The Ultimate Guide to Choosing and Designing the Right Material for Your Cabinets and Countertops

The kitchen is a very important area of the home where your personality is reflected in a unique way. Designs, colors, layouts, and materials differ from person-to-person, and many times from room-to-room. Kitchen cabinets and bathroom cabinets may differ and so can kitchen countertops and bathroom countertops. So, which is the best cabinet and countertop material for you? Let’s look at some options and see…

At the heart of every home is the kitchen and bathroom. So, the types of cabinets and countertops you use will affect your mood every day. With a little forethought and planning, you can wake up and say, “I love my kitchen!”, or, “I love my bathroom!”

Preparing your mind to design the space

First, decide what type of personality do you have? Are you the country-style lover, or the industrial-style lover? Do you want to reflect a subdued, simple vibe, or a bold and colorful vibe? Are you looking for mom’s kitchen, or a chef’s kitchen; farm-style, or loft-style? Once you decide, you can begin to narrow your options.

Second, do you consider yourself a designer, with good aesthetic sense, or would it be better to convey your thoughts to someone else who does. Many kitchens have diminished the value of the home because they were too busy with no theme in design. You want your space to add value to your home, so decide if you have that design sense or not.

Last, how much light is natural in the space, and how much will be designed in, whether hanging, recessed, or hidden ambient light. Light source and direction affects how everything looks, and from differing angles. Good overhead, ambient lighting casts less shadows. Hanging lights add dramatic shadows, and under-cabinet lighting provides mood. Figure out what your focal points will be and then design lighting to highlight those things.


Cabinets come in many different sizes and configurations. Their styles can be clean or ornate. If custom, they can include different materials. So that you have the best options, at the best prices (not everyone can afford custom cabinetry), we will focus on ready-to-assemble, or RTA, cabinets.

It used to be that RTA cabinets were only available at big box stores, like Home Depot or Lowes, or similar, and only provided limited designs. Now, some custom cabinet makers decided to produce quality construction, real wood, cabinets and in many colors, sizes, and styles, for similar prices. Most offer traditional framed cabinets, with shaker-style or beveled-edge doors, or euro-style, with full height frameless, textured doors. The different types of cabinets are base cabinets (used under the counter), wall cabinets (above the counter), and tall cabinets (used beside the counter and for double ovens, utility, etc.). There are also accessories you can add on like, corbels, decorative legs, and end panels.



There are hundreds of options when it comes to countertops, with many different natural or man-made materials. Natural stone, like granite, marble, or soapstone, or wood can be used, or engineered quartz or acrylic. The color styles and variations are completely unique to the manufacturer and samples can be seen at most countertop stores, and online (although samples, or online images, don’t give the scale of the patterns, or color saturation. Usually, you will want to see the slabs.

Natural stone slabs are completely unique, since nature dictates the pattern, but seams have to be created that don’t always match. Also, natural stone is porous, so you have to maintain it on an annual basis to keep it looking clean. Engineered Quartz or acrylics are consistent in color over many slabs, and so can be designed much more cleanly. They don’t have to be maintained in the same way and are more resistant to stains and heat. Quartz is one of the most popular options and there are many colors and patterns to choose from.

Design Considerations

When considering design, contrast and complement your cabinets and countertops. If you use a framed cabinet, decide whether your cabinets are what you want to stand out, or your countertops. To have both leads to business which can make you anxious while in the kitchen or bathroom. If you are using frameless, euro-style cabinets, the same applies, but you also have texture that can fight with the countertop patterns, if you are not careful.

The most popular cabinets have always been Shaker White, because they can be easily fit into any kitchen design, and allows for much more versatile countertop colors and patterns. That said, if you have a good design aesthetic, it is better to consider other colors and styles to truly make your space your own.

Framed cabinets
Palermo Gloss White Kitchen
Frameless cabinets
Shaker Cinder Kitchen
Shaker Dark
Shaker bathroom