Kitchen Cabinet Styles
Find helpful information on a variety of kitchen cabinet styles and check out helpful pictures for kitchen design inspiration.
Whether you're installing brand new kitchen cabinets or looking to refurbish existing ones, the range of available kitchen cabinet styles can seem overwhelming at first. Exploring the most common options and keeping a few helpful pointers in mind will help you choose the style that's right for your home.
The first decision you'll have to make when considering kitchen cabinet styles is whether you want your kitchen cabinets to match the overall home décor, take a slight departure, or make a radical right turn. A kitchen is its own space with its own uses, but most kitchens do reflect the overall design style of the home. A modernist masterpiece kitchen could be a bit of a shock to enter from an arts and crafts-style living room — but the only rule to abide by when it comes to home design is "make sure it feels right for you." Ultimately, the decision is yours when it comes to matching styles room to room.
Popular Cabinet Styles
Contemporary design is sleek and minimalist by nature, giving your home a streamlined and clean look. To achieve this effect, contemporary kitchen cabinets generally have flat surfaces and minimal ornamentation.
Contemporary cabinets will favor a simpler look and will avoid the decorative trim or faux finishes that you might see in more traditional cabinetry.
Contemporary design refers to design that is current to the present era, but it may borrow from its design predecessor — modern design, which features clean, unadorned style. To achieve this clean, spacious look, contemporary cabinets will not have any crown molding or raised panels. Instead, the cabinets will have flat surfaces with sleek, simple hardware and no other decorative accents.
Neutral Modern Chef's Kitchen With Marble Floor
Beautiful brown marble floors swirl underfoot in the chef's kitchen, a graceful pairing with the sleek light brown wood cabinets. White countertops and cabinets add an element of crispness.
One major benefit to installing contemporary kitchen cabinets is that the flat surfaces found on these cabinets are ideal for use in small kitchens or kitchens with tight spaces. Also, without molding, contemporary kitchen cabinets can be taller and provide more storage for kitchens that lack horizontal storage space.
Materials used in contemporary kitchen cabinets are usually human-made such as metal, concrete, plastic or glass. Recycled materials have also become popular for use in contemporary kitchen cabinets, giving the popular industrial look and feel to your kitchen and home.
In terms of colors, contemporary kitchen cabinets may often have a monochromatic color scheme. Blacks, white and grays are popular cabinet colors in a contemporary design. These colors give the clean, sharp look that appeals to many of today's homeowners. Additionally, kitchen cabinets can feature one or more bold colors in order to showcase a particular material or color scheme in the home.
Modern White Laminate Kitchen Cabinetry Separated By a Long Window Backsplash and Stainless Steel Countertop
A long window acts as a bright backsplash separating the upper and lower white laminate cabinets in this modern kitchen. Stainless steel countertop adds a reflective quality perfectly fitting the modern theme. The hardwood floor and vertical grain fir accent wall add warmth to the room.
Modern kitchen cabinets are characterized by this sleek, more angular design with a simplicity in their doors and frames. Recent modern design reflects a trend towards midcentury modern furniture, which features bold angles and curves. This design can be translated into modern kitchen cabinetry as well. Modern kitchen islands can harbor modern cabinets that reflect this angular or curved look and also feature up-to-date components to store cookware and dishware.
Open Concept Modern Kitchen
Without a high gloss finish, the natural wood grain of these cabinets shines through, contrasting with the white walls. Bright blue barstools add a pop of color to the neutral kitchen.
Alyssa Kirsten ; Design by Henry Built
Materials common in modern kitchen cabinets are often man-made and can include metal, plastic, concrete and glass. Semi-opaque or frosted glass is definitely a popular look for modern kitchen cabinets. Replacing old cabinet doors with frosted glass ones is a simple and cost-effective way to make your kitchen more modern. Modern kitchen cabinets can also be faced with wood veneer or plastic laminate. To achieve the characteristic modern look, you can use wood veneer with an exaggerated horizontal grain pattern. Mixed materials are also featured in modern kitchen design.
While traditional kitchen cabinets tend to be made of one type of wood throughout, modern kitchen cabinets can combine materials like wood, laminates, glass and metal to achieve a more unique feel.
Brown Rustic Kitchen With Pine Cabinets
This imaginative kitchen combines unique elements to create a rustic vintage aesthetic. The diverse materials include reclaimed pine cabinetry, chicken wire, antique telephone-operator barstools and a mix of white marble and walnut countertops.
While rustic or country kitchens fall under the traditional kitchen design category, they are unique in that they give off a casual, inviting feel. While many traditional kitchens are made to be admired, rustic kitchens are made to be used. Cabinetry is usually made with durable lasting materials such as wood, with pine and oak often being featured.
