The kitchen is typically the busiest room in any household. It is where people cook, eat, entertain, gather, socialise and many more, enabling families and friends to spend more time together.
However, a functional kitchen cannot exist without cabinets. Cabinets are often one of the major focal points of kitchen spaces. Many homeowners would like their kitchen to be both functional and aesthetic in a way that allows easier access to everything while maintaining its alluring and stylish outlook.
There is an extensive range of styles available on the market and choosing the style that is right for a kitchen can be such a challenging decision to make. It’s easy to make the wrong choice if homeowners are unsure about the kitchen cabinets that they want for their space.
For homeowners choosing to upgrade a few things or remodel their entire kitchen, here are some tips that will help in choosing the right cabinet for their kitchen.
Choose whether to go for prefabricated, semi-custom or custom cabinets
Choosing between prefab, semi-custom or fully customised cabinets will greatly depend on a person’s budget, time and preference for design specifications.
Prefabricated cabinets, also known as stock cabinets, usually come with the lowest price tag. This is because they are ready-made and tend to come in standard sizes. Prefab cabinets can be delivered relatively quickly due to their mass production ahead of time, making them ideal for rush projects. Ultimately, it can help homeowners to save time, money and frustration, and allow their renovation project to stay on track.
Semi-custom cabinetry is the middle ground between custom and store-bought, prefab cabinets. Unlike stock cabinets, they are not built until an order is received. This gives homeowners some ability to design their cabinets to their desired preferences including cabinet sizes, styles, colours, and depth. As semi cabinets are still somewhat confined to standard cabinet dimensions, they are faster to install than custom cabinets. Besides, they usually cost 15-30% less than fully custom cabinetry.
Custom kitchen cabinets are built according to a homeowner’s own specifications so they can have anything they want them to be, tailored to their space with custom colour design and style. Unlike standard cabinet sizes, custom kitchen cabinets allow homeowners to build the cabinets to perfectly fit their kitchen. By adding depth to the cabinets, it is possible to accommodate unusual features like pot drawers and hideaway, pull-out pantries.
Not surprisingly, custom cabinets are the most expensive and least time-efficient option due to the time necessary to design, build, and install the cabinets. Hence, homeowners looking into custom cabinetry should always be prepared to allocate at least 6-8 weeks for their order to be completed.
Maximise cabinet space & storage
The beauty of custom kitchen cabinetry is that it makes use of the available space, even if there is an oddly sized wall or corner in the kitchen. Hence, homeowners do not have to worry about having a small or a wide-spaced kitchen because all areas can be used in the most efficient possible way without wasting space, which helps achieve a more practical daily use of the kitchen.
For example, build out drawers to turn things like topsy-turvy stacks of bowls and jumbles of cutlery into an efficient, organised setup.
Besides, it is also wise to make use of drawer dividers to keep items from being piled on top of each other and from sliding around in drawers. Additionally, homeowners can consider introducing extra storage space by installing toe-kick drawers if their kitchen cabinets are just too full. By installing hidden drawers in toe kick areas, you can expand cabinet space and store flat or seldom-used items.
Another helpful tool is to use turntables inside cabinets to make any dead space functional. It can be used to keep spices and oils organised yet accessible so homeowners can see and grab exactly the right condiment or sauce from their collection.
Harmonise kitchen appliances with cabinet designs
In the past, kitchen appliances were designed in isolation from their intended surroundings, but today’s built-in appliances can harmonise with the design and decor all around them.
If a homeowner prefers their appliances to blend in with their surroundings, panel-ready appliances are the way to go. A panel-ready appliance allows a custom panel to be installed on the face front of the appliance that matches the rest of your cabinetry, giving a kitchen a cohesive look that’s personalised and high-end.Most often, this is seen on refrigerators, dishwashers, trash compactors, and wine coolers.
However, it is pertinent to note that panel-ready appliances can cost 2–3 times more than standard appliances. Panel-ready functionality is a high-end feature in itself.
Traditional, Contemporary, or Transitional kitchen styles?
Traditional kitchens are suitable for homeowners looking for classic yet elegant kitchen styles, with intricate design features and details such as marble countertops, glass chandeliers, ornate cabinetry with drawer detailing or specialty glass, crown moulding, and decorative backsplash.
With a sleek and minimalist style, contemporary kitchens mix streamlined design with a less is more approach featuring flat-front cabinetry, sleek fixtures, and wood accents. This includes the combination of shaker or flat-front cabinet doors made of maple, hickory, or oak, stainless steel appliances, granite or quartz countertops, glass tiles, and modern pendant lights.
A transitional kitchen blends the updated feel of contemporary design with more traditional details. This style has gained much popularity over the years and can give homeowners the benefits of both worlds – classic charm and modern flair. For example, traditional light fixtures may be used on the ceiling above the countertops, combined with contemporary style shaker cabinets with clean lines and panelled doors. This will create a perfect backdrop for an uncluttered look, although some homeowners may want to include a touch of decorative ornamentation to their kitchen cabinet hardware that adds extra elegance.
Choose a cohesive colour scheme
Homeowners can make their kitchen more personal and inviting by choosing a colour, texture and material that fits their personality, budget and style. One key consideration for homeowners is to choose their cabinetry finish first before looking at the countertops, backsplash, flooring, and appliances. This is because kitchen cabinets take up approximately 40% of the visual space in a kitchen.
For example, rich neutral kitchen cabinet colours like dark charcoal grey, moss green, and medium brown tones pair well with natural stone slab surfaces, porcelain tiles, natural wood furnishings, and black and brushed nickel appliances.
