Cabinetry 101: Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Types and Styles

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When you type “types of cabinet” into Google, you’ll get an array of words such as “styles,” “grades,” and “types” used to describe the same thing in some places and different in others. It can be exciting to choose cabinets for your kitchen, but with so many concepts and options where do you begin? While it is great to have choices, it can be overwhelming without an understanding of all the options available and how to use them to make the kitchen of your dreams. This guide will go over everything you need to know about cabinets and how to arrange your kitchen perfectly.

Cabinetry Terms

Being familiar with cabinetry terms will help you to sound like an expert when selecting your kitchen cabinets. The following are some terms to know:

  • Center Panel: The raised part in the middle of the cabinet door
  • Center Stile: The raised rail in the middle of the cabinet door enclosed by rails
  • Edge Profile: The shape of the edge of the cabinet door
  • Rail: A horizontal framing piece of the cabinet door
  • Reveal: The distance between the outside edge of the face and the outside edge of the door
  • Stile: The vertical framing piece of the cabinet door

Cabinet Quality Grades

There are four different grades of cabinets: ready to assemble (RTA), stock, semi-custom, and custom. You should decide on your budget for your cabinets upfront before you peruse the choices available. The prices range from $50 per foot to $500 per foot. Always remember to keep an open mind – well-built, cost-effective cabinets can be more appropriate to your situation versus a more expensive option.

Ready-to-Assemble (RTA)

These cabinets can be found in chain stores and are readily available and cost-effectively constructed. They have a limited selection of styles, sizes, and materials and require construction. If you enjoy DIY projects, you can save a great deal of money with RTA cabinets. Make sure you have some experience in constructing cabinets, which can be tricky even for experts.


Stock cabinets are a basic, economic option that are pre-sized by their manufacturer. They are mass-produced and available in fixed sizes that cannot be modified. These cabinets are constructed on-site. Their materials range from particleboard covered in laminates to solid wood. Stock cabinets offer an economic style without sacrificing quality.

Semi Custom

These cabinets mark the mid-range option in price point. They have a broader selection in both style and material and allow for some size adjustment. Semi-custom cabinets usually offer a range of styles, materials, finishes, and accessories. They are one of a kind with tailored sizes. While the design possibilities are infinite, these extravagant cabinets drain a budget. However, you will also get exactly what you want.


On the high end, custom cabinets are completely made to order and offer the widest range of styles, materials, finishes, and accessories. They are one of a kind with tailored sizes. While design options are limitless, these high-priced cabinets can drain a budget. However, you will also get exactly what you want.

Basic Types of Cabinets

When choosing cabinets, you’ll need to consider all the types you will need for your kitchen remodel. There are four different types of cabinets: Base, Wall, Tall, and Specialty Units.

Base Cabinet

Base cabinets are the heavy lifters of cabinetry. They provide most of the storage space and sit on the ground beneath countertops. These cabinets create new possibilities throughout the kitchen. Standard base cabinets are usually 24 inches deep and 36 inches tall. They are used as kitchen storage and islands, window seating, and bathroom vanities.

Wall Cabinet

Wall cabinets or the “upper” cabinets provide much-needed storage space above the countertops. Upper cabinetry is typically 12 inches deep. They are the most important for the remodeling process as they are the most visible and carry the looks. These cabinets have many uses beyond food storage. They can serve as entertainment centers, laundry room storage, and dish storage.

Tall Cabinet

Tall cabinets or pantry cabinets top many other cabinets in terms of height and storage. They start from the floor and extend to the ceiling and are available in sizes up to 96 inches in height. These cabinets are used for pantry and utility storage. They can give the kitchen a dramatically vertical look.

Specialty Cabinet

Specialty units are the most important for the kitchen’s functionality and design. They add square footage and organization. Specialty cabinets include corner cabinets, sink and cooktop fronts, bottle racks, and appliance garages. These cabinets add function and style.

Cabinet Styles

There are eight different types of cabinet styles: Shaker, Charleston, York, Tahoe, Sonoma, Flat-Paneled, Louvered, and Glass Front. The style of your cabinets can make a space look contemporary and chic or more traditional. Your cabinet style should always tie the look of your kitchen together.


Shaker is the most popular style of kitchen cabinets. They have a recessed center panel with clean lines and used in modern styles. The framing of the recessed panel with sleek lines of the full overlay door is a unique, chic design. The shaker line is available in the colors Antique White, Dove, Grey, and Espresso.


Charleston is an elaborate style that will add an air of sophistication to any kitchen. The traditional frame, raised center panels, and glazed finish creates a lavish look. This line is available in the colors Saddle and Antique White.


York is a combination of classic and contemporary details. It features a recessed center panel with a beveled frame that blends into any design seamlessly. This timeless style is available in Antique White and Chocolate.


Tahoe is a modern style that features a raised center panel. While this seems contradictory as a raised panel is associated with classic designs, the crisp lines and colors make this style the perfect combination of both worlds. This line is available in Bright White and Dove Grey.


Sonoma is a sleek, cost-effective choice that doesn’t sacrifice any of the quality. It features a recessed center panel and full overlay door creating a modern look. This line is available in Spice, Mocha, and Pure White.

Flat Paneled

Flat front or slab doors are solid with no center panels. It is a modern, minimalistic style made of a single piece of wood. It is very easy to clean and cost-effective. This style is typically available in wood tones and stains.


Louvered features full overlay doors with a recessed center panel with horizontal wooden slats and sleek framing. This style is ideal for storing items that require ventilation. Since it is a very unique design, it is typically on the pricier side. This line is typically available in wood tones and white.

Glass Front

Glass front is an open framed door with a glass insert. This style is perfect for displaying items and creating an open feel. They are used sparingly as wall cabinets with solid base cabinets.

Types of Cabinet Doors

There is a range of different cabinet doors. They set the entire tone of your kitchen. There are three different types of cabinet doors:

Full Overlay Cabinet

The doors and drawer fronts completely cover the cabinet box on full overlay cabinets. This door has a seamless, contemporary look. They tend to cost more because they use more material.

Partial Overlay Cabinet

Partial or standard overlay was the industry standard for many years. The door only partially covers the face of the cabinet – exposing 1 to 2 inches of the cabinet face frame. This type of cabinet is more traditional and cost-effective and is found in apartments.

Inset Cabinet

Inset cabinetry is dramatically different from an overlay. The door sits inside of the cabinet flush with the face frame. This cabinet requires different hinges and a doorstop. Inset cabinets are typically more expensive than overlay styles and have been around for centuries.

Cabinet Door Styles

The cabinet door style sets the character of the kitchen. It expresses your personal style. There are five different types of cabinet door styles.

Raised Center Panel

The center panel is raised flush to the frame of the door in this style. This door style is more traditional and has been very popular over the years.

Recessed Center Panel

The recessed or flat-panel style has a center panel that is lower than the rest of the door. This style provides a cleaner profile and is typically used in more modern designs.


The slab door style is one slab of wood that makes up the entire door. It is most often made of engineered wood and suited to more modern and contemporary designs.


The mullion door style consists of vertical and horizontal bars that divide a door frame into sections. It is used as an accent with a glass insert in kitchen, buffet, or bookshelf doors.

Open Frame

An open frame style with no center panel or mullion with a glass insert. It is often used in base or wall cabinets as an accent and to create a fresh, modern look.

If you have any questions, please consult our team of experts or another design professional. We have everything you need from countertops to cabinets. With over 10 years of experience, we’ve mastered multiple kitchen styles. When you’re ready to design the kitchen of your dreams, contact us for a free in-home estimate!