Kitchen Cabinet Designs

Cabinets are the face of your kitchen. They set the style tone for your space and the different material, finish, and frame options available make it easy to find a look that fits your kitchen perfectly.

Kitchen cabinet doors are available in an almost endless variety. Browse website, magazines, and catalogs to get ideas. Take your list and clippings to a cabinetry showroom or a kitchen designer as examples of what you are looking for. As you look for inspiration, keep in mind these cabinet design features and options.

Kitchen Cabinet Designs: Frame Styles

Full Inset:Doors and drawers fit flush with the face frame. Because this technique requires patience and precision, it's a feature typically available only in custom cabinetry.

Full Overlay:Doors cover the face frame -- or the entire box front on frameless cabinets -- leaving only a sliver of space between doors and drawers. This creates a modern, clean look.

Partial Overlay:Doors cover the face frame by half an inch, and the frame shows all the way around the door. This traditional style is the easiest to construct and the most affordable option.

Finish Options

Whether you embrace wood's natural graining with a stain or opt for a coat of paint, cabinetry color options are aplenty, especially when you add glazes or distressing.

Natural: Solid wood cabinetry shines with a clear protective topcoat.

Stain: Add warmth, color, and protection without hiding the grain of solid wood cabinets.

Paint: Pick any color you like--just make sure it's a high-quality enamel. Fancy the modern, high-gloss look? Check out lacquered cabinetry.

Glaze: Top painted or stained cabinetry with a glaze to add dimension to detailed millwork.

Distressing: New cabinets get instant vintage charm with this treatment that artificially ages and wears wood.

Cabinet Door Styles

Your kitchen cabinet door designs will set the style for your kitchen, be it ornate and traditional or minimalist and sleek. Keep in mind that this design will be repeated throughout your kitchen. Try to envision what a whole wall of cabinets will look like with a chosen design. For example, a flat front slab door design may end up looking too minimal for your tastes once it is applied to every cabinet and drawer in your kitchen. Or, you may decide that a recessed-panel design looks sleek on the showroom floor, but when the design is repeated, it may not achieve the contemporary, clean-lined look you had envisioned for your kitchen.

Materials Glossary

Study these terms and learn to speak like the pros.

Substrate: An underlying layer of particleboard, medium density fiberboard (MDF), or plywood that's covered with another material, such as a laminate or wood veneer.

Veneer: A thin sheet of wood glued to a substrate. It¿s an eco- and budget-friendly alternative to solid wood cabinetry.

Laminate: A coating of three resin-saturated layers (a base layer of paper, a printed and colored layer, and a protective transparent layer) that¿s heated and pressure-fused to a substrate.

Melamine: A sheet of plastic similar to laminate that covers a substrate.

Thermofoil: A thin vinyl sheet that's heat-fused to wood or a substrate. It's durable and easy to clean, and it provides the look of a painted surface without the brush marks and other imperfections.

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