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May 1, 2023 by Chelsea Allard

How to Choose: Inset vs Overlay Cabinets

When it comes to budgeting your kitchen remodel, labor will always be the largest expense. But when it comes to material selections: cabinetry, countertops, appliances, and flooring are also big-ticket items that will have a significant influence on the level of investment. Depending on your end goals, you may choose to save or splurge on any of these material items, but generally speaking, expect cabinetry to make up anywhere from 30-50% of your overall kitchen budget. Since cabinets are such an investment, it’s important to know what you’re getting.

Your kitchen designer will walk you through various cabinet lines and features to help you decide whether inset vs overlay cabinets are right for you. But, from a high level, here are some things to look for when choosing your kitchen cabinets.

What Are Inset Cabinets?

So, what exactly are inset cabinets? Inset cabinets are characterized by the cabinet doors sitting flush within the frame, rather than overlaying it. This design gives a smooth and seamless appearance, reminiscent of classic craftsmanship. Given their intricate construction, inset vs overlay cabinet may command a higher price point.

Your kitchen designer will be pivotal in showcasing the unique attributes of inset cabinets and how they align with your desired aesthetic. To ensure your investment is well-placed, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the details.

What Are Overlay Cabinets?

Diving deeper into kitchen cabinetry, let’s explore overlay cabinets. When you compare inset vs overlay cabinets, what sets them apart?

Overlay cabinets are aptly named for their design where the cabinet doors ‘overlay’ or cover the cabinet frame, either fully or partially. This creates a continuous face, offering a more contemporary and sleek appearance. The amount the door overlays the frame can vary, leading to designations like “full overlay” or “partial overlay.” Given their versatility and more straightforward construction, overlay cabinets often come with a broader range of price points to suit different budgets.

Cabinet Box Construction: Inset vs Overlay Cabinets and More

While until this point we’ve been looking at inset vs. overlay cabinets, we should take a moment to zoom out and look at the three possible ways your cabinets are always constructed. Whether they’re completely custom, stock, made on-site, or pre-built, kitchen cabinets are always either frameless, framed, or inset. Frameless cabinets are the standard for everywhere in the world except the United States. While they are increasingly popular here as well due to their accessibility, they’re not the only option.

#1: Frameless Cabinets

Frameless cabinets consist of a box without a face frame that sits on the front of the cabinet. The doors attach directly to the cabinet box instead of the frame, so the openings are typically 1 ½” wider. Because there isn’t a frame, reveals between adjacent doors and drawer fronts are tighter, creating a cleaner look.

kitchen-cabinets

Frameless cabinets offer slightly more storage space as the doors attach directly to the cabinet box.

Frameless cabinets are the standard for contemporary styled cabinets (think high-gloss or textured laminates) but it’s a common misconception that all frameless cabinets are contemporary. It’s just as simple to use this construction method and pair it with a traditional door style so you can enjoy the benefits of accessibility without sacrificing the traditional look.

The main benefit to frameless cabinets is the additional storage space. As we mentioned above, because there isn’t a frame, the amount of usable drawer space inside each drawer will be about 1″ wider than a framed cabinet of the same size. 1” of extra drawer space may not sound like a lot, but when you consider you may have a dozen drawers in your kitchen, that adds up to extra cubic footage that otherwise would have gone to waste. Something to not about inset vs overlay cabinets? Neither are frameless.

inset vs overlay cabinets

Frameless cabinets with a 3″ thick gray quartz counter create a transitional look in this Charlotte, NC kitchen remodel.

Pros of Frameless Cabinets:

  • More storage space, particularly in drawers
  • Contemporary and traditional or transitional styling is available
  • Tight reveals for a clean look
  • Can be used with metal drawer boxes

Cons of Frameless Cabinets:

  • When using veneers like textured melamine, cabinet heights may be limited due to size restrictions of the veneer (creative kitchen designers can often design a workaround)

#2 Face Frame Cabinets (or simply “framed”)

Framed cabinets are slowly shrinking in popularity due to the availability and accessibility of frameless cabinets, as discussed above. A framed cabinet is built with a ¾” thick piece of wood (typically 1 ¼” – 1 ½” wide) that attaches to the front of the cabinet box and covers the opening. This is what the door hinges will attach to. The sides of the box are not flush like they are in frameless cabinets, so the inside storage is slightly narrower, as is the interior space of drawers.

