A Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Types and Styles

Like many people, you feel that your kitchen is the center of your home. It is where you cook meals, chat with guests, or simply sit down for a few minutes to relax and sip brewed coffee. If you are considering a home renovation, the kitchen is definitely the place to start.

One way to bring new life, beauty, and functionality to your kitchen is to upgrade your kitchen cabinets. Naturally, you might think that this is as easy as driving over to the nearest home depot and buying the most appealing cabinets you find there. But it is much more than that.

Choosing cabinets for your kitchen means understanding what you need and what your home needs. It means going deeper into the different kinds of kitchen cabinets out there and learning how each one is unique.

In this article, you will learn the basic types of kitchen cabinets and kitchen cabinet hardware. You will find out the four grades of kitchen cabinet quality and how each one is made. Lastly, you will get to know five popular kitchen cabinet designs loved by interior designers around the world. After reading this guide, you will be able to differentiate between diverse kitchen cabinets and choose the ones that are right for you. Let’s get started!


There are different types of kitchen cabinets. Depending on what you need to do in your kitchen, you can choose base cabinets, tall cabinets, wall cabinets, and custom cabinets.

There are different types of kitchen cabinets. Depending on what you need to do in your kitchen, you can choose base cabinets, tall cabinets, wall cabinets, and custom cabinets.

1. Base Cabinets

Base cabinets are different from other types of cabinets in one specific way: they are made for bulk storage. In the world of cabinetry, they are often known as the ‘heavy lifters.’ If you own a number of large pots and pans, sets of cleaning supplies, and bulky specialty cookware, these cabinets should not be missing from your kitchen.

Base cabinets also have their own categories, and knowing your own needs is essential to being able to select the right kind. For example, if you have beautiful rare flatware and silverware to display, you should consider open base cabinets. If you own a lot of pots and pans, you can go for neat storage with two drawer base cabinets. Are you looking for something modern and unique? If so, go for a base cabinet with pull-out shelves that you can slide open to grab your handy bottles of spices and cooking ingredients.

2. Tall Cabinets

Tall cabinets are true to their name: they are different from other types of cabinets because of their height. In fact, most tall cabinets reach up to 96 inches! If you go through interior design magazines, you will find tall cabinets that are literally floor to ceiling.

But tall cabinets are more than just tall. They are the achievers of the world of cabinetry.

Tall cabinets are also known as pantry cabinets because they work as a modern kitchen pantry. If you are a person who likes to shop only once a month, your tall cabinet will organize all your food items and packages in neat rows. Also, tall cabinets can store your mops, brooms, and vacuum so that your kitchen stays flawless. If you have an oven or built-in appliances, tall cabinets can fold in nicely over them, protecting them and keeping them out of sight.

3. Wall Cabinets

As their name makes clear, wall cabinets are mounted onto your kitchen wall. The benefits of wall cabinets are obvious. For example, when you keep items stored in them, you can get them quickly and easily when you are standing up and moving around. If you have a small kitchen, wall cabinets are perfect because they don’t take up any of your floor space. Even if you have tall cabinets and base cabinets, adding wall cabinets will give you more accessibility and convenience.

You can use your own imagination and go for creative wall cabinets. There are wall cabinets that fold outwards as spice racks. There are wall cabinets with rotating shelves if you don’t like digging deep when you search for something. If you own smart home, you can go for wall cabinets that open and close with the touch of a button.


The next thing you need to consider is how much you are willing to spend on kitchen cabinetry and kitchen cabinet hardware. Here are four choices you can select from.

1. Ready-to-Assemble Kitchen Cabinets

If you are into DIY renovations, this is the option for you. You can get these cabinets at any home depot store, and they usually come in boxes with a set of instructions on how to install them. If you are on a budget, these cabinets are also the best choices because they are made with cost in mind. However, they are not often the most durable and are less aesthetically-pleasing than cabinets of higher quality.

2. Stock Cabinets

Stock cabinets are mass-produced cabinets that follow a similar pattern. Like other cabinets, they come with their own pros and cons.

Stock cabinets are good choices because they are affordable and diverse. Because they are mass-produced, you will find that they are cheaper than specialty and custom-made cabinets. Being pre-made, however, doesn’t mean that they are all the same. There are so many diverse stock cabinets to choose from, and you can find cabinets made out of melamine, a board covered with laminate, and even real wood. Stock kitchen cabinet hardware also differs, from brass handles to plastic knobs. With stock cabinets, you can get beauty without having to pay too much.

However, stock cabinets are not versatile. They cannot be adjusted. They are made in a specific size, and arranging your kitchen can be hard to do if you have a lot of corners and crevices. When buying stock cabinets, it is important to measure your space at home before you make the purchase.

3. Semi-Custom Cabinets

Semi-custom cabinets are usually stock cabinets that can be altered to fit your kitchen. Compared with stock cabinets, they are made out of better material and have more detail when it comes to style and aesthetics. You can find semi-custom kitchen cabinets and kitchen cabinet hardware in a variety of designs and finishes. Since the quality of these cabinets is higher, the price is also naturally higher.

