Kitchen Cabinets: A Visual Frame for Any Kitchen Renovation

Kitchen_01Kitchen cabinets are one of the first-noticed design elements of a kitchen and they can convey a multitude of stylistic and aesthetic feels.

The options available in styles and materials provide ample (sometimes, overwhelming) space for creativity and personal taste. Traditional and modern motifs each have their merits, but characteristics of both can be mixed and matched to achieve your preferred feel and effect.

During a kitchen renovation, take stock of the quality of materials for kitchen cabinets much in the same way that you do for kitchen countertops. Consider manufacturing quality, finish quality. Your overall aesthetic must be integrated with your stylistic goals.

Your kitchen cabinets capture the overall visual motif of your kitchen and frame the visual space

Oak Finishes

  • Oak is highly durable, and natural characteristics of the wood give it a unique feel
  • Oak has a wide grain that makes it less suitable for painting, but its primary offering is its rough-hewn, natural appearance, and the variety of colours still allow a great deal of aesthetic options, matching comfortably in both traditional and modern kitchens

Maple Cabinets

  • Maple is fine-grained and light in colour, lending itself well to a clear finish, offering a natural look
  • Maple’s tight, even grain also makes it ideal for painting, especially considering its pale natural hue. It is important to note that it tends to absorb darker stains less evenly than light.


  • Cherry’s hardness allows it to stand up to knocks and marring, and gains character over time, as it naturally darkens and reddens while maturing
  • Cherry is typically used to convey traditional elegance, but its high durability and compatibility with finishes make it highly customizable, while its dark hue makes it quite suitable for a more contemporary-style kitchen

Exotic, Imported, and Rare Woods

  • For truly personalized kitchen cabinets, a variety of ‘exotic’ woods provide premium quality, and a unique array of aesthetic offerings
  • Teak has a warm, natural feel, that can be modernized by contrasting with light, solid colours, but can also encapsulate a classic, vintage feel in a more traditionally configured kitchen
  • Mahogany has a deeper hue than teak, best-suited for achieving a timeless, traditional design scheme

Design considerations for your kitchen cabinets OR How to achieve the look you want

There’s a staggering range of design options available. Whether you’re going for a completely modern, or traditional look, or (more likely) a combination, there are two main ‘layers’ to consider. To blend contemporary with classic, use prominent elements like colour, material and door style set the overall tone, while capitalizing on dramatic details to inject your personal touch.

Cabinet doors

Doors are one of the first seen and most visible elements, and are one of the crucial deciding factors between modern and traditional appearance
Kitchen cabinets

  • Slab doors are seamless, sleek, and predominantly modern
  • Raised panel doors vary widely, but in general, communicate a classic elegance, often accentuated by ornate hardware. They also require sturdy hardware to mount (because of their weight). The style of millwork sets the specific aesthetic tone and is a huge topic in itself. What’s important to know is that its elegance is typically used in traditional design, but by no means exclusively.
  • Recessed doors have a visually calming simplicity and provide a relatively blank canvas for either a modern or classic look, depending on the use of other style elements like knobs, natural wood vs. painted, and contrasting vs. unified colour schema.
  • Flat doors offer some of the modern minimalist appeal of slab doors, but with room for stylistic creativity with knobs
  • Glass front cabinets can be married with both classical and modern designs, and virtually any door style (extremely rarely with slab). They can add more of your personality to the kitchen by displaying their contents, or frosted glass can be used to offset white cabinets, or contrast with wood hues

Cabinet Knobs

  • Knobs are a great detail to either highlight, or offset the predominant theme you’ve selected
  • Drop pulls amplify a classic motif, or offer a rustic touch to a more contemporary design. Choices vary from simple and minimal, to industrial, to highly ornate and decorative.
  • Classic knobs simple, understated, they allow the door to convey the motif while adding an element of visual balance. Wood or metal provide room to choose your desired effect.
  • Modern/custom are generally steel, sleek, and matched with modern design styles. Their modernity isn’t sterile. Warmth can be added through choice of rectangular vs. rounded shapes, and custom-made pulls can add unique artistic flair.

The cabinets you choose set the overall tone of your kitchen, so it is not a choice to be made lightly. By breaking down the decision into materials and style (overall and details), you can develop an overall aesthetic for your new kitchen.

With extensive home and kitchen renovation experience, M-Squared Contracting possesses a wealth of expertise. Contact us to discuss any aspect of any upcoming project.