Kitchen Remodeling 101: Choosing & Installing Cabinets

Kitchen remodeling can feel like navigating a maze, especially when choosing the perfect cabinets that blend style with functionality. Whether you’re toeing the line between cabinet refacing or considering a total replacement, the material, storage solutions, and hardware you select can profoundly transform your space.

Deciding on suitable kitchen cabinets is not just about aesthetics; it’s about creating a kitchen that reflects your lifestyle and meets your daily needs. Please keep reading for an insider’s guide on making the best cabinetry choices and ensuring their flawless installation, turning your kitchen renovation dream into reality.

Key Takeaways for Cabinet Installation in Kitchen Remodeling

1. The decision between refacing and replacing cabinets is determined by their current condition and is critical to your kitchen’s aesthetic appeal.
2. The material you choose for kitchen cabinets affects the overall look and feel of your remodel and should meet your durability and maintenance expectations.
3. Incorporating innovative storage solutions in the remodel, such as pull-out drawers and Lazy Susans, can significantly boost your kitchen’s efficiency.
4. Using over-the-cabinet accessories can help maximize available space and keep your kitchen organized.
5. Choosing appropriate cabinet hardware requires considering its contribution to the kitchen’s aesthetics and how it affects functionality.
6. Cabinet installation is a process that requires careful preparation and strategic execution; starting with wall cabinets can make the procedure easier.
7. A polished look comes from detailing such as applying caulk on seams and edges, and adjusting doors and drawers for proper alignment.
8. The installation of hardware adds the finishing touches to your kitchen cabinets, enhancing their aesthetic value.
9. Conducting a thorough post-installation inspection with Elegant Kitchen and Bath allows for a close review of the installation and facilitates the transition from a renovation in progress to a fully functional kitchen.
10. Making informed decisions at every step of the process, from choosing the ideal materials to determining the layout, ensures a successful kitchen remodel.

Table of Contents

Deciding Between Cabinet Refacing or Replacement

Deciding whether to reface or replace kitchen cabinets is pivotal in any kitchen renovation. This decision impacts the aesthetic appeal of your kitchen and the project’s cost and duration.

It’s essential to critically assess the current state of your cabinets because they set the tone for the room. Sometimes, the structure is solid, and a simple facelift can breathe new life into your kitchen.

Sometimes, complete replacement is necessary to meet your kitchen remodeling goals. Understanding the trade-offs between the cost and benefit of both options enables you to make an informed decision that aligns with your vision, budget, and the specific needs of your space.


Assess Your Current Cabinet Condition

Before diving into the vast sea of cabinet selection for your kitchen renovation, closely examining the existing cabinetry is crucial. The wear and tear your kitchen cabinets have endured over the years speaks volumes about whether they need a surface-level makeover or a complete overhaul.

A thorough examination might reveal that the bones of your kitchen cabinets are in excellent shape, suggesting that refacing could give them the fresh appearance your kitchen needs. Conversely, discovering extensive damage or realizing the layout no longer fits your lifestyle demands exploring new kitchen cabinets for a seamless transformation.

Compare the Costs and Benefits of Both Options

Refacing kitchen cabinets offers a cost-effective way to revamp your kitchen without the hefty price tag of a full replacement. This method preserves the existing structure while updating the exterior look, significantly reducing the cost and time involved in a kitchen renovation

Choosing this option might make more sense for homeowners on a tight budget or those who are satisfied with the current layout of their kitchen.

On the other hand, replacing kitchen cabinets opens up a world of customization options, allowing for a completely new layout and design that can enhance your kitchen’s functionality and aesthetics. While this choice often involves a more significant investment and a longer project timeline, the outcome is a fully tailored space that can address every specific need and design preference, potentially increasing the overall value of your home.


Choose the Right Material for Your Kitchen Cabinets

Selecting the perfect material for your kitchen cabinets is a critical step that shapes the heart of your kitchen remodeling project. The journey through wood, laminate, and metal options is not just about finding a style that complements your kitchen’s aesthetics; it’s also about weighing factors such as durability, ease of maintenance, and how well each material aligns with your lifestyle needs.

