Kitchen Cabinet Design

    kitchen cabinets

    If you look at the history of kitchen cabinet design over the years, you will see some amazing changes. Our ancestors had a few simple shelves, a storage box or two and a table. Today we find upper and lower cabinets in hundreds of styles with silent drawer glides, soft-close hinges and even interior LED lighting. How you decide what is right for you depends on a number of factors.

    Use our tips to help you choose the right kitchen cabinet design for your home. 

    The Basics

    With such a huge range of style choices, selecting your cabinets can be a daunting task. However, in every style the basic idea of a cabinet remains the same: just a box that you set on the floor or hang on the wall. Granted, it’s a very nice-looking box — one that may cost about $100 for a small, simple wall cabinet or at the high end, upwards of $1,000 for a single unit.

    Kitchen cabinet design falls into two basic types:

    1. face-frame cabinets, the standard here in the US

    2. frameless cabinets, which have been popular in Europe for some time now

    Both types comprise a box made from some type of sheet wood: plywood, particleboard, MDF, Melamine, etc. (High end cabinets typically use thicker plywood for the box, rather than cheaper composites.)

    However, they differ in how the front of the box is built: Face-frame cabinets have an additional "frame" of material that makes up the front of the cabinet. In frameless cabinets, the edge of the sheet stock makes up the front. The result is that face-frame cabinets typically have more space between the doors, providing a traditional look, while frameless cabinets have doors set closer together and a more modern appearance.

    Drawers, Doors and Hardware

    Drawers and doors dress up our simple boxes and provide for added functionality. Higher end kitchen cabinet design may incorporate dovetail drawers and raised-panel door construction. Various types of hardware can also enhance the quality of the cabinet. Soft-close concealed hinges and self-closing piston drawer slides are preferred in today’s top kitchen remodels.

    Selecting a Cabinet

    The trick to selecting cabinets is to match the color palette of the room with the style of your home. Simple, white, flat-panel cabinets are a good match for a country-style kitchen. Meanwhile, a more modern home may incorporate cherrywood cabinets with frosted glass panel doors in the wall cabinets, and raised-panel doors for the base cabinets. Proper color selection can also bring out the beauty in the tile or stone work that often accompanies fine kitchens.

    If you find yourself challenged by color selections, door designs and hardware options, a visit to your local home center or kitchen design center will allow you to see a lot of these features up close and personal. Or talk with a local carpenter or remodeling contractor about your choices in kitchen cabinet design.

    Since kitchen cabinets can eat up most of your budget for a kitchen remodel, take your time and choose wisely. Chances are, these choices will be with you for many years to come.

    Kevin Stevens writes for

    Updated October 17, 2018.

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