In today’s hectic lives, the kitchen can be a place to reflect and spend time as a family. On the other hand, it could also be a place full of activity – you could be cooking, supervising homework, putting away groceries, and playing referee, all at the same time. You need a kitchen space that works well for your family’s needs and has plenty of storage to hold pots, pans, food, even homework materials.
Your kitchen cabinets are an important consideration when working on building a new kitchen model or remodeling an old one. If you’ve even done a casual perusal of cabinet models, you know there are more differences than just color. Cabinets vary in frame, size, depth, aesthetic, and much more. The right kind of cabinets will help you maximize your available space and make your kitchen an enjoyable family area for years to come.
One of the first considerations to make, based on your budget and family’s needs, is choosing between a framed, inset, or frameless cabinet style. What’s the difference, and which is right for you? Here’s what you need to know.
Frameless cabinets, also known as European cabinet style, as the name implies, are modern styles of cabinet fabrication that utilize newer hinge designs that make installing a frame unnecessary. There is no frame to the face of the cabinet, as the hinges install directly into the cabinet box wall sides. As such, frameless cabinets tend to lay flush against the body of the cabinet box and there is no space between the box and the door.
Benefits of Frameless Cabinets
Frameless cabinets started in Europe, where they are in wide use. However, the style is becoming rapidly more popular stateside as homeowners in America begin to discover its benefits. The main benefit is that it’s easier to access the items inside the cabinet space due to the frameless nature of the cabinet and the drawer boxes are wider – for this reason, frameless cabinets are a full-access design.
Once you install your frameless cabinet, there will be no center stile and the drawers and cabinet spaces are often bigger because the face frame is no longer present. For these reasons, frameless cabinetry may be a good fit for larger families or those who love to cook and have a lot of kitchen equipment. Aesthetically, frameless kitchen cabinets lend a sleek, modern feel, so they’re a good option for newer construction or people who want to remodel using a midcentury modern design. More so than any other style of cabinet, frameless designs will maximize your storage space.
A framed cabinet is the most traditional, common type of cabinetry available on the market. As the name implies, this cabinet gets its name from the face frame on the front of the cabinets. The face frame is the front of the cabinet box. In a framed style, the front of the box is not cut out completely, but there’s a big enough hole to access the contents inside the box.
The Benefits of Framed Cabinets
Framed cabinets have been a mainstay in American households for decades. They’re the so-called workhorse of cabinet fabrications, because they’re stronger and can withstand the abuse of slamming and exploration of young children. This makes them a popular option for younger families. Since they’re ubiquitous, they tend to come at a lower price point than other models, though variation exists.
Providing a frame around a kitchen cabinet helps it hold up better over time, so a framed option will be around for many years. The installed hardwood helps prevent cabinet sagging, which can occur in other fabrications.
Framed cabinets are also popular in America because of the virtually limitless stylization options available. Overlaid frames, for example, make the boxes virtually invisible and an attractive alternative to frameless cabinets. Visible frames also allow for custom painting and contrast that lends a rustic or unique air to your kitchen.
Framed cabinets, since they’re the most popular, are likely the style of kitchen cabinet you’ve seen in kitchens your entire lifetime. They’re prized for their durability, contemporary and American aesthetic, and level of customization available.
Finally, inset cabinetry offers a historic, vintage, furniture look, where the door fits flush into the face frame. As movements like the modern farmhouse become more popular, inset cabinets are making a comeback. This style of cabinetry, technically a version of framed cabinets, offers a look that is both traditional and individual. They’re sure to be a conversation piece for guests in your kitchen. They requires considerable more detailed construction.
Benefits of Inset Cabinets
Since inset cabinets lay flush with the face frame, they are appealing for their smooth and clean furniture appearance. They also require a knob or pull as hardware, which allows you to play with the aesthetic you want for your kitchen. Overall, inset doors are a higher-end version of cabinetry that lends an air of Old-World historic charm. Overall, inset cabinets cost a little more than traditional framed cabinets.
Inset cabinets can also have minor downsides, such as less storage space compared to the other two models. As such, they might be best for families where storage space is already ample, or storage needs are less intensive.