4. Custom Cabinets

If you are planning a high-end kitchen, custom cabinets are the best choice for you. These cabinets are completely made-to-order, meaning that the sky is the limit when it comes to the material, the kitchen cabinet hardware, and the design. All you need is your imagination and the time to go over your kitchen and measure out those unique corners and crevices where you want the cabinets to go. It is exciting to know that any space can be filled, even increments that are as small as the 32nd of an inch! Although these cabinets are expensive, they are worth the depth, value, and uniqueness they bring to a kitchen.


After you have chosen the type of cabinets to buy and the grade of quality you want, the next step is naturally to choose the design. Here are some popular kitchen cabinet designs you will love.

1. Louvered Kitchen Cabinets

You might have heard of louvered doors and furniture. This unique and attractive design consists of a number of wooden slats arranged horizontally. Although this design is commonly used for windows and doors, you will love the effect they have when used on kitchen cabinets.

Aside from the breezy look they bring to your kitchen, louvered kitchen cabinets are great if you need more ventilation in your cabinets. For example, maybe you want a cabinet to store drying clothes in. Or maybe your cabinet is right next to your radiator. For these cabinets, you will need breathing room, which louvered doors give you in abundance.

You can get creative when designing your kitchen with louvered cabinets. You can get a handsome classic look with doors made out of hardwood. You can go modern with white doors, giving your kitchen a breezy, tropical look. The kitchen cabinet hardware also works as great detail, from bronze knobs to tubular bar pulls.

2. Distressed Kitchen Cabinets

The classical and the antique have always held appeal. If you want your kitchen to have a comfortable and lived-in look, then distressed kitchen cabinets are the right choice to go with.

Antique furniture and cabinetry are very expensive, but you don’t need to go for the real antiques when you can buy distressed cabinets. You will be surprised at how many manufacturers offer you faux antique cabinetry. These manufacturers use a number of techniques that leave the cabinets with worn-out surfaces and soft edges. It is good to know that you can put in a special request to have your new cabinets distressed before they are delivered to your home.

3. Thermofoil Kitchen Cabinets

Thermofoil kitchen cabinets are another option that you should consider, both for their aesthetics and their affordable pricing.

The process of making thermofoil cabinets is simple. Manufacturers take fiberboard and wrap it in a plastic coating. Then, they bake it in intense heat in order to seal it. Because fiberboard and plastic are affordable options, thermofoil cabinets are offered to you at low prices.

Affordable pricing, however, does not rob you of beauty. Thermofoil kitchen cabinets come in attractive solid colors and look very much like real wood. You can get these cabinets in shades of natural hardwood or choose the color that goes best with your kitchen. You can even get creative and go for cabinets with mirrors, stained glass, or other pleasing designs.

Thermofoil kitchen cabinets have other benefits to consider. For example, they are durable and known to last for many years without the common problems of scratches and nicks. They are also resistant to moisture and are generally easy to clean and take care of. However, it is important to keep these cabinets away from heat, as they are not heat-resistant.

4. Flat-Slab or Panel Kitchen Cabinets

Flat-Slab kitchen cabinets are some of the simplest-looking cabinets today. Since they are made with a lot of hard lines, they are minimalist and perfect for those who don’t want a lot of fussy designs in their kitchen. These simple cabinets are great for either a classical or a modern-looking kitchen.

There are a number of options you can go for when you choose flat-slab kitchen cabinets. However, you will find that there is something consistent about all of them: they do not have any frames. This gives them a solid and simple look that many people love.

5. Shaker Cabinets

Shaker cabinets are very common because of their aesthetics and simple design. Their anatomy is not hard to understand. To make these cabinets, manufacturers use four pieces of material with a fifth piece that goes as its center. If you choose Shaker-style cabinets, you will find yourself enjoying many benefits.

Shaker cabinets are timeless. There is nothing fancy about this cabinet design. It is as simple as flat-slab cabinets, with an extra hint of appeal that is just enough to catch the eye. Because of this classical look, your cabinets are in no trouble of going out of style. As trends change in the world of interior design, you can hold on to your shaker cabinets because they will always be ‘in.’

Shaker cabinets are easy to take care of. While louvered doors and other intricate designs can be a headache to clean and maintain, shaker cabinets save you time and energy. With a simple swipe of cloth, you can keep these cabinets in excellent shape the whole year-round.

Shaker cabinets come in many colors and designs. Also, you can choose the perfect kitchen cabinet hardware that serves your purpose. You can get cabinets with glass knobs for elegance. For a more retro style, you can go with latches. You will also love options like ceramic knobs, tubular bar pulls and pulls with exposed screws.

Your kitchen cabinets play a huge role in your kitchen. Since picking them can be difficult, you can follow this guide to narrow down your choices, so you end up with something that is perfect for you.


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