Choosing cabinets for a kitchen renovation seems like a no-brainer. They are essentially boxes for holding plates, glasses, and utensils. How difficult would it be?
We found that with so many design details and features available and the large investment required, the decision-making process can become very complex. Therefore, it is important to get a cabinet that will satisfy you for a long time.
But how do you know what’s best for your home?
“Of course it depends on where you start,” says Nina Farmer, an interior designer based in Boston. “Apartments and houses are completely different.” The same goes for traditional and modern homes. Your cooking and entertaining ambitions should also influence the design of your kitchen.
To help sort through the options, we asked interior designers and kitchen manufacturers how they help their clients find the best fit.
Pay attention to the drawer
Consider the lower cabinets first. Some come with doors and shelves, but many designers now prefer ones with drawers.
“I think people are making much better use of things they can pull out than shelves,” Farmer said. With drawers, you can see everything inside when you pull it out, so you don’t have to bend over to check what’s inside.
If you prefer the look of your door, there is a workaround. Farmer suggests adding a tray-like pull-out drawer inside the cabinet, behind the hinged door.
“It usually has the same capacity,” she said. “Sometimes we pull out the bottom drawer with the door and put another inner drawer above it.”
Compared to the door and shelf design, “it’s always functional,” she said.
Choose upper cabinet or shelf
A long-standing trend is to do away with upper cabinets in favor of open shelving above the counter. But it’s not right for everyone.
“Some of our clients are really interested in exposed shelving,” says Christine, who with her husband, James Veal, runs the interior design firm Stewart Schaefer, which has offices in New York and Connecticut. Stacker says. “But we feel like we need to educate them that it has to be curated. You can’t just throw all your kids’ mugs and random stuff out there. Photos of shelves on Pinterest and Instagram Some people look at them and can’t understand that someone spent hours hand-picking them.”
As a compromise, she and her husband often provide homeowners with both upper cabinets for basic storage and open shelving where they can display their favorite dishes. “It’s about managing the balance between how much storage you need and how much storage you can maintain a curated look,” Stacker says. “You want your kitchen to look clean and tidy, not cluttered.”
Deciding between full overlay doors and inset doors
One of the characteristics of kitchen cabinets is whether the doors and drawer fronts are fully covered or recessed.
Full overlay doors are typically installed with hidden European hinges and completely cover the edge of the cabinet when closed. Door and drawer fronts can be placed directly side by side with minimal gaps. Ikea and most European cabinets are made this way, and the look is usually modern and sophisticated.
Inset door and drawer fronts are housed within a large face frame that covers the edge of the rear cabinet and are spaced apart for a more traditional look with exposed hinges.
“A proper wooden door with butt hinges sits within the frame,” explains Marlin Wright, design director at Plain English, a British furniture company with U.S. showrooms in New York and Los Angeles. “Our approach is very traditional, based on the Georgian and some Victorian originals found in large old historic houses in England.”
Some kitchens also have half-overlay doors, where the cabinet face frame is partially hidden by the overlap of the doors, but that style has largely gone out of fashion.
One type is not better than the other. The key is to understand which look you prefer.
“When working with traditional spaces, I like to use inset panels,” says Jensen Killen, who co-founded Logan Killen Interiors in New Orleans with Katie Logan LeBlanc. “However, a full-overlay slab front is perfect for modern interiors and gives a very clean, streamlined look.”
Consider Appliance Panels
Another recent trend is to cover refrigerators and dishwashers with cabinet panels, making them almost invisible.
When designing a kitchen, Stewart Schaefer says, most of the time, “we want to hide the appliances as much as possible, so the kitchen feels like another communal room and less of a kitchen.” We don’t have one,” Stacker said.
To do so, they purchase panel-enabled appliances. This appliance does not come with an exterior door, but is designed to accept custom cabinet doors.
