Just Ask a Designer: How to Select Kitchen Cabinets

One of my main reasons for creating Adore Your Place was to help our readers solve their design dilemmas, each week I answer hundreds of design questions and I just love being able to apply my years of experience as a professional to your projects. Today’s topic is a question that comes in almost every week and is the first decision you need to make when deciding to purchase new cabinets.


Q. Can you tell me the different types of cabinet doors out there and what you recommend? Chelsea

A. There are three basic types of cabinet doors; inset (shown above) where the cabinet door is set into the frame of the cabinetry. partial overlay (shown below) where the cabinet door partially covers the frame and full overlay (last image) where the entire door covers the frame.  The look of the inset door is classic and sometimes cottage, the concern is that wood naturally expands and contracts over time and the cabinet doors may need to be adjusted, in my opinion well worth it for this look.


Partial overlay I mainly use this option when the budget is tight, the style will have a lower cost due to less materials needed. In addition to the three types of doors then there is the style of the actual door which falls into two major categories; raised or recessed panel, this would pertain to the center panel of the door. A raised panel is a more traditional or formal look but can also be dressed down in a soft white where the recessed can be cottage, modern or traditional; based on the design details of the door.

renewel design build

Above is the full over-lay door which means it covers the entire frame of the cabinet giving a sleek and streamline look. It allows the design detail of the door to become the focal point not the frame around it and can be specified in raised or recessed panel. It is what most of my clients select for style and functionality. Consider the look you are after, finish of cabinetry and scale of the room when selecting the door style, look through hundreds of styles here and read some of our favorite kitchen design articles here for inspiration.


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  • Kate

    As always, an informative post. I love the over-lay cabinet look.

    • http://adoreyourplace.com/ Cathy from Adore Your Place

      Thanks Kate, hoping to be back by the end of the month in full swing xo

  • Zoe Borrowdale

    Will you be ‘coming back’? Have missed your posts

    • http://adoreyourplace.com/ Cathy from Adore Your Place

      Hi Zoe,
      Yes definitely coming back by the end of the month. We had some family challenges and I was working abroad. xoxo

  • Mary Jane Smith

    I still love color in the kitchen but nice article!

    • http://adoreyourplace.com/ Cathy from Adore Your Place

      Thanks Mary Jane sorry for the delay in responding but I was working abroad. xo

  • monnaie

    Love the flooring!

    • http://adoreyourplace.com/ Cathy from Adore Your Place

      So do I, love the rustic organic feel of the floor with the crisp white cabinets .