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Natural Wood Kitchen Cabinets


Natural wood kitchen cabinets offer several positives not found with other materials. Our modern kitchens use stainless steel and glossy finishes. The natural warmth, texture, and durability of wood provides the perfect visual contrast. Also, any well-built quality wood cabinet will last for decades.  Plus, they can be stained to highlight the wood grain or painted to a smooth, lasting finish. Following is an overview of the available hardwood choices we have for your kitchen cabinets.



Alder wood is native to the Pacific Northwest and is characterized by a smooth, straight grain with some mineral streaks, tight knots, and mild color variations from pale reds to reddish-browns. Alder stains well and holds stain very stably. Alder is lighter and softer than other hardwoods. The overall grain pattern and appearance is similar to birch—though with a slightly redder background.

Rustic or Knotty Alder

Rustic alder kitchen cabinets contain various pinholes, open and closed knots of different sizes, small cracks, wormholes, worm tracks, bird pecks, mineral streaks, and grain variations. The wide variation in knotty alder works well in rustic or French country kitchens. Read more about Clear Alder and Knotty Alder.



Cherry is an eastern grown, rich multicolored hardwood characterized by red undertones. Cherry cabinets have a smooth, close-grained, fairly uniform texture and some random mineral markings. Cherry wood’s generally even grain allows easy application of finishes.

Because cherry wood is light sensitive, it will darken with age. This gives the species a rich, warm and lustrous patina. This age-acquired patina is a sought-after quality in cherry cabinets. People who choose cherry for their kitchens look forward to the color of their cabinets deepening and evolving.



Admired for its consistency, Maple has dense, smooth grain patterns and uniform coloring. It is a robust and resilient hardwood that typically features uniform graining as compared to other wood types. The subtle wood grain markings of maple cabinets include fine brown lines, wavy or curly graining, and small, black, birds’-eye dots.

Maple is also known for its durability. It has a creamy, uniform appearance that produces a smooth, clean look when stained. Another benefit is that it can also be finished to resemble other, more expensive hardwoods and softwoods such as cherry and cedar.



Oak’s distinct graining and durability make it a natural choice for both fine furniture and kitchen cabinets. Oak ranges in color from buttery yellow to pink and reddish tones. Streaks of green, yellow, and even black may appear due to mineral deposits in the wood. Grain characteristics of oak cabinets include random wormholes, knots, and wild, varying grain patterns that showcase fine lines, pinstripes, leafy grains, and watery figures. Many homeowners like the variety and rustic texture of oak grains.

Recently, Oak had fallen out of favor – partially because of over-use in the 1990’s kitchen. Most of us have lived with at least one kitchen like the “Dated” image above. However, now oak cabinets have a depth and warmth that is unique as in the “Modern” feature picture. Rift White Oak is another stylish choice for those who like the medium warm tones and hardiness of oak cabinets.


Rift White Oak

An American-grown hardwood, Rift White Oak, can be very light to a true medium-brown color. The unique, straight grain pattern is obtained when boards are cut perpendicular to the growth ring. The strong vertical has a fresh, contemporary appearance that is ideal for modern or classic door styles.



Sapele is an African grown hardwood that is a member of the Mahogany family. This dense, strong wood is easily recognized by the well-defined ribbon grain pattern. It is a golden brown and will darken and gain luster with age. Grain patterns can sometimes also be figured with mottled, wavy, or fiddle back swirls, resembling the mahogany used for fine furniture carpentry in the 19th century. The wood’s natural texture makes it a stand out in traditional, transitional, or modern cabinet designs.



Black American Walnut grows in the eastern United States.  Like cherry and mahogany, walnut has been used in fine woodworking for centuries.  Walnut cabinets feature a smooth, refined and generally straight wood grain with colors that range from deep chocolate to light reddish-gray brown. Walnut offers warm, rich base colors that accept finishes well. Walnut will lighten with age and light exposure.

Addressing Sustainability

Both the natural wood cabinet lines represented by Cabinets of the Desert use green, sustainable practices and forest stewardship. Both are members of the certified member of the Environmental Stewardship Program, administered by the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association. This is a voluntary program that emphasizes a commitment to conservation.

Conclusion and Helpful Links

Using natural wood kitchen cabinets can ground your kitchen design with a sense of luxury and warmth not found in any other material.  In nature, no two trees grow precisely the same, so your natural wood kitchen cabinets will have a unique beauty.   If you would like to do some additional research, The Wood Database is an excellent online resource.  Additionally, The Journal of Light Construction has an excellent Wood Primer that covers the basics of using wood as a building material.   Consider a visit to our showroom to see wood samples in person and discuss the benefits of choosing wood as our cabinet material.  We feel confident you will find a cabinet material to meet your stylistic and aesthetic needs.

An innovative kitchen cabinetry resource, Cabinets of the Desert was formed to be highly responsive to the professional design and installation needs of discerning homeowners, architects, designers, and contractors.

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