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Kitchen Cabinetry For All Tastes and Budgets

When the time comes to remodel a kitchen, there are two main areas of expenditures: cabinets and appliances. These two items can – and often do – make up the bulk of any kitchen-renovation budget. Doing a little homework can help keep you within budget while accomplishing a beautiful new look for your home’s hub.

This week we will focus on the facelift’s cabinet aspect. To get the most for your investment remember to focus not just on visual appeal but also on the materials’ quality, the type of hinges and other hardware, and the joinery that holds cabinets together.

Kitchen cabinetry ranges from a very basic, big-box style to full-blown, custom-built units. Variables comprise door styles, wood species, and finishes (stained, painted, glazed, multi glazed, etc.) and can drive costs along with construction types such as plywood boxes, medium-density fiberboard (MDF) or particle board, solid wood doors, dovetail drawers, and more.

Here’s a starter list of ideas and options to get you on the right track:

  • Traditional or European? Cabinets add the visual verve to a kitchen so take a look around and start a file of photos and ideas that catch your eye and best express your personality. This will help define and narrow down your renovation’s style.
  • Frame or Frameless? Determine which of these two popular cabinet construction styles appeals most to you. Flush-framing is often used in traditional American cabinetry and masks the raw front edges of each box with a 1-by-2 "faceframe." Doors and drawers then fit in one of three ways: flush; partially offset, with a lip; or completely overlaying the frame. The alternative frameless method is more of a European style; a simple trim strip covers raw edges, which butt directly against one another. Doors and drawers often fit to within 1/8 inch of each other, revealing a thin sliver of the trim. Interior components, such as drawers, can be sized practically to the full dimensions of the box.
  • Stock, Semi-Custom, or Custom? Cabinets are manufactured and sold in these three diverse ways; the type you choose will affect the cost, overall appearance, and functionality of your kitchen. Stock is good for lower renovation budgets and fast turnarounds; some require assembly. The biggest caveat is there will be a limited selection of styles, configurations, and finishes. Semi-custom appeals to more discriminating tastes accompanied by a higher budget. With this option, you can get any style, configuration, or finish, as long as it's in the manufacturer's catalog. Custom is, of course, the most expensive and tailored option – and also requires more time for construction. Homeowners requiring a precise fit, more configuration options, and/or fine detailing generally opt for custom cabinets, which can be built to any width or height and with any finish, hardware, or wood species you choose.

Best Way to Install

To make sure cabinet installation is done right the first time – and to alleviate potential fitting and sizing headaches – consider hiring a professional contractor to do the renovation. Doing it yourself is certainly an option but keep in mind you'll probably encounter walls that aren't square and need to adjust for that as well as other issues such as electrical and plumbing requirements that might come up during the installation process.

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