How to do Cabinets Correctly


Dear Daniel,

How do I make a decision about the style of my cabinet door? Do all the cabinet doors in my house need to be the same?

Sincerely, Cabinet Dork

Dear Dorky, An architect trained in modernism will tell you that in putting together a house, you get a kit of parts that might include a supporting post or column, a window, a door, a baseboard, a rafter, and maybe a cabinet door. Within the kit exist all the possible aesthetic directions the house could take. In a way, this concept is not a bad one-it allows you to have a restrained palette to work with. However, I believe that architecture is like music, and what the modernists miss out on is that this kit of parts can be the baseline and you can layer varied, yet cohesive elements over this baseline to create a thorough composition. So, your cabinet doors in your guest bathroom do not need to be the same as those in you master bath or kitchen. They simply need to feel like they are part of the same song. The firm Parish Hadley, one of he most important design firms in America from the 1960s-1980s, thought of comfort as the baseline that bound all their rooms together-style could oscillate from space to space but each should be comfortable enough to feel welcomed to sit and stay for awhile.

The style of a cabinet door says something about the style of your home-you can't change the cabinet door without changing the feeling of your whole home. In a good architecture firm, the underlings will be assigned to create a family of molding and door profiles for an entire house. This family ensures that all profiles are part of the same song without actually being the same. Instead, they are based on the level of formality and exposure of a given room. The most elaborate profiles are for the most important areas, the second tier are for bedrooms, and the third are for connecting and utilitarian rooms. In a well designed classically or transitionally inspired home, it would actually be poor design for the whole house to have exactly the same profile. Study the profiles that already exist in your home and they will guide you toward an appropriate cabinet door decision.

Sincerely,

Daniel