Pine is a popular wood choice as it displays the visible knots and wood graining that rustic cabinets are known for. Pine is also readily available and budget friendly. The only con to using pine is that it is a fairly soft wood and can dent and scratch easily. Cherry, oak, maple and hickory are also popular wood choices for rustic kitchen cabinets. They come in a wider range of colors and costs but are more durable than pine, so they may hold up better in a well-used rustic-style kitchen.
Color is an important characteristic of a rustic country kitchen. Rustic kitchen colors tend to be warm and natural, featuring hues that accentuate the wood cabinets chosen for the room. Rather than using glossy stain finishes, rustic cabinets may be left rugged or matte to accentuate the authentic feel of the wood used. Wide-planked wood floors, ceramic sinks and hammered copper are additional features found in rustic kitchens that flow nicely with the natural wood feel of the cabinets. Soapstone, honed granite and butcher block countertops also combine well with rustic wood cabinets to bring that homey feel to a country kitchen.
Pale Gray Cabinets in Graceful Coastal Kitchen
Pale gray Shaker-style cabinetry with white countertops is a graceful choice for this coastal kitchen with central island. The range hood is paneled to match the cabinets, with an accent stripe taken from the island base color.
Shaker design originated from a religious movement that began in the 1770s during the American colonial era. The design tends to avoid any flourishes of style in favor of a simple and functional aesthetic. The simple and clean lines of Shaker cabinets lend themselves to placement in modern or contemporary kitchen designs, despite their traditional origin.
Some trademark characteristics of Shaker kitchen cabinets include flat paneled doors with rail frames, sturdy construction with quality wood, and utilitarian designs. In terms of materials, Shaker-style cabinets tend to use high-quality local American woods traditionally found in the northeastern United States. Examples include durable woods such as cherry, maple, hickory and quartersawn oak.
Shaker cabinets are often left with a natural wood finish, or they can be stained to bring out the natural wood hues in darker colors. Shaker cabinets painted white or gray are also popular in modern kitchens as they give off a light and airy feel that many contemporary homeowners seek. Shaker cabinets are often paired in modern kitchens with white or light granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and modern hardware to complete the look.
Rich Rustic Kitchen With Exposed Beams
The open-plan kitchen features a rich wooden island, farmhouse sink and oak cabinetry. Burnt orange barstools create extra seating at the island as well as add a splash of color to the space.
Because country kitchens are meant to be used rather than admired, cabinets are usually made with durable, lasting materials such as wood.
Pine, cherry, oak, maple and hickory are also popular wood choices for kitchen cabinets. They come in a wider range of colors and costs but are more durable than pine, so they may hold up better in a well-used country-style kitchen.
Painting and glazing wood cabinets is also common in country kitchens. Charming colors such as butter yellow, cream, mint green or light blue are common. Distressing techniques, milk paint and glazes may be applied over paint to enhance the country look further.
In terms of cabinet style, raised-panel doors, beadboard, and decorative panels such as stained glass, wire or tin are commonly seen. These added features give warmth and character to your cabinets and also allow charming country collectables to be displayed and to show off your own personal taste.
Mission style strongly influenced another popular design aesthetic seen in kitchen cabinetry known as the Arts and Crafts movement, although it also combines other styles seen in Spanish and American Southwest regions as well.
Mission-style design is defined by straight lines and panel-faced doors with little or no adornment. The most common material used in mission-style kitchen cabinets is oak, particularly American white oak. Occasionally cherry can be used as well as this is considered a more elegant and durable wood. Mission-style kitchen cabinets are usually made by skilled carpenters because of their unique construction, which results in a more durable, dependable and long-lasting collection of cabinets. Because of this emphasis on custom-made cabinetry, creating a Mission-style kitchen design can be costly. Both the cost of the wood and the cost of the labor decrease the likelihood of creating a budget-friendly Mission-style kitchen; however, the aesthetic and durable results may very well be worth the extra expense.
In terms of color, Mission-style cabinets tend to be left in their natural wood state rather than being painted. Homeowners may choose to stain the wood cabinets to bring out a deeper hue, but often the wood is left in a warm honey color. Decorative hardware is often black, using materials such as wrought iron, rubbed brass or bronze metal.
In order to create the rustic and cozy charm of a French country kitchen, cabinets will have characteristic materials, colors and components to complete the look. Cabinetry tends to include ornate woodcarvings and furniture-like features such as decorative moldings and intricate arches. Most French country cabinets are made of wood and are left in natural warm tones showing distinctive wood graining. They can also be antiqued or distressed in order to portray a welcome, lived-in look. If the wood cabinets are painted, they tend to be in warm earth tones or cream-based colors to reflect colors seen in the rural French countryside.
