Updated Oct 12, 2022
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There’s an old adage that says kitchens and bathrooms are what sells homes, and the heart of each of those rooms is the cabinets. Whether that’s you and you’re renovating to make your space more attractive to others, or you’re upgrading for your own personal use and enjoyment, there’s more to the process of buying new cabinets than most people recognize.
When we think of buying new cabinets, the first thought for most of us is color—from deep browns to crisp whites and the new on-trend shades of grays and blues—yet there are other considerations that should be given the same level of thought. If you’re hunting for just the right cabinets for your kitchen or bathroom, we want to be the resource you need to make that process as smooth as possible. Check out our six things to know before buying new cabinets.
What’s your style?
Knowing the style you hope to achieve in advance is a pivotal part of buying new cabinets. You’ll want to pick something that meshes with the rest of your home, particularly if it’s for a kitchen in an open concept layout. That means sleek and modern cabinets may not be the best pick if your other furniture and décor is shabby chic.
As far as colors, trends come and go, but gray and blue cabinets have surged in popularity in recent years. On the other hand, many others consider white cabinets to be a timeless look. In any event, you’ll want to nail down the color or stain you want your cabinets to have. The design of the cabinet will also contribute to the overall look. Some of the most commonly used cabinet fronts include shaker, glass, beadboard, recessed, and flat, with each choice offering its own bit of style.
Is this a long-term purchase?
Another of the most essential things to know before buying new cabinets is if you’re making a purchase for the long- or short-term. The answer to that question can dictate many of the other things we’ll talk about here. For instance, if you’re buying a new bathroom vanity as part of a renovation to help you sell your home, a unique cabinet color like blue probably isn’t the best choice since it may not appeal to all prospective buyers.
If you’re purchasing cabinets for the long haul, you’ll want to spend a little extra to ensure you’re putting in cabinets of a caliber that will last. High-quality cabinets are also more likely to come with a warranty that gives you peace of mind if anything does go wrong.
Are you more interested in stock, semi-custom or custom?
There are generally three different types of cabinets that you can purchase: stock, semi-custom, and custom. As you might expect, stock is the least expensive of the three, simply because they are mass-produced and come in standard shapes and sizes that fit most homes. Semi-custom cabinets also are built in standard sizes, but manufacturers will up the ante by offering different levels of customization that improve either the look or functionality of the cabinet. Lastly, custom cabinets are the most expensive because they are designed and built from scratch—a time and labor-intensive process.
The important thing to know about these three different types is that you can’t go wrong with any of them if you’re buying new cabinets. Each type serves a purpose and has its own pros and cons. You should also know that stock cabinets—though they typically cost the least of the three types—can still be good quality.
What’s your budget?
With most home renovation projects, it all comes down to budget, and the same can be true for buying new cabinets. Before you start getting serious about making a purchase and evaluating your options, you should have a baseline budget in mind. That budget may fluctuate based on some of the things we talked about earlier (like going custom or buying glass fronts) but having an idea of what you want to spend in advance can help guide the buying process.
How many cabinets (and what sizes) do you need?
The easiest way to know how many cabinets you need, along with their sizes, is if you’re buying a direct replacement. For example, if your master bathroom presently has a 72-inch vanity with double sinks, you have a template to start from. The same goes for kitchens where you can count how many upper and lower cabinets and measure the height, width, and depth of each.
Things get a bit more complicated if you’re doing a complete overhaul where you’re ripping everything out and starting from scratch. In this case, the best thing to do is to measure the entire space and take those measurements and your vision to a big box store or a custom cabinet maker for advice.
What additional options are you interested in?
If you’re someone who does not handle making decisions well, buying new cabinets may be a problem for you. We say that in the best way possible because cabinet makers have come up with some brilliant and convenient options that can be incorporated as add-ons. From drawers inside the cabinet box that pull out (think not having to reach all the way into the back of the cabinet to grab pots and pans) to built-in spice racks and lazy susans in corner cabinets that rotate for increased access, the options are nearly endless.
On top of the options that provide functionality, there are also aesthetic options that can jazz up the look of your cabinet. Tasteful uses of crown moulding, under-mounted lighting, and cabinet hardware can seamlessly tie the room together.
Buying new cabinets doesn’t have to be stressful
In every kitchen and bathroom remodel, the cost of buying new cabinets will eat up a large chunk of the budget. It’s because of that cost that many people stress about making the wrong purchase. Fortunately, you may be able to avoid making those kinds of mistakes if you just prepare a little in advance. Take the time to answer these questions before you start looking at cabinets, and you’ll be on the road to a successful kitchen or bathroom remodel in no time.