

Quality of Construction

Top of the line construction with all plywood boxes, soft-close hardware and solid wood dovetail drawers comes at a premium price.

Accessories and Storage Solutions

Specialty pull-outs, Lazy Susans, integrated waste bins and other storage aids add cost—but also functionality.

Installation Factors

Professional installation by skilled cabinet makers and carpenters is an added expense but typically worth the investment. Existing kitchen demolition and modifications add labor costs.

Customization Level

Fully customized cabinets tailored to your exact specifications demand a higher price than stock, ready-to-assemble cabinets. But you gain your ideal look and function.

Brand Name Reputation

Well-known brands charge a premium based on reputation and proven construction quality. Lesser known brands offer cost savings.

With some shopping savvy and careful planning, beautiful, functional kitchen cabinets can fit nearly any project budget. Prioritize quality construction and materials for long-lasting value and furniture-like aesthetics.

Cabinets for Small Kitchens

Don’t despair if your kitchen space is limited. With clever design choices and storage solutions, even the tiniest kitchen can maximize every inch while maintaining style and functionality. Consider these approaches to make a small kitchen shine:

Optimize Corner Cabinets

Take advantage of often underutilized corner spaces with specialty storage solutions like:

  • Rotating corner Lazy Susans provide full access
  • Vertical roll-outs create tiers of storage
  • Diagonal corner cabinets with pull-out bins

Extend Cabinets to the Ceiling

Making cabinets extend all the way to the ceiling provides added storage space. You can use top space for less frequently used items or display pieces.

Multi-Purpose Cabinetry

Look for cabinets suited for dual purposes. For example, base cabinets with pull-out cutting boards save counter space.

Glass Front Cabinets

Using glass fronts on wall cabinets keeps the space feeling open and airy. Glass doors elegantly display attractive dishware.

Mix Open and Closed Storage

Combining open shelving and closed cabinets lets you customize based on storage needs. Open shelving introduces breathing room.


Proper lighting prevents a small kitchen from feeling too dark. Under-cabinet and shelf lighting illuminates surfaces and storage interiors.

With strategic design choices, compact kitchen spaces can function beautifully without sacrificing aesthetics or storage capacity.

Eco-Friendly Cabinet Options

Today’s cabinet options include an array of eco-friendly and sustainable materials for the environmentally-conscious consumer, such as:


Made from extremely renewable bamboo plants, bamboo cabinetry achieves a stunning look while benefitting the planet.

Recycled Glass

Countertops can feature recycled glass fragments bonded in concrete, keeping waste out of landfills and looking gorgeous.

FSC-Certified Wood

The Forest Stewardship Council certifies sustainably harvested lumber. Using FSC woods promotes responsible forestry.

Low-VOC Finishes

Look for low-VOC stains and finishes that minimize off-gassing of toxic chemicals into your home.

Energy Efficient Lighting

LED cabinet lighting consumes a fraction of the electricity of standard lighting and features incredible longevity.

Reclaimed Wood

Whether from old barns, factory floors or wine barrels, reclaimed wood makes a rustic green statement.

By selecting eco-friendly cabinet materials, you create a beautiful kitchen that benefits the planet.

FAQs About Kitchen Cabinets

What is the most popular kitchen cabinet style?

Currently, Shaker style cabinets dominate kitchen cabinet preferences, thanks to their clean lines and versatile aesthetic. White Shaker cabinets especially remain extremely popular.

What color cabinets are in style for 2023?

White kitchens continue trending but with added warmth through creamier off-whites and antique-inspired painted finishes. Light blue tones are emerging, along with moody dark green cabinets.

How much do new kitchen cabinets cost?

For new custom-built cabinets expect to pay $8,000 to $15,000 for an average 10×10 kitchen. Stock cabinets cost $2,500 to $7,000. Numerous factors impact final costs.

What thickness should kitchen cabinets be?

3⁄4 inch represents the gold standard for superior quality cabinet box and drawer construction. Avoid thinner 1⁄2 inch components susceptible to warping.

Should I choose open or closed kitchen cabinets?

Closed cabinets keep cooking clutter concealed and contents dust-free. Open shelving introduces airiness and visual access to pretty dishware. Many kitchens strike a smart balance with a mix of open and closed storage.

How long do kitchen cabinets last?

When well-built from quality materials, installed properly and cared for over time, kitchen cabinets typically last 15-30 years before needing replacement.

What are the most durable kitchen cabinet materials?

Hardwoods like oak, maple, hickory and alder deliver exceptional durability and strength. Thermofoil and bamboo are other resilient options for enduring beauty.

Should I DIY or hire a professional to install cabinets?

Because improper installation can ruin even the finest cabinets, hiring an experienced kitchen contractor is highly advised over attempting DIY installation as a novice.

How much space should be between kitchen cabinets and countertops?

The standard spacing between base cabinets and countertops is 4” to provide adequate clearances. But you can adjust based on your height or storage needs.

What is the standard height for upper kitchen cabinets?

The typical wall cabinet height is 30” to the top. That allows most people to comfortably reach. Height can be adjusted to suit your kitchen’s proportions.


The cabinetry forms the backbone of your kitchen. From aesthetics to organization, it has an immense impact on the space’s functionality and design. Take time to carefully consider all the possibilities to create your ideal kitchen cabinet look and layout. Visit showrooms to view cabinets in person before finalizing your investment. With strategic planning guided by your cooking habits and taste, you can realize a kitchen that beautifully fits your needs for years to come. What cabinet styles are you considering for your dream kitchen?