Choosing New Kitchen Cabinets? Here’s What You Need to Know

One of the most important design features in any kitchen is the cabinetry. It’s also where a large portion of your kitchen renovation budget will go. Did you know that kitchen cabinets can account for 50% or more of your budget, depending on what style and materials you choose? It’s true!

With such a large investment going into the cabinetry alone, it’s important that you take the time to research your options to find a cabinet style that fits your budget and overall needs. And, like many homeowners, you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of choice available to you. Luckily, choosing cabinets comes down to a number of key factors.

We’ve broken them down for you:

Cabinet Construction

Your first decision when considering kitchen cabinet options is construction. Your overall budget will largely determine what construction you can choose, but, for most homeowners, the options range from semi-custom to fully-custom. Each comes with their own pros and cons.

Custom kitchen cabinets are exactly that – they are custom built to the exact size and specifications of your kitchen in any material that you choose. With this option, you have the opportunity to maximize space usage since the cabinets can be built to the quarter inch. You also have the freedom to choose exactly how you want your kitchen to look and function. The sky (and your budget) really is the limit! However, there are some downsides to custom cabinets, such as the higher price tag and amount of time required to build them. But, with the right budget and well-thought-out kitchen design plan, custom cabinets are a great option for homeowners wanting the achieve a very specific function and aesthetic.

One step down in terms of overall cost and labour-time is semi-custom cabinetry. This type of construction is built with your new kitchen’s size in mind; however, the cabinets are limited to specific dimensions to fit a range of builds. Unlike custom cabinets where the options are endless, semi-custom cabinets do offer choice, but they are somewhat limited to certain colours, materials, door styles and finishes. As a result, semi-custom cabinetry is a more affordable option, but still allows homeowners to achieve a great final result.


Semi-custom cabinets in this Toronto kitchen renovation look great and offer many design options.

For budget-conscious renovators, stock cabinet options are also available from major retailers. These are the most economical option as they are mass constructed and often available right off the shelf fully assembled. However, unlike custom or semi-custom options, stock cabinets are extremely limited in terms of material choices, style options and finishes. What you see is what you get! Plus, they cannot be adjusted to specific measurements and are only constructed in standard sizes. As a result, stock cabinets are better left for certain applications where the budget overrules the aesthetic and function.


Like most things, kitchen cabinets are subject to design trends and often reflect what is popular in magazines and on television. Remember the oak cabinet craze in the 1980s or the pickled maple look of the 1990s?

Thankfully, those design trends are long gone and homeowners are now turning to more timeless materials, like white painted or maple stained cabinets.

There are three common material choices nowadays:

  • Engineered wood, such as plywood, which is covered with a wood veneer, like maple
  • Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF), which is ideal for painting
  • Stained solid wood


Painted MDF doors in a Mississauga kitchen renovation project.

Each offers their own pros and cons, but, ultimately, the choice will come down to your budget and desired aesthetic for your remodeled kitchen.

Door Styles

Similar to material choices, doors come in a variety of options. This is a great way to add some style to your cabinetry and to reflect your individual design taste.

There are four common choices that many homeowners are drawn to:

  • Flat-panel cabinet doors feature a flat centre panel with raised outer edges. These doors offer a clean, modern look, but they work well with traditional or transitional styles too. A common term for this type of door is “Shaker Style.”
  • Raised-panel cabinet doors have a raised centre panel with a flat surrounding profile. This door style is ideal for traditional or transitional kitchen designs.
  • Slab cabinet doors offer a very sleek and contemporary look. Just as the name says, these doors are simply flat slabs of wood with no raised panels or profiles.
  • Accent cabinet doors are a decorative option that can be mixed in with other door styles. These doors are commonly made of glass and are used to highlight dishware and other kitchen accessories.


Two different and most popular styles:

Left: Etobicoke kitchen renovation features flat panel shaker doors

Right: Toronto kitchen renovation has a contemporary style created with slab doors.

Hardware & Add-ons

The final choice that you’ll need to make when selecting your cabinets is the hardware and any add-ons. This includes door handles, knobs and drawer pulls, and accessories, like soft-close hardware, pantry pullouts and lazy susans.

Hardware comes in a variety of options at various price points, as do the custom inserts or add-ons that you select. They are a great way to add a custom touch to your kitchen and to improve the overall function of your space – especially the pullouts and organizational items.

At the end of the day, selecting the right kitchen cabinets for your remodel is a very important task that requires careful thought and consideration. Since a large majority of your renovation budget is going to be spent on cabinetry, it’s a good idea to partner with a professional designer who can help you make the best decisions.

At Inspire Homes, we are truly passionate about kitchen renovation and design. To learn more about our services, please click here. You can also visit our kitchens gallery to see some of our recently completed projects in Caledon, Toronto, Mississauga, Vaughan, Richmond Hill and beyond.