Kitchen cabinets aren’t just boxes, they are an important part of the kitchen. Great kitchens are made up of four things:

– The cabinets, drawers and doors
The bench top
– The tiles, floor and wall
– The appliances and lighting

When choosing the components of a kitchen, too often the cabinets are thought of only as the doors and handles, or drawer fronts and handles. The fact is, the sides, bottoms, tops and backs are important, too.

Lower cost or budget kitchens will save money in a couple of ways, one of which is to have no back to the cabinets. Afterall they will be fixed to the walls so the wall will form the backing plate. Sadly, the gap between the wall and the frame of the cabinet can offer ingress for cockroaches and other undesirables. Not only that, opening the cupboard door and seeing raw wall behind the crockery doesn’t enhance the experience when exploring your newly installed kitchen.

Another cost saver is the sides of the cabinets. These may be made from thin, cheap ply or MDF, whereas you have paid a solid timber price. While it may not have much of an effect on the longevity and functionality of the cabinet itself, it is never nice to not get what you paid for and solid timber should mean all components are solid timber, not just the door and frame.

One of the big cost savers is the use of simple, un-routed doors. When you want routed grooves or laminated finishes the price goes up. Keeping the door simple, flat and thin keeps the cost down. What you don’t want though is an expensive door on a cheap and nasty frame. A good way to renovate on the cheap is to live with the existing cabinets, just replace the doors and handles. In many older kitchens the frames, sides, backs and shelves are all made from solid timber and simply putting on new doors and handles changes the entire look and feel of the kitchen.

Speaking of handles, buying them form the trade supplier is a good way to save a considerable amount. Retail handle prices through hardware chains are exorbitant compared to what the tradies pay for them. Handles are important for both form and function and can brighten up the dullest kitchen but they aren’t cheap. Save the money on the handles and spend it on the hinges. Handles all come in standard sizes, as far as the distance between the screws is concerned. This is called the ‘center’ and the most common is a 96 mm center.

Hinges are the moving parts of the cabinet and as such need to be well made to stand decades of opening and closing. Concealed adjustable hinges have been around for forty or fifty years and come in various applications. Doors that open around the edge of the cabinet, or are bi-fold corner doors need different hinges to standard cabinet door requirements. Unless you know which hinge is needed for a particular door, leave it to your tradie to make sure the right hinge is selected. They are adjustable so if the doors don’t sit flush or close neatly they can be adjusted using a screwdriver.

Finally drawers. Buy the best you can afford and go for a major name brand steel drawer on a well made drawer runner mechanism. Like the cabinet hinges, you will be opening and closing these drawers dozens of times a day for many years to come so the quality will remain, long after the price is forgotten.