Category Archives: Design ideas

Quality Kitchen Cabinets: 11 Ways Cabinets Can Be at Home in Any Room

Why do we want quality kitchen cabinets in our kitchens? For efficient and attractive storage of items such as cookware, dishes, and food. But we have a need to store items in other rooms too, so why not put cabinets to use in those rooms as well? Today’s cabinets are available in so many colors, stains and styles that it’s easy to create an attractive, built-in look that makes your cabinets like furniture—only one hundred times more useful.

We took a look around the Internet and discovered people are using quality kitchen cabinets in just about every room of the house—and outside the house as well. Here are 11 ideas to get you thinking about your own home and how you can do the same:

In the playroom
Although parents with a playroom are fortunate to have a designated place for the mess we call toys, they still need a way to put those toys away at the end of the day and keep those same toys in easy reach of little bodies. Built-in custom cabinets can do the job, cut the clutter, and even keep toys organized by child or type.

In the kids’ bedrooms
Why do we buy dressers for kids? I swear, they have an aversion to actually using them, and they seem to have more stuff than they do clothes. If my kids were young all over again, I’d probably forego the dresser and opt for built-in cabinets instead!

In the mudroom or laundry room
Only peruse Pinterest and you’ll see gorgeous mudrooms and laundry rooms made super efficient with the use of custom cabinetry. As in the playroom, built-in cabinets can keep a room tidy, and ensure everyone has a place for their stuff in the mudroom or their laundry in the laundry room.

In the bathroom
Quality kitchen cabinets can make a small bathroom more efficient, a large bathroom into a his-and-hers space, or any bathroom into an attractive one.

In the dining room
Have you ever been inside an older home and marveled at the efficiency of the built-in cabinets in the dining room? Why did we stop building homes with that feature? It makes so much sense, to have the dishes and flatware where you need them. Lucky for us, we can emulate that old-fashioned practicality with built-in cabinets that will look and work just the same.

In the living room
Today’s cabinets can be built to look like furniture, yet customized to fit your space and your needs. Consider using kitchen cabinets in the living room for a combination of attractiveness and efficiency.

In the home office or study
The home office has become ubiquitous but we don’t really want our homes to look like our workplaces. That’s where quality kitchen cabinets can be used to save the day—and our sanity. Cabinets can provide storage of work materials, so they are tucked away and out of sight when you’re off the clock. Plus your home office will look polished and pulled together, which can increase your productivity!

In the media room
The media room is like the playroom in probably one of the most obvious places to use semi-custom cabinets to make the room attractive yet tidy. You easily can tuck away all those game controllers, DVDs, gadgets and more when not in use when you have somewhere to put them.

As a home bar
You might not have a separate room for your home bar, but using semi-custom cabinets can make it seem as if you do!

In the craft or sewing room
Admittedly, the kids have their toys and so do the grownups. For some of us grownups, those toys are related to crafts and sewing, and we make our own kind of messes as a result. With cabinets built into the room, you can easily stash away your painting supplies or fabric when not needed—and easily find them again when you get some free time to work on your project again.

In the garages or shops
Meanwhile, some of us grownups have our “toys” outside, in woodshops and garages. As with the craft room, quality kitchen cabinets in the shop or garage can help to keep supplies and tools neat and tidy when not in use—and easy to find when needed!

We do a lot of living in our homes—and not just in the so-called living room, but in every room we have available to us. Wouldn’t it be nice to have all that living done with a bit less mess and a bit more style? Quality kitchen cabinets can make it so!

Kitchen Design Trends 2018: The Big Picture

In our last kitchen design blog post, we talked about the kitchen colors that will trend in 2018. Before that, we took a look at some of the kitchen and bathroom details designers predict homeowners will want during the remodels of the new year. Now let’s see what the experts say about the bigger picture kitchen design trends for the upcoming year, those trends that involve more than a paint color or faucet choice.

