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Choosing Kitchen Cabinets: What You Need to Know

by Gary Wade • December 21, 2023


Choosing the right kitchen cabinets is a crucial step in creating a functional and stylish kitchen. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of choosing kitchen cabinets, from assessing your space to selecting the right finish. We'll also discuss common mistakes to avoid and provide expert tips from professional designers. So let's dive in and discover everything you need to know before choosing kitchen cabinets.

Assess Your Space

Before diving into the world of kitchen cabinets, it's important to assess your space and consider your needs. Start by evaluating the size of your kitchen and the number of family members. This will help you determine the amount of storage space required. For a small family of four, a set of cabinets totaling about 24 square feet is usually sufficient. Add six square feet for each additional family member. If you have a smaller kitchen, consider maximizing storage potential with corner cabinets, cabinet pull-outs, or a kitchen island.

How to choose kitchen cabinets

Plan for All Seasons

Kitchen cabinets not only store everyday essentials but also seasonal items. Consider what items you might only use a few times a year, such as serving trays or specialty pans, and include them in your overall kitchen plan. Having everything you need at your fingertips will make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable and efficient.

Keep It Clean and Timeless

When choosing kitchen cabinets, it's important to select a style and finish that will stand the test of time. Opt for timeless options that won't quickly go out of style. A clean and simple cabinet style, such as the shaker-style cabinet with a thinner border, is a popular choice. Avoid cabinet styles with intricate patterns or busy designs that may age quickly and require more maintenance.

Choose the Right Finish

Once you've settled on a style, it's time to choose the right finish for your kitchen cabinets. Consider the overall design of your kitchen and ensure that the chosen finish complements the rest of the space. Stained wood is a classic option that nicely complements countertops, appliances, and hardware. However, be cautious of stains with yellow or orange tones, as they tend to age poorly. Opt for finishes that will enhance the beauty of your cabinets and withstand the test of time.

Choosing kitchen cabinets the right way

Go Wide for Functionality

Functionality and accessibility are key when it comes to kitchen cabinets. Consider how you cook, where you like to store dishes, and the type of cookware you use daily. Opt for wider units for both upper and lower cabinets, as they provide more efficient use of space. For example, if you have a 48-inch-wide space, choose two 24-inch-wide cabinet boxes instead of three 15-inch boxes. This will allow you to maximize storage and easily access your items.

Finish the Look with Hardware

Adding hardware to your kitchen cabinets not only adds style but also enhances functionality. Choose drawer pulls and door knobs that complement the overall design of your kitchen. Opt for hardware that blends well with your appliances and finishes. Avoid trendy or novelty pulls that may quickly become outdated. Remember, hardware is relatively easy to change, so if you get tired of your initial choice, you can always swap it out for something new.

Take Your Time and Research

Choosing kitchen cabinets is a significant investment in terms of both time and money. Take the time to research different styles, finishes, and manufacturers. Look at design and manufacturer sites, save styles and colors that resonate with you, and seek expert opinions. Attending trade shows can also provide valuable insights into emerging trends and innovative design solutions. Don't rush the process; invest the time to ensure that you make an informed decision.

Make Your Money Count

When it comes to kitchen cabinets, cutting costs may not always pay off in the long run. While there is a wide range of options available, consider the longevity and quality of the cabinets. Lower-quality cabinets may look fine initially but could result in issues such as drawers and doors not closing properly over time. Prioritize cabinets that are built to endure and offer functional storage solutions. Remember, cabinets don't have to cost a fortune to be beautiful; it's about finding the right balance between quality and affordability.

Consider Ongoing Maintenance

When choosing the color and style of your kitchen cabinets, it's important to consider the ongoing maintenance they will require. Lighter-colored cabinets may require more frequent cleaning to keep them looking pristine. Avoid leaving space between the top of the upper cabinets and the ceiling, as this can gather dust and debris. Opt for cabinets that extend all the way to the ceiling whenever possible to minimize maintenance and keep your kitchen looking clean and organized.

Take a Look Inside

Having enough cabinet space is essential, but it's equally important to consider how you will organize the contents. Before purchasing your new cabinets, think about how you will arrange your kitchenware for easy access. Consider installing racks, bins, and other storage systems inside your cabinets to maximize functionality and create a custom feel. A well-organized interior will make your daily kitchen tasks more efficient and enjoyable.

Choosing kitchen cabinets guide

Let There Be (Enough) Light

Cabinets can cast shadows, especially those with darker finishes. While overhead lighting can help illuminate the workspace, it may not provide sufficient lighting for close-up tasks. Consider adding under cabinet lighting strips or other similar options to ensure you have adequate lighting for food preparation and other activities. Proper lighting will enhance both the functionality and aesthetics of your kitchen cabinets.

Expert Tips and Mistakes to Avoid

When it comes to choosing kitchen cabinets, it's always helpful to learn from the experience of professionals. Here are some expert tips and common mistakes to avoid:

  • Take the time to research and explore various styles and options.
  • Seek guidance from designers to push boundaries and explore innovative design solutions.
  • Prioritize cabinets that are built to endure for long-lasting functionality.
  • Avoid stains with yellow or orange tones, as they tend to age poorly.
  • Opt for wider cabinets to maximize storage and accessibility.
  • Choose hardware that blends well with your appliances and finishes.
  • Properly assess the space and consider the functionality you need.
  • Keep cabinets clean and timeless to ensure longevity.
  • Consider ongoing maintenance when selecting the color and style of your cabinets.
  • Organize the contents of your cabinets for easy access and efficiency.
  • Install adequate lighting to eliminate shadows and improve visibility.

By following these expert tips and avoiding common mistakes, you can confidently choose kitchen cabinets that will enhance the functionality and style of your kitchen for years to come.

Choosing kitchen cabinets - how to guide

How to Choose Kitchen Cabinets
Selecting kitchen cabinets requires careful consideration of your space, needs, style preferences, and budget. Assess your space, plan for all seasons, choose a timeless style and finish, prioritize functionality, and pay attention to details like hardware and lighting. Avoid common mistakes and seek expert guidance to ensure a successful cabinet selection process. With the right cabinets in place, your kitchen will become a functional and stylish hub for culinary creativity and family gatherings. 


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