It can be overwhelming, the number of decisions that have to be made when building or remodeling a home, especially in terms of cabinetry. Custom cabinetry versus stock, or maybe semi-custom cabinets. Then the cabinetry style, detail design, layout, colors, hardware style/sizes, paint or stain, etc. The list goes on and on; and because the impact of any room is a sum of all its many details, it’s important to figure out what you really want each room to say or how you want it to function before making any cabinetry decisions.
What Are The Main Types Of Cabinets To Purchase?
The three basic types of cabinets you can buy are stock, semi-custom, and custom.
Stock—affordable, quick delivery/completion, what you see is what you get.
Semi-Custom—limited customization in terms of drawer and door sizes, cabinet depths and other details.
Custom–nothing is mass produced and every single element is created especially for your home.
What Is A Custom Cabinet?
Fully custom means getting a 100% unique design based on the space, intended aesthetics, and personal functionality needs. Every element is literally made to order (or “bespoke” if you’re in the U.K.) to fit your space, down to a tiny fraction of an inch. A custom cabinet designer will find a way to respect an intended aesthetic while catering to your specific needs of storage. Fully custom means that you get exactly what you want.
This is a refrigerator and desk area on the outskirts of a kitchen. These doors are considered 5-piece, flat-paneled cabinet doors—they have a top rail, a bottom rail, a left stile, a right stile and a panel. A “stile” is the vertical piece on a cabinet door frame and the “rail” is the horizontal piece. The large panels on the refrigerator also include a “middle rail” and “middle stile” which creates the four panel appearance. The design of this wall of cabinets includes a blend of woods—the blue and white cabinetry is painted maple and the wood drawers are plain sawn white oak.
Blue Cabinet Paint: Down Pipe by Farrow & Ball
White Cabinet Paint: Benjamin Moore in Simply White
Floors: Plain Sawn White Oak with white wash oil coating.
Hardware: Unlacquered Polished Brass
Cabinetry: C.S. Cabinetry
Builder: The Fox Group
What Do Custom Cabinets Cost?
Higher costs are obviously attached to the full customization and design of every element. The trade off is you’d get the exact look and function you want, as well as a custom solution to the unique challenges of your home. There is not an easy way to quantify cabinetry cost because the prices can vary so wildly from city to city, state to state, and company to company. Here in Utah, a really cheap, semi-custom kitchen can cost $6,000-$20,000. A higher-end, fully custom kitchen could range from $20,000-$80,000 and beyond. Much of the cost depends on the size of the kitchen, the level of detail, material quality, and overall customization.
On your quest to narrow down the costs, consider that some “custom” cabinetry shops will offer a limited number of colors, door styles, or size variations. Ask simple questions like, “Can I use any paint colors I want?” or “Do you offer dovetailed and soft close drawers?” Questions like this will help you determine the level of customization you’ll really be getting. If there is anything you remember from this post, remember this: Every cabinet maker does things their own way, for their own reasons. There is no universal method.
What style makes you feel at home? Modern farmhouse? Urban industrial? Traditional or eclectic? Do you like the look of decorative raised panels or flat panels? Do you like floating shelves, glass doors with or without grids, or decorative cabinet feet? What about a hood that’s metal, or stained wood, or painted? How about wood countertops on your pantry countertops instead of a stone top? Maybe you can’t stand the look of a dishwasher or fridge and long to make them blend in with the rest of the kitchen. These are important points to resolve soon into the journey of designing your home cabinetry; and they are points that a good cabinet designer will walk you through to help you feel less overwhelmed.
This sink and storage area is located in a laundry room and has a Nantucket inspired style. The cabinetry features a blend of painted wood and natural oak with a hand-carved drip edge under the farmhouse apron sink. A standout feature of this cabinet design is the mullions on the upper cabinet doors. The mullions or “grids” can dictate much of the style of the cabinet, even more so than the profile of the cabinet doors.
