Homeowners How To: Picking Kitchen Cabinets


Planning to renovate your kitchen? Making sure you select the right cabinets for your kitchen can be an overwhelming and daunting task. There are so many different brands and styles available. Which one is right ...

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Planning to renovate your kitchen? Making sure you select the right cabinets for your kitchen can be an overwhelming and daunting task. There are so many different brands and styles available. Which one is right for you? This item is one of the most expensive parts of your kitchen renovation and getting it right is a huge part of making sure your job goes smoothly, stays in budget and that the end result is exactly what you wanted.

So where do you start? First take accurate measurements of your room. Make sure to measure the height of the ceiling, all window and door locations and the width of the wood trim around the doors and windows. Starting off with an accurate measurement will ensure that you are selecting a layout that actually fits and make sure you order the correct sizes. Bring photos of your existing kitchen, both from other rooms, within the room and from the outside. This may be helpful in figuring out what options you have and estimate the cost involved as you choose your layout and design options.

Next, select your appliances. Go to a reputable local appliance center or ask your kitchen designer what they would recommend. See, touch and feel your new selections in advance of purchasing them. Get pricing and a quote on the items you would like to see on your wishlist, but don’t order them yet! You may need to edit or revise those selections once you figure out your layout, so be sure to ask about lead times and how far in advance you will need to place the order once you have your cabinetry layout complete.

Create a storage wishlist! Make a list of items that you need to keep at your fingertips, large amounts of utensils, dishware or any oversized or odd sized kitchen appliances. Once you have your new kitchen you want to make sure it will accommodate the items you need to fit into it and design it accordingly.

Make a Scrapbook! Buy a few kitchen magazines or search online for pictures of styles and concepts, colors and countertops, woodwork, details, door styles and flooring that you do and don’t like. Go to your local home center or cabinetry store to look at different display kitchens and try out optional cabinet organizers, trash pullouts and storage units so you get an idea of what you may want to include. Do some research on different types of countertops and flooring choices to see what will best accommodate your needs.

Okay, now you are ready to finalize a kitchen layout. Which cabinets should you get? That really depends on your needs. Kitchen cabinetry takes quite a bit of abuse over the years, and is literally the bones of your kitchen. They need to be durable. Stock cabinets are not necessarily less durable. This just means that the sizes are made to a standard dimension. Usually, widths are available 3” increments, such as 18”, 21”, 24” or 30”. Stock cabinets have the least variety with sizing and typically have a limited selection of colors and door styles. It is important to note where the cabinetry was produced, what kind of finish it has and if it comes fully assembled or if you have to assemble it. Usually, stock cabinetry is more quickly ordered, but you should make sure to ask about how long they will take to come in. A semi-custom cabinet simply means that you can edit the heights and widths and they may have more options as far as color and style. Custom cabinets are usually very well made, with solid sides and backs and offer an unlimited variety of colors, sizing and door styles.

Box construction is a term that describes how the cabinet sides, bottom and interior components are built. Usually a good cabinet will have at least ½” sides and backs. Custom cabinets may have ¾”sides and backs. It is important to note that a strong cabinet back is important. Why? No one sees that right? Well, that is where the weight will be distributed once the cabinets are loaded up with dishes, so it must be strong. Avoid ¼” luan backs, as they tend to give out quickly and are not as strong as a ½” or ¾” back. Also, make sure to ask about upgrades available for drawer slides and hinges as these take the bulk of wear and tear.

Drawers can be made in a variety of styles and materials and still be of good quality. A nice solid, waterproof melamine drawer may even last longer than your typical dovetail wood drawer. Of course, the wood drawers look nicer, but using melamine drawers may be a good way to lower your budget without sacrificing functionality.

Always be sure to bring your photos, measurements, appliance selections and wishlist of interior options and space requirements when you get a quote for your cabinetry. This will avoid mistakes in the planning phase and help you correctly order your cabinetry the first time around.

If you feel too overwhelmed to make these decisions all on your own, hire a local cabinetry company who designs kitchens, a certified kitchen designer, interior designer or an architect. Whatever fee they charge will wind up paying off if you get a better kitchen than you ever imagined you could, and they almost always save you money because your orders get placed correctly the first time around. One mistake with ordering may be more costly than the designer, so it’s well worth it to rely on their professional assistance. They will help to steer your decisions based on your budget and help you select items that will add beauty and value to your home and accommodate your lifestyle.