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By now, you’ve noticed that many, if not most, new home designs and remodels feature the kitchen as the focal point of a great room or open floor plan. Cabinet styles and finishes have evolved to allow their integration into the general decor, taking on the appearance of built-in, or not-so-built-in, furniture. That’s great, because cabinets come in handy in every other room, too.

While some clients demand efficient performance from their cabinets, others will settle for a pretty face. Give them both and they’ll never forget you. Today’s stock cabinets offer plenty of function and face appeal for the cost-conscious consumer. Semi-custom cabinets may push the dollar envelope some but offer substitution of door and drawer styles, a choice of finishes, interior storage options, and, in some lines, even custom sizes. Go all custom and the sky’s the limit, in both design and dollars.

Finishes

Vince Achey, of Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry, says, “Customers are emphasizing comfort over the ornate trend we’ve seen in the recent past; traditional styling is making a comeback, and people are going for less bold, more subdued colors, like browns and yellows.... Glazing is a hot new finish.”

What clean-happy housekeepers used to scrub off, cabinet makers now rub on, and, apparently, it’s selling like hotcakes. Glazing is a hand-rubbed colorized paste that’s applied over a stain or pigmented clear tone base color. The paste tends to fill, or “hang up” in detail profiles, open grain, and recesses, imparting an aged “patina” to the finish (see photo 1). One manufacturer actually offers “fly speck highlights” as a finishing touch.

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Two-tone cabinets add a distinctive look to stock and semi-custom cabinet lines; mixing tones can be accomplished in many ways (see Kitchen & Bath, “Two-Tone Kitchen Design,” 2/02). Contrast a light-colored face frame with darker doors and drawer fronts, or work with pale cabinets on the wall and a darker base array (2). Any way you work it, you’re riding the wave of current design, often for the same money as a monotone layout.

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Period and Furniture Style

If not for solid-surface countertops and high-tech appliances, you’d almost think you’d died and gone to 1920 from the look of many of today’s kitchens. Crown Point Cabinetry’s Jeffrey Stowell notes that we’re “experiencing an amazing upsurge, in the last five years, of people who want to maintain the integrity of their period homes.... The period style is very big right now” (3). His company claims “historical accuracy” as a strength.

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A tall “armoire” cabinet can store the china or serve as a pantry closet (4). A wall cabinet combined with an open base unit suggests a stand-alone hutch (5). Glass-front storage bins display goods like an old-time grocery (6).

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It really doesn’t take much to suggest furniture in the kitchen; a decorative corbel support under an island top, spindles or a turned column to accent an outside corner, ball feet to offset the toespace (7, 8, 9) all help to soften the lines.

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Cabinets can not only look like, but also serve as, furniture, as in the case of these storage seat assemblies (10, 11).

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