Framed cabinets come in various overlays, meaning the reveal between doors and drawers will vary. Half or semi-overlay cabinets will have much larger gaps so they tend to be less expensive and often look dated. Full overlay cabinets have much tighter gaps and don’t always have center stiles between doors, creating a more accessible cabinet and a cleaner look.

Pros of framed:

  • Readily available
  • Larger reveals make it easier to cheat fillers when walls aren’t perfectly plumb or square

Cons of framed:

  • Slightly less accessible storage
  • Can look dated if using semi or half-overlay reveals
  • Contemporary veneers are typically not available

#3 Inset Cabinets

While inset cabinets are technically framed, the difference is that instead of the door and drawer fronts resting on top of the face frame, they sit inside it, resulting in a flush look. While comparing inset vs overlay cabinets, it’s important to note that inset cabinets are the most popular style of framed cabinets since they offer a very distinct look that mimics handmade, site-built furniture. If you’ve searched for kitchen inspiration on Pinterest, you’ve seen inset cabinets.

Because of the extra reveal required for drawer and door operation, inset vs overlay cabinets offer the least amount of storage space when compared to full overlay face frame or frameless cabinets. Obtaining perfect reveals is trickier from a manufacturing perspective, so expect inset cabinets to cost up to 15-20% more than full overlay face framed cabinets. Since the frames – and therefore seams – between pre-built cabinets are visible, we recommend combining cabinet boxes using custom cabinet capabilities to eliminate as many seams as possible. Not all cabinet lines will allow this, so keep that in mind if that’s the look you’re after.

inset cabinets

Cream painted inset cabinets with a beaded face frame create a traditional, classic look in this south Charlotte kitchen remodel

Pros of inset cabinets:

  • Inset Cabinets give off a Transitional to a traditional, high-end look

Cons of inset cabinets:

  • More expensive
  • Slightly less storage space (only select if wall cabinets can be made 13” deep or else larger dinner plates may not fit in them)
  • Inset cabinets will need constant adjusting to maintain reveals

General Box Construction

As dealers for several American-made cabinet lines, we prefer North American plywood boxes with no added formaldehyde – simply put, they’re safer and less toxic than Chinese plywood. Plywood boxes are more stable and of higher quality than particleboard boxes.

Framed cabinets are typically built with plywood boxes, while frameless cabinets are often available in particleboard or plywood. While there are industry standards as far as construction materials and details, each cabinet company will have subtle differences that your kitchen designer will be able to explain. Personally, we’re huge proponents of plywood boxes and don’t recommend particle board unless you’re trying to go super cost-effective in a secondary space like a laundry room.

Cabinet Drawers

Of the lines that we represent and supply, most of the drawer boxes are either 5/8” or ¾” solid hardwood or ¾” plywood. While plywood drawer boxes can be more stable than hardwood, people often prefer the more polished look of hardwood drawers. In either case, they feature dovetail joints and soft closing guides as standard features. Your designer can talk you through how to choose inset vs overlay cabinets from a particular cabinet line if you’d prefer one specific look over the other.

Hardwood cabinet drawers with dovetail construction and flatware storage

⅝” hardwood drawers with dovetail joinery and soft-closing guides are standard options for this cabinet line. Matching drawer organizers keep flatware and knives neat and tidy.

Cabinet Pricing

Just like countertops, every cabinet line is priced differently and will vary significantly depending on quality and manufacturer. Quality construction, availability of customizations, and the number of finishes and styles available will all affect the pricing. Because there are literally millions of combinations available when choosing kitchen cabinets (inset vs overlay cabinets, etc.), the general pricing formula for made-to-order cabinets is as follows:

Standard cabinet box price

% Upcharge for box material

% Upcharge for overlay selection

Price of door & drawer style selected

Upcharge for drawer box and guide selection (as applicable)

% Upcharge for finish and wood species

Upcharge for any custom modifications (as applicable)

+                  freight and tax

= cabinet price

Not all lines charge for all of these items and they certainly don’t charge the same amounts, so it can be difficult to compare apples to apples when considering how to choose kitchen cabinets from two different lines. We’ve found that depending on the aesthetic and functional goals of the client, and the complexity of the design, certain lines are more appropriate than others. Because there are so many optionsinset vs overlay cabinets for one We’re happy to discuss the differences so you can be sure you’re selecting the line that’s best for your needs.

