Kitchen Cabinets: Options, Design and Installation

Replacing your kitchen cabinets can be a fun project, but also costly. If you’re thinking about replacing the cabinets on your own, then we invite you to read about some cabinet options, design and how-to install them yourself! Check it out.

Kitchen cabinets are not only functional, serving the purpose of storage, but also set the tone and theme for your entire kitchen. One can never have too much storage in a kitchen. With only a certain amount of space to work with, planning for the number and sizes of cabinets will ensure you have enough storage. And, functional kitchen cabinets do not need to be dull, but are often stylish furniture pieces, too. Whether you refresh current kitchen cabinetry or install new cabinets, with so many styles and price ranges you will definitely have enough options to select from.


Kitchen Cabinet Options

Options for kitchen cabinets have become much more numerous over the past several years due to innovations in design and materials used. Today’s kitchen cabinet market offers you the open cabinet concept, glass front cabinet doors, slide-out shelving, easy-close doors and drawers, cabinets made specifically for dishes, spices, even small appliances. Handles can be mixed and matched, and lighting can be installed under, within, and behind depending upon the mood you want to set.

Kitchen cabinets are also made from a wide variety of materials. Hardwoods such as red oak, white oak, maple, cherry, pine, ash, birch, and hickory can be found. Frequently you will find wood/plywood/veneer cabinets that are cheaper than one hundred percent hardwood. Other options are laminates, thermofoil, particleboard, medium-density fiberboard, and plywood – all of which are typically less expensive than hardwood cabinetry. If your budget is limited, do not over look scratch and dent cabinets. Or, if you want a commercial-style kitchen, try stainless steel or aluminum cabinets.


Kitchen Cabinet Design

Working with an experienced kitchen designer will provide you with a plan that gives you the most cabinet space in the size of the kitchen that you have. A designer will be able to take your kitchen cabinet wish list and create a design that maximizes storage as well as functionality. It is important to show and/or describe to the designer how you use your kitchen. For example, are you an experienced cook or someone who cooks occasionally? Do you entertain a lot in a kitchen/open area space? Will your kitchen countertops double as a breakfast bar? Also, let your designer know if you are going to be installing a different floor as floor height might impact the height of the cabinets you buy.

In addition, you need to have a sense of how much cabinet space you need for storage. Know what items you will be accessing on a daily basis as well as kitchen items that you want handy, but may not need to access so frequently. For example, dishes, glasses, mugs, silverware, pots, pans, etc. should be within easy reach. Small appliances such as blenders and bread making machines are kitchen items you may use occasionally, so storing these in the back of lower cabinets may be ideal. Selecting cabinets that go all the way up to the ceiling will provide you with additional storage space. These are all very important elements to consider prior to laying out your cabinetry.

If you want to visualize how your cabinets, countertops, floors, tile, and backsplashes may look, use our Kitchen Visualizer tool, it’s so much fun! You can mix and match your choice of colors so you can really get an idea of what your looking for in your new kitchen design. There are also several kitchen layouts to help you visualize in different perspectives.

Kitchen Cabinet Installation

Installing cabinets nowadays is much easier with today’s cabinet products than in the past. Before you even begin mounting cabinets on the wall, have a detailed plan with specific accurate measurements laid out in front of you. Double check to make sure that you left space for the refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, range hood, windows, and any other items that will be in the kitchen. If you are planning to have a kitchen island with storage, measure it plus the area that you will have to work around the island to make sure that you will have enough clearance to move about freely.


Installation Options

Professional kitchen remodelers that have years of experience building-out kitchens should give you the cleanest, best looking, most workable kitchen for your money. If you decide to go to with a professional, talk to at least three recent clients to make sure that they were pleased with the work they had done on their kitchens. If not, keep looking until you find the right professional for your project.

The other option is to do the kitchen cabinet installation your self. To do this successfully you will need accurate, detailed blueprints of your kitchen design, a measuring tape, pencil, stud finder, ladder, level, screws, shims, screwdriver(s), saw(s), and kitchen cabinets to start.

Complete all painting and installation of flooring, first, before you begin installing your kitchen cabinets. When you are ready to install the cabinets, use your stud finder to locate and mark the center of the studs with a pencil. Studs are usually 16 or 24 inches apart. Assemble the cabinets but leave the doors off. You will add the doors at the end of the installation. Dry fit your cabinets to determine where you will need to make cut outs for plumbing pipes and hookups, electrical outlets, the sink, and so on.

Drill along the stud line. Install the upper cabinets first before installing the lower cabinets. Make sure the cabinets are level before tightening screws. Place shims under the lower cabinets if needed to level them out. Screw cabinets to the wall with a hand or electric screwdriver. If the cabinets are heavy, you may need to install a stringer (extra wood) on the wall first, then screw the cabinets into the stringer.

If you are also installing a new counter top, make sure that you do a dry fit first to make sure that the counter top fits your space including the space for your sink. Follow the directions on how to install your counter top. This may involve caulking the countertop and applying grout if needed.

One of the last steps is to install the cabinet doors. You will need to adjust each door as needed to ensure that they open and close easily and they are secured to the cabinet. To add a bit of whimsy to your kitchen, change out the kitchen cabinet handles and knobs – feel free to mix and match them – you can even select handles and knobs with a similar theme and/or color. Install base boards last.

Purchasing and installing new cabinets can be expensive. You can save money by refinishing kitchen cabinet doors, replacing the handles and knobs, even removing the middle of the cabinet doors and replace them with clear or frosted glass. New and updated kitchens can be expensive, but do provide a good return on investment. For example, a $20,000 kitchen remodel returns 73% on average. This is for a 200 square foot kitchen with about 30 linear feet of wood cabinets, laminate countertops, and a double stainless steel sink. New appliances, flooring, painting, and custom lighting adds to your ROI.