Your choice will influence not only the look and feel of your kitchen but also its functionality and longevity, making it crucial to evaluate the pros and cons of each option carefully.

Explore Wood, Laminate, and Metal Cabinet Options

Wood cabinets offer a timeless charm that few materials can match, bringing warmth and natural beauty into the heart of your home. Their ability to be painted or stained means that wood cabinets can evolve with your tastes, making them a versatile choice for any kitchen remodeling project.

In contrast, laminate and metal cabinets present a modern flair that can withstand the rigors of a busy kitchen. Laminate is celebrated for its vast array of colors and patterns, offering durability at a friendly price point. At the same time, metal cabinets provide a sleek, industrial look that is easy to clean and resistant to pests and moisture.


Consider Durability, Maintenance, and Aesthetics

When selecting materials for kitchen cabinets as part of a kitchen renovation, it’s essential to consider durability, maintenance, and aesthetics. These components collectively dictate the long-term satisfaction and practicality of your choice. A material’s resistance to wear, ease of cleaning, and harmony with your kitchen’s design theme are paramount considerations.

For instance, durability ensures your kitchen cabinets can withstand daily use without showing signs of distress too quickly, which is crucial for a bustling household. Maintenance level is another critical factor, as some materials need more care than others to keep them looking their best. Lastly, the aesthetic appeal sets the stage for your kitchen’s overall ambiance, making it essential to choose a material that complements the interior design and reflects your style.

Innovative Storage Solutions for Modern Kitchens

Embarking through the maze of kitchen renovation and cabinet selection unveils opportunities for aesthetic enhancements and radically improved functionality. The core of modern kitchen design lies in innovative storage solutions that make every inch count.

These advancements transform cluttered kitchens into models of efficiency and ease. From the clever integration of pull-out drawers and Lazy Susans to the strategic use of over-the-cabinet accessories, each element plays a pivotal role in maximizing space.

These features balance form and function, making them essential for anyone looking to create a kitchen that’s as practical as beautiful.


Integrate Pull-Out Drawers and Lazy Susans

Integrating pull-out drawers and Lazy Susans into your kitchen cabinets transforms the heart of your home into a bastion of efficiency. These modern storage solutions ensure that every item, from spices to heavy pots, is easily accessible, ending the tedious search through cluttered shelves.

By adding pull-out drawers, homeowners can significantly enhance the functionality of their kitchen, making it a breeze to organize and retrieve cooking essentials. Lazy Susans contribute by optimizing corner cabinet spaces, allowing for smooth, rotating access to all your kitchen necessities, thus maximizing every inch of your cabinet’s interior.

Maximize Space With Over-the-Cabinet Accessories

Over-the-cabinet accessories offer an ingenious way to reclaim unused space in your kitchen, making them a game-changer for kitchen renovations. These inventive solutions attach easily to the tops of cabinets or their doors, providing additional storage for everything from cutting boards to cleaning supplies without impacting the overall layout or design of the kitchen.

Incorporating these accessories into your kitchen cabinets enhances organization and contributes to a neat and orderly kitchen environment. They are particularly beneficial for small kitchens where every inch of space counts, allowing homeowners to maximize storage and effortlessly maintain a clutter-free zone.


Navigating the World of Cabinet Hardware

Now, it’s time to shift focus from the larger kitchen remodeling and cabinet selection components to the more minor yet equally significant hardware elements that can make or break your kitchen’s functionality and aesthetic.

Navigating the intricate world of cabinet hardware, from choosing between knobs and handles to ensuring these minute details align with your kitchen’s overall design theme, is a crucial step in the journey towards a kitchen that’s not only beautiful but practical.

This segment delves into how the proper selection and placement of hardware can elevate the usability of your kitchen cabinets while adding a cohesive finishing touch to your kitchen renovation project.

Selecting Knobs vs. Handles for Functionality

Selecting between knobs and handles for kitchen cabinets hinges on how you prioritize functionality in your kitchen’s daily use. Knobs offer a minimalist solution, often requiring only a single screw for installation, making them a discreet choice for a streamlined look. Yet, they may provide less grip than handles, which could be a crucial consideration for households with young children or individuals with limited hand dexterity.

