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This post is all about the style of the kitchen cabinets I chose. For a full overview of the entire kitchen, check out My Dream Kitchen Reveal post.
What Are Inset Kitchen Cabinets
For me the most striking aspect of the cabinets is not that they are white (everyone is doing white kitchens now) but their construction design. The doors are set inside the cabinet frame – hence, they are inset kitchen cabinets. As opposed to full or partial overlay style where the door sits on top of the cabinet frame. This is a detail that most people won’t notice. I am unlike most people and my eye is quickly drawn to details like that. I had noticed this style of cabinetry in my research and really liked it. Usually, this is the style of fully custom, built from scratch to your specs, cabinets. You can also guess that this type of cabinets is very expensive. When you calculate it for the number of cabinets we need for this large space, the cost rises astronomically.
But I did some more researching and found a semi-custom cabinet company that offers inset kitchen cabinets – Decora Cabinetry. A semi-custom company (like Kraft Maid) has a large number of standard options for the height, width, and depth of their cabinets. But they usually don’t do any customizations to fit your specific space. Let’s say you need a cabinet that’s an inch wider than their standard sizes. Most companies can’t build you special cabinet, you will have to put a filler piece in that space. Decora is somewhere in between. They have a large range of standard cabinets at affordable prices. But they also have the ability to build to your specific design – but those customizations are expensive.
I still paid more for the inset kitchen cabinets than I would have for a traditional style. But it was around a 20% surcharge as opposed to double which is what the fully custom route costs.
So I set out to design the kitchen with Chrystal from Bath, Kitchen and Tile Center in Abingdon, MD. I went through quite a few permutations, initially including removing walls and repositioning doorways. Ultimately, I decided to stick with the walls and doors as they were. I thought it would be a better investment to put money toward the cost of cabinets as opposed to removing walls. And I was also nervous to take on a more involved construction project.
I designed the space myself, giving Chrystal my ideas and her telling me if it’s possible or not. For example, some of my cabinets are bumped out (inches added to standard depth) for visual interest as well as to camouflage the seam between the cabinets that’s more visible with inset style doors. In some places, that couldn’t be avoided. Some of my base cabinets have baseboard instead of a traditional toe kick – another feature of custom cabinet and reminiscent of a piece of furniture. The cabinets that do have a recessed toe kick have little block feet. That also adds design detail at a low cost. Normally, embellishments like that are expensive but my contractor was able to make the feet with scrap materials.
I also knew that I wanted my cabinets to go up to the ceiling. (My old kitchen had about a foot of space above the wall cabinets – dead space and a dust trap!) We achieved that by going for a stacked style cabinet and chunky crown molding.
I have two wall cabinets that go down to the countertops and sit directly on them. One is my pantry cabinet where we keep snacks and the other one is the glass front cabinet for my dishes. As much as I like to keep to a classic style and avoid adding features that might become outdated soon, I felt like these two cabinets brought character to the otherwise plain kitchen. This style reminds of a classic buffet/break front piece that you would have had in an old time kitchen from back in the day.
The square shaker style of my cabinets and lack of ornate details can make for a very plain or modern looking kitchen. But adding traditional elements like crown molding, chicken wire glass doors, and classic style lighting and hardware, gives the kitchen the exact look I was going for – a transitional/contemporary style.