For example, Bauer took me through the cabinet choices for a modest 10-by-10-foot, eat-in kitchen, with cabinetry lining two walls of the space. He chose a brand that is widely available throughout the country, Merillat, and its stock line that is used by many home builders: the Classic.
Likening his choice to a line of cars, a distinction that is easier for most homeowners to remember, Bauer said Merillat’s Classic line is analogous to a Chevy Malibu or a Honda Civic.
When Bauer’s 10-by-10 kitchen is finished with the no-frills, basic cabinetry with a partial overlay, flat-paneled oak doors (with this door, some of the oak front of the cabinet box will be visible), the cabinets cost about $1,350. The same kitchen with a full overlay, raised panel, solid cherry doors and the top-of-the-line glaze finish (this door completely covers the front of the cabinet box) will run about $4,500.
How can there be a $3,150 price difference between the two kitchens when the only major differences are the cabinet doors, drawer fronts and box fronts?
Some of the cost difference can be attributed to the door size, wood materials, door and drawer style, and type of finishes used. But much is simply cachet, Bauer said.
Offering a brief tutorial, Bauer explained that the most common type of wooden cabinet doors for kitchens and bathrooms is “paneled.” That is, the middle of the door is a panel, surrounded by four solid pieces of wood that form the four sides of the door. The panel can be flat or raised. The flat panels are usually veneered plywood. The raised panels, which are costlier, can be veneered hardwood over particle board or solid hardwood (which makes them pricier still). To accentuate the paneling and give the door a more distinguished look, glazes can be applied in the finishing process, and this drives up the cost even further.
But the beautiful doors that cost thousands add nothing to the utility of your kitchen, he says. If you’re willing to scale down on the looks and get a simpler, less costly cherry door, you can add features that will make this kitchen more functional, easier to use and still come out ahead by $1,300.
The same trade-offs would be true of most other cabinet lines, including Merillat’s more upscale Masterpiece: When you opt for a simpler door, you’ll have the budget for features that will make your kitchen more functional and more fun.
Baur offered some “more convenient” features of Classic kitchen cabinetry that would cost about $3,200, excluding labor:
Wall cabinets. Standard wall cabinets are 30 inches high with two shelves. Extending the cabinets to the ceiling adds a third shelf and increases the storage capacity by 50 percent.