Kitchen design typically begins with cabinet selection. There are an almost unlimited number of options, and there is unique nomenclature that manufacturers and designers use. Here’s a guide to some of most popular cabinet terminology.

Cabinet Construction

Framed Cabinets

Framed cabinets have rails and stiles that form the face frame at the front of the cabinet box. The frame is attached to the door front giving the cabinet extra strength and dimension. Common door types found on framed cabinets include standard, full overlay, partial overlay and inset.

Frameless Cabinets

Frameless cabinet construction is popular among those seeking simple, more contemporary cabinet designs. This construction eliminates the cabinet face frame, and a denser box is used to achieve necessary stability. With frameless cabinets, only full overlay doors can be used with hinges attached directly to the sides of the cabinet box.

Cabinet Door Types

Overlay Cabinet Doors

Overlay refers to how much of the cabinet door covers the face frame. Cabinet doors come in full or partial overlay versions.

Full overlay doors cover the entire cabinet box and create a nearly seamless and streamlined look. When space is a premium, we recommend full overlay frameless cabinets, because they provide the maximum amount of storage space and easy access.

Double door full overlay doors provide even more flexibility because they do not have a vertical face frame stile between the two doors. We recommend this approach often if our clients need to store larger items such as serving platters and cookware.

Partial overlay doors cover part of the cabinet box, with a small portion left showing, providing a more traditional cabinet look. The doors and drawers of a partial overlay cabinet will overlap the cabinet box evenly around the opening of each cabinet. This type of cabinetry door style is one of the most traditional and common, and it is also typically a cost-effective style.

Inset Cabinet Doors

Inset cabinet doors fit inside the cabinet face frame openings, making the door flush with the front of the cabinet instead of on the top of the cabinet box. Decorative hinges are used to fit the door precisely into the frame opening. We often recommend inset cabinets for larger kitchens as inset cabinets offer less usable interior space with the door sitting inside the frame. The clean lines and elegant look of inset cabinets more than compensate for the loss of a little interior space.

Panel Types

Recessed Panel Cabinet Doors

Recessed panel cabinet doors have a center panel that is lower than the rest of the door and a higher outer edge. We often specify recessed panel doors for modern designs.

Raised Panel Cabinet Doors.

We often use raised panel cabinet doors for more traditional styles. They have a center panel that is raised from the rest of the door and often feature a contoured edge that gives it a specific style.

Cabinet Styles

  • Shaker design is characterized by clean lines that add depth and interest without being visually overpowering. The most basic shaker style is a five-piece door with a recessed center panel and no additional edge detailing.
  • Slab doors do not have panels, molding or detailing to produce a clean minimalist look.
  • Arched doors have a curve at the top that is either recessed or raised within the door panel. Cathedral arch doors a medieval arch at the top. This style is almost always limited to wall hung cabinets.
  • Beaded cabinets feature decorative wood paneling with vertical grooves on the interior panel.
  • Glass inset cabinets feature a clear or frosted piece of glass that allows you to see the contents of the cabinet.
  • Mission-style cabinets are usually made from oak and stained to highlight the grain of the wood. They employ a square frame molding to produce a simple elegant style.