When considering a new kitchen, cabinets are top of mind. The role of cabinetry is demanding as it is the key to a successful kitchen design. Cabinets create the look, fulfill functionality, and set the mood for space you will live in for the following years. Roughly 60 percent of the average kitchen cost is spent on cabinetry. Choosing the right cabinets is one of the most important decisions in the process of creating your new kitchen.

Even professional contractors that build many kitchens every year can have a difficult time confidently advising clients on function and finish. With so many differences between cabinet lines and the options, they provide finding the best value and quality combination can be hard to navigate.

Kitchen and bath design professionals can be a tremendous resource for both homeowners who are planning a project and contractors needing assistance in design and product selection.

Understanding the details.


Not all cabinets are created equal. What a cabinet appears to be at first glance can be deceiving. The materials, the construction type, and the finish are vitally important. Also, available sizes and storage options make a big difference on the look and the utility of the design.

There are three main cabinet types:

  • Custom built to fit the measurements of your kitchen.
  • Stock cabinets pre-built to standard increments and fitted to the project. The cabinets are shipped fully assembled.
  • Knock-down or RTA (ready to assemble) the cabinets are manufactured but not assembled at the factory. They are shipped in a box and assembled on site.

All three have benefits and drawback depending on the project. A little research will be required to choose which is best for your project.

The wood species you choose has more impact than looks alone. Some woods take stain better than others, some woods are more stable than others and are suited well for painted cabinets. It’s important to know how certain wood types act in certain environments. Expansion and deflection of cabinet doors and color tone or patina over time are things that must be considered. A good looking finish should also be durable. The best finishes require a multi-step process of sanding hand wiping stain and adding finish coats of conversion varnish or other clear coat. The finish is protecting your investment and needs to last for years. Other door options are aluminum, thermofoil, laminate, and acrylic each with their own pros and cons.

Choosing the cabinet boxes you want and putting them where you would like them in the design is the first step. You must consider clearances and how the doors and drawers will operate, the correct spacing needed between adjoining cabinets, finishing the ends of exposed cabinets, and tolerances for trim pieces such as crown molding and light rail are important details that require planning. The average kitchen can have seventy-five to one hundred parts, while more complex kitchens can have hundreds of parts that must fit together flawlessly.

If you are just beginning your new kitchen journey, take advantage of the resources on our website to familiarize yourself with design and execution process.