The following was written and submitted by Andy Fidandis of Kitchen Express.
As a Kitchen and Bath designer for over 30 years I am often asked where to start when selecting cabinets.
The first thing I tell my clients to do is to look at as many pictures of kitchens and baths as you can on Pinterest or Houzz. Viewing completed kitchens and bathrooms gives individuals an idea of what they like and are searching for.
Once you have clipped out a few pictures share those with an experienced kitchen and bath designer, let them do the heavy lifting by finding what is best for you based on your selections and budget.
A kitchen and bath designer will also put the project together for you by incorporating counter-top options and tile.
Once the decisions have been made, then its time to order your products. Buying products from the big box stores is often more expensive and don’t have the experience you will find in your local kitchen and bath showrooms.
There is much confusion on modular, semi-custom and custom cabinetry. Modular cabinetry is a system that is based on cabinets constructed on set sizes at 3” increments and at times it is more of a language designers use to switch from one modular line to another since the sizing is usually very similar.
By standardizing the sizing the cost of building cabinets is reduced. Often modular cabinets are less expensive because of the standardization and the limited choice of doors and finishes. If you can stay within the parameters you can save a bundle!
Modular cabinets that have limited sizes, small selection of door/finish choices and/ or made overseas are often found in new construction and perfect for those working on a limited budget.
I design with a few semi-custom cabinet lines which are all built to order. Semi-custom lines have the most flexibility on choice of finish whether they are painted, painted with a glaze, or stained. The finishes are also far superior to those applied on at the job site or sprayed locally in a paint booth.
Semi-custom cabinet lines are extremely well thought out with designers coast to coast having input on current design trends. The selection of door styles and construction methods such as framed, frame-less, or inset is vast, and the materials used are the highest quality.
In most cases, semi-custom cabinet manufacturers also offer a lifetime warranty which you will not find on builder grade cabinetry or in cabinets built in a local cabinet shop or in a handyman’s garage.
After 30 years of designing there is no other way I would go than a semi-custom cabinet built how I designed it. In my own home I put quarter sawed oak with mission style doors in a restoration finish, inset construction with soft close doors and glides. Stunning!
With custom cabinetry, it gets a bit blurred. There are fine craftsman out there who build extremely well built cabinets exactly to the specifications a client requires.
I have seen custom cabinets that were amazing and then again I have seen custom cabinets built in a garage or on site which had no business being in anyone’s home. It is really a gamble and more often than not a losing bet. There is no standard when it comes to custom or homemade cabinets and often no warranty so do your homework!
Whether you are a custom builder or a home owner doing your first remodel project, do your home work by looking at current trends and see what you love. Then bring your ideas to a kitchen and bath designer to have them put your project together the right way.