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Kitchen Cabinets: 16 Terms To Make It Sound Like You Know What You’re Talking About

When it comes to a kitchen remodel, few things impact the look--and cost--the way cabinets do. With this glossary, you'll talk storage and style like a pro.

Kitchen cabinets occupy a ton of visual space, and so as one of the most highly visible, often-used facets of a home kitchen, they have the potential to drive a desired design scheme. Cabinets also have a great influence on the budget of a kitchen renovation. A kaleidoscope of different finishes, materials, brands, shapes, and technologies is on view at kitchen showrooms, and the costs associated are as variegated as their looks.

So, if you’re embarking on a journey toward your own new kitchen, it can be helpful to speak fluent cabinet. Styles and sizes abound, and homing in on a few distinct terms will only make it easier to tell your general contractors and designers what you want. Below, a small sampling of some of the vocab used to describe your storage options. You don’t have to memorize them, but some background info could definitely prove helpful in helping you get your personal dream kitchen.

  1. Astragal: This is a type of molding. It’s small, in the shape of a half-circle, and it connects to cabinets’ bars.
  2. Bonnet top: This is the hood you see on top of china cabinets.
  3. Crown molding: Structural designs that occupy the top of the cabinet. Sometimes it connects the cabinet to the ceiling, and other times, it simply sits on top.
  4. Curio: Also known as a collector’s cabinet, this type covers its shelves with glass panels.
  5. Flat Panel: If you know you want modern kitchen cabinets, you might opt for flat panel cabinets, which are a hallmark of minimal and Scandinavian-style kitchens. They have no bevels, molding, or structural extras. They might have handles or knobs, but other than those elements, the doors generally rock a 2d look.
  6. Frameless: Frameless cabinets are exactly what they sound like. There’s no border around each door. What you see is what you open.
  7. Inset: This is a kitchen cabinet style that surrounds each door with a broad border. Picture a photo in a wide frame.
  8. Kas: This is an early American style cabinet made with painted or paneled wood. Its origins are Dutch.
  9. Kitchen island: The built-in version of a kitchen cart. It typically houses covered shelves, and has a counter on top where home chef can chop veggies and display small appliances.
  10. Laminate: This word refers to any thin material that’s glued to the exterior of a cabinet—or a counter, or a kitchen island, or pretty much anything else. It might be wood, plastic, or another material entirely.
  11. Muntons: Also known as muntins, muttons, mutons, and mullions, these refer to the decorative dividers affixed to the front of a cabinet’s glass door.
  12. Overlay (traditional): A traditional overlay cabinet has borders, but they’re set behind the closed doors. Opening the doors reveals more of the flat border. No knobs or handles are required, because when they’re closed, there’s about one inch of flat border space exposed, which means the cabinet doors themselves are easy to grasp and open.
  13. Overlay (European): European overlay cabinets are similar to regular overlay cabinets, but the doors cover the borders completely. Often, the hinges are hidden too.
  14. Pediment: This is the ornamental crest that tops tall, freestanding curios and chests.
  15. Shaker-style: You’ll find Shaker-style cabinets in many a country kitchen. Often made of wood, they are characterized by bevels, and they typically exude a traditional or even rustic vibe.
  16. Welsh cupboard: This refers to a cabinet whose upper area is comprised of open shelves, while its large base conceals a broad storage foundation.

Ready to show off your newfound knowledge? Or do you want to know a little more? Contact the contractor-designers of Gallery Kitchen & Bath and start your consult today.