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Choosing Kitchen Cabinets: The Most Comprehensive Cabinetry Guide

cChoosing Kitchen Cabinets

Wondering why you need a guide to buy cabinets?

Two words: creaking doors. Imagine completing your kitchen remodeling and realizing your cabinet door makes a noise or is loose.  We hate to break it to you but if you don’t do proper research, there’s a big chance you will end up with that….or worse, a cabinet that doesn’t meet your needs.

Instead, let’s tackle more important questions you may have: What style do I pick? How do I know what works best for my kitchen? Which style offers more storage options? Does the style fit well with my storage requirements?

We will answer all of them and more in this article to help you make the right choice. But first, let us understand why the cabinet design can play an important role in deciding how everything else turns out.

Hint: It doesn’t only impact the aesthetics.


Why Your Cabinet Design Matters

Design-wise, a cabinet is the central attraction in many kitchens.

On one hand, a bright and colorful cabinet can make the kitchen look cheery; and on the other hand, cabinets in sharp or dark overtones can offer a very understated-yet-classy look to a kitchen.

Think about it. What theme are you going for in your kitchen?

In a way, overhead cabinets are like artwork on walls (given how much space they take). You need to make sure that they look appealing. For the exterior, you only need to worry about the color. Because the layout inside varies with each design, there is where you need to be careful. While a certain layout might fit your needs like a good old glove, others will stand out like a sore thumb. In both cases, however, you will end up spending a good amount. Therefore, the first and foremost thing to do is to pick the right style.


Most Popular Cabinet Styles

  • Inset Cabinets

Also known as ‘frame’ cabinets since their doors are flush with the frame. In this design, the cabinets can go down all the way to the floor, offering increased stability. These designs are not very common among American homes but nevertheless, are a time-tested design in many European-themed homes.


Inset Cabinets VS Overlay


  • Flush/ Full Overlay Design

As the name suggests, this is a design where doors and drawers cover the face of the cabinet. The flush, streamlined design is aesthetically pleasing, and also offers extra storage space (since the doors do not close into the cabinet like in case of an inset design).

The full overlay is a common frameless construction and often a preferred choice during custom and semi-custom builds.


This picture details the difference between Inset and Overlay kitchen cabinet design


  • Part Overlay

This is the design you will see in most other American homes. It is a combination of both Inset and Flush Designs. The advantage? They can be found for a lower price since they have a larger range for measurements. In other words, the other two designs offer little space for error, but this one does. And oh, these can be opened without hardware, which also contributes to their popularity!


Different Cabinetry Designs

Deciding Which Cabinet Design Works for Your Kitchen

Here is how you can do this: no matter which design you choose, remember that the cabinet doors are the most prominent design elements in your kitchen. Most guests will never see the insides of your cabinets, so no matter which style you choose, it is the door that will define the style statement of your cabinetry.

There was a time when base cabinets and overhead cabinets were two separate entities and for good reason. The lower ones were home to utensils and cookware, while the overhead cabinets hosted food and spices and everything else needed for cooking. Now, it is becoming a common trend to see wall cabinets that extend from floor to ceiling.

That can actually be a very smart idea. It allows you to utilize the high-up space for storing things you may not need frequently (yes, I am talking about that super expensive tea set). Also, the space they offer helps you store everything from cookbooks to even some utensils that require more care than others.

Related: Organizing Your Kitchen Cabinets


What Material Should You Pick?

To put it simply: The best you can afford.

Nowadays, materials vary mainly in their durability and ease of maintenance. Even cheap options can imitate the look of premium cabinetry.

It’s common to find cheap particleboard or melamine (particle board with coating) with an oak-like finish. But it’s important not to be duped by ‘good’ looks. You don’t want your cabinets to chip after just months now, do you? Thoroughly check the quality before you sign the dotted line. Also, remember that this is an investment — so the added expense pays for itself multiple times over through the years of service.

If budget is a big issue, get the best plywood you can afford as they are much more durable than melamine and dare we say, much better looking. If you are going for wooden cabinetry, remember that sometimes, the finish of the wood matters as much as the wood itself. While this may be a completely personal choice, remember to pick something easy to clean. The last thing you want on your cabinet is a layer of oil and grime that is impossible to clean.


Maximizing Storage

No matter what design you pick, remember that the main aim of choosing a kitchen cabinet is to help you store things. At no point should you prioritize a style over that because trends might change, but the essential purpose of a cabinet remains the same.

Think about a way to combine beauty and functionality, and how the design you have picked will ease storage. If it doesn’t, consider changing the design.

This is where suppliers will be of best assistance. Speak to them, read their testimonials to see if they genuinely add value, or are just trying to make a quick buck. Once you are convinced of their credibility, state your requirements and seek their honest advice.



Why Looks Should Not Matter Much

Did we mention that a well-built cabinet trumps a beautiful looking cabinet every day of the year?

It really does. Cabinets can be beautiful, sure, but they also see a lot of abuse at the hands of busy people. That is why the quality of the hardware can be very important. You don’t want the doors to creak and the lazy susan to come off loose, right?

If forced to make a choice between appeal and practicality, don’t think twice. You can save a few bucks by buying a less ‘cool’ design. Instead, invest in better hardware to ensure that creaking cabinets are reduced to only nightmares and not real life.

Also Read: Top 13 Kitchen Trends of 2019


Dulles Kitchen and Bath is a reputed remodeling company that offers kitchen and bath remodeling in Fairfax, Vienna, Oakton, Clifton, Burke, Chantilly, Centreville, Alexandria, Arlington, D.C., Falls Church, Arlington, Great Falls, Manassas and Herndon.