Cupboard Curriculum

Cupboard Curriculum

No longer just for the kitchen, cabinetry is now used throughout the home, in family rooms, home offices, media rooms and more. And from the construction to the finish, when choosing cabinetry, it’s important to understand the options.

Cabinet categories
Cabinetry is available in three categories—stock or basic, semi-custom and custom—and each has different features.

Stock/Basic cabinets are considered the economy-grade option. Usually purchased “off the shelf” of a home-improvement store or kitchen design center, the advantage of stock cabinetry is its affordable cost; the downside is limited choices.

Semi-custom cabinets are currently the largest cabinetry market because they offer a good balance of price, quality and choice, notes Karen Wistrom, vice president of marketing with Dura Supreme Cabinetry. According to Mark White, CKD, owner and chief designer at Kitchen Encounters in Annapolis, Md., “Semi-custom cabinets are made-to-order pieces that consumers can choose from a pre-determined list of styles, species and finishes offered by a cabinetry company.”  He adds that, “While consumers must pick from a company’s list of features, the dimensions of those cabinets can be customized to fit any space or room.”

Custom cabinets are “uniquely tailored to the space and homeowner’s desires,” says Adam Rose, president of the Cabinet Makers Association. Though generally the most expensive option, custom cabinets are the best choice for homeowners seeking a specific style.

Structural style
Cabinets come in two types of construction: frameless and face-frame. The most common style of construction, face-frame cabinets rely mostly on the frame—which is attached to the front of the cabinet box—to hold together the top, sides and bottom pieces. Frameless cabinets are held together in a few different ways, with the highest-quality frameless cabinet boxes being doweled (using wood pegs to connect box panels) and glued.

Behind Closed Doors
Photos courtesy of Medallion Cabinetry

Doors & drawers
The way your doors and drawers are fitted to the cabinet can affect the cost as well as the overall look of the design. There are three options for doors and drawers:
Full inset is reserved for custom work and often used in reproducing period-style cabinetry. Full-inset doors and drawers require precise measurement and carpentry skill because they are flush with the front of the cabinetry.

Partial overlay, also referred to as traditional overlay, means the door and drawer fronts rest on the surface of face-frame cabinetry and some of the frame still shows.
Full overlay is the same method as partial overlay, but with a greater overlap. Full overlay gives a clean look since no face frames are visible.

Material matters
What you can’t see in cabinetry may be the most important element—the base material.  Two types of engineered wood are used in base cabinetry construction: wood composites and plywood.

Wood composites are fairly strong, but can warp and swell when exposed to water. Visible elements with wood composite are usually covered with wood veneer or vinyl coatings. Plywood offers the durability of solid wood; however, it can be considered an upgrade. Visible elements with plywood are often solid wood.

Other important construction elements include reinforcements (the best option is wood corner braces), drawer construction (look for solid wood sides with doweled or dovetail corners) and drawer guide hardware (metal ball-bearing guides that carry at least 75 pounds have the smoothest tracking).

Behind Closed Doors   Mixing knobs and pulls in the same room, but in a similar finish and style. Photo courtesy of Baldwin Hardware
 Behind Closed Doors   Polished nickel or chrome art- deco style knobs. Photo courtesy of Atlas Hardware
 Behind Closed Doors   Hammered or “old-world” worn looks.
Photo courtesy of Rejuvenation
 Behind Closed Doors   Crystal or glass knobs, including colored crystal.
Photo courtesy of Baldwin Hardware
 Behind Closed Doors   Decorative hinges, from sleek to ornate.
Photo courtesy of Rejuvenation
 Behind Closed Doors   Oversized pulls and knobs to fit today’s oversized cabinetry.
Photo courtesy of Atlas Hardware

Cabinetry Design Trends

• sleek, streamlined construction
• unusual and exotic wood species such as beech and zebra
• letting the natural wood grain show
• hand-detailing and distressing
• molding to add interest
• furniture-like accents including feet and legs
• functional storage
• golden-red and black-brown finishes
• door inserts such as glass, stainless steel, louvers and rattan

Sources: Karen Winstrom, Dura Supreme Cabinetry, and Heather Argo, Kraftmaid

Words of Wisdom

Choosing cabinets will create a specific style in any room so it is important to maintain that style in all elements.  Choosing a top to properly match the cabinetry style will complete the look you are trying to achieve.  Michael Gaydos, of Michael Gaydos Architect PLLC in Vienna, Va., says “When creating the desired style, whether traditional or contemporary, choosing the right top may be the most important decision you make.”  He adds that, for a budget conscious consumer, the right top can “drastically enhance the look of even a stock cabinet.” 
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