The Kitchen Cabinet, Or Not


Kitchen DesignIt’s unlikely you have too much storage space, but if you really want to open up the wall space, consider whether you need the upper cabinets at all.

Can everything be stored in the cabinets underneath, or in a nearby kitchen armoire? Will simple shelves serve your needs?

All things considered, if cabinets are still the best answer, you have options here too. One of the easiest upgrades is to simply replace the doors with newer ones that are more stylish and/or higher quality than the originals. If you are not shy about the general state of order in your cupboards, glass inserts in the front panels are a great look and give the illusion of a bigger cabinet area because of the new found visual depth.

If you are in the market for new cabinetry altogether, you have three basic options:

  • Stock – The equivalent of “off the rack”. A limited range of styles and sizes keeps the prices down and delivery times short. Typical construction uses high-density particleboard with a hardwood veneer rather than solid wood to eliminate warping. Standard sizing comes in three-inch increments so filler panels are usually needed to close the gaps between cabinet and walls.
  • Semi-custom – Same as above, but better, sturdier construction with the additional advantage of a larger selection of door styles, colors and storage options. Semi-custom cabinets are also made in three-inch increments, so you may still need filler panels to close the gaps between the cabinet and the wall. Expect a significant increase in price over stock cabinets.
  • Custom – You can have whatever you want – materials, styles, flourishes, colors, or finishes. Whereas most manufacturers have a network of dealers and installers, going custom means finding a designer and a cabinetmaker (check portfolios and references), plus a carpenter or general contractor.

Whatever cabinet arrangement meets your needs, poor quality cabinetry will not. You are opening and closing the drawers and doors all the time. Your best bet is cabinetry made with strong hardwoods, good finishes and sturdy hinges. Most cabinet doors open out into the room but there are also the types that fold up.

The Bottom Line

Be realistic about the budget for your new and improved kitchen. While a new kitchen can improve the marketability of your home, you can’t bank on recouping every dollar you invest on upgrades, especially if you have plans to sell in less than a year.

Speaking of budget, what is it really. Add 20%, and probably another 20% in addition. By the way, it ALWAYS takes longer than estimated.

A Word To The Wise

There is an advantage to consulting with a professional kitchen designer. The designer will be able to point out potential pit falls, as well as supply good ideas that would never have occurred to you. W hen it comes to remodels, the designer has access to more resources and frequently reps entire kitchen supply lines. You could be offered much better pricing than you would get on your own…if you even had access to these companies to begin with.

Guest post by Cindy Lee Bergersen for


  1. I had to chuckle when you said it “ALWAYS” takes longer. Yes it does seem that way for all parties involved. Sometimes it can’t be avoided.

    Longer but not much longer is worth being prepared for. And yes, have some backup money just in case.


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