Cabinet & Countertop Inspirations

Installing a kitchen island is an excellent remodeling project to improve the functionality of your kitchen and add unique design elements to your home. The island can be as simple or elaborate as you desire. Larger kitchens can have multiple islands serving a number of purposes.



To ensure the island is designed and located correctly, it is important to consider how the island will be used. Islands provide additional storage in the kitchen, serve as a buffet for large meals or entertaining, create incremental countertop/food preparation space, or establish an area for specific tasks, such as baking. In a number of instances, the island incorporates additional appliances, including cooktops, undercounter microwaves, or wine storage. Many islands have an informal eating space for snacks, breakfasts, or quick meals. Understanding your needs will make the island as functional as possible.



There are a number of items to consider in planning an island addition. The first step is determining if there is sufficient room for an island. Kitchen design guidelines suggest having 36" to 42" walkways between the island and perimeter cabinets. This facilitates movement around the island and ensures the ability to open/close appliance doors. The island also needs to fit with the kitchen's current work flow/work triangle. An easy way to check fit is to lay out the island's shape using masking tape or boxes. The tape/boxes can be adjusted to deal with any shortcomings. If appliances are included in the island, you will need to understand the implications of running electricity/gas to the island. This can be more challenging when the foundation is a concrete slab.  Typically, local building codes require that electric be run to the island.


From a design perspective, the island can be very simple or serve as a focal point for the kitchen. The options are virtually endless. Cabinets and countertops can be chosen to blend with the existing design, or provide a constrasting look using a different style/finish. The island can be designed in a single height, or multiple heights, creating additional interest. A higher level bar top can provide seating at the island and help shield food preparation and clean-up from the adjacent living space.



A well designed island will be a valuable addition to your home and increase the enjoyment and functionality of your kitchen.


Installing new cabinets in your home is a great way to update the style of your house as well as increase its value. Updated cabinetry adds charm and functionality to virtually any room in the house, from the bathroom to the kitchen. As noted in a previous post, cabinetry comes in a multitude of woods, finishes, styles and levels of customization. Another variation available for remodeling projects is the type of door/method of attaching the door to the cabinet.  Doors can be mounted to the cabinet face in different ways to provide various looks. The three most popular styles are Inset, Full Overlay and Partial Overlay doors. Each of these designs offers unique benefits.

lnset Doors are set into the cabinet's face frame and fit flush with the face of the cabinet when closed. This type of cabinet door provides the entire cabinet with a very smooth, sleek look. As the door is flat with the rest of the cabinet, a door pull or knob is needed to open the cabinet. Hinges can either be hidden or exposed on this type of door.

Inset door cabinets are typically more expensive than full or partial overlay doors, but they provide a unique and timeless look. It is also important to note that the expansion or contraction of wood due to humidity can cause rubbing between the door and the frame.  The picture below shows a kitchen with inset doors.



Full Overlay Doors do not sit in the cabinet frame like inset doors, but they sit on the face frame, almost entirely covering the cabinet face. Similar to inset doors, this provides a uniform, smooth look. This door type offers the largest opening into the cabinet, allowing easy access to stored items, like pots and pans. Full overlay cabinets have less than an 1/8" gap between doors and will need a pull or knob to open.. Full overlay doors are a great option for the homeowner who wants cabinets with a sleek look, but doesn't want the higher cost associated with inset doors. Below is a picture of full overlay cabinetry.



Partial  Overlay, or Traditional Overlay Doors are the most common and least expensive type of door. The door sits on the face of the cabinet and the total area of the door is smaller than the area of the cabinet face. This leaves "gaps" of usually 1" between the doors where the face frame of the cabinet can be seen. If the door is "back-beveled," door/drawer hardware is not required.  However, if the edge of the door/drawer is square, hardware will still be needed. An example of partial overlay cabinetry is below.

When you decide to replace countertops in your home, there are a variety of materials to choose from.  These options have different characteristics and pricing.  This is the third, and final, entry providing information on countertop options.  Like the previous two installments, you will find the pros, cons and maintenance of mainstream countertop choices.

Wood Countertops are both elegant and warm.  There are many different wood species available, as well as a variety of stain, thickness, edge profile, and texture options, making wood tops a timeless and beautiful option.  Pricing is $30 to $85 per square foot for materials.

  • Pros: Contrary to belief, wood countertops are very durable. With a permanent finish, they are waterproof. Wood is also food-safe due to its natural anti-bacterial properties, providing a worry free surface. The materials used to create the tops are also 100% renewable, making them a "green" option, unlike natural stone.
  • Cons: With constant use as a cutting board, a wood top may require re-sanding and re-finishing to maintain a smooth look.
  • Maintenance: The care required by a wood top varies depending on the finish used to seal the top. With a permanent varnish, a wood top requires no special care. A mineral oil finish will need re-applied 5-8 times a year. Bleach is not recommended for use on an oil-based finish.


Ceramic/Stone Tile countertops are an affordable and frequently used countertop option. Especially if you like the look, but not the price of granite ... buy granite tiles. Cost is $10 - 70 per square foot for materials.

  • Pros: Depending on the type of tile chosen, these countertops can be very durable: heat, stain and scratch resistant. There are a multitude of color and pattern choices available - with the option of mixing and matching tiles to create a top as simple or complex as your taste desires. If tiles are damaged, the bad tile can be replaced as long as replacement tiles are available.
  • Cons: The largest downside to tile countertops is dealing with the grout. Grout can stain or crack, requiring the countertop to be re-grouted. Another consideration ... while tile is durable, it is possible to chip tile.
  • Maintenance: Soap and water clean-up is the standard everyday procedure for tile tops. To protect against grout problems, it is recommended that the grout be re-sealed frequently.

Laminate countertops are one of the most affordable options available to homeowners. There is an endless amount of colors, patterns, and finish choices, as well as unique edge profiles. Cost is $12 - $20 per square foot for materials.

  • Pros: In recent years, laminate companies have worked to modernize colors and options available with laminate tops. Advancements have been made especially in the area of creating tops that mimic the look of natural stone slabs. Backsplashes can be integrated into the countertop and under-mount sinks are an option as well.
  • Cons: Laminate tops cannot be used as a cutting board ... the material is susceptible to scratches and cuts. Pot holders are also a must as laminate is only heat resistant to around 150 degrees. Once a laminate top is damaged, it is almost impossible to repair.
  • Maintenance: Daily clean-up is best done with soap and water. Bleach is not recommended.


"I am in love with my new kitchen and The KitchenWright played a huge part in that. I had specific ideas and they educated me and made it happen. They knew what I wanted and seamlessly made decisions based on that. I've had other contractors try to pass things by on me, thinking I wouldn't know the difference, but in this case they anticipated issues and fixed them before they were permanent. They were a delight to work with. My kitchen even made the Facebook page! Thanks for making this a great experience!"
-Gretchen C.

"Thanks so much for your help and input! We love our “refreshed” kitchen now. I really enjoyed working with you and have already given your card to a friend!"
-Arden E.

"They did a fabulous job. They were real professionals, it was the type of job that I could leave them alone and not worry about my house."
-Ed R.