What is the Safest Cabinet Choice?
Question: "We're getting a newly constructed home in a few months and will soon be selecting our kichen cabinet colors. There are three colors we like, and we're having a hard time deciding what we like best. The three colors are espresso, biscotti and caramel. We prefer maple or cherry wood with pulls rather than knobs. "Transitional" best describes our style. We plan to make this our long term home. As a result, we want our kitchen to be modern, but we're hoping that what we choose won't just be a short-lived trend and go out of style in a few years. What is your advice on the safest choice to go with?" —Carm and Coz, Canada
Answer: You're off to a good start. Wood cabinetry has broader appeal than cabinets made from other materials, and maple and cherry are the most popular species. According to a 2008 survey of cabinet manufacturers conducted by Kitchen + Bath Business magazine, maple accounts for 42 percent of the market for wood cabinets and cherry for 21 percent. Cherry wood typically costs about 20 percent more than maple, which can be an important factor in choosing between the two. Maple and cherry both work with transitional design styles and with all three of the finish choices you mentioned.
So, on to the finishes. Espresso, biscotti and caramel are all good, neutral choices, but I recommend caramel. A medium-brown stained finish never goes out of style. It works with light or dark countertops, flooring, paint and wall tile, too.
Espresso would be my second choice. This darker shade of brown has been fashionable for the past few years and therefore is more likely to "date" your home, in my opinion. Your color palette would be a little more limited as well, because dark cabinets require light-colored surfaces to keep the kitchen from becoming too gloomy.
As for biscotti, I ruled it out first simply because it is usually a painted and glazed finish, which is better suited to a country or a traditional style kitchen. Also, a glazed finish is always more expensive.