A Design-Minded Guide to Functional Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchens are gathering spaces where you begin and end your day, whether you’re a dedicated home cook or not. In this heart of the house, design flaws—or finishes and fixtures that are just not to your taste—make a huge impact on how you experience your home. This may be why kitchen upgrades are one of the most in-demand home renovation projects.

While you might have a general idea of what you want in your new kitchen—say, an open layout or a double sink—cabinets come in so many colors and styles it can be hard to know where to begin choosing yours. For example, Thomasville Cabinetry not only offers five collections, each available in dozens of finish and hardware options, they can also customize specific sizes and functionalities, such as pull-out shelving, cabinets that open from the side for easy access, and even in-drawer lighting.

We tapped interior designer Jen Samson of Jen Samson Design to explain the basics when it comes to choosing cabinets, with bonus info on how the Thomasville Concierge program can offer hands-on help to make every last detail just right.

Select a Style

For maximum versatility, “we usually lean towards a flat panel or a Shaker for most kitchens, depending on the home,” says Samson. Flat panels are self-explanatory, while Shaker cabinets offer a simple raised border all the way around.

These aren’t your only options: Traditional cabinets feature more intricate woodwork designs and trim. Then there’s Transitional, a happy medium between Shaker and more ornate versions. That hybrid of styles is another go-to for Samson, who explains: “We like to add details, like a thin bead detail around the Shaker or v-groove for a fun, more Craftsman-style kitchen.”

If you’re still not sure what might look best in your space, a Thomasville Concierge, available at select Home Depot locations, can bring samples right to your kitchen to help you see the options first hand in your space. They’ll provide professional guidance along the way, and also connect you with a Thomasville Technician to answer any questions you have once your renovation is underway.

Modern Blues

Consider Shelving Carefully

While open shelving often shows up in some of our favorite home projects, it’s important to be practical—and honest—if you’re thinking about implementing it in your home. Ask yourself, are you an avid cook who collects piles of ingredients? Do you like your dishes enough to look at them 24/7? Do you have kids? If you’re a tidy minimalist or you have separate pantry space to hide less -aesthetically pleasing packaging and cookware, open shelving can be a great way to display favorites and keep things easily accessible and in-view.

If you’re more on the messy side, having to constantly keep your shelves looking styled and uncluttered might be more of a hassle than it’s worth. Still torn? Take another one of Samson’s tips and mix in a little bit of both.

“I like to mix open shelves and closed storage cabinets,” she says. “If the home is more traditional, I still like to incorporate one open shelf, perhaps with a pretty brass rod detail on the front, to be used for cookbooks and displaying attractive objects. When there are added design details like a rod or decorative brackets, open shelves can add to the unique personality of the kitchen.” You can also get fancy with options like Thomasville’s glass doors, which display special items or bring character to a space thanks to their decorative mullions.

Timeless Neutrals

Find a Finish

Thomasville cabinets come in dozens of finishes, from traditional or specialty hardwoods to laminates, matte paint, glazes, and stains (another moment when the Thomasville Concierge comes in handy). But the first decision to make is whether you want color or something more natural-looking like a stained wood or laminate.

Samson likes the flexibility paint offers, allowing you to choose your exact shade and coordinate with other design elements. But, she adds, “stained wood has such a beautiful classic feel, especially when using materials such as oak where you can see the grain and movement of the material, and it’s less likely to need touch ups over time.” The final choice comes down to whichever cabinets you feel make your kitchen look most inviting.

Size Storage Up

You should work closely with a pro—whether that’s a Thomasville Concierge or interior designer—to nail down the right amount of counter space and find bespoke storage options. Samson makes sure to ask key questions, including: “Do you want a designated space for everything, or something more flexible? What do you want hidden vs. displayed on a countertop?”

Organizational elements are when things really get fun: Customizing your own kitchen means you can install specialty storage such as drawers or shelves that slide out, corner shelving that rotates to allow easy access to ingredients deep inside, and even options like a shelf for a stand mixer that magically emerges from under a base cabinet, freeing up counter space. “We also love wall lift-up cabinets,” says Samson, describing custom cabinets whose doors open up vertically, not out horizontally. “They are a wonderful option to hide the appliances that need to come out on a daily basis, but are unsightly to leave on the countertop all of the time.”

She also likes panel-ready appliances, such as dishwashers and refrigerators, which come ready to be covered in the same fronts as your cabinets for a cohesive look. And she’s a huge fan of charging drawers to keep electronics and cords off the counter.

Elegant and Organized

Deliberate on the Details

You could go with handleless cabinets or integrated pulls designed to be almost invisible, but hardware such as pulls and knobs can be a fun way to add extra detail and personality to your kitchen.

“For [hardware] finishes, we love everything from aged brass and bronze to polished nickel, depending upon the style of the kitchen,” says Samson. “In modern kitchens, I like to stick with one style throughout.” With Thomasville, you can choose from matte black metal, decorative cast iron, burnished copper, and more, to help your cabinets set the style of your home.


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