When it comes to kitchen cabinets designs, always ensure that your interior designer works around the criteria of functionality, durability and ease of maintenance. Keeping these critical factors in mind will not only help to save time and money but also the hassles of having to modify a kitchen layout, remodel a kitchen, or even cleaning up the kitchen.
Having a beautiful kitchen is pointless if it is not functional. Only by achieving optimal functionality of the kitchen makes the kitchen space useful for your day-to-day preparation and cooking chores. A good design of kitchen cabinets should provide ample storage solutions. Apart from the usual kitchen utensils, cutlery, crockery & appliances, there are still some households in Singapore whose kitchens still require big items like portable cooking gas cylinders. Sufficient storage is important because you want the kitchen space to be kept as clear and spacious as possible for easier housekeeping and higher kitchen working efficiency.
In HDB flats and condominiums in Singapore, top and lower cabinets typically measures about 900mm to one metre in height and about 350mm in depth. The width of the kitchen cabinet doors vary.
Cabinet Configuration for Kitchen Organization
The kitchen cabinets should be designed in a systematic way where clear segregation of kitchen items can be achieved for easy retrieval and to minimize loss or the tendency to misplace certain kitchen tools or cooking gadgets. The kitchen cabinets should be configured and compartmentalized base on the way with which the user works around in the kitchen, i.e. kitchen ergonomics.
Add-ons to Conceal Corners, Recesses, Niches, Alcoves
In Singapore, most of us live in high rise apartments where overhanging beams or column protrusions are seen within our living spaces. When it comes to condominium or HDB renovations in Singapore, kitchen cabinets are designed with add-ons such as a side pull-out larder or custom shelving with varying depths and come with customized countertop profiles to align with and adjoin to the kitchen walls and backsplashes to maximize storage by using every corner, niches or any remote or odd profile of the kitchen space where free-standing appliance or furniture is not able to snug against the wall nicely. This is also good for concealing any bare corners, recess or alcoves that are of no use if left alone.
The frame of the kitchen cabinets is built by putting together wooden or metal members to form a skeletal rack where wood boards such as plywood for the interparty panels or fiberboards for the backing can be mounted to assemble the whole kitchen cabinet carcasses.
Kitchen cabinets that can last longer are often due to excellent quality of the materials used and skillful workmanship. For example, inter-partitioning panels made of plywood will last longer than fiberboard or particle board due to its greater structural ability processed by compressing layers of veneers of alternating grains in holding the screws and brackets that support the shelving in fitting the cabinetry works together. MDF boards (medium-density fibreboards) on the other hand is denser and more compacted than plywood and therefore stronger than plywood. In most carpentry works, fibreboards or particle boards are used as the back panels as they hold the least weight.
Joinery & Hardware
Good craftsmanship comes with superior wood joinery skills, and this is also one critical part in the constructional design of your kitchen cabinets that many customers tend to miss out. For example, shelves that are joined to the member panels perpendicularly using a housing joint (or trench joint) will have greater strength than those joined using a normal butt joint.
The way with which the door panels are hinged and bracketed to the cabinet frame and the quality of the ironmongery and accessories such as hinges, drawer runners, handles, etc, all play critical role in the life span of your kitchen cabinets. For example, a piano hinge can take on more weight of a cabinet door while a fully inset hinge enables it to be concealed, giving it a ‘frameless’ look from the exterior.
In terms of wooden kitchen cabinet doors, solid wood is the most durable as it has better noise and fire retardant properties. Solid wood also sustains many types of surface applications due to its strength compared to plywood or hollow wood panels.
Choosing finishes for kitchen cabinets should not just be based on aesthetical designs. As the kitchen is prone to grease, moisture and stains, always consider the maintenance aspect of the kitchen cabinets’ finishing material. The finishing layer not only produces the style and design of your kitchen, it also acts as a protective layer to the cabinet door’s substrate. Selecting the wrong finishing material can result in the kitchen cabinets wearing out faster.
Most customers opt for laminate finish for their kitchen cabinets however there are many different types of laminates in the market.
Plastic or Synthetic or Melamine Laminates
Synthetic laminates are processed by infusing several layers of paper with melamine resins to thermoset them into a single thickness of the final product. In the market, they are also labeled as melamine formaldehyde. This plastic laminate has a top coat of a hardwearing transparent material applied to it and is resistant to abrasions and scratches. In Singapore, the cabinet laminate brand “Formica” is widely used for their synthetic laminates, also known as their high pressure laminate range.
Laminated Wood Veneers
Wood veneer laminates are thin layers of real wood sliced from lumbered pieces and are used to apply on the core substrates of cabinet door panels such as plywood or MDF boards to simulate a solid wood look to the kitchen cabinets. Because of natural wood involved, wood veneers finish generally costs more than synthetic laminates. Another advantage of wood veneers have over plastic laminates is the cabinet surface is repairable by sanding and re-varnishing it.
If a more natural, organic wood-grained look design is preferred for your kitchen cabinet designs (mostly for country-styled kitchens), then using laminated wood veneers will be ideal as they cost lesser than solid wood kitchen cabinet door panels.
Post-formed laminated finish to cabinet doors is an application technique used to wrap around the edges of the panel such that it is seamless. This type of finish provides a more lasting nature not only by preventing against moisture or heat that can warp the surface of the kitchen cabinets but also prevents the finishing material from peeling which can result in the curling out or flapping up of the cabinet’s surface.
For ease of maintenance, while fingerprints are inevitable on both glossy and matt surfaces, kitchen cabinets that are of darker colours are easier to maintain as they are harder to be noticed in terms of stains. As a design idea for small kitchens, we suggest using polycarbonate or glass panels framed with lighter colours for the cabinets to create a sense of a larger space.
Wood trimmings of varying designs and motifs are sometimes preferred to having just one-dimensional flat surfaces of kitchen cabinets. While the molding details can give the kitchen cabinet designs a unique look, they can look outdated and difficult to maintain due to dust or grease trapping within the intricate carving designs.