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by Paul Bianchina, Inman News

Kitchen cabinetsIf you’re contemplating remodeling your kitchen, one of the most important aspects to take into consideration is the cabinets. Certain trends are popular right now while certain others have lost a little of their appeal, which can certainly add or subtract from your resale value as well.

Keep in mind that your cabinets, in addition to being a visual focal point for the kitchen, are also a sizable monetary investment. As such, it’s best to stick with styles that have a broader, more timeless appeal and then accessorize around them, rather than opting for the latest wild trend and then facing the expense of changing them a couple of years later.

Which Woods: For natural wood cabinets, there are lots of choices in the type of wood you use. Oak remains a popular choice, with some people opting for an upgraded look by specifying more expensive quarter-sawn white oak, traditionally used in Mission-style furniture, instead of the more common plain-sawn red oak. Cherry remains a popular wood for kitchen cabinets, with a deep, rich color. Maple is also still popular, as is alder. At the higher end, in addition to the quarter-sawn white oak there are woods such as knotty chestnut and red birch. Again for those looking for something more unusual, there is the option of running the grain of the wood horizontally instead of the more traditional vertical orientation.
With any of these woods, popular finishes include natural (no stain added before the final clear coat is applied), and light to medium stains. For the most part, dark stains are not really popular.

A Color Instead: Thinking of painted cabinets instead of natural wood? White is still hanging around to some degree, although it’s definitely diminished in popularity. In its place are softer earth tones, as well as pale green and pale yellow. If you’re looking to make a statement, at the other end of the color spectrum some people are opting for deep blues and reds, and even black.

Keep it Organized: One definite trend in kitchens is that people want the room to be very functional in addition to decorative. Kitchen users want things at their fingertips, and that has led to popularity of some of the many organizational accessories and systems currently available — many of which can easily be added to stock, modular cabinets. Larger storage areas are popular, and some designers are choosing to combine food and dishes in the same cabinet — grab some chips and bowl to put them in at the same time.

More Visible Kitchens: With the popular trend of opening the kitchen up to the rest of the house, cabinets are more on display then ever before. This has had the effect of several design changes in the kitchen. Lighting is more unified with the surrounding rooms, and light fixtures are tending toward the decorative in addition to their functionality. Kitchen flooring is also a major consideration, as it tends to intersect the flooring in other rooms over a much broader area.

As part of that increased visibility, more kitchens are incorporating display cabinets. These are typically upper cabinets with clear or patterned glass doors, often with built-in lighting, that make it easy to display anything from Grandma’s china to your salt and pepper shaker collection.

Stand Up Tall: With the open kitchen trend, there still needs to be some definition of the space between the kitchen and the adjoining rooms. Toward that end, you will find cabinet runs that are being anchored by taller-than-normal lower cabinets at one end — typically 42 inches instead of 36 — which helps keep the kitchen from looking like it ends in the middle of nowhere. Taller cabinets also offer more storage opportunities and can accommodate elevated dishwashers as well.

Furniture Influences: There is also a definite furniture influence in kitchen cabinets these days. This includes lower cabinets that are mounted on feet (or with toe kick areas that imitate the look of feet), as well as the use of decorative moldings on the cabinets in areas besides just the traditional crown molding.

Easy Personality: If you want a distinctive look in your kitchen without resorting to blue or black cabinets, you can easily dress up any kitchen to reflect your individuality simply through the knobs you choose. Options abound, from tiny silverware to brightly colored balls to elegant stainless steel shapes. And you can always change the knobs later for a quick makeover that won’t break the bank.

Remodeling and repair questions? E-mail Paul at [email protected]

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Copyright 2008 Inman News

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