Cabinet Door Styles

Brian Barth
contemporary wood cabinets

Contemporary

Cabinetry styles fall into two broad categories: contemporary and traditional. Take a look through the following options and think about which would fit best with the decor of your home and your personal sense of style and taste.

This is a typical example of a contemporary style with its glossy finish, simple wood and metal materials and horizontal orientation of the handles and wood grain. It's perfect for a modernist home and the antithesis of vintage or antique cabinetry.

white kitchen cabinet

Laminated

Kitchen and bathroom cabinets are often made with a laminate surface that is moisture-resistant and easy to clean. White is the classic choice in these areas of the home, especially for a house with modern decor.

Veneer

The more inexpensive a cabinet door is, the more likely it is to be surfaced with wood veneer. This is an artificial wood-like layer that is glued over particle board and doesn't hold up indefinitely. It's great for people on a budget, but otherwise not a very desirable choice.

utilitarian metal cabinet

Metal

Metal cabinets are generally for a utilitarian purpose, whether in a garage or workshop or in the office as lockable security cabinet like this one. They're not big on style, but metal cabinets are durable and long-lasting as long as they are not exposed to moisture.

shaker cabinetry

Shaker Style Cabinet Doors

The Shakers were an 18th century religious sect known for their simple, elegant woodworking style. Their approach to cabinet doors - a wide raised border around a flat center panel - is often emulated by modern day cabinet makers and is great choice for people who like clean simple lines, but without a modernist aesthetic.

glass cabinet door

Glass

Glass adds a unique feel to cabinetry and is found in both contemporary and traditional styles. This model is opaque, so you can't actually see what's inside, but it makes for a much lighter feeling surface than solid wood, which can really weigh down a room.

cabinet door with wood louvers

Louvered

Louevered cabinet doors were traditionally intended to provide ventilation - useful for storing fresh foods in the kitchen, as well as for in the bedroom for storing clothing in humid climates. But louvers are also just a nice aesthetic touch to change things up a bit.

wicker and wood cabinet door

Wicker

Soft materials like wicker are a welcome relief from the heavy hard stuff that dominates most cabinet doors. You probably wouldn't use this one in a kitchen or bathroom, but it's a great choice for clothing storage or an old record collection in the living room.

Simple Router Design

Here's an example of an inexpensive wood cabinet door. Solid wood doors made of pine or fir are fairly cheap, but have the warm feel of solid wood. The key is to dress them up a bit, as this one illustrates with its muted green stain and simple arch design made with a wood router.

slab doors with unique wood grain pattern

Slab

The wood slab approach is a very elegant option for cabinet doors that is typically used with high-quality, heavy-duty hardwood panels and can fit both contemporary and traditional styles. There is no relief or ornamentation on the surface of the doors with this style, as the wood itself is so beautiful.

old-fashioned cabinetry

Vintage

One definition of vintage is irregular and unique. This antique cabinet door is weathered by time and has subtle irregularities that add to its charm - perfect for an older wood home or log cabin.

traditonal style cabinet doors

Traditional

Here is an ultra-traditional style cabinet - solid hardwood panels, fine relief in the surface design and ornate round hand pulls. It would be right at home in a bedroom or living room of a Victorian home, but would probably clash with a modernist home.

Contemporary and traditional cabinetry are the two polar extremes in style, but in between are many options, some of which would be hard to classify cleanly as one or the other. Try printing out some of the photographs and holding them up in the room where you are looking to put new cabinets to help you visualize how they will look, feel and function in the space.

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Cabinet Door Styles