/ Cabinets



Reminiscent of the Italian villa, this style was popular in England in the early 1800s and in America in the late 1800s.

General description:

  • Two stories

  • Irregular shape

  • Different window designs at each floor level

  • Wide frieze and brackets supporting large cornice

Exterior features to consider in kitchen design:

  • Multiple chimneys, bays, overhangs, and window styles

  • Gracious entry with balcony above


Recommended kitchen design elements:


Cabinet Doors

  • Type: Lipped or full overlay

  • Style: Raised square panel

  • Finish: Stain or paint

  • Wood: Cherry, maple, or oak


  • Laminate

  • Soapstone

  • Granite


  • Linoleum

  • Ceramic

  • Wood

Architectural Details

  • Crown moulding with dentil, egg & dart

  • Chair rail





More in this category:« Gothic RevivalCraftsman »

Explore Stock, Custom and Semi-Custom Cabinetry

Kitchen with brown wood and white painted cabinets.

Even stock cabinets offer multiple door styles, finish colors, storage accessories and moldings.

When choosing kitchen cabinets for a new home or remodeling project, we recommend that you start with cabinet type. While the colors, doors and materials will drive the kitchen's style, the type of cabinetry will determine not only the budget but also how well your space is used.

First decision: stock, semi-custom, or custom cabinets. Typically, stock cabinets offer the fewest options at the lowest prices in the shortest amount of time, with custom cabinets at the opposite end of the spectrum and semi-custom cabinets falling in the middle. Over the last decade or so, however, the style and accessory options offered by stock and semi-custom cabinet lines have expanded to the point where it's possible to achieve an attractive, personalized kitchen in any of the three choices.

Still, if you're looking to save money and to get the job going quickly, stock cabinets are your best bet. If you have a small kitchen and don't want to waste space on fillers, the greater range of sizes and storage accessories available in semi-custom might be a better fit. And if the cabinet finish or doors have to match a piece of heirloom furniture, you'll need custom cabinetry.

Second decision: framed or frameless cabinets. Looks-wise, framed or face-frame cabinetry is more traditional than frameless. Frameless cabinets have the advantage of more interior storage space, but the disadvantage of being more difficult, and therefore more expensive, to install. 



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Common Wood Finishes


Natural Wood
Natural wood doesn't mean you're purchasing cabinets that are entirely in the nude. To protect the wood from dirt and grease and maintain the look of unfinished wood, a transparent topcoat must be added.

A stain adds color to the wood without masking the beauty of the wood grain. Manufacturers use all different names for stain colors. One company's "amber" may not look anything like another's with the same name. Think in terms of tone. Choose the wood you prefer and then decide whether a stain with a light, medium, or dark tone will best achieve the effect you're after.

A stain isn't technically a "finish"; there are more steps to come once it has been applied. A finishing coat is applied over the stain to protect it. Typically, a stain will be coated with a catalytic-conversion varnish to give it durability and sheen-whether matte or high-gloss or anything in-between. When it's baked on, the varnish catalyzes into a hard, protective finish. You don't want to top the stain with oil, lacquer, or wax because those substances won't hold up and will yellow over time. Glazes can be used as an overcoat to achieve certain effects, such as an antique look.

Glaze can be used by itself or applied over a base stain or paint and then wiped off by hand. The glaze settles in the cabinet door's corners, edges, and open grain areas, defining its details and lending an overall patina. Glazes can be tinted any color. A hand-rubbed white glaze against light woods is a quick way to impart an aged feel.

With paint you certainly have an endless palette of colors to choose from. You can also achieve a range of special effects. Paint can look smooth and glossy or it can be sanded, rubbed off, or dented with rocks to look distressed. But you should be aware up front that hairline cracks will appear at the joints of solid wood doors as the wood expands and contracts. You can avoid cracking if you apply paint to MDF, a solid material that doesn't move with humidity changes.

It isn't that big of a leap to cabinets from cars, the surface on which this finish has been commonly applied. The same durability and quality needed on the road is also appreciated in the kitchen. There, polyester can be found on appliances as well as modern-style cabinets, in a glossy or matte finish. It fills the pores of the door more fully than paint, giving it a solid look and feel.

The technique might involve more than 20 steps of sanding and finishing. There's even a step where a special topcoat is applied in a dust-free room. The finish goes through numerous oven curings and hand sandings with extremely fine abrasives. Special glazes and polishes applied at the end help achieve the final, mirror-like sheen.

Perhaps not surprisingly, all that elbow grease makes this one of the more expensive finish choices.



More in this category:Specialty Finishes »

Options for Cabinet Door Styles

Close Up of Cabinet Door

Besides door type, you'll want to consider different door shapes and styles. One cabinet manufacturer may offer hundreds of door styles in an endless array of finishes.