On the other hand, handles tend to extend further from the cabinet doors and drawers, offering a more substantial area to grasp. This feature can significantly enhance the ease of opening heavy drawers or accessing cabinets frequently used during cooking and cleaning tasks. Their elongated design not only aids functionality but can also contribute to the aesthetic dimension of your kitchen renovation, serving as a statement piece in the overall design.


Coordinating Hardware With Your Kitchen’s Design Theme

Selecting the right hardware is the finishing touch that creates a seamless union between your kitchen’s style and functionality. When choosing knobs or handles, contemplate their style, finish, and material to ensure they align perfectly with your kitchen’s design theme. This thoughtful synchronization elevates the overall look, making your kitchen not just a collection of components but a cohesive masterpiece.

Consider the era or ambiance you aim for in your kitchen renovation: modern minimalism, rustic charm, or classic elegance. The hardware should echo this theme, acting as subtle accents that tie the room together. Whether it’s the sleek lines of brushed nickel for a contemporary kitchen or the intricate details of antique brass for a more traditional space, the right choice enriches the aesthetic appeal of your kitchen cabinets and, by extension, your entire kitchen.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Cabinet Installation

Embarking on the cabinet installation phase of your kitchen renovation signifies a pivotal shift towards manifesting your dream space. With an array of choices made – from selecting the ideal materials to determining the layout – it’s time to transition from vision to reality.

The process demands meticulous preparation, beginning with clearing the space and gathering the necessary tools to ensure a smooth and efficient installation. A strategic approach unfolds, advocating for installing wall cabinets before base cabinets, thus minimizing spatial constraints and facilitating a more straightforward setup.

This guide seeks to arm homeowners with the knowledge to navigate this critical phase and ensure their kitchen remodeling journey culminates in success.

Prepare the Space and Assemble the Tools Needed

Beginning the installation with a clear workspace ensures safety and efficiency, making it crucial to remove existing kitchen items and furniture. This step creates a blank canvas, allowing precise measurements and unhindered movement during the cabinet installation.

Gather all necessary tools beforehand, including a level, drill, screws, and measuring tape, to streamline the installation. Having these tools ready minimizes disruptions, enabling a smoother transition from planning to actual cabinet placement within your kitchen renovation project.

Hanging Wall Cabinets Before Base Cabinets

Initiating the installation process with wall cabinets sets a strategic foundation for the rest of the kitchen’s layout. By starting at this elevated point, you avoid the complication of maneuvering around or potentially damaging the base cabinets, ensuring a smoother workflow and safeguarding the integrity of your newly selected kitchen components.

Mounting wall cabinets first provides a clear advantage in visualizing and adjusting the spatial arrangement. This approach allows for precise alignment and distribution of cabinetry, ensuring that every piece fits perfectly into its designated space. It’s a method that streamlines the installation process, turning the vision of your kitchen renovation into a reality with efficiency and ease.

Ensuring a Smooth Finish After Installation

After the cabinets are securely in place, the final touches are paramount for achieving a polished look in your kitchen renovation. Carefully applying caulk along the seams and edges ensures a seamless transition between cabinets and walls, creating a clean, finished appearance. This step not only enhances the visual appeal but also aids in protecting against moisture intrusion, which can be detrimental to cabinet longevity.

Adjusting the doors and drawers for alignment follows as a critical post-installation task. Fine adjustments to the hinges and sliders ensure that each door hangs correctly and each drawer slides smoothly. This attention to detail guarantees not only the functionality of your kitchen cabinets but also contributes to the overall aesthetic harmony of the space. Installing the chosen hardware is the joyful culmination of your kitchen remodeling journey. Once knobs or handles are securely fastened, they transcend their practical purpose, adding a layer of style and personality to the kitchen. It’s a moment where the vision fully materializes, reflecting your taste and the effort poured into the selection process.

The final stage thoroughly cleans the workspace, removing construction debris, dust, and packaging materials. This step signifies the transition from a work-in-progress to a fully functional and renovated kitchen, ready to be enjoyed. This cleanup process also allows you to inspect the installation closely, ensuring every aspect of the renovation meets your expectations.