  • Open layouts will continue to replace the closed-up kitchens of that past. Whether it means knocking down walls or re-orienting furniture, homeowners will have their open floor plans for their kitchens, as these rooms become true living rooms, with families gathering for all kinds of activities beyond simply food prep and eating.
  • Bigger and better islands will therefore be in demand, as homeowners make more room for eating spaces and gathering. Kitchen islands will become a focal point in the kitchen, as they get longer and wider, become multipurpose, and offer more storage.
  • And that storage is needed for streamlining, as homeowners do away with countertop clutter, window curtains and hanging pot racks in order to give their kitchens a streamlined, efficient appearance. Induction cooktops will eliminate the need for range hoods, for more streamlining in the kitchen.
  • Some homeowners will even choose to do away with upper cabinets and use open shelving instead, to achieve the more open, streamlined look. If they’re not doing away with wall cabinets, those semi custom cabinets will extend all the way to the ceiling, doing away with soffits.

These are all kitchen design trends to keep in mind when you’re in the early stages of planning, because these are design choices that will affect other design decisions such as where to install plumbing for a sink and what style semi custom cabinets will work on an oversized kitchen island. For other kitchen design advice, see:

Not all will change in the world of kitchen design in 2018, however. White will win many color debates. Quartz will stay the countertop material of choice. Hardwood floors will continue to dominate kitchen flooring choices. And semi custom cabinets will still be the best choice for many new kitchens.

Love to Entertain? 5 Tips for Designing a Party-Ready Kitchen That Lightens Your Load!

OK, I know not everyone likes to entertain. A friend just canceled a baby shower because she was so intimidated by the idea of having a party in her home. But I suspect she’s in the minority. Most people I know loooove to entertain, including me. There’s just something about creating a fun atmosphere for your friends and feeding them well, plus a little bit of showing off too, if we’re honest.

Not that it’s not work! Entertaining can be a lot of work, but the smiles on friends’ faces make it all worthwhile. And when you’re designing a new kitchen, you can take steps to build one that’s set up for entertaining, so it’s less work but still just as much fun.

We combed expert kitchen designer resources for ideas on creating a party-ready kitchen, and list our five favorites below. Whether you prefer casual or formal, football games or fine wine tastings, intimate dinners or busy brunches, you’ll find tips you can put to use in your new kitchen design…

  1. Include a kitchen island in your design. With a kitchen island, you’ll get extra storage space, plus counter space and seating. An island can be just about any shape you can imagine, even when you’re using semi-custom cabinets. Although a rectangle shape works, consider an L-shaped kitchen island or even a U-shaped one.
  2. Factor in storage. If you entertain large crowds, you’ll have more dishes, more glassware, more booze and more food to store. Work with your kitchen design or kitchen cabinet manufacturer to come up with clever storage for everything entertaining.
  3. Add in appliances. Could you use a wine fridge? What about a second oven? A warming oven? Do you need two dishwashers after a big to-do? Make room for the extra appliances you’ll need when partying as you plan out your semi custom cabinets.
  4. Consider the traffic flow. People congregate in kitchens. There isn’t anything you can do about that. The kitchen is the heart of the home all the time, but seems to be even more so during a party! Make sure you’ll still be able to cook and clean even with guests around.
  5. Count on your countertops. For those who like to entertain a lot, trouble-free countertops are a must. You don’t want to be worried about red-wine stains when you’re trying to be a pleasant host or hostess. But also think about how much countertop you’ll want when it’s party time. Will you have enough prep space? Do you use countertops for seating at the kitchen island? Will you serve up buffet style? Get creative to meet your needs. You can include pull-out counter or table space in your kitchen that hides away when not needed, for example, and appliance garages that get clutter out of the way.

Above all when designing your new kitchen with entertaining top of mind and semi custom cabinets at the top of your list, make sure your choices will maximize your fun as well as your guests.

Are Semi Custom Cabinets “Just Right” for Your New Kitchen Design?

Semi custom cabinets are akin to Goldilocks preferring the baby bear’s chair, porridge and bed: All three fit her “just right.”

