Skip to content

The Truth About Custom Cabinets


Think Custom Cabinets Are Too Expensive?

Selecting new cabinets as part of a kitchen remodel doesn’t have to be intimidating. Yes, they set the style for your new kitchen, have to be functional, and you’ll have them for years. And, cabinetry may account for as much as 40 percent of your kitchen renovation budget. Additionally, the word “custom” can add a whole other level of pressure. But what if custom simply means the best fit for your kitchen – and your budget? First, let’s go over a few definitions.

Stock, Semi-Custom, Custom Cabinets

Most of us are familiar with stock cabinets. Stock cabinets are premade in common sizes and available from retailers like Ikea. Ikea keeps its cost low by limiting choices and materials and shipping the product unassembled. The customer is usually responsible for installation.

The term semi-custom refers to stock cabinets that are altered-usually with trim, door styles, or knobs to fit a certain design aesthetic. Lowes and Home Depot offer both stock and semi-custom options.

The word “custom” can conjure a European hardwood bespoke kitchen. But that isn’t necessarily the definition. Having custom cabinets can simply mean they are built according to the homeowner’s specific design requests or a kitchen designer’s layout. Let’s dive a little deeper into what the word custom means.

Best Fit for The Space

Most kitchen spaces – especially in an existing home remodel – aren’t a standard size. In an especially tight, or large, or oddly shaped kitchen, stock and prefabricated cabinets might not be worth the initial savings. You may be forced to spend money on filler materials and labor to make multiple corners, awkward niches, and unusual footprints work. In this case, custom-fitted cabinets can mean the most cost-effective way to get a liveable and functional kitchen.

Your Design Choices

If you have always dreamed of having the perfect sleek modern kitchen, the customization process lets you create cabinets to fit your style. You can choose the wood, finish, and hardware of your cabinets. It is also possible to choose the location, height, depth, and width of your cabinets to optimize functionality. You can also customize based on how you actually plan to use the kitchen – whether that is quick 30-minute chef family meals, gourmet experimentation, or large-scale entertaining

Higher Quality Product

In many ways, the reputation and consistency of the factory are more important for a homeowner to consider than the question of custom versus stock cabinets.

Many stock cabinets are made from lower quality base materials and assembled with plastic joints, screws, and glue. Custom cabinets made by a reputable maker use sturdier construction and joinery methods. Custom cabinet makers will often use dovetail joints that interlock pieces of wood to distribute weight and stress more evenly.  Stock cabinet makers use nut, bolt, and nail methods that isolate wear on a few points.

Custom cabinets also offer options for tougher hardware elements like hinges and drawer sliders. Other options that will add to the wear and longevity of your cabinets are also available- including easier to clean interior shelving material and integrated braces and toe kicks.

Personalized Service and Partnership

Let’s say you go the stock cabinet/Ikea route.  You spend time with their catalog and at the showroom. Then you will measure multiple times and maybe work with one of their store kitchen designers. Next comes ordering and tracking the delivery of the cabinets.  Then, you either DIY the assembly and installation or hire someone to do it and supervise the process. If you are a do-it-yourselfer and time isn’t an issue that all might be perfectly fine – fun even.

But what if you hit a space-planning issue or a delivery or product quality roadblock? Partnering with a cabinet dealer and installer to get a custom solution and expert advice for slightly more expense and less time might actually be the better choice. They will do site visits and re-designs.  You can get a real person on the phone when you need it. Additionally, locally-based cabinet dealers depend on reputation and referral for the majority of their business-their whole business model is based on making sure you are satisfied with both your kitchen and their level of service.

Finally – Added Value

Custom fitted cabinets made of high-quality materials will function longer and look better than stock options. If you have a high traffic kitchen, or are planning on staying a long time in your home – or even conversely selling your home in the next few years, having a unique, functional, and custom kitchen will add over-all value.

Photo Gallery – Custom Cabinets



Visit our showroom to view Color Boards created in partnership with local tile and flooring manufacturers. These boards show designer chosen combinations of our cabinetry, plus suggested countertop, backsplash, and flooring finishes. This Color Board features Bellmont Cabinet Co.’s 1600 Series Porta Super Matte Laminate in Grigio.  Tile and countertop selections are from our partners at Arizona Tile.

Would you like to find out what a customized solution for your kitchen remodel might look like? Cabinets of the Desert offers complimentary showroom consultations – give us a call soon to set up yours.