How We Choose the Best Cabinets for Your Space

Choosing the right cabinetry is an essential step to designing a functional and beautiful space. Cabinets are vital storage solutions, especially in the kitchen, bathroom, mudroom, home office, or even as a built-in feature in your family room. 

However, cabinets offer more than just functional storage in a space. They set the tone for the whole design aesthetic. You may think that traditional-style cabinets and modern-style cabinets wouldn’t make much of a difference visually, but they have a loud voice in the overall design. That’s why choosing suitable cabinets when upgrading a room isn’t a decision you should take lightly. 

Selecting cabinets is more personal and nuanced than you might think. Most homeowners don’t know where to start and feel overwhelmed by the vast amount of options available. This is where we come in, narrowing down the selections only to what is best for your lifestyle and design goals.

To help show you all that is involved behind the scenes and in-person with our team, I’m sharing the 5 steps we use to help you choose the best cabinets for your home. They are:

  1. Evaluate your needs
  2. Determine your style
  3. See real options
  4. Finalize the details
  5. Order and install

Step 1: Evaluate your Needs

Before we can suggest the right cabinets for you, you will need to evaluate your storage needs. The space you are designing (kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, etc.) will determine the kinds of cabinets you will need. For example, the functionality of the cabinets we choose for your kitchen will likely be more intricate than when designing a mudroom with cabinets to store sports equipment.

Below are several things we take into consideration when evaluating your cabinetry needs…

Assessing the Function of Your Space

How will your space be used? We always focus on the function of your room first, because a pretty area that doesn’t serve you well isn’t a good design. 

We determine how you will use your cabinets based on your current habits. For example, think about where you like to cook in the kitchen and where you spend the most time. Do you like to bake, sit and visit at the bar, or host family dinners? These are details we’ll consider when planning your space. 

Primary Features You Want to Include 

Now that we know how you want your space to function, we can decide on the specific features we want to include. We can incorporate tons of options like roll-out shelves, lazy susans, tray dividers, spice pullouts, wood paneling, and docking drawers.

Determine the Quality Level 

There are three levels of cabinet quality. The first level includes stock cabinets, which are ready-made and pre-manufactured. The next level up includes semi-custom cabinet options, which are also stock cabinets, but they have extra features and additions you can select. The highest quality level includes fully custom cabinets built according to your specifications. 

Fully custom cabinets will naturally have the highest durability and longevity, and they will also be built according to your unique needs. Naturally, these three quality levels require different investments, so we will work with you to find the best solution for your needs and budget.

Plan Lead Time

When do you need your cabinets to be ready for installation? Lead times on cabinets can take at minimum 4 weeks for stock cabinets up to 14 weeks for custom designs. When you share your desired timeline with us, we will have a better idea of what to expect and plan for. If we need your cabinets sooner than later, stock or semi-custom may be the best option. 

NOTE: Lead times have significantly increased due to Covid-19 and the wait, even for stock cabinets, is much longer than pre-pandemic timelines. Again, we will have a general idea for lead time… and we’ll be sure to keep your existing cabinets in place until the new ones arrive!

Set a Budget

Lastly, we will help you set a budget for your cabinets based on your overall project investment. Like any design feature, having them as a line item keeps your budget on track and allows us to select the best option when it comes to your needs and wishlist. Again, we will help you find the best marriage between quality, functionality, and price.


Step 2: Determine Your Style

Cabinets come in a wide variety of colors and styles, and you probably already prefer one style over another. However, we would always look at the architectural style of your home when choosing cabinets. Why? Because your cabinets must blend in with the rest of the house. If we install modern cabinets in a Victorian home, for example, those cabinets will look wildly out of place.

Fortunately, we can always find a happy medium, customizing your cabinets to any style you like while also keeping it cohesive with the rest of your home. That’s what we’re here for. 

Step 3: View Samples

In some cases, we will show you samples of your cabinet options, including the material and any color or finish options we recommend. In others, we may take you to our showroom to view the beautiful cabinets in person. It depends on your project, but the overall goal is to give you complete confidence in our selections. Sometimes, it takes physically touching the materials to feel and understand the difference in quality!


Step 4: Finalize the Details

Once we’ve identified the features you’ll need, we are ready to finalize the details of our selections… 

Select a Finish

First, we select a finish. The two finish options for cabinets are a painted finish and a stained finish. Painted cabinets are the most popular choice for all spaces in your home. While painted cabinets are well-liked, they do have some characteristics to be aware of…

Painted cabinets involve dry paint on top of the wood. Because wood naturally expands and contracts with temperature variations, you may see cracks appear at the joints of frames, doors as well as drawer heads. These cracks are barely noticeable to the naked eye and aren’t considered a defect. In fact, it’s part of the typical character of painted cabinets. Stain finished cabinets are also an option. 

Again, this decision is nuanced and overwhelming for most people. (How can you choose between a hundred permutations of style and finish options??) This is why we only present you with a few of the BEST options for your space. You’ll be able to quickly see which feels right for you. 

Framed or Frameless

Next, we will proposed “framed” or “frameless” cabinets. These are the two basic structural options and mostly determined by the style of your home and your personal preferences.

Just so you know, framed cabinets are well-known for their sturdiness. The cabinets are constructed with rails and stiles that form a 1-½ inch “frame” at the front of the cabinet box. It is a frame because it resembles a flat picture frame attached to the door front. The frame adds dimension and strength to the cabinets. Frameless cabinets don’t have the added dimension, but do offer a more streamlined, modern look. Again, personal preference.


Inset cabinetry is a subcategory of framed cabinets. With framed cabinets, the doors and drawers sit on top of the face of the cabinet. But inset cabinets have drawers and doors that are flush with the face of the cabinet. Thus, there is minimal space between the cabinet components. 

This is, admittedly, more information than you probably want or need to know, but this is just another nuance that we handle for you when renovating or building a custom home. There are thousands of decisions to make in a home, and hiring our team means you don’t have to become an expert in cabinetry, plumbing, electrical, design, and project management overnight.

Step 5: Place Your Order

Now that we know exactly what cabinets we want, we place your order with our suppliers. If this sounds like pressing a “Buy” button online, guess again. This requires a high level of precision, down to an 1/8th of an inch in every direction and so much more. Then, we manage the order from creation and tracking timeline to quality inspection and precise installation in your home.

And again, this is just ONE element of many that will occur during a new build or renovation. There are so many details involved for every feature of your home. We make sure that each one is perfect on its own and coordinated in the overall scheme of your project. And believe me, it’s no mean feat!

Ready to invest in a home that supports your lifestyle and makes every day feel special? We have more than two decades of experience you can count on. Book a no-strings-attached Discovery Call with us, and let’s see if we’re right for each other.