The kitchen is usually the heart of a home. It’s where your family gathers at the beginning and end of the day. It’s where visitors feel at home. It’s where meals and memories are made.
And it’s your cabinets that can often shape the look and feel of a kitchen, no matter what type of home or kitchen space you have.
There’s a lot to consider when picking out the right kitchen cabinets — your home’s layout, your kitchen’s overall style, and size, your budget — but there’s a right cabinet for everyone and every kitchen.
Here’s a close look at the several different kitchen cabinet options and ideas to consider to make your kitchen showstopper.
Kitchen Cabinet Costs
What’s your kitchen budget? Whatever it is, there’s an approach to kitchen cabinets for you.
Cabinet costs vary wildly, due to the different materials used, the square footage you need, and whether you decide to go custom, off-the-shelf, or something in between.
Just how much does the cost vary? They can range from as low as $2,000 to upwards of $25,000.
Stock cabinets, those you may have seen on a box on a shelf at a big-name home improvement store or warehouse, usually go for $2,500 to $7,500 per 25 linear feet (linear feet comes from measuring where the cabinets will go and adding the entire number of feet).
Most new cabinets will set you back between $4,000 (on the high end for stock or the low end for semi-custom cabinets) and $13,000 per 25 linear feet (the high end for semi-custom cabinets and the low end for custom-built kitchen cabinets).
Custom cabinets can run all the way up to $30,000 per 25 linear feet.
Stock cabinets, usually prefabricated and sold as-is by stores, will always be the cheapest ($60-$200 per linear foot), followed by semi-custom cabinets, which give you a bit more freedom style-wise ($100-$650 per linear foot) and the custom cabinets ($500-$1,200 per linear foot).
Customs are handmade and built exactly to your taste and your kitchen’s exact specifications. They are the haute couture option within the world of kitchen cabinets.
The Value Of Kitchen Cabinets
As you can see, kitchen cabinets aren’t the cheapest thing you’ll ever invest in, but they are almost always worth the investment.
As part of a kitchen renovation, new or refurbished cabinets help boost your home’s resell value. Even if your cabinets are part or all of your renovation project, the average cost is around $21,000 with $17,000 recouped on average, a return on investment of 81%, according to remodeling.hw.net.
Overall, 80% of homebuyers surveyed by realtor.com say a newly renovated or finished kitchen is a big factor in how much they will pay for a new home.
Kitchen Cabinet Style Ideas
Ready to give your kitchen cabinets a refresh or even start from scratch? A good first step is pinpointing the overall look and feel you want. Would you prefer a modern or a traditional kitchen?
How about cabinets with more ornate detailing or a sleek look? Do you have an open floor plan, a galley kitchen, or an L-shaped or U-shaped kitchen space?
Once you have a good general idea of what you’ll love, there are many style options to choose from within your general kitchen categories. Here are a few to consider:
Sleek And Modern
Contemporary kitchens boast a more sleek look and cabinets go a long way to accomplish that feel. It’s not exactly stark, but it’s generally more refined.
For this look, your cabinets may not have handles or more streamlined stainless steel handles.
Many modern kitchens also integrate kitchen cabinets with snazzy advances, such as doors you can simply push open and close, eliminating the need for handles in both base and wall cabinets. Recessed handles are another option for modern kitchen cabinets.
Overall, contemporary kitchen cabinet styles eschew adornments and ornamentation in favor of simple lines and upgraded unfussy materials.
Most modern kitchens tend to have slab or flat-panel cabinets to give the kitchen an overall streamlined look. Slab or flat panel cabinets can also be found in mid-century modern or vintage kitchens.
Falling in between traditional and modern kitchen cabinet styles, the farmhouse look primarily means one thing: shaker style. Shaker-style cabinets have long-reigned as one of the most popular kitchen cabinet designs.
You can find shaker-style cabinets anywhere from big-box hardware stores to design boutiques or Amazon too. They’re simple, clean and slightly boxy with a slightly recessed panel.
Shaker cabinets do not have carving, veneers, and inlays — and have been around for over 350 years.
They’re also the perfect fit for a modern farmhouse look. Because of their versatility design-wise, shaker kitchen cabinets offer a traditional look that doesn’t look outdated.
For a long time, kitchen cabinets were almost entirely all solid front. Now, glass-front cabinets are more frequently being used in combination with solid cabinets.
They work well as a showcase for decorative dishes or vintage glasses, but they also give your kitchen an extra dash of personality and panache.
Glass-front cabinets can also help lighten the mood of a kitchen, especially if it’s small. It gives a kitchen a deceptively open feel since it can break up the big block look of a wall of solid cabinets.
Somewhere in between the country cabin and the farmhouse is the rustic kitchen look — and it’s heavily reliant on cabinet choice.
There are two main types of rustic kitchens: country-style and urban. Country-style is closest to what you’d find in a mountain home’s kitchen.
The cabinets have a heavier look, are almost always wood, and frequently boast grainy or distressed looks.
It’s unstuffy and not as elaborate as traditional kitchen cabinets and reflects a general rural feel.
