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Kitchen Cabinets: A Crash Course in Selecting the Right Ones for You

The cabinets in your kitchen define the aesthetic look of your kitchen. More than just a place to store your dishes, the selection you make in your cabinets can transform to shape and design of your cooking space. One of the toughest decisions you will make in your design is the cabinetry, and you will find an abundance of trimmings, hardware, styles, and finishes as well as prices. Ultimately, the goal is to make a choice that will be tailored to you without causing you buyer’s remorse.

As you set out to make your cabinet selection you will have three options: ready-stock made cabinets, semi-custom, and custom built. Any of these options can help you achieve the look you are going for. You can also change out the doors and hardware to your existing cabinets as well as repainting or restaining them to achieve a new look at an affordable cost.

As cabinets are priced per linear foot and not per unit, make sure you have an accurate measurement of all the cabinets you will need before you begin pricing out different options.

  1. Stock Cabinets will work for a simple update or a large kitchen makeover. They are what they sound like: cabinets that are “stocked” in a store. They don’t offer any customization, in other words what you see is what you get. They are available in standard dimensions, and you can either paint or stain them or purchase them already completed.

  2. Semi-custom cabinets are the next level up and they cost a bit more. They are available in a diverse range of style and are factory ordered because you can specify the dimensions and type of wood you prefer.

  3. Custom Cabinets are the more expensive option because they can be tailor-made for your kitchen’s style and can be made in a variety of materials and sizes.


A big factor in your decision will be the overall budget for the project. You need to start with a list and break down what you will actually need as far as paint or stain, hardware, cabinets or just doors, and labor. With an itemized budget you can know what to expect before you spend any money upfront.


The most common materials used for kitchen cabinets are MDF, particleboard, and plywood. MDF comes in sheets and it is formed using finer wood bits. It is resistant to warping and it is very cost effective. Plywood is comprised of thin layers of wood that are glued together. It is the sturdiest option. Particleboard is constructed from wood scraps. You can also find cabinets in solid woods such as oak, cherry, poplar, or pine. You can purchase the cabinets or just the doors in solid wood. If you are looking for the option that is the strongest oak is the best choice. It is very durable in combatting dents and it is also porous so it is easy to paint or stain. It is also very budget friendly.


The style of the doors and the cabinets you choose will impact the overall design of your kitchen. Many times you will find standard doors that come with an arched panel design or rectangular panels. For a style that is more contemporary consider doors with a frosted glass insert or possibly an aluminum framed door. Also take into consideration how the door will cover the frame of the cabinet. Most doors feature a standard overlay and that means the edge of the doors aren’t flush and the frame will be exposed in the background. Full overlays mean that the frame is covered behind the door. This offers a look that is clean and polished.


Whenever you make the decision to remodel existing cabinets you have the option not only to change the appearance of the cabinets, but you can also rearrange things a bit to add more space and functionality. Keeping the appliances in their existing locations is a cheaper option, but you can move them if you can afford the cost of additional contractors in your budget. You may also choose to salvage some of the existing cabinetry. No matter what you decide, the whole point here is to design your cabinets so that they are arranged in a way that works best within your home.

Add-ins to Make Life in the Kitchen Easier

Don’t you hate it when your pots and pans get tucked away in to the abyss of your corner cabinet? This is an issue in accessibility. Consider adding a Lazy Susan that can be built into the cabinet. You can also add baking sheet racks, drawers that are soft closing, pull out trash can receptacles, and mini-recycling centers. There are plenty of gadgets and upgrades available to add into your cabinetry. These bells and whistles can add in that extra umph that your kitchen needs when it comes to making your items fully accessible.