Kitchen: Check This Off The List

I mean, not the “done” list… I’m ambitious, but I’m not superwoman. Most days, at least. But I can check “kitchen cabinets” off the the list of decisions that have been buzzing around in my head for the last, um, eternity.

For those of you who’ve been following the kitchen saga from lighting choices, to the great black vs white cabinet debate, to the final details about the layout that needed to be hammered out… we finally pulled the trigger.

On Cabinet Manufacturers

So I had some great advice from you all on cabinet manufacturers. Some of the advice was, in fact, not to go with the Kraftmaid cabinets from Lowe’s. While I had priced out the Merillat Master Series as well, really our only other option would have been to go with an Amish cabinet maker.

In the end, we went with the Kraftmaid cabinets, and here’s why:

  1. I bought Kraftmaid all-plywood cabinets for my last kitchen (dear god, how I miss that kitchen) and I abused them pretty regularly for four years without a problem. No issues with the finish even though I splashed the sink base pretty constantly with water and the hardware stood up to the abuse of someone frequently using the doors on the wall cabinets to help leverage herself up on the counter so she could reach the top shelf.
  2. If the Amish built them I would have finished them myself, which would have taken a couple of weeks to a month after they were built. Not that I’m opposed to the work, but as you know, we’ve got a deadline. With the Kraftmaid cabinets, we can have them here in 4 weeks and install them right away.
  3. The original quote for these cabinets was $9500. For the next two weeks Lowe’s is running a special on premium finishes, so we could subtract the 25% upcharge and until the end of the month they are taking additional dollars off depending on how much you spend (we got an additional $1200 off). Added to which we put them on a no-interest credit card so that we could buy them now instead of waiting for our tax credit from the geothermal system.

I also think there are plenty of circumstances in which we would have gone another way. If the rest of the house was done and we were just finishing the kitchen I would have taken a swing at building them myself, but as it is I’ll have to settle for building the bathroom cabinets and the kitchen island. (Which I don’t expect to be any cheaper, if not more expensive, than buying them from a mass manufacturer… do you know what cabinet grade plywood goes for these days?)

On Color and Style

We went with the distressed black, and I am thrilled with the decision. I think the black cabinets with the wood ceiling in our garage apartment is what sold me.


There was a lot of last-minute debate at the door-styles display. Our final options included:

The Kendall:

It says no image available, but the illustration in the background is correct. MysteryMan really liked this one, but it was a 30% increase in price.

The Briarwood:

I still like the beadboard look, but MysteryMan liked it better in wood than painted. We also took your suggestions to heart when it came to cleaning these and that the style would get dated more quickly.

The Durham:

I, in fact, love the Durham in wood tones, I really think the basic mission style cabinet door is underrated. We both took into consideration the rustic/vintage look we were going for with the finish though, and we weren’t sure this would show it off to its greatest advantage.

The Parkhurst:

The Parkhurst is the kind of door you don’t look twice at, which is exactly what I found appealing about it. I like basic, square edges, and not too much detailing. MysteryMan didn’t love the raised panel interior of the doors, but as you’ll see our plan is mostly drawers, not doors.

(As I typed this I looked at our cabinet plans and then had a coronary small panic attack that resulted in a call to the long-suffering Doug at the Lowe’s cabinet desk so that he could reassure me that the cabinets we ordered included four waste bins. It’s possible I’m a little high-strung about this whole thing .)

This ended up being our final answer, and we kept in mind that you really only notice the style of your cabinet doors the first day you install them. After that, like everything else, we’ll probably never take a critical eye to it again.

On Finalizing The Plan

Some of the big questions about the cabinets when I shared my red-wine soaked kitchen plan with you were:

  • What to do around the range hood. Cabinets? No cabinets? Open shelves?
  • Whether or not some of the upper cabs on the east wall should be of varying height, depth, or glass fronted.

Check it out…

I went with open shelves, which I expect will hold nothing but cookbooks. One of my secret ambitions is to have a place for books in every room of the house, because let’s be honest, they’re there anyway. I think having the shelves with colorful books will help keep the black-cabinet-kitchen from looking too much like a cave.

This was also my theory with the glass cabinets on the East wall. We went through about fifteen iterations of these cabinets: Glass on the outside, solid on the inside, and vice versa, with varying heights and depths for all of them.

What it came down to was that if we made any of the cabinets shallower, they were basically good for nothing but holding glasses. The cabinet designer said he’d never seen a configuration like this before, where the cabinets were aligned at the top and shorter underneath, but what I liked about it was that it opens the working space under those cabinets (ie I am less likely to ram my head into an open cabinet door in that one spot in the kitchen).

We went with plain glass in the doors (no fancy mullions or leaded glass), again, just to keep the room from looking like one big black wall.

And that, my friends, is the last you will hear (or I will think) about this kitchen until we install those cabinets, and probably for a good deal longer than that. I have tile to pick, and closet shelving to build, and showers to finish, and walls to texture, and a builders exam to pass, after all.

7 Responses

    1. They definitely run that “buy so many get so much off” deal a couple of times a year. I remember you kitchen being in pretty good shape though except a few funky cabinets that were extra low, are you doing a complete re-do?

  1. I’m liking that door style and your design. The different height cabinets are nice touch that are showing up in a lot of new homes so I’m surprised he hadn’t seen that before. Then again most interior designers aren’t working with that guy.

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