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5 Tips on How to Choose the Perfect Kitchen Cabinets

5 Tips on How to Choose the Perfect Kitchen Cabinets

Your cabinets are a key part of your home’s kitchen, but from an aesthetic and functional standpoint – in most kitchen remodels and renovations, the cabinets alone can take up 40% of the total budget. So, if you’ve decided to upgrade or replace your kitchen cabinets, you have a big decision on your hands! Perfect kitchen cabinets are a worthwhile investment. Use these five tips to help you choose the perfect kitchen cabinets for your home.

1. Evaluate your existing kitchen storage space

The first step to choosing the perfect kitchen cabinets is to take a hard look at your existing kitchen space. Ask yourself: What do you currently like about your kitchen? Is it functional? Big enough? Your desired aesthetic? Answering these questions before diving into cabinet design and details will help you determine if just a cabinet refinish is the ideal solution for you, or if it’s worth it to undergo a full kitchen remodel.

Cabinets are certainly a key element of your kitchen, since they both store all your important items and also contribute significantly to the overall design aesthetic of your storage space. So if you’re looking to upgrade your kitchen solely for functionality, cabinets are a good place to start. But if you’re planning to upgrade your cabinets for function’s sake, you will also want to consider the design impact as well. For example, if your current kitchen is a bit dated, and your cabinets are darker that you would like, then you can use your kitchen cabinet upgrade as an opportunity to completely overhaul the aesthetic of your cabinets, and maybe opt for something more modern, sleek, and bright like white cabinetry.

The point is to think carefully about what you’d like to change about your kitchen first, and then see how cabinets fit into that equation. The last thing you want is to move forward with new cabinet implementation, and then realize that your new cabinets completely clash with your existing design aesthetic. Do the work ahead of time to evaluate your existing kitchen space, and brainstorm all possible renovation options.

2. Determine Which of the 3 R’s You Want to Do

When it comes to upgrading your cabinets, you generally have three options of kitchen cabinet types: you can choose to refinish, resurface or replace your cabinets. Here’s the difference between each of these options to help you decided which one is best for you.


Refinishing is the cheapest option for breathing some new life into your kitchen cabinets. This process involves sanding down what is already there and painting or staining to obtain a new look. Here are the pros and cons of refinishing your kitchen cabinets.

Pros of Refinishing

If your cabinets are already in good condition, and you are pleased with the functionality, then refinishing your cabinets by adding a new coat of paint or stain is a good option to consider. If this is the case, the price of your kitchen cabinet project may not be that high.

  • Refinishing cabinets is the least expensive cabinet upgrade option
  • Refinishing cabinets can be done on your own – you don’t necessarily need to hire someone, which is another cost-saving bonus. If you’re an avid DIY-er, you may enjoy the refinishing process.
  • Refinishing cabinets is a shorter process than either resurfacing and replacing, so it’s the best option if you are in a time crunch
  • There are many options available if you want to refinish your cabinets, with several different stains, paint colors and glazes to choose from.

Cons of Refinishing

While refinishing cabinets is a great option, there are a few potential “cons” to take into account.

  • Refinishing your cabinets is not the best long-term upgrade. If you’re really looking for a better functionality solution for your cabinets, refinishing the exterior won’t help – you may be better off investing your money in a long-term solution, like replacement.
  • Not all cabinets can be repainted – if your cabinets are warped, severely chipped, or if they have dramatic grain patterns, the can be impossible to paint.


Another option for creating your perfect kitchen cabinets is resurfacing (or “refacing”) your existing cabinets. The process of resurfacing involves changing out cabinet doors, or applying a new layer on top of existing cabinet doors to give them a fresh new face. The most common process is to reinforce existing cabinet frames with “durable ¼” plywood, then a veneer of real wood or maintenance-free laminate is applied over the plywood” (Kitchen Magic). Here are some of the pros and cons of resurfacing.

Pros of Resurfacing

If your existing cabinets are in decent condition but you’d like to update the appearance, resurfacing can be a great option that’s one level up from refinishing. Here are the major pros of resurfacing kitchen cabinets.

  • Resurfacing is a permanent solution. Unlike repainting cabinets, which may chip or wear away over time, resurfacing cabinets is a more permanent upgrade solution.
  • Most cabinets can easily be refaced – it’s a very accessible option.
  • Resurfacing is cost-effective – it creates an impressive transformation at a fraction of the cost of new cabinet door installation.
  • You can make some functionality adjustments to your cabinets during the resurfacing process, such as increasing height, changing out fixtures and hinges, and changing out drawers. You can also add in details like crown molding, glass panels, and more during this process, so there’s some more room for customization with resurfacing.
  • Many colors and styles available – as is the case with all upgrade choices for your kitchen cabinetry, you can expect a variety of options to choose from with resurfacing.

Cons of Resurfacing

In addition to the many benefits, there are some potential disadvantages to consider for resurfacing your kitchen cabinets.

  • Resurfacing is cheaper than new cabinet installation, but still an investment. According to The Spruce, generally refacing “costs about 50 percent of the cost of a new custom cabinet installation and about 70 to 80 percent of the cost of installing stock cabinets purchased off the shelf from home improvement centers.” You may be better off installing new stock cabinets, depending on what you are looking for.
  • You cannot change the kitchen cabinets layout through resurfacing. If you have issues with the layout of your existing cabinet setup, then installing new cabinets is going to be a better option for you.
  • The interior of cabinets does not get updated through the resurfacing process. If you want to add any shelving or organizational units, you will have to do that separate.