Which Cabinet Style Should You Choose?
Ultimately, a cabinet style does not automatically dictate the style or taste of the kitchen. All cabinet styles have their benefits and downsides, so your main concern should be the functionality as it related to your family’s needs. If you’re a seasoned cook, host lots of holidays and family gatherings, and need ample kitchen space, a frameless option might be best for you. If you tend to have more takeout menus than pots and pans, you could choose an inset cabinet if you enjoy the aesthetic.
At the same time, the level of customization for each style of cabinet is remarkable. For example, you could choose a traditional aesthetic while using a frameless cabinet or you could have a modern kitchen with sleek lines and inset cabinets would still work well. In other words, the style of cabinet you use will not limit your design potential for other aspects of your kitchen design.
Once you decide on a cabinet style for your kitchen, you have one more important consideration: what will you top them with?
Types of Countertops and Their Benefits
Like cabinet fabrications, many types of countertops exist. However, these tend to vary in terms of material as well as aesthetic, which can affect their functionality based on your family’s needs. Some of the more common countertop materials include:
Granite countertops are among the most beautiful. They lend a classic elegance and air of sophistication to any kitchen space. Prized for their durability, your granite countertops might be the last installation you ever need.
On the other hand, granite countertops do require some maintenance, and they’re durability and beauty come with a higher price point compared to some other materials. But if you’re committed to caring for them, you could enjoy them for decades to come.
Granite countertops are natural stone and usually come from quarries around the world. An igneous stone, it starts rough and textured, but grinding and polishing give it its unique appearance. Each piece of granite is completely unique, which is part of its appeal.
Pros and Cons of Granite Countertops
Choosing a granite countertop for your kitchen has distinct advantages and disadvantages. These include:
- They’re beautiful and durable.
- They can seamlessly accentuate the look of your new kitchen cabinets.
- They’re ecofriendly because of their natural sourcing.
- With proper care, they’re durable and strong.
- They are resistant to scratching and damage from heat.
- When sealed and cared for appropriately, they are stain-resistant and simple to clean.
The key to having granite countertops is proper sealing and maintenance. Failing to reseal your granite countertops often enough can lead to staining, since granite is a porous material. Additionally, poorly sealed countertops can breed and harbor bacteria that could make your family sick. Choose this stone if you’re committed to its maintenance.
Marble is another high-end kitchen countertop design that, with its rich veining, offers an air of class to your kitchen. When combined with high-quality hardwood cabinetry, classic elegance results. Marble is a timeless choice for homeowners who desire premium materials.
If you need further convincing, consider that some of the world’s most famous works of sculpture are marble – Michelangelo’s David is a good example. This should tell you a couple things – first, that it’s beautiful. In fact, the world marble is derived from the Greek word for sparkling or gleaming. It’s also pliable and softer than other forms of countertop material, such as granite.
Several different kinds of marble exist, and the color will tell you where in the world it’s from. Green marble, for example, hails from Ireland, where pink variations most often come from Georgia. White marble can come from the U.S., Russia, Germany, or Italy. Each type of marble comes in different graining and veining, giving it a distinct appearance.
Last, marble also comes in different variations such as matte, polished, or leather finishes. Matte finishes are soft, but the colors are muted. Polished marble sparkles but is most susceptible to scratches. Finally, leather finishes tend to be the most popular because they’re the most durable and hide fingerprints.
Marble develops a “patina” that makes it age over time, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your preferences. It tends to scratch easier than other forms of countertop materials, but it has a high resistance to heat. With so many levels of customization available, it plays well with a variety of kitchen aesthetics, from contemporary or rustic to sleek and modern.
Countertops made of quartz are one of the most attractive options for busy families, because they’re workhorses capable of withstanding a lot of damage. If your kitchen counters serve as food prep spaces, homework tables, makeshift workspaces, and more, a quartz countertop might be right for you. It’s one of the toughest materials out there and is beautiful, to boot. It will provide your busy family with durability for years to come while maintaining its aesthetic.
