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Practical Tips for Choosing Kitchen Cabinets

Cabinet heights tend to be standardized at 32 inches tall. However, you can and should pick a height that is right for you, whether higher or lower. If you spend a lot of time working at the wrong counter height, fatigue can set in quickly. Even if your cabinets only come in one height, your installer can adjust the height during installation. Also, not every counter height has to be at the same; consider creating workstations, such as a baking center, with a height better suited to the task. If you have children who will be helping, consider creating a workstation with a countertop height suited for them.

Your choice of countertop material will also affect the overall height of your counters, be sure to factor that in when determining the desired height for countertops. Countertops with elaborate edge details may require extra height to clear drawer and door tops, increasing the finished height of a countertop.

The upper cabinets are mounted on the wall a certain distance above the countertops. In some cases the height is set because the ceiling is the upper boundary of where they can be hung. However, when ceiling height gives you some options, consider that hanging them too high will make upper shelves potentially unreachable. Hanging them too low can make your counters crowded and leave less room for countertop appliances like blenders and mixers.

Dishwashers require a lot of bending to load the lower rack. To reduce strain, consider having it installed several inches higher than usual. The resulting taller counter can also be useful for special task stations such as baking, blender or as a place for a computer.

If space is extremely limited in your kitchen, some cabinet manufacturers offer "toe-kick" drawers for added storage space. The toe kick of a cabinet is the four or so inches of space at the base of the cabinet between the bottom of the functional cabinet and the floor. That space can be utilized and incorporated into the cabinet design to maximize storage space by adding storage for frying pans and baking sheets.

To minimize the cost of cabinetry, consider off the shelf cabinets from places like Lowe's, Home Depot and Ikea.

If cabinets are needed in a rush, in stock cabinets at Home Depot, Lowe's and Ikea are a good option. If you have a little more time, dealing directly with a manufacturer you may be able to fast track your order and have it ship in a matter of days.

To get the best combination of value and selection, semi-custom cabinets may be your best choice. Semi-custom cabinets offer a wide range of styles, wood species, and finishes while keeping costs down by offering them in predetermined configurations and sizes. The manufacturer can build them in an efficient production process while allowing you to choose the elements that are most important to you.

To get precisely what you want, whether its cabinets to match other furniture in your home or you need a unique design to precisely fit a location, custom cabinets are your best choice. While the most expensive option, you are likely to get the top quality, best looking cabinets for your money.

Cabinet doors mount to the cabinet in one of two ways, inset or overlay. Inset doors fit inside the cabinet opening. Inset doors must fit precisely and be properly aligned to function smoothly. Inset doors are are popular if you want a period look, but they tend to be less common and somewhat more expensive. Overlay doors are simply mounted to the front of the cabinets and cover the opening. They don't require the same precision and are by far much more common. There are two variations of overlay doors, full and partial overlay. Full overlay doors cover the entire cabinet leaving only small gaps between doors. Partial overlay doors reveal some of the cabinet frame between the doors, typically an inch or more. Another style of cabinet is a frameless cabinet, where no face frame is used and the full overlay days are hinged from inside the cabinet sides. Each of these create a distinct "look" and comes down to personal preference.

European hinges are a commonly used style of hinges that are hidden inside the cabinet. They mount to the inside of the cabinet or the face frame and to the back of the door. The are typically stainless steel, self-closing and allow easy adjustments for proper alignment of the door. They are fully concealed from view and so are also called "concealed hinges."

Kitchen designs require adequate space to work. If there will be two or more people working in the kitchen at the same time, be sure to design workspaces for each, with space so they won't get into each other's way and include enough space so they can get past each other without having to squeeze by.

These tips relate to kitchen cabinets, but be sure to check out our articles on kitchen layout design and the most useful and desirable cabinet features to help you create the best kitchen for your needs.

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