Craftsman-Style Kitchen Cabinets

Learn about craftsman-style kitchen cabinets and see how their quality and craftsmanship brings warmth and elegance to your home.
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Arts and Crafts style seeks to return to fine craftsmanship and create a balanced environment. Design by Thomas Conway.

By: Amy McEvoy

Craftsman-style kitchen cabinets are often defined by simple straight lines, quality construction and minimal ornamentation. They originated with the Arts and Crafts movement, which began in the end of the 19th century in England.

Create a Kitchen That Lasts Forever

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Meet the Family

Mina Cerny, a nonprofit consultant, and James, a college professor, live with their kids, Rosemary, 5, and Louis, 3. After bouncing around five cities in 12 years, they settled in a 1972 Austin, Texas, ranch home. The details they chose for their kitchen remodel are bright, bold and definitely not intended for resale!

Photo By: Ryann Ford

Patterned Tile

Mina's designer, Amity Worrel, found the cement tiles at originalmissiontile.com. She considered multicolor, but decided on blue and white, which gave her more freedom to play with other colors elsewhere.

Photo By: Ryann Ford

Tile, Tile Everywhere

"I wanted as many as I could fit," says Mina, which meant tile up to the ceiling. Tile was used below and above the windows.

Photo By: Ryann Ford

Attached Table

Mina and James considered barstools where the kids could sit and eat, but because stools would block the open-space flow, they went with a table instead. It's attached to the side of the island, a design risk Mina doesn't regret. "I love having a separate dining space, and I'm happy the kids aren't up high."

Photo By: Ryann Ford

Big Green Island

The tiles aren't the only star of the room. An oversized island painted bluish green (Arsenic by Farrow & Ball) also adds drama. The eight-foot-long piece is 38 inches high — two inches taller than standard islands — so that James, who is 6'7", doesn’t have to hunch over to prep meals.

Photo By: Ryann Ford

The Room’s Centerpiece

A notched IKEA cutting board stays in place on the counter.

Photo By: Ryann Ford

Storage and Organization

The island’s open shelves limit clutter.

Photo By: Ryann Ford

Minimal Upper Cabinets

A bank of upper cabinets would have taken up wall space reserved for the tiles, so the Cernys decided on just two cabinets for mugs and everyday dishes.

Photo By: Ryann Ford

Colorful Cabinets

The insides of the cabinets are brightened up with yellow paint (Morning Sunshine by Benjamin Moore). The doors are made of hand-blown glass.

Photo By: Ryann Ford

Mismatched Appliances

To keep the focus on the colorful tiles and paint, the Cernys chose a white oven and dishwasher. But rather than replace the stainless steel refrigerator, which was already in the kitchen and working fine, they built a wood frame around it and painted it white (Linen White by Benjamin Moore).

Photo By: Ryann Ford

Marble Countertops

Marble spells trouble for some homeowners since, unlike granite, it can stain easily. But the Cernys didn't let that stop them. "We chose what we loved over what was practical, and I'm glad we did," Mina says. She cleans the counters with water and dish soap and has them resealed twice a year.

Photo By: Ryann Ford

Hardwood Floors

Many people like easy-to-clean tile or engineered wood for a kitchen floor, but the Cernys decided to use wide planks of hickory instead. "There’s a lot of variation in the wood, so when the planks were first put down, I was like, ‘Whoa, this is a crazy floor!’ But now I love all the tones," Mina says.

Photo By: Ryann Ford

The movement was a reaction in response to the overly ornate mass-produced furniture of that era. It was born out of the desire for quality design and craftsmanship by individual artists or woodworkers.

As was the case in their historical era, craftsman-style kitchen cabinets in contemporary times are characterized by a functional and sturdy build. They are most often made from heavy woods such as quartersawn oak, hickory, cherry or maple. True Arts and Crafts cabinets are always made of wood, rather than artificial materials.

In order to achieve the quality construction expected of Arts and Crafts design, custom cabinetmakers are usually employed. Therefore the costs of Arts and Crafts cabinet installation can be high. An important consideration for homeowners when bringing this design style into the kitchen is that between costs of high-quality wood and the labor it is difficult to create an authentic Arts and Crafts kitchen on a tight budget.

Due to the inherent beauty of the woods used in Arts and Crafts cabinetry, usually cabinets are not painted but rather left in their natural wood state. Staining the cabinets can enhance the rich tones of the wood and complementary colors can be used in kitchen accents to also further accentuate the quality of the cabinets.

Arts and Crafts cabinets lend themselves nicely to a more traditional or antique-style kitchen. Because wood is abundant in this style of cabinetry, homeowners may want to consider antique accessories and hardware as well as accentuating tiles made of stone to break up all the woodwork.

Despite the high cost of the custom cabinetry usually seen in an Arts and Crafts kitchen, the popularity of this style of kitchen has made it possible for homeowners to incorporate this look in their home by using available stock and semi-stock versions of these cabinets, enabling more homeowners to feature this classic and high-quality look for less.

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