Cabinetry Made Simple


There need not be confusion when it comes to cabinetry.  While seemingly endless possibilities exist, we have culled down the list of our most often specified styles in order to maintain timeless appeal.  Below, our straightforward tips for cabinetry selection.


In terms of style, stick with one of two choices

We frequently work with clients who are creating bespoke kitchens, adding bathrooms, or augmenting rooms like family spaces and offices with functional built-ins and more as part of overall renovations or new builds.  When we approach these projects, our strong cabinetry recommendations are either inset or full overlay, two distinctions that refer to doors and their positioning on the cabinet frame.

The doors on inset cabinetry sit flush with the cabinet frame and provide a smooth appearance for upper and lower cabinet planes.  The frame is meant to be seen with inset cabinetry, and is typically stained or painted to match the door fronts and drawers.  Fully custom inset cabinets come at a higher price point than overlay due to the craftsmanship required to plan and create your own personalized series of drawers, doors, and coordinating cabinet boxes within a cabinetry frame that is ideally created for your space.  In addition, with inset cabinetry, there are options to add millwork detailing that leans towards the traditional, including a bead around the cabinet frame.  To us, these customized details indicate a timeless homethe overall look is the most streamlined and classic available.

With full overlay cabinetry, doors and drawer fronts completely cover the cabinetry frame and provide a flat cabinet front similar to inset cabinetry, with a look that is slightly more transitional and at a lower cost than inset.  When budget does not permit, we look to full overlay cabinetry to achieve cost-savings and yet still indicate a premium feel.  Options like beaded insets do not exist because the frame is hidden behind the door.  As a result, for clients who would like to indicate a more traditional style while using full overlay cabinetry, the bead may instead make an appearance on the door or drawer fronts themselves.

Door and drawer styles

Whether a client selects inset or overlay, door and drawer styles are where significant personalization can occur.  Depending on preference and a home’s overall design and decor, countless options exist.  We often see flat-faced top drawers with lower doors and drawers done in a shaker style.  Some clients choose to repeat beadboard patterns within door and drawer panels.  Still others prefer a very traditional look of raised panels and trim; it really comes down to personal style.


When it comes to materials we recommend hardwood and highest-quality AA plywood for cabinets that will last for years to come.  Their durability and aesthetic are unrivaled when it comes to materials.  In addition, while veneers or thermofoil over fiberboard or particleboard may look attractive and come at a lower cost than hardwood, such materials will not hold up to years of use, and cannot be refinished without destroying cabinet faces.

We hope this short primer might be helpful in narrowing cabinetry choices to ones that are the most high quality and timeless in appeal.  Thinking of building in storage as part of a new build or renovation project?  Contact us to learn how we might approach the project.  In the interim, we invite you to find meaningful inspiration in our portfolio.