In the world of kitchen cabinets, you as a homeowner face the same kind of three choices, although the bears didn’t have any kitchen cabinets that we know of. However, you could say the three choices of stock, semi custom and custom kitchen cabinets are like the choices the storybook character faced when she had Papa Bear’s, Mama Bear’s and Baby Bear’s things to choose from. In each case, she tried out all three and found she preferred Baby Bear’s.

In a similar way, you might consider your three types of cabinet choices which we’ll explain below. First, we’ll address stock cabinets at the low end, then custom cabinets at the high end, and lastly the semi custom cabinets…that are for many homeowners “just right.”

When to consider stock kitchen cabinets
Stock kitchen cabinets have two big advantages. First, they are the most affordable of three options. Second, they are premade so you won’t have to wait for your cabinets. If your kitchen is a standard size, and you’re on a tight budget and/or in a hurry, stock cabinets are probably the right choice for you.

That said, stock kitchen cabinets also have limitations. They come in set sizes, although cabinets usually come in different widths, so that gives you a little flexibility, not much. Plus you only get a very limited choice of wood and finishes with stock cabinets.

Stock cabinets are often the right choice, however. If you’re building a low-budget vacation home, redoing the kitchen in a starter home, or putting in a mother-in-law apartment, stock cabinets might be the best way to go.

When to consider custom cabinets
If you have a generous remodeling budget, an odd-sized space, and/or a lot of customized details you want to be included in your new kitchen, custom cabinets might be for you. With custom cabinets, you can get exactly what you want.

On the downside, custom cabinets cost much more than the other two options, and it will be weeks or even months before your cabinets are built and installed.

Yet custom cabinets are often the right choice for certain kitchens. If you’re building your dream home and you can afford to have exactly the kitchen you want, custom cabinets are probably just right for you. On the other hand, if there’s a chance you’ll move someday and won’t be staying in your home forever, custom cabinets might not be a good use of your money.

When to consider semi custom cabinets
We saved the best for last in this short list of three. And we say “the best” because many kitchen designers and bloggers say the same thing about semi custom cabinets: They are the best of both worlds.

With semi custom cabinets, you can get literally hundreds of choices in styles, stains, colors, and finishes. (Only take a quick look at our huge selection of kitchen cabinets for proof.) You also get more size options compared to stock cabinets: Semi custom cabinets can be made in different depths, and cabinet width is usually available in one-inch increments.

And unlike stock cabinets, semi custom cabinets can look custom! With all of the choices you have for styles, stains, and finishes, plus extra details you can add, there’s a chance you’ll be the only one with that particular cabinet design in your stunning new kitchen. You can also choose the higher end option for better quality details and hardware. For an example of those kinds of options, see our three cabinet lines compared here.

Then there’s the price: Semi custom cabinets are much more affordable than custom!

Is there a downside to these “just right” cabinets? Possibly. You will have to wait for semi custom cabinets, as they are built when you order them, not before, but they are built much faster than custom cabinets. If you’re in a hurry, semi custom might not work. And you might have to go custom if you’re stuck with a very odd-sized space.

For most homeowners, however, semi custom cabinets are the “just right” solution for getting the look and price they want in their new kitchens.

Make the Most of Your New Kitchen Design: Remodel With Resale in Mind

When you’re contemplating your kitchen remodel, keep in mind that you might not be the only homeowner to cook in that kitchen. The average American moves over 11 times in a lifetime. That means chances are high that it’s not your forever home, and that means you might want to remodel with an idea to resale.

Not that you should base your new kitchen remodel on resale value and appeal alone, but a new kitchen is a big investment, and making sure that investment will pay off in the future when you sell your home only makes financial sense. In addition, experts say your kitchen remodel should cost 6-10% of your home’s value in order for you to recoup most of that investment later, so keep that number in mind.

How much return on investment you’ll see from a kitchen remodel depends in part on where in the U.S. you live, your home’s value and your neighborhood. Obviously it will also depend on the state of the housing market and economy in the future when you are planning to move, and no one can predict either of those.

