Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Post-holiday remodel? Focus on cabinet doors

by Patricia Davis Brown
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

You've made it through another holiday season, and you feel just about how your kitchen looks--tired and worn out. A kitchen cabinet makeover might perk you both up, but where do you begin?

First, do your homework: Thumb through the latest kitchen trend and decor magazines to see what's new. Mark up your magazines with sticky notes. You do not want to redo your kitchen with already-tired, out-of-date cabinetry.

Next, review and analyze whatever caught your eye, not only for the door's style but also for the way it sits on the cabinet box. Why is this important? The construction of the cabinetry influences the cabinet's appearance more than the door.

Cabinet doors and construction

There are two different types of cabinetry construction, frameless and framed.

Frameless cabinetry has no face frame and uses concealed hinges. The doors have less space between each other. It's a very clean design reflecting a more contemporary style.

Face-framed cabinetry construction allows for inset doors, beaded insets, partial overlays and full overlays.

Inset doors: An inset door sits within--and flush--with the frame and provides a traditional look. Hinges are typically exposed as a decorative statement. Inset doors usually increase the cost of your cabinetry by about 5 percent.

Inset Shaker cabinet door

Inset Shaker cabinet door

Beaded inset doors: The beaded inset adds another molding detail to the look of an inset. A ¼-inch bead molding is attached to the face frame, and the door is set within the bead. This is a good choice if you are doing a multi-step finish because the glazing is gathered in the bead. Beaded inset details can add an additional 5 percent to your cabinetry costs.

Beaded inset cabinet door

Beaded inset cabinet door

Partial overlays: The overlay construction lays proud of the face frame and is ¼- to ½-inch over the frame with partial face frame showing. Hinges can be exposed or not. Of all the face-framed choices, partial overlays prove most cost-effective.

Shaker overlay cabinet door

Shaker overlay cabinet door

Full overlays: Full overlay construction gives the appearance of a frameless style with the benefit of a stronger box: the integrity of the frame allows for wider doors. Using concealed hinges can further modernize the cabinet's design. Costs are about the same as for a standard inset.

Full overlay Shaker cabinet door

Full overlay Shaker cabinet door

Did you notice how the look of the shaker door changed in each photo according to the construction of the box and how the door sat on the box? Now you can see; it's not just the style of the door you need to consider. Only after you determine the construction of your cabinetry, either framed or frameless, are you are ready to pick an actual door style.

Which wood you choose

Wood species gives cabinetry the character and personality you want it to convey. If your home is in the mountains of Colorado, for example, you might favor a wood species like an open-grained oak or hickory, or a non-select pine or pecan species for a more rustic personality.

Hickory wood cabinet door

Hickory wood

Oak wood cabinet door

Oak wood

Contemporary kitchens use natural wood veneers to achieve what is often described as a "soft contemporary" design. Wood veneers like maple, bamboo and cherry on a simple, slab door achieve a perfect balance when paired with stainless steel appliances.

Exotic veneer cabinet door

Exotic wood veneers

Soft contemporary kitchen cabinet design

Soft contemporary kitchen design

When you're ready to wake up from your post-holiday hibernation and give your kitchen a shot of remodeling adrenaline, remember--cabinet box construction and wood species. In a few months, your kitchen should look brand new, and you'll feel better, too.

About the Author
Interior designer Patricia Davis Brown specializes in kitchen and bath renovations, and is the owner of Patricia Davis Brown Designs. Brown's work has garnered 15 national and several state awards and been recognized in numerous national publications over her 26 years in the design industry. In 2010, she took her mastery of space planning and design national by launching a virtual design company, ProfessionalKitcheandBathPlans.com and her online store PDBhomestore.com. She also blogs about all things design at www.digthisdesign.net.

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