Of course, appliances with panels are not suitable for everyone. “If someone cooks a lot and wants more of a chef’s kitchen look, we might choose stainless steel appliances, which are really nice,” Ms. Logan LeBlanc said.
Please select a finish
Cabinet doors and drawer fronts are available in a variety of finishes, including metal, solid wood, veneer, laminate, and painted. Choosing one will take into account your style preferences, durability, and affordability.
For example, stainless steel or solid wood doors are more likely to withstand a child’s toy hit than wood veneer, but they are usually more expensive. Laminate is very durable, but you may not get the look you want. Paint finishes usually offer flexibility as the door can be touched up or repainted.
“With traditional hand-painted cupboards, you won’t be able to paint them for 20 years and they’ll look a little shabby, but they’ll still look great,” says Wright, adding that most Plain English cabinets have a hand-painted finish. It added that it will be delivered. “If you want, you can repaint it to make it look new again, or you can repaint it to change the color.”
pay attention to hardware
Choose from a myriad of handles, including knobs and bar pulls made in a variety of shapes, from perfectly machined stainless steel cylinders to cast brass wabi-sabi grips. Many people combine knobs and bar pulls in matching collections, using knobs for doors and small drawers and bar pulls for large drawers and appliance panels.
Celebrate your hardware with expressive choices, de-emphasize it with sensible picks, or even remove exterior hardware entirely with touch latches and finger pulls.
Stewart Shafer often uses exposed handles in traditional kitchens, opting for distinctive metal handles. However, in modern kitchens, cabinet doors are often made with built-in finger grooves instead. “I try to avoid hardware unless it adds something to the overall look,” Stacker says.
Logan LeBlanc said whether the kitchen has a traditional or modern look, most people want the latest internal hardware inside the cabinets for maximum functionality. She advised looking for smooth-running, full-extension drawer slides with a soft-close mechanism that prevents drawers from slamming shut.
design the inside
Drawers, empty boxes, provide basic storage space, but they do little to keep you organized. Maximize your space by building them with integrated or customizable storage compartments and dividers.
You can add aftermarket drawer organizers later, but drawers are made in a variety of sizes, so finding a product that fits perfectly is unlikely. Scott Hudson, chief executive of kitchen companies Henrybilt and Space Theory, said the benefit of a well-designed kitchen system with dividers is that everything is thoughtfully delivered. .
“You get these unique functional components,” Hudson said. “This means that each drawer has a suitable system for storing containers, knife storage or cutting boards.”
As a result, it’s easier to organize your kitchen because you can see where all your items are at a glance. “A good system automatically helps you stay organized without even having to think about it,” Hudson says.
Remember the extras
Beyond basic cabinetry, there are some special features that make your kitchen even more appealing. One is an integrated pull-out drawer for trash and recycling, so you won’t have a trash can stuck under the sink.
Trash isn’t usually very exciting, but Hudson said the trash drawer is a “huge level up.”
Countertop appliances like toasters, kettles, and coffee makers also tend to look cluttered, so adding an appliance garage is another option. An appliance garage is a large cabinet with electrical outlets, usually at counter height.
“That’s a big deal right now,” said Mr. Veal of Stewart Schaefer. “We just finished one with a sliding door. It’s kind of a continuation of the kitchen counter right behind the door.”
One of Farmer’s projects included installing plain English cabinets that resemble freestanding cupboards. “When you open it up, there’s a marble countertop inside where you can hide things like the toaster,” she said.
Imogen Pritchard, Plain English’s US design director, said this type of cabinetry is becoming increasingly popular.
“This is the cupboard in the pantry and has traditionally been a great place to store things that don’t actually need to go in the fridge, like cheese, bread and butter,” Pritchard said. “But I realized that the pantry cupboard is actually the perfect breakfast cupboard.”
A breakfast cupboard with a coffee maker, juicer and toaster could even be considered a lifestyle upgrade, she added. “We’re looking at ways to make the morning a little easier by having everything in its proper place.”
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