So create the kitchen you want, but keep future appeal in mind. It is possible to personalize the kitchen to reflect your style while still creating a room that will appeal to others as well. Here are three tips to help you do so…

Tip 1: Choose transitional style semi custom cabinets
At Wellborn Forest, we build semi custom cabinets for transitional style kitchens. If you’re not sure what “transitional” means, it’s essentially a way to describe kitchens that successfully combine traditional and contemporary elements.

Transitional kitchen cabinets are usually more contemporary than traditional, but not modern or streamlined looking. That means they work in a traditional kitchen or a modern one, or something in between. For example, Shaker cabinets look great in a traditional kitchen or in a contemporary one, so we consider them to be “transitional.”

And why semi custom cabinets? Because they will reduce the cost of your kitchen remodel yet still give you a beautiful, quality look. Keeping the cost of your kitchen remodel in check matters when considering resale value later. But it also matters because you will want to invest in quality appliances and stone countertops.

Tip 2: Invest in quality appliances and stone countertops
When homebuyers walk into your kitchen, the appliances will be one of the first things they notice. When you’re remodeling your kitchen, choose higher-end appliances if you can. You don’t have to invest in a top-of-the-line range and refrigerator, but don’t go for the low-end either. In addition, invest in stone countertops. Just about every expert out there will tell you to get granite countertops for better resale value, but some other kinds of stone countertops are appealing as well. And when you choose semi custom cabinets over custom, you’ll have room in your budget for these higher-end appliances and countertops!

Tip 3: Go for kitchen convenience
Homebuyers love to see convenient features in kitchens, and you’ll love cooking in a kitchen that makes your tasks easier, so this is a win-win. When choosing your cabinets, consider clever storage options such as bread drawers, pantry drawers, pull-out drawers and cabinets, and organizers. Also make sure your semi custom cabinets come with soft close drawers and doors.

Most importantly, create a kitchen you’ll love living with, but just in case this home isn’t your forever home, keep that next homeowner in mind.

Crown Your Semi Custom Cabinets With Serious Ceiling Style

Your new kitchen deserves your full attention in planning, from top to bottom. It’s easy to get focused on the semi custom cabinets, the appliances and the floor. You see all of these each time you walk into the kitchen and all three elements play a crucial role in your new kitchen design. Yet your kitchen ceiling can also have a big impact on your kitchen design, so let’s look at some ways you can enhance your new kitchen with some serious ceiling style…

Paint the kitchen ceiling
At Wellborn Forest, we love color and we know you do too. That’s one reason we offer our color-matching service, so you can get exactly the color you want on your new semi custom cabinets. But how about painting your ceiling with color? We’ve seen beautiful ceilings painted robin’s egg blue, spring green and even a simple antique white. Painting your ceiling can also be a quick fix if your budget doesn’t allow for anything more elaborate or if you’re remodeling an old kitchen and you have imperfections to hide.

Create a beadboard ceiling
Only take a quick look at Pinterest and you’ll see beadboard ceilings are quite popular in today’s kitchen designs. Beadboard ceilings can be painted the classic white, or they can be painted a color like we’ve described above. Some homeowners add coffers or beams to create even more visual interest with their beadboard kitchen ceilings.

Use planks instead of beadboard
For a more rustic kitchen design, some homeowners are using planks on their ceilings, and leaving the wood natural or using stains rather than paint. We’ve seen lovely light woods, darkly stained plank ceilings, and every shade in between.

Add interest with faux beams
Faux beams can be rustic, heavy wood beams that give your kitchen a substantial feel, or they can be refined, painted white, and trimmed for elegant visual detail. Beams can go over flat painted ceilings, or over ceilings covered with panels, beadboard or planks. And best of all, they’re fake, meaning they don’t bear any weight, so you can place them wherever you want.

Get fancy with a coffered ceiling
Coffered ceilings seem to be very popular for kitchens right now. A coffered ceiling has a grid of beams with sunken panels, and it can be built over any other kind of ceiling described above (except one with faux beams, of course). These beams can be plain and streamlined or detailed with molding and lots of edges.