When choosing appliances like fridge, dishwasher and sink, those items should complement the cabinet colour scheme, such as matching white goods with white or light grey cabinetry. Contrarily, stainless steel appliances match well with brown hues, vibrant colours and shades of grey.
As countertops are often close to eye level, there should be cohesion between the countertops and cabinets to create a visual harmony in a kitchen space. Besides, matching the colours of countertops with the existing kitchen floor is a fool-proof way of ensuring proper colour coordination.
Lastly, it is wise to select a wall colour that balances well with the floors, cabinets and backsplash. For example, painting kitchen walls in off-white, cream or dove grey should complement other elements within a kitchen, no matter what style a homeowner chooses.
Which kitchen cabinet finish to use?
Regardless of the cabinet material be it medium-density fibreboard (MDF), particle board, solid wood doors or ply, there are a wide array of finishes to use to achieve the functionality and look homeowners aim for.
For example, an oil coating can be applied to solid timber doors to achieve a country-style finish. For a more durable finish, homeowners may opt for coloured or clear polyurethane. A layer of laminate, wood veneer, melamine or vinyl wrap can also be used as a finish for such doors. Additionally, kitchen-specific paints can be used to paint particle boards or MDF.
Ultimately, homeowners have to choose between a matt, gloss and semi-gloss finish for the end product. A high gloss finish is ideal for smaller kitchen spaces to create the illusion of a more open and expansive space. However, imperfections are more visible due to the reflected light that produces a shiny finish.
On the other hand, fingerprints, scratches and other imperfections are less noticeable on a matt finish, which is ideal for a durable and evergreen look as the colour of matte finish cabinets can look more consistent and does not tend to wear out.
Consider fittings that are practical and stylish
Selecting the right cabinet door handles can really change the look of a kitchen. Consider a rounded burnished brass or nickel handle to add some depth and traditionalism to a more modern space. Contrarily, a polished nickel or satin brass lacquer can bring modernity to a more classic shaker style kitchen cabinet and will reflect light gorgeously.
When choosing the right lighting, maintaining a balance between straight, angular lines and curves is key. For example, pendant lights are a brilliant way to bring some curves into a design in a room with mostly angular items including cabinetry, sinks, appliances and countertops. Besides, it’s great to match lighting to hardware or mix up cool and warm tones to add depth and design complexity to a kitchen.
Think about under cabinet lighting application
Under-cabinet lighting provides a practical and useful lighting solution. Aside from its usability for food preparation, installing a strip of LED lights underneath your cabinets adds elegance and illumination to the wonderful backsplash and countertops of kitchen cabinetry.
Not only will it improve the brightness and overall ambience of a homeowner’s kitchen, but it can also increase the resale value of their home. One significant advantage is that under-cabinet lighting is almost always completely hidden due to the fact that it is mounted on the underside of cabinets, creating an overall aesthetically pleasing lighting effect.
Besides, under cabinet lighting can be a very efficient use of light as it directs light to where it is needed, such as the designated kitchen counter. Unlike ceiling or table lamps which disperse light everywhere, there is not much ‘wasted’ light that spills across the room.
Choosing the right cabinet door styles
Refacing the cabinet doors is one cheaper way of getting a fresh look without completely remodelling an entire cabinet. Below are a few of the most popular cabinet sets:
Features simple, clean lines, emphasises durability, and blends well with many decors, including traditional and modern.
Provides a great opportunity to show off stylish kitchen tableware which fits perfectly into more modern, minimalist kitchen designs
Among the least expensive options with featureless design, which is appropriate for showcasing knobs, drawer pulls or other hardware.
A style of construction where vertical planks are fitted together with small ridges in between, which creates a relaxed look and complements well in rustic, cottage-style kitchens.
As the middle section of the door is raised with a groove between the frame and the central panel, this gives an extra depth to the cabinetry which fits well with traditional kitchens with more ornamentation.
With horizontal wood slats like those typically seen on window shutters, this style adds a unique texture to modern kitchens, and is particularly suitable for cabinets that require ventilation.
Ultimately, cabinet door styles will essentially set the tone and infuse some needed character into a kitchen design to create a refined and traditional or minimalistic and modern look.
Consider baby proofing the kitchen
Babyproofing a kitchen extends way beyond covering up electrical outlets and keeping sharp knives out of reach for little fingers. Homeowners should ensure no appliance cords dangle within reach of children in the kitchen. A slide-out appliance shelf high up in a pantry with a recessed power strip can be installed which is difficult for children to access.
Cabinets and drawers are major culprits for injuries to toddlers. Consider installing a babyproofing appliance latch or lock at a height children can’t reach to help secure all of the kitchen appliances. Drawers with automatic closing slides can also be installed to keep the drawers shut even after a hard shove. Besides, a dedicated kid-friendly pantry shelf or drawers specifically for child-friendly snacks can be put in place in lower cabinets with a clear indication of which zones are safe for children to access and which aren’t.
Consider installing an oven lock to keep children from burning themselves on an oven rack, or pinching their fingers between the oven doors. Stove guards can be easily installed in front of the stove hot plates or even along with preparation counters and bench tops to help protect children from accidental scalds and burns.
There are so many ways to use kitchen cabinets in a home, whether they’re serving practical purposes, storage purposes, aesthetic purposes, or a combination of them all. Regardless of a kitchen’s size and layout, it is critical to note that cabinet style can adapt a homeowner’s entire kitchen and add value to their property overall.
Ultimately, cabinets should speak to the larger design of a kitchen while maximising the efficiency and comfort homeowners feel when making home-cooked meals for themselves and their families. With some clever planning and research, crowded benchtops and poor storage can make way for cleaner cooking space, and breathe new life into an entire home.