Ready to discuss your dream kitchen, your dream inset cabinets, or anything else home-related with ReVision? Schedule a call with one of our Project Developers!

6 Custom Laundry Room Ideas to Maximize Space

While the essential elements remain the same, there are endless possibilities when it comes to designing a custom laundry room and mudroom space that works best for your unique storage and lifestyle needs. These six ideas are a great place to start but certainly aren’t the only options.

Remodeling 101: Flooring Trends and Tips

When it comes to Charlotte home remodeling, flooring and flooring trends are one of the most important aspects to consider. Not only does it serve a functional purpose, but it also has a significant impact on the overall look and feel of your home. From hardwood to tile to carpet, there are endless options to choose from, making it difficult to decide what type of flooring to install. There are a lot of considerations when choosing flooring. In addition to aesthetics, homeowners must contend with competing considerations of cost, durability, what’s most sensible for their lifestyle, and current flooring trends. Once installed, flooring trends can be difficult and expensive to change, so you want to get it right. Below, we take a look at some of the latest trends in flooring across the Charlotte Metro area.

In this blog, we’ll explore some of the latest flooring trends and provide tips to help you make the best decision for your home remodeling project. Whether you’re renovating your entire home or just updating a single room, we’ve got you covered with all the latest flooring trends and expert advice.

Flooring Trends for 2023: A Breakdown

Before we dive deep and break down some of the flooring trends in full, let’s recap some new trends that have emerged in 2023.

  1. Wide plank flooring: Wide plank flooring has been growing in popularity in recent years and continues to be a top trend in 2023. It offers a sleek and modern look, as well as the appearance of larger, more open spaces.

  2. Natural and sustainable flooring: With the increasing focus on sustainability, natural and sustainable flooring materials such as bamboo, cork, and reclaimed wood are becoming more popular. These materials are eco-friendly, durable, and add a unique touch to any room.

  3. Bold colors and patterns: Bold and colorful flooring options are also trending in 2023. These patterns and colors can add a dramatic effect to any room, making it a statement piece in the space.

  4. Luxury vinyl tile (LVT): LVT is a popular flooring trend that offers a more affordable alternative to hardwood or tile. LVT is waterproof, durable, and can mimic the look of hardwood or stone flooring.

  5. Dark and moody flooring: In contrast to the light and airy trends of past years, dark and moody flooring is making a comeback in 2023. These dark and dramatic flooring options can add a sense of luxury and sophistication to any room.

Wood and Wood-Look Floors

Hardwood is still at the top of the wish list for most of Charlotte’s homeowners when it comes to flooring trends. We are almost always refinishing at least a portion of existing hardwood, but when we’re not, today’s hardwood preferences still lean to darker colors and satin finishes. Wider planks are appealing to many homeowners, but they often don’t justify the increased cost. Hardwood floors vary significantly in price depending on the material. They can be difficult to maintain with kids and large dogs, and they’re subject to water stains, but that doesn’t typically deter people away from them, especially because they can be refinished.

,In the Charlotte market, real hardwood is still number one. Sometimes hardwood alternatives are less expensive, but often they’re not once you factor in labor. Wood look-alike materials are a smart choice for bathrooms, basements, and mudrooms because of their water-resistant nature.

There are many reasons why Charlotte residents might choose hardwood flooring as their first choice for flooring. First and foremost, hardwood floors are timeless and elegant, adding a touch of class to any home. They can be stained and finished to match any decor style, from traditional to contemporary, making them a versatile choice. Hardwood floors are also incredibly durable and long-lasting, able to withstand heavy foot traffic and resist scratches and stains. In addition, they are easy to clean and maintain, requiring only occasional sweeping and mopping. Finally, hardwood floors are a smart investment for homeowners, as they can increase the resale value of a property. With all of these benefits, it’s no wonder that hardwood flooring is such a popular choice among Charlotte residents.

