A Buying Guide for Kitchen Cabinets A Buying Guide for Kitchen Cabinets

The kitchen of your dreams may exude old world charm or contemporary simplicity, but there’s no doubt that the kitchen cabinets play the starring role. Kitchen cabinets generally represent between 40 to 50 percent of the total price tag of a kitchen remodel. Spending that large of percentage on one aspect of revamping a room requires attention to details and knowing exactly what to look for and how to approach the purchase.

Define Your Style
Grab an armful of magazines from the library or a bookstore and really take a long hard look at what’s out there. You may all ready know what style you prefer, but by taking a look at the current offerings you’ll be certain. Take the architecture of your home into consideration and how you’ve decorated your home. Is there a dominant wood that was used throughout your home? The last thing you want to do is find that you hate the cherry cabinets that were just installed. Changing them would be out of the question unless money is of no consequence. Even though you’re sure you just love the new country style, look about at home centers and kitchen shops to be certain. Once you’ve defined your style with certainty, you’re ready to move on.

Consider Your Space
How much space do you have to play with? Are you opening up the kitchen or remodeling an existing space? How much space will you need to house your dishes, cookware, and foodstuffs? What cabinets and special options would you like to include? Jot down a true wish list. You’ll pare the list down as you go along.

Once you have a good idea of the space you need, draw up a floor plan. Measure the room and any openings such as doorways, windows, large appliances, etc. Using graph paper, sketch your room. At this time, also pull out all large pots and pans, platters or odd size cookware. Knowing their dimensions will help you plan a place for everything. Having a sketch or floor plan on hand when you head for the stores will be of great help during the shopping process.

Depending on the cabinets and where you purchase them, many kitchen or home stores have designers who will help you plan cabinets that provide what you want within the space you have. A designer or builder may come to your home, take the measurements and work up a design for your unique needs and desires. If you have pre-existing architectural elements that you wish to keep, such as an existing cupboard from when the 1870 house was built, a good designer will take this into consideration. If you’re starting from scratch, the possibilities are all up to you.

Develop a Budget
Cabinets come with more options than can be imagined. Take a good look at what your bank account will allow. Come up with an overall price you can afford for the entire kitchen project. Figure half of that overall amount will be spent on cabinets. Now you should have a cold hard number that you can spend on new cabinets for your dream kitchen.

Cabinets and How They Vary
The amount you’ve set aside for cabinets will tell you which direction to go when it comes to the various types of cabinets. There are basically three kinds of cabinets:

Stock Cabinets. These cupboards are available in standard sizes and shapes, with few design options, less function specialties, and not as many wood and stain choices. They are, however, less expensive, and delivery time is approximately two weeks.

Semi-Custom Cabinets. Semi-custom cabinets offer more options and extras such as divided knife drawers. Manufactured in standard sizes and designs, they are the middle of the road way to go. You’ll find more woods and stains to choose from.

Custom Cabinets. Custom cabinets are the Cadillac of cabinets. These will run much higher in price, but they should be well made with dovetailed drawers and mortise and tendon construction. The options are as broad as your imagination. Construction usually takes place in a workshop or on-site. It can take up to nine weeks for custom built cabinets to be delivered and/or installed.

What to Look For
As you’re shopping in home stores and stores that specialize in kitchen design, check out the displays. Open and close doors and drawers; drawers should open smoothly and quietly. Run your hand over the wood surface; if it’s not smooth, look elsewhere. High quality custom made cabinets should have solid frames, doors and drawer fronts. Do not purchase cupboards with no backs. Make sure corners are reinforced for sturdy durability. According to the American Hardwood Information Center, the majority of cupboards are constructed with one of these hardwoods: maple, cherry, alder, oak or birch. Ask the designer about each wood and its advantages.

Take a look at the frames of the doors. Frameless doors have a clean line look that compliments contemporary kitchens. The frame is actually hidden by the door and allows for fuller access to the interior of the cupboard. Doors with frames have a traditional look that blends well with the classic styles. Inset doors or drawers fit on the inside of the opening and are flush with cabinetry. This style isn’t quite as handy, but has an antique look to it.

Consider the Options
If you’re leaning toward semi-custom or custom cabinets, the options are endless. If baking is your thing, you can have a baking center included in the overall plan. Recycling centers can make being environmentally aware and proactive a snap. Spice racks and wine racks can give added flavor and functionality to your kitchen. Your doors can be all wood or some with mullioned glass panes, keeping your favorite china or stemware in full view. Drawers can hold knives, silverware, bread, or pots and pans. Pull-out chopping blocks and tray accessories for onions, garlic, or potatoes keep everything handy. One of the best options most builders offer is the chef’s pantry, a whole lot of storage using very little space. Once you have the knowledge you need from dealers and designers, go home and think about the many options. Make a list of your true desires, and when you’re ready, make an appointment to have your kitchen measured by a professional. In no time at all, you’ll have your dream kitchen and you won’t be disappointed because you know how to shop for kitchen cabinets.

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