1 What is the look and feel I want: traditional, contemporary, or Euro?
Raised panel doors are traditional cabinet fronts. Shaker is considered more contemporary, with its block picture frame and flat panel. A recent innovation is a traditional picture frame with a flat panel replacing the raised insert panel. Euro style is a monolithic flat piece of wood or “slab” panel.
2 What color cabinets do I want?
Color is the best way to express yourself. Cabinets, counter tops, walls, flooring and backsplash help make the statement you want. Should you match or contrast the colors? What triggers your fancy? (Hint: The great impressionist painters used contrasting colors – opposites on the color wheel – to add eye appeal.)
3 Lighting in the kitchen is crucial, how will I illuminate the space?
Light can be natural light from the window(s) and/or a myriad of electric light sources. Often we hear a customer say, “My kitchen is small, and I can’t go with dark cabinets.” Much can be done with light – and you can select from over 20 different colors of “white” light that will change your perception of color. There are many styles of lighting: direct, indirect, spot, pendant, overhead, under-counter & toe kick incandescent, florescent, halogen, LED, etc. Each has properties that can help you transform a room and create the mood you desire.
4 What additional functionality do I need: island, peninsula, storage, counter space, pullouts, spice rack, wine rack or refrigerator?
Creating more working counter space is often a designer’s first priority. Reorganizing the space can yield more work area. Adding an island can be very functional; it requires walk ways on all four sides, while a peninsula requires less walking space. “Pullouts” can increase utility and help organize your storage. Wine racks and coolers are a combination of storage and display that make a statement!
5 Do I want to create a seating area within the kitchen: counter or bar height?
These constructs help define a space and create gathering spots for family and friends. Generally, seating is for the quick meal or snack and places more emphasis on a formal dining area for special events. Bar height is 42” above the floor and requires bar stools for seating, while counter height is 36” high and works well with the new taller kitchen chairs. A traditional kitchen table and desks are 30” tall and utilize 19” high chairs.
6 What style of cabinet works for me?
• Raised Panel doors have a picture frame with an inserted raised panel and traditional cabinet fronts, rectangle or cathedral.
• Shaker - considered more contemporary, with their block picture frame and flat panel.
• Flat Panel - a traditional picture frame with a flat panel insert replacing the raised insert.
• Euro Style - a monolithic flat or “slab” panel. Many of the imported European base cabinets are shorter and require adjustment to US standards. Many imported cabinets are sized in centimeters, which differ from the 3 inch increments of American designs.
• Solid Wood doors are made of a variety of hard woods, including: Maple, Cherry, Birch, Basswood, Alder and Oak. They differ in hardness, ability to take stains, prominence of their grain, and wrapping and checking when exposed to moisture. Cabinet walls are generally made of plywood.
• MDF - particleboard, a manmade panel consisting of wood fibers and a bonding agent.
• Plywood -made of a number of layers of thin wood sheets whose grain is bonded at 90 degrees to the previous layer together into a flat panel. This creates a very strong construction grade board.
• Framed cabinets - have an exterior frame generally 1-1/2” wide by ¾” thick that enables a rigid cabinet box. The cabinet door is also attached to the frame.
• Partial Overlay - a framed cabinet where the door provides a 3/4” reveal of the frame. Traditionally partial overlay utilizes a center rail between double cabinet doors.
• Full Overlay - a framed cabinet with a larger door provides approximately a ¼” reveal of the frame and no center rail.
• Frameless Cabinets - rely on the sidewalls of the cabinet for their strength and hang the door from a sidewall. Base cabinets require cross members to obtain rigidity. Often frameless cabinets have wider drawers, as the frame does not constrict them.
• Thermofoil Cabinets - utilize a formed MDF (particle board) door that has a plastic film shrink-wrapped on it.
typical finish is white, beige or black. New foil finishes in high gloss colors and patterns are just coming available.
• Soft Close Drawer - an upgrade in the slide mechanism to under-mount construction and has a mechanism to bring the drawer to a soft landing in the last few inches.
• Dove Tail - a manufacturing method to interlock the corners of the drawer to secure a much stronger bond at its right angle connections, noted for its resistance to being pulled apart.
• Soft Close - doors have a mechanism in or at the hinge to prevent the door from slamming when closed.
7 What additional accruements do I require?
When you are headed out for a night on the town, the accessories you add to your outfit make all the difference. The same can be said for your kitchen. Accessories like crown molding, under counter molding, wine racks, hoods, turn posts, corbels, and more make a significant difference in the overall appeal of your kitchen!
8 How to choose the countertop of my dreams?
• Natural Stone – granite has the greatest cache, ask any realtor! Granite comes in many price ranges based on rarity of color and country of origin. Granite should be sealed to give you years of beautiful wear. Marble is a softer and more porous stone than granite and is often used in vanity tops. Both will have seams where the pieces of rock are spliced together.
• Wood – the most familiar type of wood is Butcher Block, other custom wood tops are available.
• Solid Surface – is a manmade, often seamless top. Many brands use quartz aggregate or dust integrated with a palmer poured and molded individually, for your counter top. They provide great uniformity in their look. Often an integral sink can be incorporated in the same color.
• Laminate – countertops like Formica® and Wilsonart® are made of molded MDF or plywood covered with the branded laminate. Recent innovations have greatly increased their beauty and versatility.
• Tile – ceramic, marble and granite tiles have been used for years in counter tops. By their nature, tiles require individual pieces affixed to a plywood top and grout lines between each tile. The edging can be curved tile, small tiles or wood. The grout will require cleaning to maintain the original luster of the top.
• Other – stainless steel for commercial kitchens is often a requirement. Recently both concrete and glass have also been used as counter tops.
9 What material and shape should my sink be?
• Stainless Steel - a popular choice as it is easy to clean, durable and shiny.
• Porcelain - sinks come in many colors, are easy to clean, and are very durable and shiny.
• Solid Surface - a manmade, often seamless top. Many of the brands use quartz aggregate or dust integrated with a palmer poured and molded individually, for your counter top. They provide great uniformity in their look. Often an integral sink can be incorporated in the same color.
• Under Counter - sinks are designed to sit underneath your counter so there is no protrusion, unlike the older sinks that had a metal ring around them.
• Farm - sinks protrude through the front of your cabinet and generally are rectangular and large.
• Shapes – rectangular, in single, double and triple, round, oval, “D” singles are common. However, many other shapes are available today including ”Butterfly” for a double corner sink.
10 How shall I treat my backsplash?
Today the entire 18” space between the counter top and the wall cabinet is considered the backsplash, open to any treatment you wish. You can still put a 4” piece above the counter top or bring down your preferred treatment to the counter top. Most popular are tile, solid surface and paint. Let your imagination run wild!
11 What is under counter lighting?
The latest innovation in under counter lighting is LED strips. LEDs provide significant lighting to your work area. These new low voltage strips are so thin (about the thickness of a nickel) that they hide completely without the need of light rail molding! The low voltage cords just clip into place as you string one light strip to the next. Installation is easy. Double stick tape is provided at the edges, so you can move them as required. Once you've positioned all of them, use a power driver to screw them permanently in place. The low voltage power supply plugs into a standard 110V outlet. Extra switches and even a dimmer are available.
12 What does RTA mean?
RTA means Ready To Assemble. RTA cabinets come in a "Flat Pack" box and require the purchaser to fully assemble the cabinet. Usually instructions are included. A professional can assemble a cabinet in 20-30 minutes, multiply that several times for a laymen. How cabinets are assembled vary by manufacture, style and model. Moreover, factory assemble often diverges from home assembly of the same cabinet because of the tools and quality control systems, in place in the factory.