Search for shapes and materials that contribute to, rather than detract from, your overall style preference. If your kitchen has a minimal stainless steel look, consider a slab door. If ornate details cover your kitchen, take a look at a raised cathedral panel to complement this style.

Your options for cabinet door style include:


slab doorSlab
If you like clean lines, a slab door may be the choice for you. A flat door that essentially looks like a slab of wood, metal or other material, these doors eschew panels. Add pizzazz to an MDF door by routing a detailed edge profile.



raised panel doorRaised Panel
A panel, usually made by joining pieces of solid stock lumber with adhesive, is secured to the door's frame. Raised panels generally measure between 1/2" and 3/4" thick. A routed edge profile tends to give the door a more elegant appearance.



recessed panelRecessed Panel
The recessed panel door is a flat panel affixed inside a frame constructed with miter or mortise and tenon joints. The resulting appearance has a picture frame-type look and a simpler, more country or transitional appearance.



curved panel doorCurved Panel
The top portion of this door's decorative panel curves upward in a gentle arch. The panel itself is generally raised.




cathedral panel doorCathedral Panel
A cathedral-type arch is incorporated into the upper rail of this raised or recessed panel.




beadboard panelBeadboard Panel
Typically found in a recessed panel, beadboard uses routed beaded details to create a casual country style.




routed cabinet doorRouted
A single piece of engineered wood material (such as MDF) is shaped to take on the appearance of a recessed or raised panel within the door, then painted or covered in laminate.




Inserts Provide a Great Design Option for Cabinets

Dark and Light Wood Cabinets

Contrasting wood types and glass inserts give this kitchen visual interest

A kitchen loaded with base and wall cabinets can look like a storage room or feel dark and heavy. Inserts such as glass, metal or chicken wire present a great design option to add visual interest, especially on stock cabinets that might otherwise lack unique touches. Glass will also reflect light, brightening your kitchen and making it appear larger.

Clear glass can showcase fine china or collectibles, but also reveals fingerprints and clutter. Luckily, inserts come in a variety of textures and patterns that make the glass translucent or opaque rather than transparent. Options include:

  • Beveled: polished angle-ground glass with prismatic characteristics

  • Bubbled: air bubbles sprinkled in the glass to enhance the illusion of age

  • Camed: strips (or "cames") of lead, brass, or copper lie between the glass

  • Colored: tinted glass

  • Etched: a design is carved into glass using hydrofluoric acid

  • Frosted: glass blown with fine sand under high pressure for an opaque look

  • Leaded: a popular type of camed glass

  • Mullion: thin strips of wood separate panes of glass

  • Ribbed: vertical, horizontal, or diagonal lines


Some manufacturers also offer the option of sandwiching materials such as rice paper or fabric between the layers of glass.

Install halogen lights inside the cabinets for an additional glow or to highlight the contents. Use glass shelves to allow the light to shine all the way through. Or consider a colored interior; for example, a hunter green interior against a white cabinet can emphasize a country motif. You can also decorate the interior with stenciled patterns, faux finishes or wallpaper.




Warranties Offer a Safeguard for Your Investment

Cabinets with Warranty logo superimposed.

Consider the warranty offers on your cabinetry purchase when choosing a cabinetry manufacturer.

Your cabinet doors swing open like a dream today-but what about tomorrow? Safeguard your investment by choosing a manufacturer that offers a solid warranty.

You'll be ahead of the game if you know the terms of the following typical warranties. Most manufacturers offer different warranties for the cabinetry and the drawer suspension system and hinges:

Limited Lifetime
Ensures that the drawer, drawer guides and hinges will be free from defects in material and workmanship after normal use, for as long as the original purchaser owns the home.

Five-Year Limited
Cabinets will be free in defects from material and workmanship under normal use to the original consumer for a period of five years from the date of purchase.

If the cabinetry fails during the predetermined warranty period due to normal use, the manufacturer will repair the defect or provide replacement parts.

Limitations may still apply. Many manufacturers stipulate that the warranty only extends to single-family, non-rental homes and does not cover damage from misuse, abuse, neglect, improper storage, defects caused by installation/storage/transportation, moisture and heat.

If defects occur, the manufacturer has the option to either repair or replace the defective material or component at its discretion. The warranty only covers parts and materials, not the cost of installation or removal.

Natural factors will alter the cabinets over time; the manufacturer is not responsible for exact color matching.

Check to see if the warranty transfers with ownership: this could be valuable if you're planning on selling your home.

Be sure to keep all warranty information in one folder in a safe place. Understand the terms of your warranty clearly: some warranties go into effect on the day the cabinets were purchased, others use delivery and installation as starting points. Also check to see if purchasing an extended warranty is an option.




Wood Remains the Top Choice for Cabinets

Warm wood kitchen cabinets with quartz counters and stainless steel appliances.