Choosing & Installing Cabinets in Kitchen Remodeling FAQs

We wrote concise answers to Choosing & Installing Cabinets in your kitchen remodeling process based on the Reddit sources and our 15 years of experience. 

What should I choose first when remodeling my kitchen?

Start by deciding on the overall theme and selecting appliances and countertops first. Following this guide, you can confidently plan changes for your cabinets, flooring, and backsplash before beginning your first project. There’s some flexibility, but significant items like appliances, counters, and cabinet layout should be determined upfront. The most expensive items are usually cabinets and countertops, so prioritize those decisions early. Demolition, repairs, painting, and lighting typically come before cabinets and floors. The exact order depends on your specific plans, but start with the big picture in mind.

What order do you install kitchen cabinets? 

The general order for installing kitchen cabinets is: 

1. Remove old cabinets and flooring 

2. Make any needed repairs to walls and subfloor 

3. Install new flooring up to where cabinets will sit 

4. Install lower cabinets first, starting in the corner 

5. Install upper wall cabinets, using a laser level and clamps to keep them aligned 

6. Install countertops 

7. Install appliances 

8. Install cabinet hardware, trim, and kickplates 

Installing flooring under appliances can create a seamless and neat look. However, it’s crucial to remember that cabinets should not be placed on the flooring. To avoid any accidental damage to the newly installed cabinetry, it is recommended that the walls and ceilings be painted before installing the cabinets. This will prevent any unsightly splatters and ensure a professional appearance of the final product.

Where do you start when installing kitchen cabinets?

Begin installing base cabinets in the corner of the kitchen, working outward. Find the highest point of the floor and mark a level line on the wall for the bottom of the upper cabinets, often 54-56″ above the floor. Use a laser level to keep everything aligned. Start installing upper cabinets at the corner, clamping them together as you secure them to each other and the wall. Remove doors and drawers first to make the cabinets lighter and easier to handle. Shim cabinets level as needed. Screw cabinets to wall studs and each other for stability.

When remodeling a kitchen, do you do floors or cabinets first?

There are two schools of thought – floors first or cabinets first. With floors first, cabinets sit on top of the finished floor. If cabinets are changed later but makes future floor replacement harder. Many contractors prefer to install cabinets first on the subfloor or underlayment, then install flooring up to the cabinets. This makes the flooring easier to change and ensures appliances fit correctly. However, some flooring warranties require a gap around cabinets for expansion. The right approach depends on your specific flooring type, kitchen configuration, and long-term plans. Consult flooring and cabinet suppliers for recommendations.

What is the most expensive part of a kitchen remodel?

Cabinets and countertops are typically the most expensive elements of a kitchen remodel. Custom or semi-custom cabinets made of high-end materials can easily cost an average kitchen $20,000-$40,000 or more. Stone countertops like granite or quartz can also cost $5,000-$10,000+.Appliances are another big expense, especially pro-style ranges and built-in refrigerators. Moving plumbing, gas lines, or electrical equipment also adds significant costs. A high-end kitchen renovation can reach $100,000 or more in a large kitchen. Labor and installation account for a substantial portion of the budget as well.

Which cabinets are usually installed first?

Base (lower) cabinets are typically installed before wall (upper) cabinets when remodeling a kitchen. Start by installing the corner base cabinet, checking that it’s level and plumb, then work outward, clamping and screwing the cabinets together as you go. Once all base cabinets are in, mark a level line for the bottom of the upper cabinets and install them, starting at a corner. This approach allows you to ensure the base cabinets are level and secured first to provide a stable surface for countertops. Wall cabinets are then aligned to the level base cabinets below.

Do kitchen cabinets go on the subfloor or finished floor?

Opinions vary on whether to install cabinets on the subfloor or finished floor. Many contractors prefer to install cabinets on bare subfloor or underlayment, then install finished flooring up to the cabinets. By ensuring easy floor replacement and proper alignment of appliances, you can prevent any potential issues like pinching floating floors. It is important to remember these things to maintain a safe and functional living space. However, some designers prefer the look of cabinets sitting on the finished floor. If installing on a finished floor, leave a small gap for expansion and scribe cabinets to fit tightly. Check the flooring warranty—some require a gap around cabinets and islands.