Raw wood can also be a part of an urban rustic kitchen cabinet look. Here, the cabinets tend to be darker and more natural-looking, making it feel more contemporary.
The cabinets are often floor-to-ceiling and can include a mix of different wood finishes, for example, light wood on upper cabinets and darker wood lower down.
Whether you call it traditional or classic, there’s a reason this type of kitchen style has been a mainstay.
Traditional kitchens give off a well-worn yet upscale feel, with cabinets that often have beadboard detailing and raised panels.
The wood goes darker here, usually cherry colored or darker, and they’re bigger in size than other cabinets, making this look good for a larger kitchen. You won’t find a lot of traditional kitchen elements that incorporate a lot of glass or granite or stone, though some include glass kitchen cabinet doors.
Often found in modern or mid-century modern-influenced kitchens, open shelving is a great cabinet option for those seeking a more open-air and non-cluttered feel.
With open shelving, you’re integrating kitchen cabinetry that uses floating shelves of various colors, materials, and textures.
Open shelves are good to use in a mix with other cabinet storage options, especially if you gave kitchen tools or flatware you’d like to display and prefer the look of empty space on your walls.
Louvered kitchen cabinets are like mini pantries, adding an eclectic but textured look to the room. Made with horizontal wood slats, louvered cabinets are particularly popular as storage solutions that offer ventilation, especially if you live in a high-humidity climate.
They are practical and aesthetically pleasing and mix in well with rustic cabinets or glass-front looks.
Or Go For a Big Mix
Are you having some trouble deciding on just one kitchen cabinet look? Mix them up. Yes, not all of the above popular style ideas will work well together. Thinking of heavy rustic cabinets in a modern sleep kitchen? Please think again.
But many of the above kitchen cabinet options can and do fit seamlessly with each other to achieve a stand-out look. Shaker cabinets and rustic open shelving wood well together. So do elements of modern kitchens — like granite or marble cabinet tops — with louvered style.
The key: Picking the right cabinet styles that give your kitchen an overall cohesive look that you’ll love each day.
Materials To Use For Kitchen Cabinets
The possibilities are endless with kitchen cabinet materials. The right material can make or break a certain look and needs to fit in well with your home’s overall aesthetic. Here are some of the most popular materials used in kitchen cabinets today — and where they fit in best.
Far and away the most common material used in kitchen cabinets, wood is valued for its versatility that works extremely well with kitchen cabinets. Composite wood is commonly found in off-the-shelf cabinet options, but materials such as rosewood, teak, and others are extremely high-end.
Popular wood materials that are middle-range cost-wise include oaks, maple, ash, birch, pine, hickory, and cherry. There are pros and cons associated with different wood types, especially with price and appearance, but most woods can be stained to either enhance or change color or grain. Bamboo is also becoming increasingly popular.
You can also paint and repaint, varnish, and stain wood to your liking. With wood kitchen cabinets, you can do a quick, inexpensive refresh that can change the entire feel of a kitchen time and time again.
You have a lot of grain and texture options if you go the wood route, and it works well in both traditional and modern kitchens.
Wood cabinets can be more challenging to take care of — some require specific cleaning materials — and lower-quality wood can dent and warp easily. Humidity can also easily damage wood surfaces.
The wood used in modern cabinet kitchens and some traditional styles must also be frequently polished to keep it looking fresh.
Love natural wood but not its cost? Veneers combine sheets of solid wood with composite materials, similar to laminates (see below). These combined sheets are usually stained to achieve a certain texture or color.
Wood veneers can also come in different types of finishes, ranging from matte to high-gloss. They are also sustainable and more affordable than other cabinet options.
On the negative side, they are susceptible to scratches and the color can fade when exposed to long periods of natural light. And like real wood, they require lots of polishing.
You can avoid some of the work that needs to go into wood cabinets by opting for laminate. Laminates are usually layers of paper and plastic resign topped with a layer of printed patterns or other designs. They often top things off with a tough plastic film-like overlay.
The decorated top layer is often pasted onto composite materials, such as medium-density fiberboard (MDF) or particleboard. This makes laminate cabinets more affordable than most wood options and more durable.
They can also look cheaper, though, so high-pressure laminates offer a relatively higher-end look (they can be high gloss to matte) that are even more durable than low-pressure types of laminates.
Laminates can be a great cabinet option for those who don’t love wood but have a budget that doesn’t accommodate high-end materials or custom cabinets.
Laminates have pluses, though. They are very resistant to moisture and extremely easy to clean. Plus, they can be made to look close to other materials, such as solid wood and even metal.
On the negative side, if laminate kitchen cabinets are not installed right, their edges can peel off, which is not a good look in a kitchen (or anywhere). And if you’re earth-conscious, laminates are non-renewable.
Want even more durability than wood or laminate? Go metal. Steel and aluminum is frequently used to create doors over wooden kitchen cabinets — and it pairs well with glass-front doors as well.
Metals are great if you’re going for a unique look, as they as far less commonly used for kitchen cabinets than other materials, and can come in solid, brushed, and patterned finishes.
Treated stainless steel is also good for a kitchen since it’s both resistant to stains and rust and easy to clean though repolishing is not out of the question.