Maple or cherry wood dominate U.S. preferences in kitchen cabinets.

Kitchen cabinets can be made from a wide range of materials, including wood, laminate, stainless steel, thermofoil, melamine, lacquer and acrylic. Wood reigns supreme in the United States, though, with wood doors accounting for about 91 percent of sales in 2007, according to Kitchen & Bath Business magazine's most recent industry survey. Themofoil came in at 4 percent, with melamine at 1.6 percent, and laminate and lacquer each over 1 percent.

The study also showed maple as the most popular wood choice, followed in order by cherry, red or white oak, and hickory.

Each option has its merits. At first glance, wood offers natural beauty and a more traditional, country or rustic look, while manmade materials have an endless range of colors and a more modern style. With a little imagination, though, almost any material can work in any kitchen style. In fact, kitchen designers today often use more than one material in cabinet designs, or use the same material but in two different finishes or colors.

So choose your material not just by style, but by cost, durability, available door styles and finishes, and just plain old personal preference.



More in this category:Woods »

Decorative Accents to Personalize Your Cabinetry

Close up of Wooden Cabinet with Decorative Molding

Courtesy of White River

Moldings and trim serve as decoration and ornamentation for your cabinetry. They also can conceal joints or smooth the transition between the cabinets and the ceiling and floor.

In minimalist contemporary kitchens, you'll find little, if any, molding. Yet a French Country kitchen would not be complete without stacked crown molding and corbels. More traditional and formal styles typically call for more elaborate detailing, while transitional or eclectic looks might use just a few standouts, such as rope molding on cabinet doors and bun feet on an island.

Molding doesn't need to blend seamlessly into your cabinetry. Add interest by juxtaposing finishes and staggering cabinet depth. For example, consider having your crown molding stained a deep green to accent knotty alder cabinets. Or "bump out" your cooktop area with split spindles.


Most often, molding and trim are made from hardwoods such as oak, maple, and cherry or painted softwoods like pine. Your cabinetmaker may offer a wide selection, or you may want to choose from an independent manufacturer or shop for a wider range of materials, shapes, sizes and pricing.

Metal can bring a modern kitchen to life. Metal onlays in stainless steel, bronze, copper and nickel are a great and subtle way to emphasize your hardware. Even better, metal feet are a great addition to generally unornamented laminate cabinetry.

Polystyrene and polyurethane molding, made from plastic or resin, offer an affordable alternative. These products are much more resistant to warping, rotting or insects than wood is, and they can be painted any color.



More in this category:Molding Types »



Usually built after 1860 in rural America, most Gothic Revival homes were influenced by the popular European styles of the day.

General description:

  • Two stories

  • Irregular shape

  • Gothic arched windows given even greater height by steeply pitched roof

Exterior features to consider in kitchen design:

  • Elaborate exterior trim adding structural significance to design

  • Wood, stone, or brick, with sometimes a mix of all three to add a multicolor effect

Recommended kitchen design elements:


Cabinet Doors

  • Type: Inset

  • Style: Beaded square panel

  • Finish: Stain or paint

  • Wood: Cherry, maple, or oak


  • Laminate

  • Soapstone

  • Granite


  • Linoleum

  • Ceramic

  • Wood

Architectural Details

  • Crown moulding with dentil, egg & dart

  • Chair rail







More in this category:« Queen AnneItalianate »

An Overview of Cabinet Box Construction

You might be surprised to learn that solid wood rarely forms the cabinet box. It's more often used in face frames and doors than in the larger side panel parts. That's because it tends to warp-a special concern in the kitchen where the moisture level changes frequently. But in the doors, using multiple strips of lumber in a variety of sizes can reduce the warp factor. A "floating" panel might also be used. The panel floats because instead of being glued to the doorframe, its edges sit between wooden grooves, allowing the wood to move more freely with changes in the kitchen's humidity.

Box materials typically contain wood chips, other wood by-products, and synthetic additives to make them especially strong and warp resistant. Your options include:

All have solid reputations for durability and screw-holding power, particularly plywood. Medium-density fiberboard has gained a following for its ability to be formed into door and drawer heads and other decorative features. Furniture-grade flakeboard offers a stronger alternative than particleboard, which you'll pay the least for.

Often the door and box will be constructed of different materials. A cabinet door might be solid maple and the cabinet box plywood covered with a maple veneer. The same finish would be applied to both, unifying the look. Or you may decide you want different tones on the door and the sides to add contrast.

You'll want to make sure you know if the finish you like requires a certain base material, and you'll want to check out examples of your manufacturer's work. Beware of staples! Staples will pull apart. You want cabinets with thick panels that have been corner blocked and glued or fastened with screws.



More in this category:« Cabinet ConstructionDrawers »