Do kitchen cabinets go on the floor or subfloor?

Kitchen cabinets should be installed directly on the subfloor or underlayment rather than on the finished floor. Installing and replacing the flooring is easier when cabinets are installed later. It also ensures that appliances like dishwashers and stoves align properly with countertops, usually placed on the finished floor. Since cabinets are securely attached to the wall and each other, they do not require the support of the finished floor. However, when installing on a subfloor, it is important to consider the thickness of the finished floor when measuring the height of the cabinets.

Should walls be painted before cabinets are installed?

It is essential to paint the walls and ceiling before installing new cabinets. Protect new cabinets from paint splatters and damage by painting before installation. Say goodbye to the hassle of cutting in around objects while painting. With this technique, you can paint without worrying about ruining your edges. It makes painting a breeze and gives you a neat, professional finish every time. 

The following order of operations is a must: repair the drywall, prime and paint the walls, install cabinets and countertops, install backsplash, install flooring, and touch-up paint. If you intend to preserve existing cabinets, it is imperative to paint them before installing new flooring to avoid damaging the floors. For the best results, install new cabinets only after painting the room but before installing the finished flooring.


Discover Local Kitchen Remodeling Excellence with Our Happy Customers

Kevin Stout:

Kevin Stout‘s review highlights the incredible job Elegant Kitchen & Bath did on his kitchen remodel, exceeding expectations in all phases. The initial design phase was pleasant, with Omer providing visual renderings and a concept design closely matching the finished product. The demolition, remodel, and build phase, led by Oscar and managed by Enes, stayed on schedule with proactive communication. Kevin is pleased with the amazing finished product and would use Elegant Kitchen & Bath for future projects.

Kifah Tlaib:

During a recent kitchen remodel, Kifah Tlaib was impressed by Tayfun and his team’s dedication to excellent service and honesty. The team’s work ethic and attention to detail resulted in an efficient and beautifully remodeled space. Kifah highly recommends their services.

Maria Goodwin:

Maria Goodwin shares her satisfaction with the stunning final product of her kitchen remodel by Elegant Kitchen. She advises visiting their showroom and speaking with Tayfun, whom she describes as very professional. Although a few items needed attention post-remodel, Tayfun was prompt in sending his crew to address them.

Are You Ready to Elevate Your Home with the Top Kitchen Remodeling Contractor in Virginia?

Join the ranks of our esteemed clients in Virginia, like Kevin, Kifah, and Maria, who turned to us for their home renovations. When searching for kitchen remodeling Virginia, look no further than Elegant Kitchen and Bath Virginia reviews. We pride ourselves on delivering tailor-made renovation solutions with an unwavering commitment to excellence. As your kitchen remodeling contractor, we’re excited to bring our expertise to your doorstep. Connect with us for a personalized consultation, and embark on a journey to transform your home into the sanctuary you deserve.


The guide underscores the critical decisions homeowners face when renovating their kitchens, focusing on cabinet refacing versus replacement, material selection, incorporation of innovative storage solutions, hardware choices, and the steps for successful cabinet installation.

Assessing your cabinets’ condition informs you whether to reface or replace them, balancing budget and design goals. Material selection, from wood to metal, impacts aesthetics and functionality.

Integrating modern storage solutions like pull-out drawers and over-the-cabinet accessories maximizes space and efficiency. Choosing the right hardware, including knobs and handles, enhances both usability and design coherence.

Finally, following a structured installation process, from preparing the space to ensuring a polished finish, is vital for achieving a dream kitchen that is functional and beautiful. Remodels comprehensive approach transforms the kitchen’s appearance and significantly boosts its usability and overall home value.

Elegant Kitchen and Bath offers kitchen remodelingbathroom remodeling, basement remodeling, and home addition remodeling services across a broad area, including

Herndon, Chantilly, Centreville,Reston, Sterling, GreatFalls, Ashburn, Fairfax, McLean, Manassas, Haymarket, Burke,
Vienna, Falls Church, Annandale, Springfield, Alexandria
 and Arlington.

Ready to transform your kitchen with a licensed contractor?

Visit Elegant Kitchen and Bath to start your journey toward your modern kitchen today.

Get Direction