The final option for choosing the perfect kitchen cabinets is completely replacing your existing kitchen cabinet setup with new kitchen cabinets. Replacing will be the best option for you if the cabinets you already have were low-quality to begin with; refacing or refinishing low quality cabinets will only delay the inevitable need for replacement. Here are some of the pros and cons to consider when it comes to replacing kitchen cabinets.

Pros of Replacing

Despite the costs, replacing kitchen cabinets is always going to be a great investment for your home. Here are the major advantages of replacing kitchen cabinets.

  • Major kitchen upgrade – installing new cabinets in your kitchen instantly up-levels the design aesthetic, as well as the overall value of your home.
  • You have several options to choose from when you replace your kitchen cabinets. Whether you want to go for stock, semi-custom, or custom cabinets, there are hundred, if not thousands, of choices.
  • It’s the simplest choice to make. There’s something to be said for picking out new cabinets, and then paying for someone to install them. It’s a simple process for you, the homeowner, and you know it will be handled smoothly and by a team of professionals.

Cons of Replacing

While replacing your cabinets will guarantee a fresh new look and functionality, there are some cons to be considered before you make your decision.

  • The obvious “con” of replacing kitchen cabinets is that it’s the most expensive upgrade option. Even if you choose to install new stock cabinets that you purchase from a local home goods store, you can still expect to pay around $4,000.
  • Replacing kitchen cabinets is also a significant time investment, since in addition to the time of installation, you also have to factor in time for ordering new cabinets, removing existing cabinets, labor, and cleanup. If you are in a hurry, then installing new cabinets may not be your best option.
  • You have to hire professionals (at least it is strongly recommended that you do) to complete the installation, which means additional costs.

3. Set your budget

At some point during the process of choosing your perfect kitchen cabinets, you will need to set (and stick to) a budget. It is best to take this step early on in the process, to make sure you’re not surprised by an unwelcome price tags down the road.

Especially if you are opting for total cabinet replacement, setting your budget will help you determine which new cabinet option will work best from you, between the choices of stock, semi-custom, and custom, which rank from least expensive to most expensive in that order. Stock cabinetry is generally highly affordable and offers plenty of options to choose from, but if you have more room in your budget, you can consider upping to semi-custom or custom cabinetry for a truly unique look. Having a better understanding of price range will help you budget your project more effectively.

4. Choose your kitchen cabinets styles and materials

Cabinets take up a lot of space in your kitchen, so you need to spend careful time and attention making sure you select a style and complementary materials that achieve your desired aesthetic. Below we review some of the most common options for kitchen cabinet styles and materials

Kitchen Cabinet Style Options

When it comes to styles of kitchen cabinets, there are many different customizations you can make, including:

  • Framed or frameless? When it comes to kitchen cabinet styles you have two options for framing. Framed cabinets are what you would expect, with a box and face frame, while frameless cabinets (or European-style cabinets) don’t have a frame, so the doors and drawers connect directly to the cabinet box. Frameless cabinets tend to look more contemporary and can create a modern kitchen.
  • Windows or no windows? Another customization option that has become more and more popular for kitchen cabinets in recents years is the use of windows or glass panes. The obvious advantage of this style is it gives the homeowner (and any guests) a glimpse into what is stored in each cabinet. This can also create a nice contemporary aesthetic.
  • Any door details? Another style element that can have a significant impact on the overall look and feel of your kitchen is any door details you add to your cabinet faces. For example, you can implement arched cabinets or cathedral cabinets, to create a classic, cozy look.

Kitchen Cabinet Materials

Another important element is the kitchen cabinet material you end up choosing. Wood and wood-based materials are the most popular materials, followed by wood veneer, medium-dense fiberboard (MDF), and particle board.

There are several different options for wood that you can choose from when you’re ideating your perfect kitchen cabinets. For example, if you want a rich, dark finish for your kitchen cabinets, then a wood like cherry, mahogany, or red oak may provide the desired aesthetic you are looking for. If you want something lighter and brighter, then a wood like bamboo or hickory can provide that.

Once you choose your wood, you still have further choices by way of finish. You can choose to glaze your cabinets, leave the wood looking more natural and textured, or somewhere in between.

These are small decisions, but they cumulate in creating the design of your kitchen cabinets, and how they play into the overall aesthetic of your kitchen. If you have a specific theme to your kitchen’s decor, such as classic, contemporary, coastal, or industrial, then you will want to factor that into your cabinet style choices as well.

5. Decide on the details

Once you have the big pieces in play for your perfect kitchen cabinets, the final step is to decide on the details. Details include such elements as hardware (handles, knobs and hinges), which can provide a nice finishing touch to any kitchen look.

You can also consider any unique features that you want to install in your perfect kitchen cabinets, such as a “pullout trash can and built-in charging station” (Consumer Reports). You can also factor in details like installing soft-closing functionality on kitchen cabinet doors to prevent the sound of slamming doors. These are little things that make a big impact!

With this guide, you’ll be able to better navigate the process of ideating, selecting and installing your perfect kitchen cabinets. If you are looking for professionals to help with your cabinetry renovation, our San Diego home remodel experts are here to help. Contact Remodel Works today to learn more about our kitchen, home, and bathroom remodel services.









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