Shaker kitchen by Harvey Jones:  Kitchen by Harvey Jones Kitchens

​The homify guide to selecting kitchen cupboards

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan

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Think about the last kitchen you saw that took your breath away. What was it that really stood out for you? The lighting? The island? How about the floor coverings or window treatment?

Although all of these elements can contribute to a kitchen’s design, the choice of cabinets and cupboards undoubtedly also plays a major role. Hence, the importance of taking your time in sifting through various styles, sizes and colours. 

And don’t forget to take your kitchen’s requirements also into consideration, like storing your range of cookbooks, etc. 

Fortunately, our homify guide to selecting the right kitchen cupboards can help…

1. Selecting the type of kitchen cupboards

Shaker kitchen by Harvey Jones:  Kitchen by Harvey Jones Kitchens
Harvey Jones Kitchens

Shaker kitchen by Harvey Jones

Harvey Jones Kitchens

First of all, determine if your kitchen will include all or just some of the four basic types of cabinets: base (under the counter), wall-mounted, tall (often standalone, which can be used as a pantry), and specialty units like corner cabinets and bottle racks.

And seeing as not all of us are billionaires, that little thing called budget also needs to be considered. For costs, there are four cabinet/cupboard grades available, based on construction quality: 

• Read-to-assemble (RTA) kitchen cupboards and cabinets can be found at big retailers like IKEA. Although this option can save you money, they tend to be less durable in the long run. Remember that building and installing cabinetry isn’t as simple as building a shelf or bed, which is why even the most skilled DIYers usually opt to hire professionals for this type of project.  

• Stock cabinets are bought directly from the manufacturer. Although you have less flexibility with these as they are sold in specific sizes that cannot be changed, stock cabinets are available in a wide range of materials. They are generally an affordable choice, with a higher quality than RTA. 

• In terms of price, semi-custom cupboards are located in the middle. These could be stock cabinets made with custom doors and shelving or made-to-order units from a manufacturer. This option also allows you to specify size and choose from a wide selection of materials.  

• Custom cabinets are the number one choice, offering unlimited options. They are completely made-to-order, and you can dictate all of the materials, hardware, style, and construction. Of course the asking price also tends to be rather high.

2. Your kitchen cupboards and storage

Lack of storage is a very common complaint for kitchen owners worldwide. On your journey to selecting stock- or custom kitchen cupboards, ask yourself the following: 

• Is your current kitchen cluttered? Is this due to a lack of storage or simply not being organized?  

• Do you have small appliances that could be hidden away or built-in as opposed to going on the counter?  

• Which kitchen items are used the most and can they be easily accessed? 

It’s always a good idea to map out where everything will go in the finished kitchen to help you determine if you’ve got adequate storage.

3. The doors of your kitchen cupboards

There’s a door style to fit every taste, doesn’t matter if you’re prone to the classics, modern style or something in the middle. And part of the fun of choosing kitchen cupboards is getting to sift through the various designs.

Custom cabinets allow you to choose pretty much anything, while semi-custom ones present fewer options. With stock, what you see is what you get. 

So, when selecting door style, don’t just factor in the look you want for your kitchen and the style of your existing cabinets, but also the rest of your home’s design. Remember that even if the kitchen is a self-contained room apart from the rest of the house, it’s still important for there to be a visual flow.

4. Kitchen cupboards and finish

Mediterranean Style:  Kitchen by Rencraft

Mediterranean Style


Solid wood, laminate, paint… so many options to choose from! And just like door styles, the finish you select for your kitchen cupboards should reflect your personal style and complement the other colours and materials in the room (like the countertops and floors). 

Just be sure to take return on investment into consideration as well. Any kitchen planner worth his salt will advise you not to go too trendy, as it can quickly become outdated. In kitchens light neutrals and classic wood finishes are usually best for either maintaining or increasing the value of your home, as they can fit in with the majority of trends.

5. What about hardware?

The Peckham Rye Kitchen by deVOL:  Kitchen by deVOL Kitchens
deVOL Kitchens

The Peckham Rye Kitchen by deVOL

deVOL Kitchens

Just like your kitchen cabinets, your cupboards’ hardware can provide the finishing touch that can either dress it up or dress it down. As a general rule you want the hardware to align with the style of the cabinet doors. However, you can also create a striking look by juxtaposing a simple-looking cupboard door with an eye-catching knob, for instance.

And don’t forget about the hinges. If you’ve opted for a cupboard style with exposed hinges, they should be the same finish as the rest of the hardware.

6. The colour of your kitchen cupboards

Low-key Cottage is actually a Coastal Haven with Three Levels of Sea View:  Kitchen by Des Ewing Residential Architects
Des Ewing Residential Architects

Low-key Cottage is actually a Coastal Haven with Three Levels of Sea View

Des Ewing Residential Architects

Last but certainly not least, the colours of your kitchen cupboards. Like any other element in any other room of your home, the colours will affect the mood of the space and dictate how the other pieces of the design fit together. 

Your cupboards form part of the centrepiece 

Along with the cabinets, your kitchen cupboards are some of the first things that people notice upon entering the kitchen. And just consider how much wall space they take up. While wall paint colour is important to consider, it’s the shade of the cabinets and cupboards that will set the tone for the room.

The same rule for wall colours apply to your kitchen cupboards: darker colours will make the space look smaller, while lighter colours can ensure a visually spacious feeling. 

Many designers recommend choosing the wall colours first, and then selecting the hues of the cupboards/cabinets thereafter. 

Consider your bottom cabinets  

Since it’s your kitchen, you’re free to get as creative as you like, and that includes having your top cupboards and bottom cabinets in two different colours. Consider how complementing tones (like deep blue and bright orange) can become an eye-catching feature against a soft, white wall in your kitchen.

Quality beats colour choice 

Remember that the quality of your materials is always vital, even more than the colour you decide to paint or stain the cupboards’ exterior. Also think about addition touches that can enhance your return on investment, like organisational systems to use in dead space, under-cupboard lighting to brighten the room, etc. 

What colours will stand the test of time? 

Certain colours go out of style, just like some hardware choices. Our recommendation is to pick what you like best, yet make sure it’s easily customizable should you need to sell your home later on and update it for minimal expenses. In this case, you can’t go wrong with superior wood cupboards with removable hardware that allow you to control the look.  

Speaking of the heart of the home, let’s see How to design your very own country kitchen.

What other tips would you add to our guide to select the right kitchen cupboards?
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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