Kitchen cabinets: The best guide to your hows and whats

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It may be just a portion of your home, but if your kitchen cabinets start to lose their functionality, you have to decide whether you’ll seek minor repairs or opt to renovate. Many homeowners find themselves torn between the scenario. It’s not easy to choose between doing repairs or fully renovating your kitchen storage space, especially if the amount of money you have or want to spend is in question.

In this article, we will explore the basics, considerations, labour costs, styles, etc., of kitchen cabinets. After all, the kitchen cannot exist without an efficient storage space. More than that, we’ll explain how Superdraft can help you renovate without sacrificing the quality of your kitchen storage.

First, let’s differentiate cabinets from cupboards.

What's the difference between cabinets and cupboards?

kitchen cabinets dining room

Both are storage units, but cabinets and cupboards differ according to their physical qualities and usage.

Cabinets are multipurpose storage units (usually enclosed) and are either fixed into a wall (wall cabinets) or placed on the floor and support benchtops (base cabinets). Shelves, doors, drawers, or even hardware like hinges make a cabinet.

Cupboards, on the other hand, are freestanding units. From storing flatware, cookeries, other kitchen utensils, and even bulky appliances, cupboards display and keep about everything.

Should you replace your cabinets?

customised kitchen cabinets benchtop

Before even thinking about the design, colour, and style, decide whether you want to refinish or replace your existing cabinets. In other words, it’s answering the question about splurging on kitchen cabinets or saving money.

Of course, you can save money by not entirely scrapping your existing cabinets. Check with your building designer if you can still use your old ones. If not, you may start the quest to find a durable material  that suits your needs and is within your budget.

Should you get customised cabinets?

There’s no harm in going for less, but storage space is a massive factor in the kitchen. It’s best to maximise the space available, and it has to accommodate everything there is in your kitchen. Hence, customisation. Customisation helps improve the functionality of your cabinets, making every available space usable, thereby serving its purpose.

Maximum use of storage space

pastel pull out cabinets

If you’re having doubts about optimizing the look and usage of your cabinet, you might want to consider having pull out or glide out inserts. These are shelves that slide out from corner spaces of your cabinets, making it possible to reach the far back portions of your storage space. They keep and organize your space, and its possible to view the contents with just one look.

Built to your specifications

customised kitchen tool rack

While pull out inserts change the way you use an entire dead space or corners of your cabinets, you may also consider customizing kitchen tool organizers for your drawers. This can often be seen on minimalist and modern kitchen styles. This lets you avoid installing hooks on your kitchen wall.

Decide how many cabinets

premium white kitchen

In deciding on how many cabinets you’ll choose, deliberate on 1) your most-used appliances and 2) your existing kitchenware. You may opt to place the appliances you rarely use on your cabinets and customise space for it. Decide, afterwards, on where you’ll situate your most-used electronics. May it be on the benchtop or anywhere in the kitchen; it’s really up to you.

If you want to innovate your current kitchen cabinets, sign up for Superdraft. We can match you with an expert building designer, draftsman, or interior designer to help you have a seamless renovation. We’ll make your experience fun and easy using our proprietary 3D Virtual Tour technology.

What materials to choose from?

Look for materials that can withstand the test of time and survive the high volume wear and tear. These are our suggestions:

Solid timber

timber cabinet doors

Besides its durable finish, solid timber is a resilient material and resistant to heat and moisture. It’s the best choice for any purpose for its cost-effectiveness, warmth, and natural appeal. Solid timber provides a long-lasting finish, rarely shows dirt, and its colour is compatible with any kitchen style or decors. Just keep in mind that solid timber requires regular maintenance and may be costly.


laminate wood drawer

If your budget is a little tight but you still want to go for durability, you might want to consider laminate. It’s the most affordable material available on the market. It's easy to maintain and clean, and it comes with high-impact (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) ABS edging. It’s not heavy on the eyes as it provides a seamless surface. 

You won’t need paint as laminated wood comes with a wide variety of colours that can match and look great in any kitchen style.

What colours to consider?

Colours have a way of affecting your thinking, emotions, and feelings. Red and orange depict strong emotions, while blue and green show an image of peace and tranquillity. Colours can either trigger emotions or maintain them. It can also give an impression about you; it’s a value factor when choosing what’s best for your project.

