Kitchen Cabinetry 101

Your kitchen is the most expensive room in the house to build or remodel. While some say that the value of the kitchen investment should be between 10% and 15% of the value of your home, the national average cost for a kitchen remodel is about $54,000. This cost can vary widely, based on location, size of the kitchen and the level of materials specified, but new cabinetry is generally the largest portion of this expense.

Realtor Victoria Gangi offers insider tips on how to get the best return on your cabinet investment, even if you’re not moving in the foreseeable future.

Create a functional layout.

Starting your project with a functional space plan will help you to save you time and money in the long run. Plans should take into consideration your lifestyle and workspace needs as well as the general traffic flow within the kitchen.

“Layout is the number-one feature home buyers are looking at in a kitchen,” says Gangi. “You will lose your audience if cabinets aren’t designed in a functional way with good flow.”

Visualize your space plan by taping the dimensions or setting boxes in the place of your new base and wall cabinets. This will give you the ability to visualize the scale of the future cabinets within the space and verify that your plan is providing the workspace flow that you will need for a functional space.

Think of your cabinetry as an investment.

When your space plan is finalized, choose a high quality cabinet in a classic style that is classic that will stand the test of time. Quality cabinets are one of the smartest investments in a kitchen remodel. Lower grades of cabinetry tend to have functional issues and often times require more maintenance and upkeep over the long-run. The quality of your cabinetry can also be a ## point if you sell your home in the future.

“Midrange cabinets are generally a good bet,” Gangi says. “If you intend to sell your home, these cabinets will look attractive to buyers, and you’ll likely see a return on your investment.”

She adds, “Even if you plan on staying in your home for the foreseeable future, this is still a safe option, because they’ll last. Choose top-of-the-line cabinets only if you have the money to create the kitchen of your dreams without any worries of recouping the money.”

Choose a door style consistent with your home.

It’s important that your kitchen has a consistent look and feel to your home as a whole. Select door styles, finishes and colors that will integrate with the rest your home, especially rooms that are adjacent to your kitchen. If you have a traditional home, consider using a traditional or transitional style door rather than going completely modern. If you want to bring in a modern feel, consider using modern lighting or other finish details, but keep the backdrop to the kitchen …

“Don’t choose a style that’s too ornate or too modern,” Gangi advises. “Modern is good; people like clean lines and clean finishes. But ultramodern or any style that’s too out of the norm isn’t what buyers tend to want.”

In general the best kitchen designs are those that work in harmony with the rest of the home’s architecture rather than try to fight it. A harmonious house is easier for potential buyers to understand and, in turn, to want to outbid each other for.  A savvy designer can help navigate you toward the best cabinet options that will work for your home and budget.

Choose a light color palette.

Lighter-colored cabinetry will appeal to more buyers. “Dark kitchens are out,” notes Gangi. “People prefer light and bright.”

To integrate the appliances or not?

Integrated appliances significantly increase the cost of a kitchen, not only because of the added cabinetry door fronts, but also because the appliances needed to facilitate this option are more expensive.

While this feature may look attractive to some home buyers, especially in a price range where integrated appliances are an expectation rather than an exception, your kitchen may not see the return on this high-priced detail in a midrange-price house.

According to Gangi, your cabinet investment can be safe even if you don’t integrate the appliances. “Stainless steel appliances are still very popular and well accepted by buyers,” she says.

Choose cabinet details that matter.

What’s inside the cabinet is just as important as what’s on its outside. “Buyers are on the lookout for rollout and quiet-close drawers,” notes Gangi. “This is where that choice of midrange versus low-range cabinet quality becomes important. Spending the extra money it takes to get good-quality slide rails and quiet-close features will come back to you.”

Opt for clean-lined hardware.

“Buyers prefer drawer pulls and handles to be just as clean lined as the cabinetry,” says Gangi.

If you like ornate hardware, go for it. However, should you sell your home, expect to replace those fancy pulls with a more streamlined set that will appeal to a broad range of buyers. The good news is that your fancy hardware can move with you.

Robert Frank is a local resident and owner of Robert Frank Interiors, a full-service interior design and construction company located in San Marino, California. Robert Frank Interiors works in collaboration with clients to create beautiful, functional spaces that reflect their lifestyles and personalities. Visit us on the web at