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The Best Cabinets for our Kitchen Remodel

by - Saturday, February 16, 2008

It's done. We've finally decided on the kitchen cabinetry. We started this kitchen journey not knowing much about how to select kitchen cabinets but our market research proved fruitful. After making a few more trips this weekend to look once again at the Canac, Aya, and Lowe's cabinetry options we have found exactly what we want. But before I tell you about what we selected, I'll tell you which kitchen cabinets we didn't select.

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The price was right with Canac and the kitchen designer was most helpful. We had heard positive reviews about the quality of their cabinetry so that was not an issue. They did offer a shaker style door... but in the end, it was the stipply textured finish of the thermofoil which knocked out this contender. It wasn't that bad, and as they say "Many will see, but few will notice" but we couldn't bear the thought of looking at and touching these cabinets for the next ten years and just thinking... eww. Maybe we're being finicky about the details but we knew we could find something better


After encountering the stipplies, HandyMan and I booted over to Ikea. Even their cabinet finishes felt nicer to the touch. But we couldn't bring ourselves to buy our kitchen at Ikea. I'm sure their quality is great and their product looks great and all, but we were hoping for a more custom, built-in look.

Aya and Altima

Both of these custom kitchen manufacturers offered a great product. We just saw an Aya kitchen in Junebug and Frisco's kitchen (which looks absolutely awesome, btw) and knew you would get quality for the money. But was it worth double the price of the Canac cabinets? Hmmm, not so sure.

Kitchen Craft at Lowe's

We originally priced a KraftMaid kitchen at Lowe's but soon realized that we really didn't want framed construction. Then we checked out another line offered at the store - the new Imprezza line by Kitchen Craft. Lucky for us, they offered a white thermofoil door in a satin finish (i.e. no stipplies!). And the price? Same as the Canac! Woohee, our prayers were answered.

There were a few things we liked about this line:
  • no cracking: Because the coating is a thermofoil on mdf, there is no chance for cracking or separating of the finish. With painted wood doors, the wood can expand or contract based on humidity - which means the paint can crack. You'll notice the cracking along the mitred corners, or along the recessed interior seams.
  • satin finish: The door feels almost like its laquered. It has a smooth finish, meaning easier cleanup.
  • finished front and back: The thermofoil 'wraps' the whole door, giving it a smooth finish front and back. In the past, some thermofoil finishes were only applied to the front of the door, and a laminate was wrapped along the remaining edges and back side. As a result, the laminate would tend to peel when exposed to high heat -- not a good thing when you've got cabinets butting up against your stove!
  • option for soft close: I really wanted this feature. This line doesn't offer just the soft close hardware; instead, you pay a reasonable charge of $75 per drawer to get a better drawer with the soft close, plywood drawer sides, wood grain laminate finish, and dovetail joints. Since drawers will get a lot of wear and tear, I think this is a fair price for a good upgrade

Lessons Learned 

Here's a few tips we learned which may help those of who are considering different kitchen cabinet manufacturers:
  • Visit the big box stores first. Sit with a kitchen designer and do a layout. Most likely they will give you a printout of that layout with an itemized cost list. You can then take that layout (if you're happy with it) to other providers and do a cost comparison.
  • Most kitchen manufacturers offer the same basic frame - a white melamine interior. So, what you're really paying for is the cabinet door. Look at the door and touch it. Make sure you like the finish. Know the differences between painted, stained, or thermofoil finishes.
  • Know all the problems with your existing kitchen that you want fixed. One issue we had was where to store the KitchenAid stand mixer. We solved it by having one lower base cabinet fitted with a roll-out drawer. We chose one roll-out instead of two because of the height of the mixer.
  • Find out the tolerance level. With the Imprezza line, filler pieces go up to three inches. That means for a full bank of cabinets, they could be 'short' of the wall up to six inches. And why is that important? Well, because we aren't moving any of the walls, we can take measurements before demo and order the cabinets right away. This shortens the timeline greatly -- with many kitchen manufacturers, they won't even take measurements until demo has been completed and the new drywall has been put up. With a 4-6 week delivery time, this means that cabinet manufacturing and demo/plumbing/electrical/tiling etc can now happen concurrently and we're without a kitchen for a very short period of time.
In the end, this was the best kitchen for us and our needs. We have a simple layout and wanted simple cabinets at a low cost. Plus, all the money we've saved just means we can splurge on the tile :)

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  1. I love these, and am encouraged that you found them at Lowe's. They're exactly what we're looking for, too.

    Thanks for the Google Notebook tip, I'll have to check it out!

    I can't wait to see your new kitchen!

  2. Anonymous10:53 AM

    We followed a similar process and ended up with the same company only through the RONA company. The product is the same but is called Orchard Park. The names were different but between RONA, LOWES and a custom kitchen company that carries the exact same product sold under the KITCHEN CRAFT label we were able to see enough model kitchens to make an educated decision!

  3. Anonymous12:41 PM

    Consider yourself to have dodged a bullet with Canac. We made the mistake of ordering from them and waited 4 months for the cabinets to be delivered. When they did arrive they were not the right finish and had to be reordered. We are in month 4 of waiting for the replacement cabinets. It has been a complete nightmare made worse by the fact that the Canac reps don't provide any information about expected delivery dates and have never even apolgized for the problems.

    Good luck with your project!

  4. Oh dear, sorry to hear about your Canac experience anon! Hopefully your cabinets are an their way.

  5. Anonymous2:18 PM

    Thank you so much for this information! We are also looking for an affordable white cabinet with a shaker style door. I will definitely look into this!~sara

  6. I am in the midst of my own kitchen renovation, and chose the same cabinet style by Kitchen Craft. They were installed last week and are everything I expected in terms of appearance and quality construction. Wish I'd seen your website months ago, it would have made my decision process much easier!


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