The downside? Cost. Cabinets integrating metal are among the most expensive options for your kitchen. And while they can have different textures and feels, they are very limited when it comes to color. Metal cabinet surfaces also are prone to showing smudges and fingerprints easily.
Inexpensive and pretty easy to install, poly-vinyl chloride sheets (PVC) are plastic, making them waterproof and oil-proof, great for messy home chefs. They are also available in different colors, especially lighter ones that can brighten up a kitchen. For those wanting a few design extras, some PVCs come in fake wood grains and moldings.
But why you may have color choices with PVCs, you won’t have a large range of them and they tend to yellow as they age. The hardware options are also minimal since you’re pairing them with plastic.
Great Ideas and Trends For Kitchen Cabinets
Yes, kitchen islands are also cabinets. They can provide an extra surface but are increasingly offering built-in drawers and shelving. A big trend: striking color. Especially if you have white kitchen cabinets or surfaces (trends on their own), bright teal, soothing hunter green, or classic gray islands make your kitchen a standout.
Color doesn’t have to be reserved for your island. Bright and bold colors for kitchen cabinets have made a strong comeback in recent years. Paired with a patterned or tiled backsplash (or just on their own), sunshine yellow, Kelly green, or baby blue cabinets make a happy-go-lucky statement in any home.
Stark Black Cabinets
Since white kitchens are everywhere these days, going dark — even pitch black — with cabinets is rising in popularity. They also look great with natural wood accents and open shelving. Have stainless steel appliances? Extremely dark painted cabinets, or even just naturally dark wood, works well with those.
In the kitchen cabinet family is a larder, an old-fashioned name for a place in the home dedicated to storing or preserving various types of foods. Larders are basically stand-alone or integrated pantries or large cupboards.
Larders look great in rustic or modern kitchens and are fantastic storage spaces since they can accommodate lots of shelves.
They can be open-air or you can integrate glass or wood doors to complete your larder look. Another old-school kitchen cabinet making a comeback: vintage plate racks mounted on walls or countertops.
If you’re looking for unique textures and have the budget for custom cabinets, reclaimed wood is a solid way to go, especially for a rustic look.
There are now more than ever tons of reclaimed wood options for kitchen cabinets, including natural looks from big-name companies to smaller businesses using materials such as recycling plastic bottles to bamboo to create eco-friendly kitchen cabinet choices.
How many appliances do you currently have on your kitchen counters? If you’re like most, probably too many, not to mention all of them fighting for space in your existing cabinets.
Many people are now using cabinet materials that can match materials used for dishwashers, blenders, and refrigerators so appliances can disappear within your kitchen design.
Mixing Different Textures
Matchy-matchy kitchens are very out at the moment. In addition to mixing colors hardware materials, many cabinets are mixes of textures and patterns within a kitchen, reflecting a mix of textures in kitchen ceilings, walls, and hardware.
You can also mix it up simply in your kitchen by using different colors of cabinetry throughout. Particularly popular within rustic and modern farmhouse designs, two-tone cabinets are easy ways to create unique spaces, such as a kitchen that has contrasting gray and white storage throughout.
We don’t quite know why, but we’ve looked to Europe for a lot of new kitchen cabinet ideas. Companies in Britain and elsewhere are churning out great new cabinet looks, from decorative cutouts to cabinetry that easily hides big appliances. Cabinets that run flush with countertops are game-changers.
A Single Open Shelf
While many chose to go with a few staked open shelves in the kitchen for cabinet alternatives, another option is one long, sleek shelf. It works wonders in a modern kitchen, providing an innovative focal point and storage solution all in one. It’s relaxed, different, and fun.
You’ll probably need to go custom for this trend, but more and more kitchen specialists have added wire mesh doors to their portfolio of designs. It’s sophisticated and industrial and works very well with heavy cabinet hardware, such as brass or gold handles.
Using Cabinets For Pops Of Color
Yes, you can still have a white kitchen or a dramatic dark one and still have cabinets with personality. If you like the starkness of certain one-note kitchen materials, cabinets are great ways to inject warmth and depth through subtle coloring.
Even if you have a colorful backsplash, don’t be afraid to mix things up with an unexpected cabinet color. Pinks-and-greens, blues-and-yellows, purples-and-blacks … all work like magic.
If you have the space, double islands provide the kitchen cabinet space of your dreams. Yes, they’re expensive, but if you have a large kitchen (and the renovation money), double cabinets are the latest big kitchen luxury trend.
They can be made of any material you like, and can be joined together by a wooden butcher block or glass — or you can leave some empty sitting space between them.
Kitchen Cabinet Ideas: The Bottom Line
From classic shaker to glass front to glorious mix and match, you’re only limited by your own creativity when mapping out your approach to new kitchen cabinets or refurbishing what you already have.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box with materials. Try something you wouldn’t have thought of or something not traditionally used in a kitchen, like grainy wood or highly veiny marble. Set a budget and stick to it, but think creatively about how to achieve the look you have your heart set on, whether it’s starkly modern or comfy-cozy farmhouse modern.