Paint: Simply White by Benjamin Moore
Floors: Diagonal Checkered Marble
Cabinetry Design: C.S. Cabinetry
Designer: The Fox Group
This kitchen includes several notable features. Some examples are the large butcher block island ends with several small drawers and my favorite black paint—Onyx. it’s the perfect soft black and I’ve used it in my own home.
Black Island Paint: Onyx by Benjamin Moore
White Cabinet Paint: Simply White by Benjamin Moore
Floors: Plain Sawn White Oak with an oil finish, in a herringbone pattern.
Counter Tops and backsplash: Calacatta marble / 3-inch quarter sawn butcher block with a food-safe seal coat.
Glass Shelves: Restoration Hardware
Cabinetry Design: C.S. Cabinetry
Builder: The Fox Group
What Is Inset Cabinetry?
Simply put, inset cabinetry is a style of cabinets where the doors and drawer fronts are flush with the face frame of a cabinet. Any design style can have an inset design—including modern kitchens. An inset cabinet has the most traditional and high-end appearance. It is also the most difficult to build and therefore the most expensive.
This project included custom end panels, built up crown molding at the top of the cabinets, and an oak counter with a resin modified oil which gives the wood a richer look and a food-safe/waterproof protection.
Cabinet Paint: Down Pipe by Farrow & Ball
Floors: Engineered White Oak
Counter Tops: Plain Sawn White Oak
Wall: High Gloss Ceramic Subway Tile
Decorator: Caitlin Creer Interiors
Cabinetry Design: Caitlin Creer Interiors & C.S. Cabinetry
What Do Inset Cabinets Look Like?
With inset cabinetry, you get a unique appearance because, when closed, the drawers and doors are flush with the frame.
This shows how you can mix and match door and drawer styles to customize your design. The top drawers are “flat-slab” while the lower drawers and doors are 5-piece paneled. The profile on these paneled fronts is “shaker”.
Cabinet Paint: Custom Matched
Floors: Plain Sawn Oak (engineered, with dark finish)
Counter Tops: Quartz
Cabinetry: C.S. Cabinetry and Design
Beaded Inset Cabinets
While regular inset cabinetry is practically the highest-end cabinet style you can get, there is another layer of detail you can add that will elevate the customization and look (and price)–beaded inset. This style of cabinetry has been around for centuries and will ultimately completely change the look of the cabinet. It’s not necessarily better, or worse…just…different. The bead is milled into the face frame on the border around each opening of a door or drawer. One of my favorite combinations is to use flat drawer fronts and combine them with a beaded inset frame. Because of the additional costs, it is common to only add beaded inset on an accent piece in a kitchen (like the island); or on a few select bathroom vanities. Here are several examples of beaded inset cabinetry. (Look closely at the pics)
Inset versus Frameless Cabinets
There are essentially three types of cabinetry construction: Inset, Partial Overlay, or Full Overlay.
•Inset and Partial Overlay both have face frames.
•Inset means the doors and drawer fronts sit flush with the face frame.
•Partial Overlay means the doors and drawer fronts overlay (sit on top of… or… overlap) the face frame. Usually they overlap the frame by ½” or more and therefore are sometimes called “half overlay”.
•Frameless cabinetry is exactly as it sounds. No face frame. The doors and drawer fronts sit on top of the edge banded cabinet box and cover that edge when the fronts are closed.
•Frameless cabinetry is also very typically called “Full Overlay”, “European”, or sometimes just “Overlay”. (Think… IKEA)
Inset Cabinets Example:
Frameless Cabinets Doors Sit On Top Of The Frame (Example):
What Is A Cabinet Overlay?
This is a common question that people have. As I stated earlier, overlay cabinets are designed to have the doors and drawers lay over the face frame or box edge of the cabinet. Overlay cabinets come in two categories.
•Full Overlay—also referred to as “frameless” or “European”.
•Partial Overlay—also referred to as “half overlay.”
Overlay cabinetry has been the most common style for the last several decades because it is the fastest and most cost-effective to produce as well as the easiest to install.
You can see more of my design projects—kitchens, bathrooms, built-ins, and furniture—on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest.
Looking for help with your custom cabinetry and layout design? You can contact me here.