In terms of cabinet components, hardware used in French country kitchens is usually ornate and made of antique brass, bronze or iron. Leaded glass or wire grille door panel inserts are additional touches that can give your cabinets that authentic French country feel. Rustic beadboard can also be added to cabinetry to give a more casual, lived-in feel.
Since many French country kitchen cabinets highlight unique finishes such as distressing or antiquing, homeowners may need to have the cabinets custom-made to gain that authentic look. However, given the modern popularity of French country kitchens, cabinet supply companies now carry stock and semi-stock cabinetry in the French country style, making this look more budget friendly.
Finally, to complete the French country look in a kitchen renovation, mixed metals can be incorporated to accentuate the wood cabinetry. Copper and bronze accents are commonly incorporated. Additionally, since the French are known for their culinary skills, cooking utensils and tools are often left on display in a French country kitchen, with copper pots hanging above the kitchen island or utensils displayed on countertops.
Playing With Color and Shape
When a former food writer decided to refresh the kitchen in her 1951 home, she turned to kitchen designer Christine Nelson for help. Nelson helped her client increase the counter space and overall efficiency and gave the kitchen the “colorful, updated, Midcentury Modern” look she wanted. “A gray linoleum floor, stacked subway-tile backsplash, and butcher-block counters create a clean backdrop while orange walls, and avocado-green accents add a burst of Mad Men-era color,” says Nelson. Classic period furnishings like a Saarinen-style Tulip Table and a pendant light based on Werner Panton’s Flowerpot design complete the look.
Coupled with retro kitchen appliances and accessories, retro kitchen cabinets can help make a unique and creative room that shows off the homeowner's interests and style.
Currently, one of the most popular retro kitchen cabinet designs is midcentury modern. This design aesthetic has a vintage feel yet is currently seen in some of the most modern kitchens. This is because midcentury modern design features streamlined, angular lines and specific highlighted geometric shapes. Cabinetry of this era tends to be more sleek and seamless, with minimal adornment and greater emphasis placed on function and solid construction rather than on decorative flair. Additionally, midcentury modern cabinets come in a variety of colors and can be purchased from many home improvement or design stores.
Blue and White Kitchen With Mosaic Tile Floor
A simple coat of robin's egg blue paint on the cabinets and open shelving takes this kitchen from ordinary to dazzling. The black-and-white mosaic tile floor is a retro juxtaposition to the cheerful color.
Another popular approach to a retro kitchen is to design a kitchen that emulates post-war 1950s American style. This classic style features sharp angles, exaggerated curves and futuristic space-age design elements. Retro kitchen cabinets reflecting this era are often done in bold, bright colors such as red, blue or green. They are usually finished in high gloss and feature sleek, large chrome hardware to accentuate their look.
Homeowners seeking a retro style kitchen may choose to add vintage kitchen stoves and refrigerators, 1950s-style dining tables and chairs and retro-style artwork and clocks to take this design a step further and complete the look.
Tuscan kitchen cabinets are predominantly made of quality woods such as cherry or maple. They tend to be stained into rich brown colors to evoke a natural feel while conveying a sophisticated elegance. Cabinet doors tend to have raised panels and decorative wood accents such as ornate hoods, shelves and cornices.
Glass-paneled doors featured in corner cabinetry and cabinet underlighting are common additions seen in Tuscan kitchens. Ornate iron, bronze, copper and brass are metals used to complement the wood cabinetry in order to evoke a Mediterranean feel. Rustic or Italian tile work is popular in Tuscan kitchens and complements the rich tones and ornate details of the wood cabinets.
While rich woods are the materials of choice in a Tuscan kitchen, deep reds and greens are also popular and can be used as decorative accents or even as painted cabinet colors in order to evoke the warmth seen in Tuscany. Wrought iron chandeliers are also popular accents above kitchen islands along with ornate wrought iron pot racks displaying appealing, functional cookware.
Since Italy is a country that celebrates cooking and eating as a form of art, Tuscan kitchens often display cookware, spices and even food as accessories that are appealing to the eye and the stomach.
Craftsman Style Kitchen
This craftsman style kitchen has many windows that allow the room to be flooded with natural light. The kitchen is warm and inviting thanks to natural wood tones and neutral colors.
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.
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.
There are several style options to consider for kitchen cabinets, but some of the most popular fall into three categories: modern, traditional and vintage.
Examples of modern cabinets are sleek, colorful, European-style sheet glass and lacquered wood cabinets. This look can be achieved for less with laminate cabinetry.
If you're looking for a less edgy kitchen style, traditional cabinetry provides a homier, cozier aesthetic, with styles like Shaker, cathedral and arched cabinets, and raised or recessed panels.
Lastly, if you'd like to add some historical gravity to your kitchen design, vintage cabinet styles featuring decorative molding and beaded board will transport your kitchen to another time.
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