Kitchen Cabinetry

Exotic veneers, decorative hoods punch up kitchens.


One of the most common ways to add a fresh look to your home is updating kitchen cabinetry. For many, today’s look in cabinetry is darker, sleeker and smoother. One way to achieve that look is by using exotic wood veneer fronts on a slab or frameless door – a more contemporary, edgy look that borrows from European-styled cabinetry. “You may have a patterned maple look or zebra wood, which can run horizontal or vertical, and makes almost a V pattern on the cabinet door, for example,” says certified kitchen designer Jessica Curry, CKD, at Showcase Kitchen and Design Center.

Other popular veneer options are laminate and melamine, which, like their exotic wood counterparts, can create subtle lines that add depth and texture to your cabinetry. But don’t worry – this isn’t your grandmother’s laminate. “They look real, but they don’t have the expense of real veneer,” Curry says.

Contemporary and edgy not your style? Don’t worry. The more traditional is always in style, although now perhaps in wood that’s a bit darker. “We’re still using a lot of maple and a lot of cherry,” Curry says. “The cherry I’m seeing has much darker stains – more of a browner stain now than a red. The redder color isn’t as popular now. It’s almost an ebony color that is gaining popularity, and we can do that in oak, too.”

While you’re focusing on the kitchen, don’t forget the range hood, which is no longer an afterthought but a design element that can add lots of punch to your kitchen. “For people doing anything but a contemporary style, doing a decorative wood hood or a faux-painted hood will make a big statement,” Curry says. For a contemporary look, stainless steel hoods are popular. Redesigning the hood isn’t just about looks. Today’s models can provide better ventilation, Curry says. On the other hand, keep in mind that if your home isn’t set up for the type of venting system a new hood needs, it can be a bigger undertaking.

“For some people, this is a higher-end product because of the cabinetry that has to be custom made to house the hood,” Curry notes. “But we’re doing a lot of range hoods, and this trend is going to be here for quite a while.”

An important part of your remodel is maintaining that just-done look, especially in the kitchen where cabinetry is vulnerable to splatters, grease and grimy hands. The best way to care for your kitchen cabinets is to immediately clean dirty spots, Curry says. Wipe down with a very soft rag and warm, soapy water, she says. Don’t use furniture polishes or oil soaps because they can cause a build-up or film on the surface, and your cabinets may become dingy looking.

For cabinets close to the oven or stove, be sure to wipe down immediately after cooking to help protect the finish. Windex works well on grease spatters, Curry says, but follow that by wiping down the cabinets with soap and water. You can also dust your cabinets periodically, being sure to get crevices and the tops, too.

Another simple maintenance tip: Use rubber bumpers on the backs of cabinet doors so that they don’t slam shut. Because these bumpers do tend to fall off over time, keep extras on hand. And be aware of parts that seem to rub, Curry warns. Over time, wood rubbing on wood will wear away that wonderful finish.

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Copyright 2007 Rochester Area Builders, Inc. No part of the Remodel It Right Handbook articles may be reproduced or printed without written permission from Rochester Area Builders, 108 Elton Hills Lane NW, Rochester, MN 55901. Phone (507) 282-7698.