All About Cabinetry

Cabinetry Finishes: Distressed
Learn the basics about cabinet styles, shapes, and finishes.

The Power of Cabinetry

No other single kitchen element has the transforming power of cabinetry. In style and color, cabinetry defines the look of a room and often influences the feel of an entire home. Selecting the right cabinets to suit your tastes can be daunting. This guide to cabinetry provides the information you need to select high-quality, beautiful cabinetry for your home.

Types of Cabinetry

The first decision to make when selecting cabinetry is which type fits your needs and budget. The three types come at different price points.

-- Stock Cabinetry -- available off the shelf at your local home improvement center. This is the most budget-friendly option, but sizes, styles, and colors are limited.

-- Semi-Custom Cabinetry -- built to order based on available sizes, styles, colors, and accessories. Variety of options is a plus, but you¿ll pay more for the choices and wait longer than you would for stock cabinetry.

-- Custom Cabinetry -- starts from scratch to accommodate your vision and space. You'll get exactly what you want, at a premium price. And completion depends on your cabinetmaker's schedule.

Cabinetry with a Face Frame

You have two choices in cabinetry construction. One is face-frame construction, the most traditional type of cabinetry. It has a solid-wood frame attached to the front of the cabinet box. Hinges attach the door to the frame and can be either exposed or hidden. Because the frame overlaps the door opening, drawers and pullout inserts must be smaller than the width of the cabinet.

Frameless Cabinetry

Frameless cabinetry is your other choice in cabinetry construction. It offers a more contemporary appearance and slightly more space in the cabinet. When the door of a frameless cabinet is open, you see the ends of the panels that make up the box. Door hinges attach to the inside of the cabinet and are not visible when the doors are closed.

Frame Styles: Full Overlay

There are three types of cabinetry frame styles. This style is called full overlay. Here, the doors cover the entire face frame -- or the entire box front on frameless cabinetry -- leaving only a sliver of space between doors and drawers. This creates a clean, modern look.

Frame Styles: Partial Overlay

With partial-overlay cabinets, the 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 is the most affordable option.

Frame Styles: Full Inset

Full-inset cabinets have drawers and doors that fit flush with the face frame. Because this technique requires patience and precision during construction, full inset is usually available only in custom cabinetry.

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Door Shapes: Square

Cabinetry doors can dominate the look of an entire room. Consider which door shape, insert, and finish suit your space before placing a cabinetry order. This is a square-style door shape. It works well in a modern or traditional-style kitchen.

Door Shapes: Arch or Cathedral

A rounded cathedral design (shown here) or a soft arch at the top makes a cabinet door feel a little more traditional than a square design. This style works well in a cottage or country kitchen, and in kitchens with lots of detailed woodwork and molding.

Door Shapes: Slab

Slab cabinet doors are made of a single piece of wood. They have no panel in the middle like the other three styles. This kind can be used in traditional or contemporary kitchens but is most often found in more modern applications.

Door Inserts: Raised Panel

You can change the look of any shape of cabinetry by changing the panel insert. Raised panels, such as the cabinet doors in this kitchen, stand out from the door frame and offer a traditional look.

Door Inserts: Recessed Panel

A recessed panel insert in a cabinet door lends a clean-line look, while adding more dimensional interest than a straightforward slab cabinet door. Recessed panels are popular in contemporary kitchens.

Door Inserts: Decorative Molding

Decorative molding used on a cabinet door insert adds an ornate touch. Decorative molding is popular in traditional and old-world kitchens.

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Door Inserts: Beaded Board

Beaded-board inserts give cabinet doors a casual look that works well in country and cottage-style kitchens.

Door Inserts: Glass

Cabinetry doors with glass fronts add an airy feel to the kitchen by breaking up the mass of wood panels. This style lets you add a decorative personal touch, too, by displaying dinnerware and collections inside.

Cabinetry Finishes: Natural

Whether you embrace wood's natural graining with a stain or opt for a coat of paint, cabinetry color options are plentiful, especially when you add glazes or distressing. Find the perfect mix to match the style of your home. In this kitchen, solid-wood cabinets showcase their natural color and graining with just a light, transparent finish for protection.

Cabinetry Finishes: Stain

Add warmth, color, and protection without hiding the grain of solid wood cabinets by using stain. Stains are available in light to very dark finishes.

Cabinetry Finishes: Paint

You can paint wood cabinets any color you like -- just make sure the paint is a high-quality enamel. If you fancy the modern, high-gloss look, try lacquered cabinetry.

Cabinetry Finishes: Glaze

Apply a glaze over painted or stained cabinetry to add dimension. The glaze will adhere in the nooks and crevices of the wood, providing contrast.

Cabinetry Finishes: Distressed

Give new cabinets an instant vintage charm with a distressed treatment that artificially ages and wears the wood.

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