Cabinet Features & Benefits

There are many factors to be considered when choosing cabinetry for your new home. Not to worry! By the time you’ve finished this section, you’ll be armed with enough information to point you in the right direction. Before we tackle the nuts and bolts of what goes into choosing cabinetry, let’s review the most important considerations.

Begin With Wood – Selecting a wood species is a great starting point. The ever-popular whites are now being replaced with natural woods such as Maple and Cherry. Oak, Hickory, and Pine also remain timeless options.

Think About Color – Once you’ve chosen a wood species, you’ll need to select a stain color. Natural or mid-tones are increasingly popular. To add a personal touch, consider incorporating more than one color or wood type.

Consider Special Effects

  • Glazing – The latest way to add that extra-special touch to your cabinetry, glazes are used to enhance the beauty of wood color and tone. Once the cabinet has been stained with the primary color, a second coat, usually white, mocha, or black is applied to the cabinet and then lightly wiped off. This method will leave glaze in the cracks and joints as a stunning accent. Glaze treatments and techniques can vary from heavy to light, with lighter treatments giving a more subtle appearance. Note: Glazing is best used on cabinets that have nooks and crannies to “catch” the glaze. Clean lined cabinets such as Shaker or Slab front are not appropriate.
  • Antiquing – If you want to create a unique and aged look, this process may be for you. Texture and detailing techniques include distressing, wearing and worm holing, cracking, and splattering stain and paint applications.
  • Architectural Accents – Adding additional design elements can give your kitchen a personalized, custom look. Consider beaded paneling, glass doors, flutes, personalized hardware, different heights and depths, beaded columns, and more.

Increase Your Functionality

Having an island or islands, dual work stations, roll out shelves, or pull out pantries can maximize your storage while help making meal preparation efficient. Here are more ideas on how to make the most of your work space:

  • Drawer Stacks Are Space Savers – Stacks of drawers are now the favored choice for replacing less efficient lower cabinets, enabling you to maximize storage and accessibility.
  • Interior Features – Special added functional features can make your kitchen extremely organized behind the scenes. Consider including Lazy Susans, Tray Dividers, Roll-out Trays, Appliance Garages, and more.

Finish With Appliances

Appliances are the crowning touch for your new kitchen. Our experienced designers will guide you through the possibilities such as having your appliances built in to your cabinetry or concealed with decorative doors. Make your kitchen even more efficient by adding non-traditional appliances like warming drawers, wine coolers, or ice makers.

Now that we have gotten you visualizing what your new kitchen might ultimately look like, let’s review the basic features you will need to be aware of when making your cabinet selection. These include wood species, door style, construction, accents and functional features.

Wood Species

The best thing about having so many choices in wood is that every species creates a beautiful yet totally different effect. Your choice of wood will have the most impact on the cabinet’s ultimate look. If you want a light look, for example, you might start with a light wood like ash, beech, birch, elm, oak, maple, or chestnut. In the mid-range, consider cherry with a natural finish. Or you can stain maple to be darker than its natural color. Besides color, the other major variation in wood species is grain and pattern. Some woods like Maple are very uniform, while other woods like Cherry and Oak offer a wide range in grain pattern and color. Here are some of the most common species available with their unique characteristics:


  • Strong, close-grained wood
  • Predominantly an off-white color but can have light hues of yellow-brown and pink
  • Occasionally contains small mineral, light tan, or reddish-tinged streaks that will darken with stain
  • Usually straight grained but can be wavy or even curly
  • Will darken over time if chosen for cabinetry
  • Great for light to medium-toned stains – does not do well with a dark stain


  • Sturdy, open-grained wood
  • Flowing grain pattern and dramatic color variations
  • Often contains random specks, burls, and mineral streaks
  • A popular choice for wood-lovers


  • Features prominent open grain
  • Ranges in color from white to yellow and reddish-brown — sometimes streaked with green, yellow, or black mineral deposits
  • May vary from a closely knit grain to a sweeping arched pattern


  • Elegant, multi-colored hardwood
  • In its raw state, is a pinkish-brown hue with occasional shades of white, green, pink, or even gray
  • Natural or light stains will beautifully accent these color variations
  • Will darken or “mellow” with age


  • A medium-density hardwood
  • Predominant sapwood color is white to creamy yellow, while the heartwood varies in color from medium or dark brown to reddish-brown
  • Features a distinct, moderate grain pattern that ranges from straight to wavy or curly


  • A close, straight-grained soft wood
  • Ranges in color from white to yellow to pink
  • Different-sized, solid knots can create color changes within a piece of wood
  • A softer wood, will be more prone to nicks and scratches

Cabinet Door Styles

A number of elements contribute to your cabinet door style, and choosing the right ones will go a long way towards achieving the overall look you are trying to create. Depending on the line of cabinetry you select, you will be able to choose between arched doors vs. square doors, framed vs. frameless cabinets, flat vs. raised panels, and full overlay vs. traditional overlay cabinetry. Read on to better familiarize yourself with these terms:

Framed Cabinets

  • The most popular type of cabinets in the U.S.
  • Features a front-frame around the cabinet opening to which the door is attached.
  • Easier to install than frameless cabinetry because of recessed end panels and rigid front frame.
  • Available in Traditional and Full Overlay styling:
  • Traditional Overlay – The exposed front frame is known as the “reveal” – typically 1”.
  • Full Overlay – This style covers most of the face frame, giving prominence to the door and drawer design.

Frameless Cabinets

  • Frameless or European-style cabinets have no front frame and the doors are attached directly to the sides of the cabinet.
  • Because there is no front frame, they offer the advantage of completely unobstructed access to the cabinet interior.
  • Requires a Full Overlay door.
  • Very contemporary in style, they utilize pin and dowel construction.

