Cabinetry Design Tips

Beautiful cabinetry can take a bathroom or kitchen space further than most things can, and it’s one of the renovation items we recommend all of our clients invest in! Between inlay vs. overlay, paint grade vs. stain grade, hardware, and more, it can be overwhelming trying to decide what type of cabinetry to use in your space. With that in mind, we connected with one of our designers to get her insight on when to use which type of cabinet, and how to choose the right cabinet paint color for your space. Keep reading for her best cabinetry design tips!

Stain Grade vs. Paint Grade Cabinets

Something you’ll hear a lot when designing custom cabinetry is stain grade or paint grade wood, so we wanted to explain the difference in our cabinetry design tips. We use both in our projects, and love to use the cabinetry stain or paint color as part of the design in the space.


Most cabinetry that you see is paint grade. Paint grade cabinetry is typically slightly lower in quality because the grain of the wood matters less – It’s going to be painted over after all! We love using paint grade cabinetry throughout our projects, and choosing a paint color is always fun. We’ll delve more into how to choose a cabinet paint color below!


Much like its name suggests, stain grade cabinetry is intended to be stained! Stain grade cabinetry is more expensive and has to be higher quality. The stain you choose will bring out the natural character of the wood underneath, so it’s important that you choose the right wood for your space. In our projects, we’ll usually pick a few spaces to invest in stain grade cabinetry wherever we feel like the natural wood tone will add the most charm to the design.

Choosing Cabinetry Paint Colors

When we’re choosing paint colors for the custom cabinetry in our projects, we first take into the account the space we’re working in. We tend to have a little more fun with our color selections in powder baths, laundry rooms, and kids’ spaces. These smaller spaces are always fun to accentuate with darker and more colorful hues. In larger spaces and when clients are wanting a space that feels really bright and open, we’ll go with a classic white paint color. Whites also tend to look best in rooms with a lot of natural light. So, keep that in mind when choosing cabinet paint colors!

When it comes to choosing the specific paint colors themselves, we always try to juxtapose light and dark in a space. For example, if we’re going to use a dark countertop material, we may opt for a lighter neutral cabinet color. The converse is true, too! We love using a moody paint hue in a space with light floors and countertops.

Inlay vs. Overlay Cabinetry

When working on custom cabinetry in your home, one of the first things to decide is whether you prefer an inlay or overlay cabinet style. We use both depending on the space we’re designing and the overall style preferences of our clients. Here’s a quick overview of the difference between the two styles:


Inlay cabinetry provides a very clean look and is typically very well-made. However, it often requires more skill to install and can be more expensive. We love it because it emulates a crisp and timeless style that can be used for years to come. One of our favorite spaces to use inlay cabinetry is in kitchens! They work well in high-traffic areas and in spaces where you want to show off beautiful detailing.


Overlay cabinets are designed to fully cover the face frame. The resulting look is very streamlined, and tends to skew more contemporary than inlay cabinetry. Because the doors are mounted on the face frame of the cabinet, overlay cabinets can also maximize your storage space. For that reason, we love using them in bathrooms, mudrooms, and laundry rooms where we typically look to provide extra storage for our clients.

We hope these cabinetry design tips have been helpful! Beautiful cabinetry can make such an impact in a space, and it’s one of the first things we work on with our design clients.

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