The first thing you want to do is get some clarity on your goals for how you want your kitchen to look and function so that you’re ultimately satisfied with the end result. You should do this regardless of whether you’re replacing your existing cupboards (essentially staying with the same layout) or starting with a completely new layout plan.
Here are some questions to help you with that effort:
What don’t you like about your current cabinets?
Pin down exactly what it is you dislike so that you can look for solutions to those issues when it’s time to buy new.
Maybe you don’t have enough space or perhaps it’s poorly allocated space (like that 3-ft deep upper cabinet where only the first 12 inches are accessible)? Maybe your current cupboards are just the wrong style or they don’t have good organizational features.
The more specific you can be about what it is you want to have or change, the more focused you’ll be about targeting the right options from the myriad of choices that are available.
How long do you plan on staying in the home – are you updating for the purpose of reselling or do you plan on staying long term?
The answer to this question may determine the price you’re willing to pay as well as the level of customization, uniqueness and the quality of construction you want to build in. If you plan to stay in your current home indefinitely, you may want to spend more of your budget on durable construction and materials. On the other hand, if you’re a real estate investor interested in house flipping for a quick resale, you may want to limit your investment to a functional but more cost-effective cabinet style and construction.
What is the style of your home and your kitchen?
Your existing decor and style of home plays a role in the type of cabinetry to choose. The converse is also true too — the style you choose will influence the look and feel of your kitchen.
Do you want to stay with the existing style or do you want to change it? Period cabinets are appropriate for classic antique homes when retaining the style of that era is desired. Updated European style cabinets work well in a contemporary kitchen.
Regardless of which way you go, identifying the style you’re looking for will help narrow your focus on the available choices and also provide some guidance to kitchen designers or cabinets makers you might work with.
Are you looking for environmentally friendly choices?
Going green is certainly possible with products made from bamboo, reclaimed wood or wheat board. As the green movement continues to grow so do the choices for home products, including cabinetry. Sources for bamboo cabinets and other renewable and sustainable materials are also growing with the demand, making it easier to find and purchase these types of products.
What amount of storage space do you need? Is it greater than what you currently have?
Look at what you currently have on your countertops or in other places where you put things that you’d rather store inside your cabinets. Knowing how much “stuff” you need to accommodate will help you understand the amount of space you’ll need. Remember that the fewer items you permanently store on your countertops (like a cake mixer or the flower and sugar containers) the more working space you’ll have.
What is most important to you – aesthetic appeal or durability and quality construction?
Let’s face it; all of the advertisements and magazine articles we see depicting kitchen cabinets are usually high-end, expensive designs with lots of up-charge options. Achieving your dream kitchen is a worthy goal but be realistic. When there’s a limited budget it may not be possible to afford high quality materials and construction as well as exotic woods and finishes. Be wise about allocating your money between quality materials/construction and aesthetic items like door styles, finishes and ornamentation. Usually there’s a happy medium somewhere in between.
Do you really need completely new cabinets or will a face-lift suffice?
If your current cabinets are in good condition and you don’t need or want to change the current layout of your kitchen, perhaps all you need is a refreshment of the current style.
Refacing is one way to put a fresh face on your existing cabinets. It involves re-skinning them with a new wood or laminate veneer and replacing the doors. There are other refurbishment options too. They’re typically less expensive and take less time than replacing your existing cabinets.
Replacement doors and new hinges are available to provide a new look and style to your existing cabinets at a fraction of what it would cost to completely replace them.
Replacing the knobs and pulls with new ones is another way to change the look of existing cupboards. Don’t think that entirely new cabinets are necessary if the only problem with your existing ones are some tired doors and/or a style that no longer appeals to you. Replacement doors, hardware and even refacing can provide a totally new look at a lower cost than new units.
Do you need cabinets for an outdoor kitchen, laundry room or garage?
Yes, there are cabinets for outdoor kitchens too. Because of their outside location you’ll need to look at outdoor cabinet sources however. Although they serve the same purpose as their indoor counterparts they need to be made from materials that can stand up to the elements.
Laundry cabinets are also very similar to those used in the kitchen but there are some that are made with organizational features specific to the functions of a laundry room.
If you’re looking for garage cabinets, you can recycle some old kitchen units and mount them on the garage walls. If that won’t do, there are companies that specialize in cabinets made specifically for the garage.