Prev NEXT  


Decorating a Room

Kitchen and Bath Cabinets

Limited cabinetry adds to the minimalist look of modernism.

Cabinets are one of the most prominent elements in a kitchen or bath. To a great extent, the look of your room will be determined by their style, material, and finish.

Unfortunately, according to experts, cabinets will also gobble up a significant chunk of your budget. Rather than buy new cabinets, an easy solution is to refinish, reface with laminates or wood, or reinvent existing cabinets with architectural trim, new hardware, or a decorative paint treatment. If none of these will do, the market holds lots of choices.


Custom cabinets are designed and built for your kitchen; semicustom cabinets are made primarily of stock components but have various options like decorative moldings and etched-glass door inserts; and, the least costly, stock cabinets are mass-produced to standard size specifications.

There are numerous varieties of styles and materials, but just two basic construction types. Modernists will connect with frameless, or Euro-style, cabinets. These units have doors that are flush with the outer edge of the cabinet box, which gives them a slick contemporary appeal.

This construction is ideal for laminates or ve­neer. Face-framed cabinets have rectangular frames that strengthen the cabinet boxes and provide a place to mount doors. With more detailing on the doors, face-framed cabinets are traditional. Raised pan­els, say, are classic fares.

Construction materials vary, but the majority of cabinets are constructed from plywood or composite-board boxes covered with wood veneers. Some companies offer metal doors, and some vinyl doors replicate traditional panel styles.

Popular options for finishes include any number of wood tones and light, pastel glazes. White or light cabinetry expands space -- a great help in mini-kitchens -- and can be formal or casual.

A simple wood veneer like cherry or maple will heat up a stark setting. Mixed finishes -- some painted cabinets, for instance, along with some chicory-glazed birch cabinets -- cook up a kitchen that is unique and inviting.

Pine cabinets allow for an abundance of storage in this bright kitchen.

Many manufacturers also offer furniture-style pieces such as hutches and pie safes as part of their lines. Consider including one of these in a different color or a distressed finish for a country appeal.

A combination of glass- and solid-door cabinetry is a refreshing change for the eye and helps keep any room looking more open. Glass fronts also allow you to find what you need in a hurry.

Storage Booster

There's no such thing as too much storage. Especially in a modern setting, clutter is a no-no. To help forge a niche for everything in the two busiest rooms in the house, adopt one or more of these strategies:

  • Instead of wasting valuable space with a soffit, zoom extra-tall above-counter cabinets to the ceiling. Use this space for storing seldom-used serving dishes in a kitchen and surplus supplies in the bath. Put deep, narrow spaces to work holding pan lids, cookie sheets, or a foldable drying rack.
  • Incorporate a series of shallow drawers for spices and silverware. Pullout drawers beneath the cooktop can corral pots and pans. Pullout pantries and lazy Susans deliver what you need without making you rummage. Generous drawers work for stashing unsightly garbage and recycling bins.
  • Use appliance garages with sliding, hinged, or tambour doors to hide the microwave, coffee­maker, and toaster. In the bath, designate a pullout drawer for the hair dryer.

Bring in the OldOld furniture -- be it an antique of 100 years or a character-filled piece from the '30s -- provides a special flourish for a bath­room or kitchen. Trendy now in our country, this marrying of new and old is common in Europe. In lieu of an island, how about a marble-topped table or, in a small country kitchen, a countertop of old butcher block? Food preparation, buffet service? A vintage piece does it all.

Numerous cabinets with decorative doors marry form and function.

Find a handsomely patinated table, and have it fitted with a shelf. Store baskets of linens or cookbooks there. Or leave it shelfless, so you can pull up chairs and stage an informal, spur-of-the-moment dinner with friends.

Like new cars, modern vanities dazzle us. But for something no one else will have, look to the past. An auction-bought oak dresser, given a hand-painted sink and a polyurethane sealer, will be reborn as the belle of the bath.

Although cabinets are the most prominent piece in a kitchen, large appliances take up a huge amount of space. On the next page, learn how to place appliances in strategic locations that allow for the most space and then most functionality.

To learn more about interior design and get tips and information on decorating your home, visit:

  • Interior Decorating: Get tips on how to decorate your home and read about organizing a project and selecting an interior design that fits your lifestyle.
  • Home Decorating Tips: Learn about home decorating styles and get tips on how to plan and complete decorating projects.
  • Decorating Styles: Are you traditional or eclectic? Learn about decorating styles for your home.
  • How to Design a Kitchen: Create a kitchen that works for you and get tips on how to choose and place appliances and create a decorating scheme.
  • Kids Rooms: Get tips on decorating your child’s room, with information on colors, smart strategies, and money-saving tips.