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How to Choose Kitchen Cabinets for Home Renovation

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Framed Kitchen Cabinets

An Example of Framed Kitchen Cabinets

Steve Cole / Getty

If you’re renovating your kitchen and have done any research at all, you probably know that choosing kitchen cabinets is not for the faint of heart (or pocketbook!) Kitchen cabinets cost a lot, and the choices may seem limitless. Don’t let these things put you off as the right cabinets will make your kitchen a warm, comfortable showplace. People often congregate in the kitchen and creating your own look and feel is fun. You just need to study your options before heading for the home improvement store or custom cabinetmaker.

Types of Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen cabinets fall into three main categories; stock, semi-custom, and custom. The basic definitions are:
  • Stock Kitchen Cabinets These include mass produced models that install easily but usually can’t be modified to your individual taste except by paint or stain. Stock cabinets cost the least, install the easiest, and are the most readily available.
  • Semi-Custom Kitchen Cabinets Similar to stock cabinets because they are mass produced, the homeowner may order basic changes in size and even select from a fairly wide range of finishes, moldings, and trim.
  • Custom Kitchen Cabinets In many cases custom actually means semi-custom with more modification choices. If someone wants uniquely designed kitchen cabinets, which defines the true meaning of “custom” he or she should expect to pay top dollar.

Framed vs. Unframed Cabinets

Another choice you will make is whether to install framed or unframed (also frameless) kitchen cabinets. There is a difference in price and functionality between the two types of cabinets:
  • Framed Cabinets - With a rectangular-shaped frame on the front of the cabinet, this traditional style of kitchen cabinets allows the cabinet hinges to be mounted on the outside, and for the cabinets to hang independently of each other, if needed. Drawback: the "lip" created by the frame limits storage room.
  • Unframed Cabinets - Frameless cabinets are a newer style of cabinet that allow for sleeker lines and slightly more storage room--for a slightly higher cost.

    Budgeting for Kitchen Cabinets

    Whether your kitchen is new construction or a remodel, your first step should be to establish a budget. Knowing how much you can spend will at least give you someplace to start in the selection process. Be sure to include the cost of installation in your figures. By the same token, each cabinet grade holds a wide range of choices. For example semi-custom models vary a great deal in price, materials, and detail. Even if you need to limit your selection to the least expensive stock designs, you’re liable to find more models than you may expect. You can show your creativity with interesting colors and hardware or by adding an artistic trim.

    Kitchen Cabinet Convenience and Style

    In addition to style, you also need to focus on convenience and quality. The least costly stock cabinets will be durable and last for years if you choose well.

    Today’s kitchen also offer more features than ever before. Examples include smooth gliding drawers, shelves that pull out for easy access, rotating lazy Susans to help reach items stored in the back, large drawers or bigger cabinet boxes for those oversized pots and pans, and handy small pull-down storage spaces in the front of the sink that hold sponges and scouring pads.

    Choosing kitchen cabinets counts as a major decision in designing your home since they will be in place for many years. Doing some homework will help you make practical and attractive choices while staying within your budget.
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