By Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon
Nothing impacts the look of your kitchen like the cabinetry, and nothing impacts the budget of your remodel like the cabinetry. Understanding your options will help you choose wisely, so you get cabinets you’ll love for years to come on a budget you can handle today.
Cabinets come in a huge range of cost, materials, and craftsmanship. The broad spectrum can be simplified into three main categories: stock, semi-custom, and custom. Stock cabinets are the first level. They are built with a standard height of 36 inches and with widths available in three-inch increments. They are mass manufactured and essentially stockpiled for purchase. Stock is the least expensive option, but you will be limited in your choices for quality and style.
Semi-custom are also sized at three-inch increments with a standard height of 36 inches, but these are built to order and therefore offer a wider range of styles, accessories, finishes, and quality. They will cost two to four times as much as stock cabinets.
With simple cabinet fronts, frameless cabinet boxes, complementary hardware and multiple wood colors, this updated kitchen is modern and inviting. Cabinets are an investment that will last for years.
Custom cabinets are individually made to order and can be built to any measurement in terms of height and width. For instance, a taller owner might want the countertop at 38 inches. With custom, any option is available the owner is willing to pay for. Therefore, this is the most expensive route for cabinetry. They will cost at least double that of semi-custom cabinets, and the sky’s the limit how much they could ultimately cost, depending on how “custom” you go.
Other things you’ll need to consider when selecting cabinets are the cabinet box style, material, color, door and drawer fronts, and hardware. The cabinet box is the foundation and comes in two basic types — traditional face frame (where the door and drawer fronts are smaller than the cabinet frame so some of the frame shows) and frameless (where the doors and drawer fronts extend to the edge of the frame). Frames are rarely made of solid wood, because panel products such as plywood, particleboard, or fiberboard make stronger, more stable cabinets. The panel product can be covered with a variety of materials, depending on the level of finish desired.
When choosing the profile of the cabinet door and drawer fronts, carefully consider the style of your kitchen. Certain types of doors go with specific styles of kitchens. For example, a simple square band around the outside of a door with either a plain or bead-board panel in the center is called a shaker style and is appropriate for an arts and crafts style kitchen. Doors with more elaborate trims create a very different style.
The exterior finishing touches will be in the hardware you choose. Your choices for the knobs and pulls on the doors and drawers are almost as endless. Here, too, you need to be aware of the style of your kitchen and the cabinet fronts and so you can choose complimentary hardware.
Cabinets are a big investment and will stay in your house for many years, if not decades. To help you assess quality, use a manufacturer who has had its cabinets tested and certified by the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association. Take the time to understand your options and choose wisely or the old adage may be adapted to say, “Choose in haste; repent at leisure.” As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.