Quartz comes in a wide variety of colors, from bright colors to black. A range of beautiful neutrals also exists, from browns and creams to grays and taupes. Because it’s a synthetic material, the maker can color quartz countertops to make them any hue you can think of, while providing a feel like natural stone.
Unlike granite and marble, high quality quartz is an engineered product that should have around 90% quartz, which is a material abundant in the earth’s crust. The remaining 10% is binder and coloring. Quartz gets ground down and mixed with a polyester resin to create an extremely strong material that can withstand heat, heavy materials, and scratching. In aesthetic, it’s similar to marble or granite.
The customization level for quartz is nearly limitless, since it’s an engineered material. Unlike natural stone, it does not require regular sealing or maintenance. Since the resin makes it non-porous, it does not harbor bacteria and is easy to clean. The more quartz the better the product.
Always go for the material that has at least 90% quartz, the less resin the better.
Paperstone is a unique countertop material that is becoming more popular, particularly in modern homes. It’s a composite engineered product made from 100% recycled paper, resin, and natural colorants. Don’t let the name fool you – since Paperstone is compressed so tightly and densely, it is completely impervious to moisture and is nonporous. As such, it is easy to care for and does not harbor dangerous bacteria.
Many American households are turning to Paperstone, because it’s practical, beautiful, and easy to clean. It’s chemical- and stain-resistant, as well as relatively resistant to heat. It’s prized for its durability; its original use was for skateboard half pipes.
Aesthetically, Paperstone looks and feels warm and looks like it has a patina. This means it could play just as well in rustic or historic kitchens as it does in more modern designs.
Last, since Paperstone is designed with 100% post-consumer recycled paper, it’s both eco-friendly and sustainable. This makes it an attractive option for environmentally conscious households. It’s nontoxic and food safe.
Vetrazzo, or recycled glass countertops, have a completely unique look and feel that work in homes in a variety of designs. Depending on the type of glass used and the coloring, Vetrazzo countertops can appear modern or work well in a rustic or historic home. They can be manufactured to look antique or minimalistic. Vetrazzo countertops are durable but are not always the right choice for families with young children.
Glass countertops are made from up to 90% post-consumer recycled glass and are a relatively new innovation – they’ve only been in American homes for about 20 years. These glass pieces are held together with cement and are a popular choice for the eco-friendly homeowner. They are also customizable based on the color and aesthetic you want for your home.
Like most manufactured materials, Vetrazzo countertops are nonporous and easy to clean. They create a hard surface that is resistant to chipping and cracking when installed properly. They are not a good option for DIY installations, as improper technique can create stress points that can lead to cracking.
No two Vetrazzo countertops are alike, which makes them an attractive option for creative homeowners. As an owner of a Vetrazzo countertop, you have the benefit of knowing you own something completely unique.
Finally, wooden countertops are a popular option in kitchens across the country. They lend a warm and inviting feel that plays well with a variety of textures such as exposed brick and other traditional or rustic finishes. Wood surfaces are excellent for food preparation and play well in conjunction with other countertop materials such as quartz or granite. For example, a kitchen island might look good in an exotic wood like Parota paired with natural stone. Reclaimed wood countertops are also becoming more popular because of their eco-friendliness and rustic charm.
Wooden countertops lend a naturally beautiful, earthy air to a kitchen. They are an ideal match if you enjoy baking or cooking regularly, since they hide cuts and scratches well. If anything, it naturally lends character to the home. Even after years of use, wooden kitchen countertops can be sanded down and resealed, providing decades of use. It also pairs well with a variety of kitchen cabinetry and home décor. However, since wood is a porous material, it requires regular maintenance and sealing to prevent the growth of bacteria, especially on meal preparation surfaces.
Remodeling or designing a kitchen comes with many important considerations. Arguably, two of the most important are the two that represent the most significant investment – your countertops and cabinetry. Each type comes with its advantages and you must consider your family’s intended use and time for maintenance as you make your decision. Use this as a guide to create your dream kitchen based on your needs. Should you have any questions about the materials listed here or anything we offer, feel free to contact us.