Choose a tin ceiling
Punched tin ceilings are reminiscent of architecture of old, but homeowners today are giving tin ceilings a fresh new look and with surprising versatility. Tin can be used with beams and in a coffered ceiling. Tin can be painted or distressed, old looking or shiny new. If you like the look but don’t want to cover the whole ceiling, you can use tin on only part of your kitchen ceiling, such as over the kitchen island, for example.

Get detailed with stenciling
Stenciling is one last design idea for your kitchen ceiling. Stenciling can be done on only a section of your ceiling, such as to call attention to a gorgeous vent hood over your range, for example, or as a border or over the entire ceiling. The choice is yours! Stenciling–like paint–is a low-cost alternative that can add visual interest to your kitchen without much cost. And–like paint–it’s easily painted over later if you tire of the design.

Fancy kitchen ceiling style is not required for a gorgeous new kitchen, however. Even if you decide to stick with a plain white painted ceiling for now, your semi custom cabinets will be enough to give your new kitchen the look you’ve dreamed of at a reasonable price.

Add Layers of Texture to Your New Kitchen, Starting With Your Semi Custom Cabinets

Adding layers of textures to kitchen designs was a predicted trend for 2016 and the trend is still going strong, as far as we can tell, as we move through 2017. But really, when you think about it, mixing textures is something we’ve done all along, ever since we started having kitchens as a designated room in our houses. In our kitchens, we have combined smooth porcelain sinks, shiny copper pots, wood-grained cabinets, rustic file floors, speckled stone countertops, and even rough cast iron stoves (if you want to go waaay back).

So maybe today’s trend toward mixing textures is really more of a celebration of all the many textures it takes to make a beautiful, functional kitchen in the first place? We like to think so!

Regardless, if you’re considering ways to layer, mix or combine textures in your new kitchen design, you have countless ways to do so. Today’s homeowners and kitchen designers can choose to mix and match shiny mirrored surfaces, rough barn wood, brushed stainless steel, grainy granite countertops, rustic terra cotta tiles and so much more. To inspire you to get creative with your own mixing and matching, we have ideas below, each of which can add a new type of texture to your new kitchen design.

Add texture to your kitchen design with semi custom cabinets
You might not think about your semi custom cabinets as the place to start adding texture to your new kitchen, but today’s kitchen cabinet makers offer you multiple ways to do so. In addition to the different types of wood you can choose from, you can use semi custom cabinets to add texture with:


Add texture to your kitchen design with flooring
If you’re planning a new kitchen in 2017, you have almost countless types of flooring to choose from as well, flooring that can add texture to your new kitchen design or only be a subtle backdrop for the texture provided by your cabinets. You can choose from laminate, wood, tile, bamboo, cork, vinyl, linoleum and more—and each of these is available in a rough or smooth surface.

Add texture to your kitchen design with countertops
As with flooring, you have almost countless options to choose from with countertops, it seems, including concrete, recycled glass, granite, quartz, laminate, butcher block, marble, tile and even stainless steel. Each of these will give you a different texture you can layer in with other textures in your new kitchen design.

Add texture to your kitchen design with details
You can also add texture to your kitchen with your backsplash, the hood over your stove, the handles and drawer pulls you choose, fabrics used for curtains or on furniture—even accessories such as pottery on a shelf or artwork on the walls can add texture and visual interest to your kitchen design. And let’s not forget the appliances, that can be rough or smooth, dull or shiny!

When you’re planning a new kitchen and thinking about texture, however, our suggestion is to consider the semi custom cabinets first. See what your favorite kitchen cabinet makers have to offer and decide if you want to start with and build on that texture—or not. Whichever way you go, you’ll be celebrating the lively combinations of textures our kitchens have always featured, as the busy rooms used for so many purposes and offering so many pleasures.

