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Not many people would argue how important a kitchen is to a home. Sure, some places don’t even have kitchens – tons of people in larger cities dine out or order food for literally every meal of the day, which isn’t much of a surprise when the apartment’s kitchen is made up of a two burner stove, an oven the size of a shoebox and a mini dorm room style fridge. But, thankfully you don’t live like that. In most homes the kitchen is a primary focal point – in design, value, and activity. We can spend, on average, over three entire years throughout the course of our lives preparing food and cleaning up the aftermath in that single room. That adds yet another element of the kitchen’s true importance. It’s no wonder so many people invest so seriously in kitchen remodels – and the cabinets deserve all the attention they can get. Here are some helpful and perhaps surprising tips for the cabinet materials for your kitchen remodel.

WOOD – The obvious choice. Everyone’s cabinets are made of wood, right? No (you’ll see). But if you do choose wood there are actually several factors to take into consideration. Most of these factors will be determined by the species you choose. Different species have different grain patterns and noticeability, different colors (lightness and darkness), different levels of durability, and of course different prices. The most common species found in cabinetry are oak, maple, mahogany, birch, cherry, and pine. Oak, maple and pine are usually lighter in hue and therefore easier to stain. Cherry and mahogany typically have the richest colors. When it comes to durability pine scratches and dents very easily and may not hold up all that well to all those hours in kitchen. Oak and maple are very strong and generally hold up well, while mahogany tops out the list for durability. If you, your spouse, and your four far-from-gentle children are constantly in and out of the cabinets, then mahogany is your best bet. The price scale seems to follow the durability scale quite closely. Pine is the cheapest, oak and maple are both considered mid-range, and mahogany is going to cost you the most. That said, mahogany will likely look the best and definitely last the longest.

STAINLESS STEEL – As expected, stainless steel is the lowest maintenance material you’ll find. A quick wipe and it’s clean. It also impedes the growth of bacteria and germs. So, if you happen to be a total clean freak consider stainless steel for the entire kitchen – so what if it looks like a spaceship. It will provide clean, sharp looking lines as well – really modernize the general aesthetic. With all these benefits you’d think the price would be considerably significant. You would be absolutely correct.

THERMOFOIL/LAMINATE – These are synthetic materials, surface finishes or veneers typically laid over something like particleboard. Some may say fake. Some may say faux. Tomatoes. Good news is, they are easy to clean, can mimic the look of a more expensive wood, and are quite cheap. Durable? Indeed. But when it comes to wood, most designers will tell you, there’s nothing like the real thing.

BAMBOO – If you are remodeling your kitchen but care about something other than your kitchen, bamboo is for you. It’s a renewable resource, growing so fast that in many areas it’s considered (by

mean people) a nuisance plant. For the environmentally conscious home owner there are other benefits to bamboo as well. It is extremely durable, cleans easily and can provide a clean, modern feel to the room. It has a light, natural finish that typically softens the utilitarian nature of a kitchen and is available in other colors as well. When it comes to cost, unfortunately, it can be up there – it’s not the most expensive material out there but it’s not a cost cutter either. Hey, if saving the world were cheap everyone would do it.

NO CABINETS – Do you think your flatware, stemware, plates, bowls, mugs, glasses (you get the idea) are so beautiful it’s a shame to keep them hidden away? Maybe you have collected a wonderfully eclectic stash of handmade pottery dishes and hand-blown glasses. Set them free! There is no rule that says no one can see all your plates and dishes unless they are eating off of them. Install some good looking shelves, floating ones perhaps, and display your collection like you’re the head curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Whether you choose a more traditional route of remodeling or something (or nothing) on the cutting edge of design, the materials you choose will be the defining factor in the finished product. They will set the mood, declare a theme and provide an aesthetic. They will also, most likely, contribute largely to your budget. Choose wisely.


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