Hand hewn hardwood floors give this kitchen a casual, rustic feel in keeping with the modern farmhouse aesthetic.

Environmentally Friendly Floors

As sustainability continues to be a top priority for homeowners in 2023, environmentally friendly flooring options are becoming increasingly popular. One of the most eco-friendly flooring options available today is bamboo. Bamboo is a fast-growing grass that can be harvested and replanted without damaging the environment. It also has a similar look and feel to hardwood floors, making it a stylish and practical choice. Another environmentally friendly flooring option is cork. Cork is harvested from the bark of cork oak trees, which can be harvested every nine years without harming the tree. It is also hypoallergenic and has natural insulating properties, making it a great choice for energy-efficient homes. Finally, recycled materials like glass, rubber, and reclaimed wood can also be used to create unique and sustainable flooring options. With so many environmentally friendly flooring options available, homeowners can choose beautiful and sustainable flooring without sacrificing style or quality.

Carpet and Area Rugs

flooring trends 2023

Carpet is an inexpensive choice for bedrooms and basements where you want warmth underfoot. Nothing says “welcome to our home” better than a stunning carpet runner on the front stairs in a foyer. Runners provide traction for pets and kids and reduce noise. Beautiful area rugs have always been popular on hardwood floors. They help to define spaces in the increasingly popular open floor plan. If you need a specific size or shape outside of the standard offerings, many people have custom rugs made from carpet. Area rugs offer flexibility in your decor since they’re simple to change out when styles change, and there’s something for every price point. Custom carpets and rugs are often treatable to prevent stains, and they can be easily rolled up and brought to a cleaner if disaster strikes.

Pros of carpet:

  • Comfortable and soft underfoot, providing a cozy feel to a room
  • Provides insulation, making rooms warmer and quieter
  • Wide variety of colors and textures available to match any decor style
  • Can be a good choice for families with young children, as it provides a cushioned surface for playtime
  • Can be an affordable flooring option compared to other materials like hardwood or tile

Cons of carpet:

  • Can stain easily and require regular maintenance and cleaning
  • Can trap dust, dirt, and allergens, making it difficult to keep clean and potentially aggravating allergies
  • May need to be replaced more frequently than other flooring options due to wear and tear
  • May not be ideal for high-traffic areas or households with pets, as it can hold onto odors and be difficult to clean thoroughly
Genuine reclaimed barnwood replaced an entire first floor of tile in this Lake Norman kitchen remodel.

Vintage Flooring

This trend takes two forms: Black and white tiles reminiscent of the art deco era lend a retro feeling to a small space. We see this look repeated in bathrooms over and over because of the classic appeal. Many of today’s homeowners like this trend with a twist, using tiles with patterns or sizes outside the traditional ones. The second trend harkens back to the farmhouse and the distressed, rustic look of reclaimed barn wood. Real reclaimed wood can be hard to come by and incredibly expensive, but many manufacturers are imitating that textured look.

 

There are many options when it comes to choosing flooring. A skilled designer can help you sort through the options and figure out which one is perfect for your budget and lifestyle. Ready to start? Sit down for a no-obligation consultation with us.

Built-in China Cabinets: Back and Better Than Ever

Built-in china cabinets are no longer just a display case for fancy or seldom-used tableware and serving pieces, but act as a multi-functional staple in many Charlotte kitchens and dining rooms. They’re relevant once again, and here’s why.

7 Home Remodeling Trends You’ll Take a Shine to in 2023

It’s here! The Top 7 Home Remodeling Trends in 2023, according to our ReVision designers. Take a read!

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6 Reasons a Double Vanity Bathroom Makes Sharing Bearable

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Basement Finishing: Is it Right For You?

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Our Favorite Types of Bathtubs: Which Is Right for You?

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The Best Basement Remodeling Ideas for 2022

The ideas for basement remodeling are truly endless. From kid’s retreats, to an extra bedroom, a home gym, or even a kitchenette, basement remodeling has really become whatever the homeowners want to make of it.