Whether you’re planning to resell your home or just have guests over for a visit, your kitchen is going to be noticed. One way to make a style statement is with the different kinds of cabinets and drawers you choose.

You can go one of two ways: more traditional look or choose something completely contemporary. But, there’s a lot to consider from the kitchen cabinet door types, materials and of course, styles.

Either way, knowing just what’s out there and the pluses and drawbacks of each style can help you determine what’s right for you. Remember, there’s no one solution that works well in every single home. All the top kitchen styles have different cabinets. You have to pick and choose what looks good and compliments your kitchen, as well as what fits within your budget.

Read some of our expert custom cabinet makers’ advice and find out which kitchen cabinets work best for you.

The Three Types of Cabinet Doors

kitchen cabinet door styles diagram

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There are three types of cabinet doors, in terms of how the door fits with the overall cabinet:

For each of these, there can be different approaches to how the doors are styled. We’ll cover those below, but first let’s look at what these three types mean.

Inset Cabinet Doors

inset kitchen cabinet doors contemporary

Inset cabinet doors are often a more traditional approach, included in many homes built in the early 1900s. But it’s possible to use them in a contemporary way, like in the example above.

Inset doors are flush with the cabinet face of the frame, and expose the entire frame. The hinges are typically exposed, too, but it is possible to hide them as you can see.

The drawbacks with this style is that some appliances, such as microwaves and dishwashers, may stick out of the cabinets — so do your measurements and be careful when appliance shopping when your cabinets are inset. You’ll also lose some storage space, so larger kitchen dishes might not fit unless you go with custom sizes.

These cabinets are also usually about 15 to 30 percent more expensive to buy because they require much more intricate construction. If that doesn’t faze you, though, this style of cabinet can be a great way to get a unique look.

Partial Overlay Cabinet Doors

Partial overlay cabinet doors are placed over the face of the cabinet box. The door overlaps the frame a bit, but you can still see some of it. The drawback to this style is that it reduces space inside the cabinet.

Full Overlay Cabinet Doors

Full overlay cabinet doors are an even more contemporary style, where the doors completely cover the cabinet box. It offers more storage space, and is often less expensive than other cabinet door types. Since it allows you to gain the fullest possible access to the box, the doors tend to be larger.

The downside is that your installer had to be careful when you’re having this type of door installed. Because your frame is not visible, the hinges have to swing open in such a manner that the door is not brushing against any other doors, drawers, or parts when opening. Your installer really has to know what they’re doing to avoid this friction.

Now, let’s look at some of the decorative styles that work with these types.

5 Popular Cabinet Door and Drawer Styles

Slab or Flat Doors

flat kitchen cabinet doors

The style is often used with a full overlay approach, but can also be used with inset and partial overlays too.

These doors have two looks: textured and non-textured. Textured doors will have ripples or other effects that add to the design’s funkiness.

Non-textured doors are straight-up wood panels, which of course can be stained or painted.

Shaker Style

shaker style kitchen cabinets

Shaker style panels do have a frame, but it’s so clean that they’re also used in more contemporary settings.

Shaker style originates with the old Shaker religious villages of the northeastern United States, who built furniture based on simple designs and strong craftsmanship. The style goes back as far as the 1770s, but their use alongside stainless steel kitchen sinks and parts makes them feel much more contemporary.

shaker style cabinet doors

In this style, you’ll commonly see stile-and-rail recessed panel doors with a plain insert. That simply means that five pieces of wood are used in the door’s construction:

  • A plain center piece that is recessed in the door.
  • The top and bottom pieces of the door (known as the rails).
  • The two sides (which are called the stiles).

The doors can also be completely flat panelled as well, and are usually made out of hardwood.

The downside is that such quality craftsmanship doesn’t come without a price — these doors are more expensive. The doors are often used in partial overlay cabinets, as well, which means that part of your frames will be exposed (and possibly your hinges, too). That’s a design factor that may sit well with some people, but not for those expecting an even more contemporary look.

Shaker is only one style of recessed panel door; other options are more ornate and traditional looking, or have glass inserts, as you’ll see below.

Raised Panel

raised panel kitchen cabinets
raised panel cabinet doors

Another kitchen cabinet door style is the raised panel.

Unlike the recessed center panel found in Shaker style, the panel here is elevated above the rails and stiles.

These cabinet doors are great in homes looking for either a traditional feel or a where all the styling suggests sturdy, quality craftsmanship. They tend to be available in a wide variety of hardwoods and finishes.

The disadvantage? If you were thinking of getting laminate doors to save on cost, raised panel doors aren’t available in that material. Unfortunately, if you want this style you have to invest in wooden cabinets.

glass insert kitchen cabinet doorsGlass Inserts

Instead of having a traditional-style panel on your door, you can use glass panels, instead – a very current option.

With glass inserts, you can go for more drama by painting the inside of the cabinet a bright color, or by lighting the interior. You can also show off colourful dinnerware or any vintage glasses you might have.

The one big con that may cause your glass dreams to come crashing down is that you will want to be careful about what you store in glass panel cabinets. Messy piles of ingredients won’t look good, so be sure to use them to store your favourite display-worthy pieces.

Arch or Cathedral

Arched or cathedral cabinet door

Arched cabinet doors (also called cathedral cabinet doors) have an curve on the upper frame of the cabinet door. A craftsman will use a router to cut the design on the door. It’s strictly a decorative touch, and can be used to offset raised center panels. This kitchen cabinet style gives a real country charm to a kitchen. That might not work if you’re looking for something that’s much more urban and trendy.

The thing with framed cabinet doors is that they tend to be used in the partial overlay cabinet type, meaning they reduce your storage space — in this case, by the width of the frame on both sides. The lip of a partial overlay cabinet may prove to be troublesome when you go to move inside shelves. If you were thinking about roll-out shelves, it also will be harder to move them because of the lip.

Discover a World of Design Choices

At Laurysen, we design kitchens that work for your style – whatever that may be. From rustic to traditional to contemporary, we can provide a variety of options. From budget-friendly choices to completely customized, we can make your dream kitchen a reality.

If you’re ready to get your new kitchen, talk to one of our design experts. They’ll help you get a kitchen that functions well for your lifestyle and expresses your taste.

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