It should be consistent with the existing colours. What colour to pick may seem the least of your concerns, but cabinets take a lot of visual space. It defines and dominates the whole of your kitchen. The mood and aura of the room depend mainly on it, and it should be consistent with the rest of the elements in your home, including the appliances.

You can align analogous colours with the use of the colour wheel. It’s an excellent trick to consider if you opt to match colours in the same atmosphere.

kitchen analogous colours

It should be timeless. Pick a timeless colour if you’re not looking at remodelling your home in the next few years. You don’t want to look at your cabinets in the future only to realise that they look way too outdated. You would also have to factor in the hardware's colours and finish.

Consider this: If neutral and minimalistic colours such as white or grey dominate your kitchen interior, you can pick any colour you want for your kitchen cabinet. It’s the safest you can get so that the colour won’t be pale or predictable. You can even pick bold colours such as red or yellow, as long as you keep it to the minimum to give your kitchen a nice, balanced look.

kitchen monochrome minimalist

It should complement your style. Finding the perfect colour should also factor into the existing style of your kitchen. It’s if you just want to change your kitchen cabinets and not the whole kitchen. Consider the colours of the walls, frames, tiles, and floor if you're going to keep them. Old curtains, chairs, tables, and ornaments if you decide to use them in the future, too.

Assess if the colours of the elements in your kitchen are complementary, then you should stick with the complementary colours. That way, you won’t need to align the colours of your appliances to the cabinet; you just have to match them with their counterpart in the colour palette.

kitchen complementary colour

It should be pleasant to the visual eye. You should not be afraid to explore colours. You may use triad colour matching, wherein you’ll pair three colours using the triadic colour wheel. You may also pair two colours together with a neutral. Remember that it should not be more than three or four colours so that the kitchen interior won’t look visually heavy and distracting.

kitchen triadic colour
triadic colour wheel

If you have doubts, don’t hesitate to ask Superdraft for help. We have several interior design experts that can assist you from start to finish. All you need to do is sign up for free, and we’ll connect you to a Project Coordinator.

What are the best door styles?

kitchen shaker cabinets

Shaker cabinet doors. Famous for being basic and straightforward in style, with lines, recessed centre panel, and without embellishments, shaker cabinets have been around since the 19th century. Shaker cabinets are famous for its excellent craftsmanship and simplicity. This style doesn’t just look good in the kitchen but also the other areas of the house. It looks clean, flexible, versatile, and timeless. An excellent old shaker cabinet door style ensures an aesthetic appeal whether your space is a small or large kitchen.

flat kitchen cabinet doors

Flat cabinet doors. Just like shaker cabinets, flat cabinets look clean and are versatile. This door style is suitable for contemporary home designs and usually is the most affordable since you can execute this without handles. If you opt for a clean and minimalist look, you can always go without handles. If you want something spirited, you can always choose a vibrant colour. It’s up to you.

Which finish should I pick?

Finishes mark the overall appearance and the dramatic effect of your cabinets. Whatever the material you decide to go for, the finish will seal the overall look of your cabinets. You may choose between high-gloss, matt, or semi-gloss. If the decision is confusing, here are the advantages and disadvantages of each.


kitchen high gloss finish

Advantages: This finish is the most popular type as it reflects light and is also shiny, making it easy to clean. You may want to consider this if the sunlight directly hits the inside of your kitchen. Moreover, the gloss creates an illusion that would make the insides of your cabinets spacious.

Disadvantages: Because of its shiny appearance, you can easily see dirt and even fingerprints.


Advantages: A matt finish creates a modern look compared to the semi-gloss finish. Because it doesn’t reflect light, the colours will look harmonious and consistent with each other. You can mix two colours added to the matt effect to create contrast in your cabinets.

Disadvantages: Using this finish might make your storage space seem flat. Unlike the semi-gloss, it may not be easy to clean due to its texture. 


Advantages: This finish creates a little in-between a matt or glossy look — a balance of the two finishes. 

Disadvantages: Dirt and fingerprints are still visible using this finish, unlike the flat matte one. Since it's a combination of high-gloss and matt, a semi-gloss finish can easily clean this.

