The right cabinetry can set the tone for a beautiful design.
Story by Tracy Dickinson
Featured in July/August 2022
When choosing a diamond, they say to pay attention to the C’s—color, cut, clarity, and in the case of jewels carat size. Taking a similar approach to cabinetry selection will result in the perfect setting for your kitchen design.
One of the first decisions in selecting cabinetry involves color, whether that’s paint or stain. According to Jeanine Weinzierl of Moehl Millwork’s parent company, BDM USA, “Painted cabinets are still very popular, primarily white. But some new fresh colors are on the horizon, including more-muted whites, bluer grays, and soft greens.”
The trend in all areas of design, from home decor to clothing, is an emphasis on nature, bringing a sense of peace and comfort, whether that’s the color-of-the-year green or shades of sand and sea. That same trend is influencing cabinetry selections.
The Kitchen and Bath Company’s Leanne McGoldrick says, “We’re seeing a pretty big wave of natural finishes right now. People seem to be loving the light stains and incorporating warm wood tones into their designs to blend natural elements with painted finishes elsewhere in the kitchen.”
No matter what your home’s style, that mix of woods and finishes can suit the design.
“We’re seeing more natural woods used for transitional and contemporary designs, not just traditional,” says Deb Pudenz of AIM Kitchen & Bath. “And as color trends start to lean toward the warm side, I think we’ll begin to see more dark, but warm wood stains, too.”
Weinzierl says, “Maple is still the most popular wood, but cabinetmakers are offering quartersawn white oak and even walnut for its rich brown color. I’m also seeing wood stain finishes in the lighter or mid-tone browns and grays.”
She says cabinet finish should also take into consideration the flooring selection. “The popularity of wood-looking laminate or wood flooring for kitchens is influencing cabinetry decisions. Having both flooring and cabinets in a wood-grain look can be too much, so homeowners will often opt for painted cabinets if they want wood floors.”
With gems, the unique cut brings out the beauty of the stone. With cabinetry, a homeowner’s individual choices bring out the beauty of the kitchen’s design. That involves more than just style. It has to function well, too.
Woodharbor’s Rachel Arganbright says, “There’s no single trend in cabinet style right now. We’re seeing everything from transitional and glass-front cabinets to simple, clean-lined contemporary styles and open upper shelves.”
Pudenz agrees. “Honestly, all things go these days, although there is a gradual turn toward things that look like they have some age.”
Subtle details to add character, softer wood finishes, painted cabinetry with a weathered look—all of these add a sense of history that can give the space a more comfortable feel. “We’re seeing a lot of simplicity in the designs clients are choosing,” says McGoldrick. “Homeowners are looking to create a clean, minimalistic layout that’s open and airy. So Shaker or slab doors are popular for lower cabinets, with open shelving above.”
Designers recommend creating a plan that not only achieves the look you envision, but one that takes into consideration the way you live. Do you need dining space at the island? Do you entertain often? Do you have children who like to help with meal prep? Will you need specialized appliances—a refrigerator drawer in the island, a microwave the kids can reach, or double ovens for preparing multiple dishes at once?
Another factor to consider is lighting. The most gorgeous cabinetry in the world will lose some of its luster in a poorly lit room. “Darker cabinetry colors typically benefit from more lighting,” says Weinzierl. “I also recommend additional lighting, especially over the sinks or task areas if clients are building their forever or retirement home.”
Each of those decisions affects the cabinetry choices you’ll make, whether it’s layout options, storage solutions, or proper lighting.
“Communication is key to any successful design,” says Arganbright. “You want the cabinetry to complement your home, and you want both the aesthetic and the function of the space to fit your personality and your lifestyle.”
“Once you have the initial layout,” Pudenz says, “I advise clients to go through and inventory their items to determine where they’ll fit in the new space. You figure out quickly whether you’re missing space for something or whether you’re forced to store things in inconvenient locations.”
Weinzierl says, “Working with a designer who specializes in kitchens and baths can save time and money in the end. Not only are designers aware of trends, but they have the expertise to create a highly functional and organized space that’s also aesthetically pleasing, no matter what the size.”
And don’t be afraid to have fun. “Cabinet design has become much more exciting,” says Pudenz. “Even the smallest of kitchens allows for something unique—bringing upper cabinets to the countertops, designing a built-in range hood, opting for a contrasting island or lower cabinet color.”
Focusing on color, cut, and clarity can help you choose the perfect diamond. It can also help you create a cabinetry design that’s just as stunning. •
- Deb Pudenz AIM Kitchen & Bath
- Leanne McGoldrick The Kitchen and Bath Company
- Jeanine Weinzierl Moehl Millwork
- Rachel Arganbright Woodharbor