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Stock Cabinets or Custom? Why Does It Matter?

Let’s face it: your kitchen cabinets can make or break your kitchen design. They can also break your budget. While the actual cost of cabinets depends on several factors including the size of your space and the materials used, you can expect to spend thousands to completely replace or install new cabinets—and that doesn’t include countertops or installation costs.

So how do you navigate all the choices of such a big investment—especially when there are so many options? The best way is to work with your contractor and your designer (or if you work with us, we do both!) to find the best solution for your particular space and budget. Like everything else, you have options—and each option has advantages and disadvantages, depending on your situation.


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Option 1: stock cabinets (pre-built and ready to install)

One advantage of stock cabinets is the price. While still a significant investment, stock cabinets can be a more economical option for any size space. Like everything else, you often get what you pay for when shopping for cabinets: unfortunately, often the least expensive options don’t last as long or perform as well as those that require more of an investment.

Another advantage of stock cabinets is time. Stock cabinets can be ordered, sometimes fully assembled, for delivery within a matter of weeks while custom work can take considerably longer. Of course, that’s a generalization—this all depends on demand, the relationships your contractor/designer has built with their providers and subcontractors, and other factors. But, generally speaking, finding and installing a stock cabinet option can be a quick process.

In addition to the longevity and craftsmanship issues mentioned above, another disadvantage of stock cabinets includes a lack of customization, both in function and style. If you want a design that wows people with its creativity and beauty, you likely won’t achieve it with stock cabinets.

Option 2: Custom Cabinets

Custom cabinets are exactly what they sound like: cabinets designed and built custom to your specifications. As you might imagine, custom cabinetry is a serious investment—usually at least double the cost of stock cabinets, depending on specifications. But if your goal is to maximize function while creating a space that’s uniquely yours, custom cabinetry might be the way to go (not to mention, it might increase the resale value of your home).

Custom cabinets give you the ability to make your space—no matter the size—work for you. Want a wine rack? Done. A mix of open and traditional shelving? Gotcha. Want to hide appliances for a cohesive look? That can be done too. Not only that, but drawers and shelves can be built to store what you need. If you’re a baker, custom cabinets can house your stand mixer and give you a marble worktop to knead dough. There are very few limitations when you build everything to suit the exact dimensions of the space and the interests and/or tastes of the homeowner.


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Option 3: semi-custom cabinets (stock cabinets customized to suit your style)

The third option gives a bit of customization while still minding your budget. By using stock cabinets but changing the cabinet faces and/or hardware, you can change the style of stock cabinets to better fit your space. The advantage, of course, is that semi-custom cabinets are easier on your budget than custom, but you still get a little bit of personalized design choice. The disadvantage is that you’re still limited by what the manufacturer built, and how they built it.

Bottom line is this: cabinets, no matter which option you choose, are a huge chunk of any building/remodeling budget and the choices can be overwhelming. But it’s what we do—and we’re good at it. We can talk you through it and find the option that works best for you. Call us when you’re ready to transform your space!

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