How to Design Custom Cabinets for Your Kitchen Remodel

When remodeling your kitchen, one of the most significant financial investments will be your cabinets. Working with a qualified and experienced interior designer will help ensure that financial investment pays off. A skilled interior designer will be able to walk you through the process of designing custom cabinets for your kitchen remodel. This article will give you an overview of what the design process entails.

Creating the Kitchen Cabinet Layout

The first step in designing you kitchen cabinets is determining the layout. During this step, your designer will help you decide what type of cabinets to use, where they’ll go, and how big they’ll be.

The layout drawing should include an elevation detailing each wall and the breakdown of your custom cabinets. Below is an example of what the breakdown may look like.

Base Cabinetskitchen design layout

  • Drawers
  • Doors with an option for a drawer
  • Pullouts
  • Number of shelves

Upper Cabinets

  • Glass doors
  • Number of shelves


  • Pullouts
  • Number of shelves


Selecting the Interior and Exterior Finish

Excel Builders has an in-house custom cabinetry shop. All of our cabinets are built with ¾” material, including the tops, bottoms, backs, and sides. Most of our cabinets are made with Hardrock Maple Melamine interiors. If your cabinets will have glass doors, the interior should be finished.

The photos below show two different interior finishes for cabinets with glass doors. The first cabinet features a painted interior, while the other is stained.

The chosen exterior finish for your cabinets will determine which wood species will be used. If your cabinets will be painted, I recommend using maple. If your cabinets are going to be stained, your options are endless. Some popular choices include alder, walnut, hickory, and oak.

Can’t decide between painted and stained cabinetry? Try a combination of both!

Choosing Door and Drawer Front Styles

Custom kitchen cabinets give you unlimited options for door styles. When designing your cabinet doors, you’ll choose a panel, frame, and edge. The process is similar for drawer fronts. In addition to the drawer front style, you can choose between a slab or 5-piece. A 5-piece drawer front has a frame around a center panel that is either recessed or raised.

The photo below shows a base cabinet with a slab drawer front on top and 5-piece drawer fronts underneath.

This is also an excellent time to introduce full overlay and inset cabinets.

In the picture below, you do not see any of the face frame for the cabinet. This is a full overlay.

In the next picture, you’ll notice the face frame is visible, and the cabinet doors and drawer fronts are inserted inside the frame. This is an inset cabinet.

lower inset cabinets

There are many variations of overlay and inset cabinets. You can choose one or the other or use a combination of both when designing your kitchen cabinets.

Selecting Cabinet Trim Pieces

kitchen cabinet trim exampleOnce you’ve chosen the style and fronts of the cabinets, it’s time to move on to crowns and aprons. The crown is the trim piece at the top of the cabinet, while the apron is the trim at the bottom of the cabinet. Apron trim helps conceal under-cabinet lighting. As with door styles, your cabinet trim options are unlimited.

Incorporating Storage Solutions and Cabinet Accessories

One of the most common requests we receive from clients is accessories for their cabinets. When designing kitchen cabinets, you can easily incorporate different accessories and storage options. Some of our clients’ favorites include pullouts in base cabinets, cutlery drawers, and organizers for pots and pans.

Adding Finishing Touches

At this stage, your cabinet design is almost complete. The finishing touch will be selecting hardware. Cabinet hardware, which includes knobs and pulls, comes in a wide range of styles and colors to complement any kitchen design.

Ready to get started designing custom cabinets for your you next remodeling project? Excel Builders can help!

With an in-house cabinet shop and a skilled interior designer, we can provide custom cabinetry for every room in your home. In addition to kitchen cabinets, we can design and build bathroom vanities, linen closets, mudroom lockers, and closet organizers.

Get in touch with our team at (612) 306-4064 or to get started.

Recommend linking to the “What Qualities Make a Great Kitchen Designer” blog once that’s published on the site.