This is what I’ve been waiting for, designing our new kitchen. I do have some design limitations, plumbing and wiring.

We are keeping the sink in the same location because we don’t want to move the plumbing. We had a new gas line run so we can have a gas stove. I am very exciting about this decision. The gas lines in the house were old copper and one had a leak, so we had to have all the gas lines replaced and it was very simple to make a run to the kitchen. We hired an expert for this task. Two reasons, 1) gas is very dangerous and 2) a licensed plumber is required to pull the permit for gas line replacements or installations. Good for us, my son has a friend in the business. We replaced all the gas lines, ran a new line to the kitchen and another to the deck for a gas grill – its was $2K – a great deal!

First things first, carefully take your measurements and draw out a graph paper floor plan of the entire kitchen. You will need to indicate and measure window and door placements. We had the opportunity to enlarge the kitchen when we took down the dining room walls. We expanded the length about two feet. We also closed in the back hallway doorway to the kitchen since we now have an open floor plan, the door is no longer needed. You wont believe how much more cabinet space this will provide.

I began laying out the cabinets with the sink since that cannot be move. Additionally, the gas line and electric for the stove is already in place as well as the dishwasher plumbing and electric. Given these limitations, I began with these cabinets in my drawing. I made a list of the other type of cabinets I would like in the space: above stove microwave cabinets, above refrigerator cabinet, a pantry, corner cabinet for both upper and lower cabinets.

Some additional decision you will need to make are: are you doing a counter-depth refrigerator or a full size; will you be installing an island; and what’s the height of our cabinets. We have purchased a counter-depth refrigerator, I can’t wait to have an island for extra prep space and our cabinets will go to the ceiling. Our space is limited, so I want to make the most out of the space we have with to the ceiling cabinets.

It is necessary to know your appliance dimensions to design our cabinet layout. We have already purchased the appliances from Lowe’s. Lowe’s has an appliance sale every year in November. Appliances go on sale 40% off with a additional Lowe’s rebate offer. I spent a great deal of time determining which appliances to purchases. We settled on Samsung. Lucky for us Samsung also have a company rebate in addition to the Lowe’s rebate. The more appliances you purchase the large the rebates. We purchased all appliances for the kitchen and our washer and dryer while they were on sale. With the 40% off and the rebates we saved about 60% off the original price. If you have your appliances, simple take detailed measurements (height, width and depth). When you are measuring the depth make sure you include the handle(s) in the measurement. We didn’t have our appliances delivered yet, but I was able to pull each item on the Lowe’s website and get the measurements from the product specifications.

I wanted to do price comparisons since this will be a costly purchase. I recommend calling in advance and setting up appointments so you don’t want to waste your time shopping. You will need a cabinet expert supporting you with this effort. With all this information in hand I went to my first appointment.

This will be a time consuming process at the first appointment. They will use a computer program to build your layout. Your measurements are critical for this process. Once the room dimensions, window and door placement and measurements are recorded you will begin the design. Again, start with your limitations (sink, dishwasher, stove). This will determine remaining space and help you to optimize your layout. Once you have one layout, now you can price compare.

There are several key questions I recommend asking our cabinet providers.

  1. Are the cabinets ready to assembled (RTA) or prefabricated?
    The unassembled cabinet typically comes in several boxes, broken down into multiple parts (cabinet, face frame, drawers, inserts, doors and hardware). RTA cabinets are designed to be assembled on site by a DIY homeowner or hired help. Cabinet parts are joined with a cam lock system or screw and plate fasteners. RTA assembly requires some skill to ensure the cabinets are safely assembled and square and plumb when installed. If they are RTA will they assemble for a cost and if so, how much.
  2. Are the cabinets all plywood construction? Plywood has more holding power with screws, fasteners and glue than particleboard does. Plywood is made with layers of wood running both lengthwise and crosswise in a way that makes plywood stronger. The alternative option is particleboard (medium density fiberboard (MDF), engineered wood, hardboard, substrate, furniture board, etc). Particleboard is made by pressing wood particles together at high temperature with glue. It doesn’t typically expand or contract as the climate becomes warmer or colder and is more susceptible to damage caused by collision or moisture.
  3. Do they have self-close hinges and drawer glides? Cabinet hinges and drawer glides are one of the most important components of a kitchen cabinet – you can’t open and close a door or drawer without them. Poor hinges and glides can cause stiff, loose, or uneven doors and drawers. Soft-close hinges are adjustable and eliminate the sound of slamming doors and drawers
  4. Are the drawer boxes dovetailed? Solid hardwood drawer boxes with dovetail joints and heavy plywood bottoms set the standard for quality American cabinetry because of their long-lasting durability and the beauty of the joint. 
  5. Are the cabinet drawer and door faces wood? What type of wood? Cabinet faces can be hardwood, laminate veneer, or medium density fiberboard. Your budget may drive this decision, but I recommend hardwood if possible; however, you may decide on a laminate veneer product which are extremely sturdy and dependable and more affordable.

I spent several weeks getting all the estimates for the cabinets. I had estimates from four providers that ranged from $6,500 to over $12,000. I did not go with the lowest bid, you will find that not all providers have the same options and quality. The lowest bid were the RTA – ready to assemble cabinets and it would cost $100 a cabinet for them to assemble, and we didn’t want to try to assemble and install ourselves.

The cabinets we decided to purchase were from Home Depot, Shaker style in Gray and cost $6,800. Always plan to your purchase lead time. You will need time to find the cabinets you want at the best price and there will be a build and delivery delay. Our cabinets took over six weeks, which was perfect timing for our remodel timeline. We still had to finish the hardwood floors and complete the drywall installation in the kitchen.

Keep following my blog and I will soon write a how to post for cabinet installation.

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