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A Tale of Four Kitchen cabinets

My clients have typically already decided what cabinet company they want for their kitchens before I come on board. Whether fully custom, Ikea bases with SemiHandmade door/drawer fronts or everything in between. How I normally assist them is with the layout/flow of the kitchen for optimum use of the space, selection of appliances and all of the finishes. I decided to do a comparison of 4 different kitchen cabinets for the same kitchen to help you understand the pros and cons of each. I have only included the cabinets, no decorative pulls, under-cabinet lighting and the only accessory that I included was a pull out trash bin. Except where noted, the pricing does NOT include installation.

For this blog, I will use this small galley kitchen that I remodeled in 2017. The first image shows the original layout and the second shows the new layout, removing a wall and adding banquet seating. I didn't include the banquet seating in the pricing. The original kitchen was 8'x9' and by removing the wall, we extended it to 8'x10'9"

Ikea cabinet boxes with Semihandmade thermafoil door and drawer fronts - be prepared for a LONG wait time to figure out the layout and ordering. The Ikea program is glitchy and unless you understand cabinetry and construction, it isn't self-explanatory. Thermafoil is going to be the most durable cabinet fronts against knicks and scratches and is easy to clean. The main drawback with Thermafoil is that if there is a big nick or scratch, you have to replace the whole door or drawer front. It also requires rounded edges for the application, so you won't get a crisp edge on things like a Shaker style door. Thermafoil is also susceptible to heat and steam, think microwave, tea kettle, coffee maker, all of which can cause it to delaminate. While Ikea is the least expensive option, you will be doing a lot of the work yourself. I have a client that did Ikea for their Joshua Tree AirBnB and Ikea didn't deliver out to their location. The client had to rent a truck to bring it to the site and then had to do it a second time when everything wasn't in stock with the first delivery. Another client did the DIY door fronts from Semihandmade which means they were unfinished and the client had them painted on site. After 8 years they have some chipping.

Wood Design & Art is a full service custom cabinetry shop in Los Angeles. They can hand carve embellishments as well as execute very modern cabinets. They did a new build in West LA for my clients, with stained wood on the kitchen cabinets and lacquer on the bathroom and laundry cabinets. Their level of shop drawings (very detailed drawings showing all of the intricate parts of your space) is impeccable.

Eclipse Cabinetry and Brookhaven Cabinets by Wood Mode through Sierra Custom Kitchens in Pasadena. Sierra Custom Kitchens charges for their design services, but 20 hours worth gets applied to your cabinet order. Or you can work with me to design the work flow of your kitchen and then bring Sierra Kitchens in for all of the detailed planning of the cabinets which eliminates a step for Sierra. One major benefit of cabinet companies is all of the accessory add-ons they offer for their line. Everything from trash, cleaning supply and spice/oil pullouts to kidney-shaped corner cabinet pull-outs or full corner lazy-susans. The also tend to offer a high variation of stain, factory cured paints and other finishes that can help create a unique kitchen.

The factory-cured finish (Eclipse & Brookhaven) and pre-catalyzed lacquer (Wood Design & Art) are to regular paint what gel polish is to regular nail polish. Factory-cured will hold up to daily wear and tear better than painted on site. The lacquer finish is thinner and penetrates the substrate more than standard paint will. The benefit of painting on site is that you can do touch-ups easily.

Cost shouldn't be the only factor that you should consider when starting a remodel. The durability of the finishes, the practicality of the details and layout are just a few of the other things that need to be considered.

If you're overwhelmed with the idea of starting your new build or remodel, you're not alone. There is such a thing as decision fatigue. I can help the process run smoother and with less headache. Let's set up a personalized interior design consultation to discuss your needs. Please contact me at or view my services online.

Learn more tips in my free Interior Design eBook here

Always look for the Silver Lining


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