Design Considerations
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Design Considerations

The Ultimate Guide

  • Before You Buy New Kitchen Cabinets
  • Materials for Kitchen Countertops
  • Best Countertop Covers
  • Basic Kitchen Sink Types
  • The Most Durable Kitchen Flooring
  • Types of Kitchen Lighting

Things to Consider Before Buying New Cabinets

Monochromatic white kitchen with subway tile backsplash and marble countertops

Hikesterson / Getty Images

Before you buy cabinets for your new kitchen or bathroom remodel, there are some important things you should know and important questions you need to answer. This guide can help you zero in on the basics of buying cabinets, including budget, size, style, quality, construction, and finish. These should all be considered before you make a final decision to buy.


Cabinets account for 40 to 50 percent of the total cost of your kitchen or bathroom remodeling project, so setting your total budget figure will be one of the first things you’ll need to do. But don’t let this decision scare you off. The cabinets you select will set the tone for your new kitchen or bathroom and play a major role in transforming your space.​


If you’ll live in the home for a short time, you can select a basic style of cabinets. But if this is going to be your “dream kitchen” or bath, you should look for top-quality construction. Cabinets should have solid frames, door and drawer fronts, reinforced corners, and closed backs. Drawers and doors of cabinets will be opened and closed many times a day and should operate smoothly and quietly. The finish on the wood should be smooth.

Decorating Style 

Look in magazines and stores to find what look you like. Stock cabinets come in a limited number of styles, whereas semi-custom and custom cabinets offer more choices. Choose a style that blends well with the architecture of your home as well as the interior design of the other rooms. You can choose from natural wood finishes in several colors and woods, painted or stained, or laminate finishes.

Measure Your Space

You’ll eventually want a professional to come to your home and look at your space, but you should measure your area and think about where you might want the new cabinets to fit. With these preliminary measurements in hand, you’ll be able to give more accurate information to the salesman at the home center or kitchen store, and you'll get more precise estimates and ideas for your project.

Stock, Semi-Custom, or Custom

Stock cabinets are least expensive, are constructed in standard shapes and sizes, and are available in a limited number of woods or styles. Semi-custom cabinets are factory-built in standard sizes, with many options for storage, design, and style. The high end of cabinet construction is custom cabinets. They are constructed in either a workroom to designer specifications or on-site in any style and finish.


Stock cabinets offer few options beyond drawers and cupboards. But semi-custom and custom cabinets provide endless solutions to your storage needs. Pullout shelves for pans, a lazy Susan, a wine rack, vertical dividers for trays and cookie sheets, an appliance garage, or pullout bins are some of the standard add-ons. If you have a space too narrow for a cabinet and counter, a tall pantry closet provides lots of space, either for pots and pans in the kitchen or towels in the bath.