Kitchen Cabinet Buying Guide

Consider factors like size, layout and style when choosing cabinetry for your remodel.


By: Elizabeth Beeler

Before you start shopping for new kitchen cabinets, make sure you have a well-thought-out plan for your kitchen renovation. You should identify goals and priorities, with the help of your completed Day in the Life of Your Kitchen Questionnaire and Kitchen Goals Worksheet. You also should have a clear vision of what your new kitchen will look like, after exploring various kitchen designs and layouts and planning out space and storage. Finally, you should have a budget to work with.

Considerations When Choosing Kitchen Cabinets

  • How long do you plan on staying in the home?
  • What improvements are standard for similar homes in your area?
  • What type of kitchen layout do you plan on using?
  • What is your budget?
  • Do you have exact measurements of appliances that will be involved in the new design?

Planning and Designing the Space

Kitchen cabinetry is an integral part of home design and remains a significant component of measuring a house's value. But there's more to consider than price, style and material selection. Even the most basic kitchen remodel can be a costly and time-consuming process, so take these steps before considering any materials and products.

Step 1: Address resale issues. Keep improvements consistent with the comparable market data of other residences in your immediate area. "I first make sure customers are certain on whether the space is a rental, a resale, or a place they'll stay in and love forever," says home improvement center specialist Wanda Edwards Lee. "It's also important to decide the length of time customers plan to reside at the home."

Step 2: Determine scope. This primarily depends on the budget and the kitchen's current condition. If the space just needs a face-lift without reconfiguring layout or relocating major appliances, replacing door faces or adding a fresh coat of paint may go a long way. But when faced with cabinetry that's not sturdy, layout issues or new construction, you'll want to invest in new cabinetry.

Step 3: Decide on a kitchen layout. Kitchen cabinetry is one of the most practical and convenient work areas in any dwelling. Before choosing a look, start with an accurate scaled floor plan of the existing space with door, window and other architectural dimensions noted. Location of present utilities, such as electricity, water and sewer connections are also important to document, especially if the remodel involves spatial reconfiguration.

Plans should establish the location of heating and air registers, cook-top ventilation, electrical outlets and gas piping, if applicable. Confirm exact measurements of new or existing appliances to be involved in the new design, including the refrigerator, dishwasher, range, hood, microwave, icemakers, under-cabinet wine coolers and sinks before selecting cabinetry.

Step 4: Sketch it up. Devise a rough sketch, arranging major appliances with the most efficient use of space. "Keep it simple and accessible," says AIA architect Mark Hutker. Form a convenient path between the three most used kitchen elements: the sink, range and refrigerator ("the work triangle"). Placement of storage, task centers, accessories and appliances, along with their frequency of use should be thoroughly regarded. Common kitchen layouts include galley, L-shape, U-shape, straight (one wall) and island.

Modern design has pushed the envelope of these traditional arrangements, creating larger, more open spaces. However, these basic configurations are still beneficial in determining the overall relationship of appliances and their proximity to one another. Unless you are an experienced do-it-yourselfer, it's advisable to enlist the help of an architect, interior designer, kitchen designer, home center specialist, or cabinet designer in order to establish the most effective plan for your space and determine cabinetry dimensions and specifications.

Kitchen Cabinet Styles and Trends

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Now that you've designed the space, check out the following articles to learn what you need to consider when choosing kitchen cabinetry:

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Cabinet Types: Which Is Best for You?

Consider style and quality when selecting kitchen cabinets for your remodel.

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