Angie's LIST Guide to

Adding new cabinets or improving upon the existing ones can transform a kitchen from stale and old-fashioned to a modern marvel. Even those who are not wishing to immediately sell their homes can find a significant quality of life improvement from updates to cabinetry, be it on a large or small scale.


kitchen cabinets
Cabinets do more than hold items you use every day. They can add value and design to any space. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member David M.)

Planning for new cabinets

Before any work commences, the homeowner must first make a detailed plan. Some homeowners find it easier to work with a professional interior designer. Designers that specialize in kitchens and bathrooms can provide a number of ideas that fit within any personal preferences, will draw up plans, and will work with any contractors that might be hired.

However, they can also be somewhat expensive. You can reasonably expect to pay up to 20 percent of the total cost of the kitchen remodel if an interior designer is hired.

Those who choose to work without the aid of a designer must be able to make an accurate cabinet installation plan. Using design software can help homeowners to visualize the plan and aid them in making the best decisions for the use of their existing space. A simple Internet search can provide a number of inexpensive or free kitchen design tools.

Even with the aid of kitchen-design software, planning a kitchen will only be successful if measurements are precise and organization is taken into consideration. Measure all walls, appliances, and do not forget to make allowances for opening the dishwasher, oven, and refrigerator doors. Measure any windows and entryways as well.

Common cabinet designs

With measurements completed, next consider the organization of the kitchen. There are five basic kitchen designs, the choice of which largely depends on the amount of space the kitchen contains:

One Wall

Kitchens with the smallest amount of space will have one wall dedicated to cabinets and large appliances.


A galley kitchen utilizes a small amount of room by maximizing the workspace. A galley kitchen has two parallel walls of cabinetry with a walkway in between.

Kitchens can be installed in any formation to fit any kitchen space. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Matthew H.)


The U-shape kitchen has three walls of cabinets and appliances. The U shape kitchen is often seen in smaller areas, but can work in a large kitchen space as well. Often, homeowners who choose the U shape will incorporate an island, if there is adequate floor space.


The G-shape is similar to the U shape, but allows for a fourth workspace that is generally a peninsula. This workspace functions similarly to an island, but is often used instead of an island due to limitations of floor space.


L shaped kitchens are one of the most popular designs. Two perpendicular walls of kitchen workspace permit for a more open, roomier kitchen. Eat in kitchens often employ the L shape design, and this design also often allows for the additional workspace that an island provides.

Whichever design works best in each kitchen, it is most important to remember the basic kitchen triangle. The kitchen triangle is a designer’s term for the space between those items most often used in the kitchen: the refrigerator, the sink, and the stove.

These items should be placed near enough to each other as to allow easy access, but with countertop workspace in between. Also take into consideration locations for items that are used most often. New cabinets have special features such as built-in spice racks, swing-out racks, or lazy Susans. If you choose to employ one or more of these features, make sure they are in the most convenient location.

Installing new cabinets

Replacing existing cabinets is a serious endeavor, and one that should be carried out by a professional or a seasoned do-it-yourselfer. Removing existing kitchen cabinets is at least a two-man job, as cabinets and countertops can be extremely heavy and bulky.

If the cabinets or countertops are to be reused in some fashion, it is vital to take extra care so as not to damage the materials upon removal. Also, in the case of a DIY project, special care should be made so as not to damage any of the surroundings that are to be salvaged, such as flooring, trim, and walls.

When purchasing new cabinets, the decision about whether to do a home install or to have the cabinets installed professionally should be based not only on skill level and desire but also on the amount of time available to finish the project as well as the cost.

The cost of new cabinets will depend upon the homeowner’s choices. Stock cabinets that are pre-fabricated generally cost a minimum total of around $4,000 for an average 10-foot-by-12-foot kitchen. These are the least expensive, but they limit the homeowner to a small number of choices.

Semi-customized cabinets offer a higher number of choices, but can also easily be double the cost of stock cabinets. Prices of fully customized cabinetry generlly start between $15,000 to $20,000, but these prices do not factor in countertops or labor.


Looking for a good refacing company in Chattanooga. Can anyone recommend one please?

Hi Janet,

Members can search the List by signing in - there's a button in the upper right hand corner of the page - or you can give us a call at 1-888-888-LIST and speak to a customer service representative who can help. Thanks!

my kitchen is oak 10 yrs old we want to paint them light beige or white in waretown greenbrair oceanair

I have honey oak kitchen cabinet in my home. I like to paint them using rustoleum kitchen cabinet transformation kit. How to contact you to get an estimate for the whole project.

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