Flat Panel

  • This cabinet has recessed center panel to a door or drawer design.
  • Typically used in Transitional, Shaker, or Arts and Crafts styling.

Raised Panel

  • A classic raised center panel door.
  • Creates a more formal or traditional feel.

Beaded Door

  • This flat panel cabinet door design incorporates vertical beaded texture on the recessed panel area of the door.
  • The wood door frame is more simple and constructed with cane and stick joinery.
  • Creates a more casual, country style. Great choice for glazing.

Mullion Doors

  • Glass inserts are used in place of the typical solid center panel.
  • The inserts have horizontal and vertical dividing bars similar to those in windowpanes.
  • Offers a more unique and stylish appearance.
  • Used mostly on doors containing barware and dishware.

Recessed Doors

  • Features a flat panel held inside the perimeter of a door frame.
  • The flat panel recesses between the stiles and rails.
  • Great look for contemporary or rustic kitchens – often used in “Farmhouse” style kitchens.
  • Usually more expensive than framed or frameless cabinetry as the craftsmanship must be more exact.


The Box

The first thing you should understand about construction is what lies behind the cabinet door—the cabinet box. This may seem simple, but cabinet construction can get complicated rather quickly. There’s more going on than you might think.

You might be surprised to learn that solid wood rarely forms the cabinet box. It’s more often used in face frames and doors than in the larger side panel parts. That’s because it tends to warp—a special concern in the kitchen where the moisture level changes frequently. But in the doors, using multiple strips of lumber in a variety of sizes can reduce the warp factor. A “floating” panel might also be used. The panel floats because instead of being glued to the doorframe, its edges sit between wooden grooves, allowing the wood to move more freely with changes in the kitchen’s humidity.

Box materials typically contain wood chips, other wood by-products, and synthetic additives to make them especially strong and warp resistant.

Often the door and box will be constructed of different materials. A cabinet door might be solid maple and the sides plywood covered with a maple veneer. The same finish would be applied to both, unifying the look. Or you may decide you want different tones on the door and the sides to add contrast.

If you are choosing between different lines of cabinets and wondering why one costs more than the other, take a look behind the doors to see what the differences are:

  • Check out the materials used and the construction of the box.
  • Consider the drawer construction and details like joints, braces, hinges, drawer guides, and other hardware.
  • Investigate. Do the drawers feature dovetail construction? Are they made of solid wood or MDF?

There is more than one way to make a good cabinet, but understanding these differences will help navigate you through your decision-making process.

Construction Materials:

As mentioned above, a variety of materials are used when manufacturing cabinets:

Solid Wood

  • A door with a solid wood center panel is comprised of boards that are joined or glued together to form the width of the center panel.
  • Offers variations in color and grain patterns
  • A solid wood door is more expensive than a veneered door


  • A veneer is a thin piece (1/32 of an inch) of solid wood which is attached with glue to a substrate (This is usually “particleboard” in raised panel doors and “hardboard” in flat or recessed panel doors)
  • Components are more uniform in finish and grain consistency
  • Veneered center panels in doors will offer greater stability in humid climates because they minimize shrinking and expansion – thus eliminating cracking and splitting

MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard)

  • Engineered wood, features an extremely tight and smooth surface
  • Exceptionally stable, favored for laminating with thermofoils and melamine
  • Frequently used for manufacturing white cabinets
  • Commonly used for interior construction and other parts of the cabinets that are not visible


  • A flexible, 100% solid-colored vinyl with adhesive on its underside
  • Applied to smooth, engineered wood or MDF which has been formed into a door, drawer or molding design
  • A great choice for white cabinets (vs. painted wood) because of its moisture-resistance
  • Won’t swell and contract eliminating cracking or chipping
  • Attractive and durable, easy to keep clean and maintain

Accents and Extras

There are many ways to create that custom look with semi-custom cabinets — from ceiling treatments to door handles, and more. Depending on the line(s) you have to select from, you may be able to choose from some of the following extras. As always, be sure to talk to your design consultant regarding what items are standard vs. upgrade.

Above-Cabinet Treatments – Classic or contemporary moldings can make a dramatic difference. For a truly unique look, consider combining classic crown molding with a decorative molding insert.

At-Ceiling Treatments – At-ceiling molding, used when cabinets go all the way up to the ceiling, creates a truly finished look in any room.

Pediments – Decorative pediments are a great choice for enhancing cabinetry on an entertainment center, a kitchen island or for other “furniture-style” cabinetry pieces.

Below-Wall Cabinet Treatments – Why stop above the cabinets? Unique below-wall moldings, sleek or decorative, will complete the look of your wall cabinetry at eye level – plus make a dramatic design difference.

Base Cabinet Treatments and Decorative Legs – Think of cabinetry as a piece of furniture. Add great style to base cabinetry with decorative feet and legs.

Onlays, Ornaments & Corbels – These add a dash of elegance to an ordinary setting.

Book Shelves & Entertainment Centers– Great-looking, these enhancements will also keep your kitchen clutter-free.

Get a handle on door hardware

Here’s wonderful opportunity to create a personal look. There are many materials that will add style including:

  • Pewter
  • Nickel
  • Silver
  • Chrome
  • Copper
  • Porcelain
  • Wood
  • Brass

Door hardware needs a great finish, too. Choose from:

  • Brushed
  • Satin
  • Antiqued
  • Distressed/weathered
  • Polished
  • Burnished

Find function behind the beauty

On the surface, kitchen cabinets should be beautiful. Behind the beauty, they also need to be functional. Let us suggest some interesting ways to make your kitchen as functional as possible:

  • Roll out trays
  • Lazy Susans
  • Tray Dividers
  • Spice Drawers
  • Cutlery Storage