Cabinet Style with Function - Your Kitchen Can Have Both

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The kitchen is the center of home and hearth—a place for cooking, gathering and entertaining. The cabinetry can make or break the room's overall appearance and ambience. So it is no wonder that many homeowners are as concerned with style as well as function.

Part of the interest in fusing form and function in cabinetry is an outgrowth of the homeowner's interest in professional-grade appliances, perhaps sparked by the large amount of televised cooking shows and the Internet. And with those high-end functioning, stainless-steel refrigerators and commercial-quality cooktops, has come an interest in professional cabinetry such as warming and cooling drawers.

Cabinet Trends and Choices

Popular trends in styles continue to lean toward wood-finished cabinets, although glass-front cabinets are still popular. The top choices among wood-finished cabinets include alder and beech, exotic woods, and sustainable woods, such as the unusual lyptus which comes from quickly renewable trees.

If you are planning on doing something different with your kitchen cabinets, here are some things to consider. You can paint, reface or replace. When considering these options, take a good look at your cabinets. Unlike roofing, younger isn't necessarily better. Cabinets from the 1950's and before are often made of wood and constructed with quality. If you love the cabinets that you have, but need more space, the solution may be as simple as adding shelves, and transforming cabinets beneath the counter into drawers or adding pull out shelves to them.

Premium Style without the Price

Another scenario might be that your cabinets work well for you but aren't very attractive. In this case, you could replace the cabinet and drawer fronts while keeping the base cabinetry. By refacing them, you can have a premium-quality kitchen that looks brand new—at a fraction of the monetary and environmental cost.

If your cabinets could use a bit of a style upgrade, trends in painting kitchen cabinetry are moving towards pastels—sage green, buttercup yellow, pastel pink—and further away from white and the antique look of distressing. When painting cabinets, opt for low or no-VOC paints.

Cabinets Hide Unsightly Appliances

There is a concern that large professional appliances spoil the look of a kitchen and need to be seamlessly hidden behind stylish cabinets. This fusion of style and function often is evidenced in cabinet fronts placed on refrigerators and dishwashers, as well as furniture grade storage for small appliances such as microwaves and food processors.

Placement of cabinets is also gaining importance with a demand for functional considerations such as elevated dishwasher cabinets containing storage space for dishes. Storage in general is expanding with all sorts of organizational systems available for cabinetry including everything from sliding towel bars to wastebasket and recycling cabinets.

Green Kitchen Cabinets

If you're refacing your cabinets or installing new ones, be careful with cabinetry constructed of particleboard or conventional medium density fiberboard (MDF). Not only can it fall apart if wet, it often contains urea formaldehyde, which can emit irritating and unhealthy fumes for decades after it's installed.

Environment and health friendly alternatives include:

  • Formaldehyde-free MDF made with exterior-grade resins for added durability
  • Agricultural fiber panels, called heatboard or strawboard. In dry and protected areas, they are an excellent option, making use of plant stems left over from grain production. Applying veneers or finishes increase the durability of wheatboard.
  • Reclaimed wood
  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified exterior-grade plywood. The Forest Stewardship Council sets standards to certify forest products from responsibly managed forests.

To learn more about the possibilities for your kitchen cabinetry and how you can best fuse style and function, request free estimates and speak with cabinetry professionals.

Disclaimer: This article offers general guidelines and is not intended as professional advice.

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