When it comes to setting the style of your home, one of the most influential factors is the cabinets you choose. Since many of today’s plans have open concept kitchens as the center of the home, your kitchen cabinets in particular are a major design element. With so many different colors and styles to choose from, how do you know which one is right for you?
The first thing to understand about cabinet style is the doors themselves. Most cabinet doors fall into one of two categories – raised panel or flat panel. The “panel” that this refers to is the center of the door. With the exception of slab doors, cabinet doors have decorative molding that runs around the outside of the door with either a raised or flat panel in the center. The vertical pieces of this molding are called the stiles, and the horizontal pieces are called the rails.
Raised panel doors come with either a straight or an arched top to the panel, and are generally used for more traditional or rustic design styles. For a modern take on traditional, try using a painted finish for an unexpected twist. For a rustic style, using a wood with a lot of grain like oak or rustic alder brings the beauty of the wood to center stage. Adding distressing to the finish will make the new cabinets seem instantly vintage.
Flat panel doors have a broader range of styles. Most people are familiar with the Shaker style, which has a flat molding for the rails & stiles and a flat center panel. You can find many variations on the Shaker door, either in the thickness of the stiles or small details added to them, but overall it is a clean, simple style door. There are also more modern flat panel doors that have thinner rails with wide stiles, detailed molding around the center panel, and some with extra details only on the rails or only on the stiles. These modern style doors work great in transitional and eclectic design schemes as well as softening a truly modern style. For the last few years, shaker doors have been king, and there’s no evidence of them slowing down. They work not only in a farmhouse style, but also can be very transitional, molding themselves to the design they’re placed in. Shaker works well in French Country, as does a shaker style with a bead board center, but if either of those are painted a crisp white, they look just as good in a beach house.
The final part of the cabinet design is the drawer front. The decorative part of the drawer comes in either a slab or a 5 piece design. The slab drawer might have a little bit of detail routed into the wood, but overall is a smooth piece. The 5 piece is going to have the same concept as the door, with rails, stiles, and either a raised or flat center panel. The 5 piece drawer front does add cost to the design, but might be an expense to consider if that creates the look you are going for in your kitchen. Keep in mind that a raised panel 5 piece drawer front will require you to use smaller or thinner cabinet hardware as there isn’t as much surface area for the hardware to be attached to.
Thinking thru the type of design you want in your home will help you easily narrow down the style of cabinets that you need for your kitchen. As one of the most prominent design elements in your home, it’s important that your kitchen cabinets reflect the color and feel that you want to express throughout. Understanding what types of doors are available will help you choose the perfect one. Find pictures of kitchens you love and look closely at the types of doors and drawer fronts you see. These are great tools to bring to your design appointment that will help us create exactly the look you want!