Remodeling Your Cabinets, What You Need to Know


There are many things to consider when you are remodeling your kitchen. One of the most important things is your cabinets. I have seen many kitchens in person and what seems great at first, quickly spiral into a mess when you start to notice problems with bad cabinets. There are a few things that are important to consider when you are getting new cabinets. Some are more obvious than others.

First, in what room or rooms are you planning on installing cabinets? Nearly everyone has some kind of cabinets in their kitchen, but a lot of people want the same look and style of cabinets throughout their entire house, especially for brand new homes. Matching the vanity cabinets in all your bathrooms can go a long way to giving your whole house a similar “feel.” But why stop there? Many people keep their fine china and stemware in the dining room. If you have a beautiful 19th-century armoire with tall glass doors to show off your amazing china then you might be content with kitchen and bathroom.


But for many who are using a beat up hand-me-down hutch, a set of cabinets built along a wall of the dining room or integrated into a nook can be a far more desirable and an attractive storage solution.

Most people who have garage cabinets prioritize the functionality of the cabinets over whether or not they match the rest of the house, but if you are interested in matching garage cabinets you can find cabinets that work for both.

Who will you hire to redesign your cabinets? Some contractors and architects will design cabinets for you. They can be very thorough and they can also be expensive. One very good option is to go to a cabinet shop that has in-house designers. Finally, for the truly brave, you could try to do it yourself. If this is the route you go with then there are some things to keep in mind. “Design” falls so far to the left on the artistic spectrum of abstraction that it is often not dignified as a form of art at all. But make no mistake about it, design is art. Just like all forms of art, there are rules to follow. Truly inspired designs often succeed by finding ways to achieve desired results without following the rules. But the rules are there for a reason.

  • Upper cabinets should be at least 12 inches deep.
  • Base cabinets should be 24 inches deep and they should be 36 inches high if you include the countertop.
  • Most kitchens have an 18-inch space between the countertop and the bottom of the upper wall cabinets.
  • When laying out your major appliances, the Holly Kitchen Work Triangle dictates that whenever possible you have a triangle of space made by the three imaginary straight lines drawn between the front of you sink, refrigerator, and cooktop.

What level of cabinets are you looking for? If you want to spend the money on cabinets that are custom made, you can certainly find a lot of great custom or semi-custom cabinet companies that will make you a great kitchen. Custom cabinets offer you the highest level of customization so you should be able to get the cabinets that work best for you if you are willing to pay more and wait longer for the cabinets to be made. On the other side of things, you can get stock cabinets from stores. Stock cabinets are usually more affordable, but your selection will be relatively small. If you don’t want to spend custom prices but want options that are not available in stock cabinets, you should go the “ready to assemble”(RTA) route. These cabinets usually have a large variety of size and style options so you can get almost anything you need within reason. The price is usually considerably less than custom cabinets but you may need to make a minor compromise here or there.

Obviously countertops are a separate part of your kitchen and a whole other large decision that you will have to deal with when remodeling your kitchen, but keep the countertops in mind when you are dealing with cabinets because a good countertop can be a visual focal point in your kitchen, especially if you pick a great looking stone like slate, granite, or quartz. A poorly matched countertop will make your good cabinets look like bad cabinets.

Lastly you should look into the options you have in terms of the cabinets themselves. Much of this will largely depend on what option you go with in regards to custom made, RTA, or stock cabinets. Assuming you choose to give yourself options by going with custom or RTA cabinets, you want to look into finishes, doors, construction style, and materials of the cabinets. I mention the doors and finish first because they are what you are going to be looking at for the life of your kitchen. Do you want painted cabinets and door or do you want the finish to be stained wood? Both can look great. The doors themselves have a variety of styles but one important question would be if you wanted them to have a more modern or more traditional look. The construction style and materials of the cabinets can also vary, but it is important to get cabinets with quality construction. Most cabinets, even custom, will use plywood for the body of the cabinets. (The stuff you won’t see) One easy way to spot quality is to look for dovetails in the drawer construction.

I know that I have said a lot without going too deep into any particular part of the cabinet buying process, but there is a great deal to think about when it comes to cabinets. The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in your house and the cabinets make up a large part of your kitchen. If you keep these considerations in mind it can really help you with your kitchen remodeling.


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