Kitchen Cabinets: Seven More Things You Need to Know Before You Buy

Dark Kitchen Cabinets
Photo courtesy of Cambria USA.
by Sam Ferris
Back in December we made a list of seven must-knows for purchasing kitchen cabinets. Call us pessimistic, but looking back, we realized the list was only half full.

To be fair, kitchen remodeling shouldn?t be confined to a short checklist. Like DNA, no two kitchens are the same. Even cookie cutter kitchens in an assembly line neighborhood will each present a different set of challenges.

Ever the problem solvers, we came up with a quick solution: make the list of must-knows longer. ?Here are seven more things you need to know when you buy kitchen cabinets:?

1. ?Your General Layout
In the first part of this blog series, we told you to know what?s important to you before you start shopping for kitchen cabinets. In hindsight, we should have suggested something more concrete.

Obviously you?re going to hire designers, electricians, and plumbers to tell you what needs to go where (and why), but you should have a general idea of how you want your kitchen to look before you start searching for cabinets.

As a starting point, figure out what you don?t like about your current kitchen. Is there not enough storage space? Is it too closed off? Does it have a dysfunctional layout? Answering these questions will help you know what to include in your new design.
Kitchen Cabinet Layout
Adding an island to your kitchen is a big change, so plan accordingly.
It?s also vital for you to decide whether you want to make any major changes to your kitchen, like building a new island or demolishing a wall.?

This should be a brainstorming exercise. If you can develop a rough blueprint, you?re ahead of the game. A designer can later fine tune these initial thoughts into a functional, efficient layout.?
*Click here to learn how to measure your kitchen cabinets.

2. ?Door style and wood species
These are two details that get lost in translation too often. Buyers tend to overlook them because they?re focused on layout, cost and electrical/plumbing issues ? which, let?s face it, are the bread and butter of remodeling.

In reality, door style and wood species can define your kitchen?s character more so than cabinet color.

For starters, each wood species is different:

  • Maple: Smoother appearance, little to no grains. A more contemporary choice.
  • Hickory: Grains with knots. Rustic and weathered in appearance.
  • Oak: Jagged grains. Rustic finish with character.?

Glazes and stains don?t look the same on different wood species. A dark brown glaze on a maple plywood construction may have a reddish tint on a cherry plywood construction, for instance.

Door styles are zeitgeistian pieces that shape the overall design of your kitchen and the time period it reflects.

Door styles can transform a kitchen design from traditional and modern to contemporary and eclectic. A slab door front, for example, is a nod to midcentury modernity, while more decorative door fronts keep a foot firmly planted in tradition.

3. ?Be prepared for unknowns
We listed not being prepared as one of the biggest remodeling mistakes to avoid last month. It?s also one of the biggest mistakes you can make when you?re buying kitchen cabinets.

Unfortunately, most potential problems don?t catch the eye like a lipstick stain on the collar does.

They?re more on the subtle side, like a crooked wall or a slow-seeping leak (the most common issue we run into is a wall that isn?t leveled). These types of problems are usually tucked away behind your cabinets, so your contractor won?t be able to identify them until your cabinets are gone.

Should one of these problems arise in your kitchen, don?t panic.

It may take longer for your remodel to be completed, but know that your contractor isn?t trying to torture you ? she?s trying to do the job correctly. In the end, it won?t matter how beautiful your kitchen looks if the job isn?t done right.

4. ?The type of stove and sink you want
Forget to plan ahead for your appliances and you may find yourself in hot water. It?s best to have a stove and sink selected when you?re designing your kitchen.?
Apron Sink
Always tell your kitchen cabinet designer what sink you're planning to buy.
Here?s why: in many ways, the sink and stove are the building blocks of kitchen design.

Designers usually design around these appliances because they?re fixed in place. As a result, they have to know what size sink cabinet base to include, as well as how much space to leave for your stove ? or whether they?ll need a cabinet base for a range top, too.

Do you see where we?re going with this? If you change your sink or stove size after you order your kitchen cabinets, you throw the entire design off. It?ll cost more money to reorder the appropriate cabinets.

The moral of the story: select a sink and stove and stick with it. Do enough research to where you?re confident with your decision. You can even ask your designer for recommendations (we have plenty).?

5. ?Pantry cabinets are more efficient
Walk-in pantries aren?t outdated by any means ? we?re finding that builders still incorporate them into new builds, and that homeowners like them. But we don?t think they?re the most efficient way to store your food.

Pantry cabinets, on the other hand, are as convenient as food storage gets.

The benefit to pantry cabinets is that you eliminate bending and reaching. With pullout drawers, all of your canned goods and ingredients are right in front of your face, and they?re easy to grab.?
Pantry Kitchen Cabinet
Using a cabinet as your pantry is a functional option for your kitchen design.
You can also incorporate pantry cabinets into your kitchen design, strategically placing them within your cooking space. It can save you a trip to a butler?s pantry and make cooking a more efficient process.?
6. ?Tall wall cabinets are in style
High Kitchen Wall Cabinets
High kitchen wall cabinets are a big kitchen design trend. Photo courtesy of Cambria USA.
Soffits are no more. More and more homeowners are opting for wall cabinets that span from the top of the backsplash to the ceiling.

Full-height wall cabinets have two advantages: they?re contemporary and they create extra storage space for items you don?t want the world to see.

Large wall cabinets give your kitchen a more flushed, seamless look ? a look that today?s homebuyers want.

That extra 9-12 inches of space (that?s the average height of soffits) is a godsend for homeowners with a higher than normal dish count.? Include glass door fronts if your dishware is pretty enough.?

7. ?The size of window and door trims
It isn?t enough to know where your windows and doors are located. You have to be aware of the trims, too.

We?ve said this before and we?ll say it again: like football, kitchen design is a game of inches. Every inch has to count, especially when function and efficient use of space are at the forefront of good kitchen design.

Window and door trims can range from an inch to several inches thick. Why is this important? You want to leave enough space so that your cabinets don?t overlap the trim.

Otherwise you?re left with a catch-22: stick with an unsightly design, or fork over more money to fix it.?

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