Designing a new kitchen or renovating an existing one? Choosing the right kitchen cabinets makes a world of difference. Too few and you’ll lack storage, too deep and carefully stashed items hide away in a kitchen black hole.
When you need kitchen cabinets, consider material, function and style. Once you explore some of the key aspects of each of these categories, deciding on the best kitchen cabinet for your space is much more straightforward.
Who will be using this kitchen? In many instances, this simple question will guide what materials you select for your cabinets. Here are the most common materials that kitchen cupboards (doors-drawer fronts)are made from.
Melamine board (often called laminate) is a durable-coloured multi-layered paper compound pressed to either particle board or its stronger cousin, medium density fibreboard (MDF). Very cost effective and suitable for kitchens that get a lot of use. Many textures and matt finishes are available to suit your décor.
These last a lifetime, especially if periodically lacquered/painted and kept in good condition, but will come at a price. Offers wonderful character due to variability in wood grain and texture. Best used in carefully considered interior design to stop it becoming too heavy in the space.
Vinyl or vinyl wrap
Vinyl cabinet doors/drawer fronts are vacuum-sealed to MDF that delivers an affordable cabinetry option. Not as heat resistant as other options and repairs to any cuts in the wrap are not possible, or are quite noticeable.
These offer a hardened paint finish to add to cabinets that delivers a very thick and scratch-resistant surface. Available in various gloss levels from a very flat matt finish through to an extremely high gloss. If a 2-pac paint finish is applied properly, it is done in the same manner as a vehicle’s car paint with many layers of undercoat, sealer, paint colour and top coat and sanded in between each coat to achieve a very flat and smooth finish. This should be sprayed in a dust-free environment such as a purpose built and ventilated spray booth, then oven baked for hardness. The beauty of this product, if done using this method, is that it can be sanded back, repaired and colour matched to existing doors, should you damage it down the track – similar again to repairs done to your vehicle. Colour choices are unlimited as you can select from thousands of standard colours or colour match a laminate sample or any coloured object you desire. The doors/drawer fronts can also have a profile routed out of the face giving the door/drawer face a more classical or modern look depending on the profile selected – such as the most popular Shaker style door. These doors/drawer fronts will be more expensive, but deliver commercial grade quality.
How will your cabinets work? Again, this decision can be informed by who will use the space. If this is your forever house, consider drawing upon universal design principles which will mean you can easily access your cabinets as you age or if your mobility is limited. For cabinets, this may mean pull out inserts, lazy Susan inserts and well-lit internal cavities to make using the kitchen easier. Minor functional considerations can also make a big difference such as soft close drawers with metal slides, glass door fronts or custom options like built in wine drawers, utensil pull outs, pull-out base storage for oils and spices or tray dividers for oven trays.
The other aspect to function is layout – while you may think more is more, large cavernous cabinets can lead to food spoilage and clutter because it’s harder to see what items are inside, or where they are. So while storage is king, planning on how your storage will work is a better approach. You can do this by making a list of all the ‘stuff’ you want to stash in your kitchen and this will dictate how many long drawers, tall towers or small sections your kitchen will need. Don’t forget where to put the kitchen bin! Many designs can offer flexible configurations that you can change if you need to move things around to reorganise your kitchen.
Many people spend a lot of time in their kitchens, especially in an open plan space – so you do need to like the look of your cabinets! Vertical lines will draw the eye, making kitchen cabinets a feature in your kitchen that will influence the décor of the entire room. In terms of style, there are many variations and designs to choose from. Here are some of our favourite:
- Contemporary: There are many iterations, but frameless cabinets and satin doors are common in this style, as well as raw looking timber with contrast matte metal for a more industrial feel. Sliding doors, low profile handles and overlay cabinets are also popular.
- Modern minimalist: Prioritises function, but is popular due to its simplicity. This means it can be integrated into country, classic and contemporary décor. For more traditional, use a woodgrain finish, for contemporary, use 2-pac paint for cabinet doors/drawer faces. Think flat panels or slab doors with no handles and inset cabinets for a seamless look.
- Traditional: Whether countryside or provincial, this style uses more classic design features and ornate finishes. Includes feature handles and knobs, shaker-style framed, raised or v-groove panel cabinet doors or even incorporating some glass fronts.
- Hamptons: Somewhere between coastal chic and functional luxury, Hamptons style adopts a contemporary feel to a classic look. Use crisp whites or neutral or natural tones and recessed panels on cabinet doors and drawer fronts. Strong contrasting colours are often used as a highlight as well, such as deep blues or dark greens. Cabinets and drawers will be large and give a sense of scale to the kitchen.
Where to next?
Mint Kitchen Group are leading kitchen renovators with a reputation for inspiring design, impeccable build and expert installation of custom-made kitchen renovations.
frequently asked questions
There are many materials to use for kitchen cabinets. Choose from laminate/melamine, solid timber, timber veneer, vinyl wrap and 2Pac.
The cost of your cabinets will be influenced by how many you want, customisations you desire, and the materials you select them to be made of. An average price guide is as follows and is based on an average size kitchen of around 15 cabinets with a good mix of cabinets and drawers:
Budget laminate/melamine cabinetry can start from $18,000 , 2Pac from $25,000. For timber veneer or solid timber you can expect to pay in excess of $33,000. The price of vinyl wrap depends on quality but starts from an average of $21,000.
Don’t forget that there will be the price of your selected benchtops as well as labour on top of these costs, so installation, plumbing, electrical, plastering, tiling ect - so plan wisely to make the most of this investment.
Choosing affordable cabinets can be costed over the life of the kitchen to decide what delivers you the best value. Vinyl wrap and many laminates/melamine are inexpensive up front but will need replacing over time. While 2Pac and solid timber is pricier to begin with, they will last and deliver value in the long term.