A Lesson in Kitchen Cabinetry Design

Everything You Need to Know About Designing Your Kitchen to Fit Your Needs and Lifestyle.

An integral part of any kitchen remodel is the cabinetry—from the initial layout to materials, finishes and colors. And, how you put these elements together will define a space that not only fits your functional lifestyle needs, but also expresses your unique, personal design style.

Put function first

When planning your cabinets, first consider their placement. Will you choose a more traditional layout, or follow the more popular open floor plan concept? Will you design your cabinets above and below the kitchen counter to create a divide between your living room or dining room; or will you include cabinetry in a center island to create a more modern, open floor plan? No matter which layout you choose, make sure it is functional (the classic triangle layout of sink/stove/refrigerator is preferred). Your choice in cabinets will make a big impact on your home—from aesthetics to flow and function.

Consider the materials and colors you will use

Choose from a variety of popular wood options straight from nature, including Maple, Cherry, Hickory, and Oak.

Some alternative options include manufactured products like Thermofoil (vinyl wrapped door) and laminate, which is made up of three resin-saturated layers: a base layer of paper, a printed and colored layer (which can look like wood), and a protective transparent layer.

The color of your cabinets is limited only by your imagination. An endless variety of paints, stains and glazes are available to suit every taste.

Next, consider Cabinet Doors

Door style is an important component of kitchen cabinet design and commonly defines the style of your kitchen, whether traditional or modern.

Traditional cabinets are commonly framed in their construction, which means horizontal and vertical wood panels form a frame at the front of the cabinet box. Framed cabinets attach door hinges to the frame face and shelves are usually, but not always, adjustable.  The frame extends beyond the width of the box and covers a small portion of the inside of the box interior.  A variety of door styles are available with framed cabinets and are an ideal choice for kitchens where saving space is not as much of a concern. This type of cabinet is a popular choice for traditional and transitional design style kitchens.

A Riverside Project

Modern cabinets have a more streamlined design featuring straight, clean lines without much ornamentation. They are also commonly frameless, which means they are constructed without a face frame and have minimal space between the doors and drawers—maximizing interior storage and drawer space.  In fact, frameless cabinets can give you up to 15% more usable space within the same footprint. The flush-finished end gives frameless cabinets a furniture-like appearance and is often used with contemporary and modern style kitchens.

Courtesy of Wellborn Cabinets

Choose a Cabinet Door Style

Whether your design style is craftsman, contemporary, rustic, Mediterranean or modern you’ll find a cabinet door design to meet your needs.  The following is a list of some of the more popular cabinet door styles. What style feels right for you?

Shaker – The Shaker cabinet is the most common style in kitchens today.  It consists of a frame made from four pieces and a single flat center panel for the fifth piece.  Its clean simple lines go well with a variety of décor.

Flat/Slab – Simple but stylish, the flat-panel cabinet door is void of fancy embellishments. With straight lines and simple form, it’s the perfect choice for contemporary and modern decor.

Beadboard – Beadboard was used in the past as an embellishing wall treatment before plaster, drywall and paint became common.  The center panel of the cabinet doors in this style are made to look like traditional beadboard paneling, this style is perfect for cottage and shabby chic interiors.

Open – Open cabinets are a popular trend with a casual style that essentially removes the cabinet doors and exposes the shelves and supplies inside.  Perfect for those who want to display their prized kitchen possessions and beautiful dishware, but probably not the best choice if you tend to have a cluttered kitchen!

Raised Panel – With this cabinet style, the center panel is raised above the rest of the door or drawer and there is usually a recessed border around it.  Raised panel cabinets are often more detailed and intricate and tend to work well with traditional, transitional, country and rustic style kitchens.

Recessed Panel – Unlike raised panel cabinets, recessed panel cabinets have a flat center panel with a raised border around it, which gives off a sleeker appearance. The lack of embellishments for this style lends itself to a modern or contemporary style but can also blend well with transitional and even traditional styles.


Consider Unique Cabinet Drawer Features

In most kitchens, alongside cabinet doors you’ll find a standard bank of drawers for holding utensils, cookware and other items.  Cabinet manufacturers have been busy coming up with more creative drawer features to ensure your kitchen is functional and clutter free – here are just of few examples:

Corner Drawers for Maximizing Space

Cutlery Drawer

Cutting Board Drawer

Deep Drawer Divider

Drawer for Fresh Bread

Spice Rack Drawer

Charging Station Drawer

Drawers aren’t the only area getting added features, below are even more examples of ways to ensure your cabinets work their hardest for you:

Towel Rack Cabinet

Stem Glass Holder

Pet Station (courtesy of Carla Aston)

Blind Corner Functional Shelf


Lazy Susan

Pantry Pull Out

Tray Divider

Vegetable Bin

Waste & Recycle Bins


With an endless choice of color, material options and style options to choose from, take some time to research some of your options. And remember we are here to help when you’re ready to start designing the kitchen you’ve been dreaming about.  The sooner you can narrow your selections and define a plan that fits your budget, the sooner you can be begin cooking and entertaining in your new space.

Ready to design your new kitchen cabinets? Take the first step by scheduling a conversation with one of our professional designers. Or call today at (765) 838-1644.

Looking to renovate your kitchen, but need some more inspiration? Explore these kitchen cabinet design ideas from Riverside Construction before starting on your kitchen remodel.

We also schedule complimentary kitchen remodeling seminars regularly each month. Let us know your interest in attending by signing up today.

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