What cabinet hardware to choose?

kitchen cabinet handles

Choosing the handles or pulls isn’t just for the visual appearance of your kitchen cabinet doors. Note that this hardware gets all the harsh treatment for the typical kitchen day, and picking the right one depending on the user makes a huge difference. However, you might want to consider losing the handles, as the trend on modern and minimalist cabinets suggests.

Basic cabinet handles

  • Bar. This rectangle bar handle is easy to grip and pull and is suitable for traditional and modern interior design. It’s simple and functional as well.
  • Bow.  Like bar handles, this is pull-out and comes in a wave-like shape and lightly rounded curve.
  • Knobs. This circular handle is perfect for vintage-inspired homes. Because of its minimal shape, continuous use might get this handle detached.

While bronze and satin nickel are widespread in cabinet handles, you can also consider matt black, gold, and perennial stainless steel. Timber is also a great choice. These handles may or may not experience the typical and busy day of food preparation and use, but an inspection is needed from time to time to make sure they still fit. Either way, you can always go handleless, depending on the style and colour.


Soft-close hinges

kitchen soft close hinges

By the name itself, this type of hinge allows you to slowly close your kitchen cabinet door without slamming it. You just have to slowly push the cabinet door close and it’ll close on its own.

Push to open hinges

push to open hinges

The mechanism for this type of hinge is easy at it only takes a light press on the door to open, and the same amount of pressure for it to close as well.

Available hardware materials

available hardware materials kitchen

Stainless steel. This material is easy to pair with any style or design, and even to the appliances in your kitchen.

Brass. There are three types of brass hardware: polished brass which is shiny and golden; unlacquered brass which is reddish in color; and antique brass which has a luster finish.

Bronze. This durable material is resistant to corrosion and is available in a wide range of finish and color.

Chrome. This material is shiny yet rust-resistant.

Nickel. While this is more costy than chrome, this pairs well to modernly designed homes. This is available in brushed and polished finishes.


Although there is no specific size for the kitchen drawers and hardware counterparts, there is a general rule for a pull-to-drawer 1:3 ratio.

  • Small drawers in size 12” go well with a 3” to 4” pull or knob
  • Medium drawers of over 12” but less than 30” with a 4” to 8” pull or knob
  • Large drawers of over 30” but less than 48” with over 8” pull or knob

What’s my renovation timeline?

handyman kitchen renovation

The renovation timeline depends on the materials you’ll use and on customising your kitchen cabinet space. The simple cabinet installation typically takes two to three days for pre-assembled ones. But if you’re replacing countertops and pushing to customise, an additional two weeks is necessary for templating and installing your benchtop material.

Demolishing your old cabinetry should take no more than a day. Preparation can start after that, mainly for the actual installation, which may need the help of a plumber and electrician.

The installation of the new kitchen cabinets may take two to four weeks. It depends on whether there are other structural changes and the complexity of such changes.

* The estimated timeline mentioned is subject to actual changes. 

How do I factor in labour costs?

kitchen cabinets labourer

The labour costs can vary based on the complexity of the design and the size and dimensions of the kitchen. If the old kitchen cabinets are recycled and if the flooring underwent structural changes are factors that may affect the cost. Labourers charge $65 to $110* an hour most of the time. If the same is customised, they charge from $120* per hour or above.

* All the values mentioned are estimates only.

How can Superdraft help you?

Superdraft has a vast network of skilled professionals in renovation and home design. We have a free platform where you can sign up, and we’ll match you with experts who’ll guide you with your project from start to finish.

What’s more, we offer both the initial consultation and the build cost estimation for free.

You won’t have to worry about going beyond the budget and starting again. You can provide us with a dream space inspiration through our Project Consultants, and we’ll match you with a perfect interior designer or drafting professional for your project. 

Renovate = innovate

Renovating your kitchen cabinets is both extensive and expensive. More than the aesthetic appeal, the benefits of a more functional kitchen storage space outweigh the costs. Without it, the whole space of your kitchen will be compromised. Here at Superdraft, you won’t have to worry. An interior designer can help you squeeze the most out of your kitchen space. Have access to our free planning dashboard and consult with our professional partners now!

*Disclaimer: The figures cited above are estimates only.

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