3 Creative Ways to Transform Your Kitchen Island a Dramatic Standout in Your New Kitchen

When you’re designing a new kitchen, you might only be thinking as far as, “We will have a kitchen island.” Knowing you’ll have room for such a useful addition—with all the extra workspace, seating area and storage you’ll gain—is exciting. But wait, there’s more! Today’s kitchens offer several ways to create that kitchen island to transform it from merely useful to a beautiful focal point. Here are three of our favorites…

Waterfall counters
A waterfall counter can be used on a kitchen island, extending the countertop all the way to the floor on each end of the island, so it looks like the countertop material is cascading to the floor, like water over a cliff. (If waterfall isn’t working for you as a name, they are also called risers as well as an infinity edge.)

The aesthetic reasons for this design choice are obvious: Waterfall countertops can make your kitchen island into a stunning focal point, especially when you’re using a dramatic slab of marble or some other stone that’s gorgeous on its own.

They are functional too. Some homeowners and kitchen designers widen the depth of the kitchen island with waterfall counters to provide a seating area with room to tuck the stools in and out of the way when the seating is are not needed.

Note: Although they tend to be more of a showcase when used on kitchen islands, waterfall counters are not limited to kitchen islands. You can use a waterfall counter as a way to give a polished look to any counter end.

Kitchen islands as furniture
As much as we love the look of waterfall counters, we also love seeing kitchen islands embellished to look more like furniture. When you’re using semi custom cabinets for your new kitchen, you can easily transform your kitchen island by adding decorative elements such as corbels, molding, columns and decorative feet. With this approach, you still have the benefits of the useful qualities of the kitchen island for working, seating and storage, but your island will be the focal point of your kitchen when it stands out visually from the other cabinetry. You can add even more flair to your kitchen island by choosing to use glazes and other hand-applied finishes to the surface of the semi custom cabinets.

Kitchen islands as contrast
Does that sound a little too showy for your taste? We have a third option that can be streamlined and subtle if that’s more in line with the look you’re going for. For a simpler way to add flair to your kitchen island, go for contrast. Choosing a different color for your kitchen island cabinet base can give you a visual impact similar to the contrast and flair you can achieve with tuxedo cabinets. If you’re using tuxedo cabinets, your kitchen island cabinets can be the same color as your base cabinets. Or choose a different color only for the semi custom cabinets used for the kitchen island. Either way, your kitchen island will pop, standing out as a focal point with more subtlety than offered by waterfall counters or decorative furniture-like embellishments.

No matter the treatment you choose for your new kitchen island, semi custom cabinets will give you the versatility to make your vision a reality—while staying within your budget.

Kitchen Storage Solutions Abound with Ingenuity–and Semi Custom Cabinets

Although we’re well into 2017, we’re still paying attention to the trends predicted at the beginning of the year. When we look at top kitchen design trends for 2017, clever storage solutions definitely top the list. From the ingenious DIY creations to the farmhouse-styled elements to the built-in options offered by cabinet manufacturers, kitchen storage solutions abound.

When it comes to useful fixes to storage problems, it can be as simple as a magazine box attached to the inside of a cabinet door to provide storage for foil and wax paper boxes. Or it can be as elaborate as a pantry hidden behind barn doors. Kitchen storage can be as ad hoc as vintage baskets on a shelf or as well-designed as semi custom cabinets built exactly to your specifications to fit an unusual space.

Clever kitchen storage solutions using semi custom cabinets
Only visit Pinterest or turn to Google and you’ll find hundreds of clever kitchen storage ideas from the simple to the sophisticated. Below you’ll find only a handful of the many ideas we’ve seen that use semi custom cabinets to provide extremely efficient storage space:

  • Check out the pullout bar in this kitchen, where a very narrow space has been cleverly converted into storage for liquor bottles using what we call a wall filler pullout.
  • Adding transom cabinets adds storage, especially when you put transom cabinets above the kitchen window.
  • When choosing your semi custom cabinets, have a bookshelf built in for your cookbooks. In this kitchen, the bookshelves are on the end of the wall, but they could be built in to any part of your cabinetry or even your kitchen island.
  • Or use that awkward space to make a cabinet for your broom, mop and cleaning supplies, as in this example.
  • Workspace that you pull out only when you need it isn’t exactly a storage solution, but it is a space saver—which is almost the same thing. As an added bonus, for those of us who are a little shorter, a roll-out baking area like this one puts the work surface at the right height for kneading dough.

Make storage solutions part of your semi custom cabinets
On our website, you can find all kinds of kitchen storage solutions you can include in your design when choosing your semi custom cabinets. You’ll find utensil organizers, wall-filler pullouts, pull-down drawers, wooden pegs you can use to organize drawer space, waste bin drawers, knife-block drawers, spice drawers and door mounts, even a bread drawer and a removable caddy that rolls out and can be picked up and carried—perfect for cleaning supplies!

Your clever kitchen storage solution might be something as simple as hanging coffee cups from hooks or wine glasses from a DIY-built shelf. But with all the functional ways you can add storage to your new kitchen with semi custom cabinets, it’s worth looking into your options for building in that storage from day 1—as cute as those vintage baskets might be.

Note: To make the most of your new kitchen, and to optimize the storage and functionality of that kitchen—even with all of these ingenious ideas—we still suggest you work with a kitchen designer who can help to ensure you’re using the space as efficiently as possible.

3 Reasons to Make Transom Cabinets Part of Your Semi Custom Cabinets Selection

3 Reasons to Make Transom Cabinets Part of Your Semi Custom Cabinets Selection

What kind of wall cabinets are you envisioning for your new kitchen? Are you picturing cabinets that extend to the ceiling or leave a space? Or are you not yet sure?

If you’re still determining the look you want for your wall cabinets and you’re shopping for semi custom cabinets, consider using transom cabinets. Transom cabinets are the shorter cabinets placed above the usual wall cabinets. They typically fill the vertical gap left between the top of the normal height wall cabinet and the ceiling.

The word transom means a horizontal structural element such as a beam or a crosspiece. Transom windows above doors were useful in the past because they allowed for air flow and light without loss of privacy, plus they were secure: It would be a challenge to squeeze through that small space at the top of the door! You might have noticed them when you’ve been in an older building. Transoms were highly functional back in the days before air conditioning, and they were often treated as decorative elements as well.

In your new kitchen, transom cabinets also have the potential to be highly functional as well as decorative. Using transom cabinets in your new kitchen makes sense for several reasons. Our three favorites are below:

One: Transom cabinets use what would otherwise be wasted (dusty) space
I grew up in a house with wall cabinets that left a good 12 to 16 inches vacant between the top of the cabinet and the ceiling. My mother stored some decorative items up there, but I remember that space being—in my mind—wasted and dusty. We didn’t use any of the items stored on top of the cabinets, and if we had wanted to, they likely would have been dusty dirty because it was a pain to get up there and clean that awkward space.

Transom cabinets can be used to close that space and make it functional and decorative.

Two: Transom cabinets can add to your kitchen’s design
Transom cabinets can also embellish your kitchen’s design, because you can be more ornate with these smaller top cabinets. Many homeowners and designers who choose to use transom cabinets opt for semi custom cabinets with glass fronts or other decorative elements. These types of details would be impractical on the wall cabinets used daily, or even overpowering to the overall kitchen design. Used only on the transom cabinets, however, these embellishments are like accessories enhancing your kitchen design.

On the other hand, you can also keep a streamlined look, and use the same style of semi custom cabinets for the transom cabinets as for the wall ones. This upper area is one with many design options, and when it comes to transom cabinets, you have a lot of flexibility.

Three: Transom cabinets provide extra storage
Although you could use the tops of your wall cabinets for storage, that can look cluttered and messy (plus be a dusting nightmare as in my childhood home). With transom cabinets, however, you add functional storage to your kitchen, for those items you don’t often need. If you choose glass front transom cabinets, you can use that storage space to highlight favorite pottery pieces or other decorative elements. Or solid front transom cabinets can hide less attractive kitchen items such as the turkey roaster you only use once a year—or the yogurt maker you only used once before but someday will try again.

Transom cabinets can also be used for decorative lighting in your new kitchen, to showcase a collection, or a myriad of other reasons. But regardless of the reasons you choose to use them, transom cabinets are always a good idea in our kitchen design book!