Kitchen showrooms are emporiums of grand illusion. The floors always glisten, countertops are uncluttered by coffemakers and the cabinets — wow! The cabinets are always perfect. No scratches, no dings, none of the 3-year-old’s favorite stickers, no dishes cramming shelves. The cabinets are stained in the latest colors endorsed by shelter-magazines, when the doors swing shut with resounding thumps and the drawers slide to a firm stop, you’re sold. Too bad. You think you bought furniture that will last a lifetime, but you probably got dressed-up orange crates that will last barely a decade.
Top-quality kitchen cabinets are made like good furniture, but even the most devoted watchers of the Food Channel don’t know what to look for. Worse, what to look for is usually hidden.
It used to be that dovetail joints inside the drawers were practically all you needed to distinguish high-end cabinets. That distinction has blurred as more manufacturers offer premium features, even on low-end lines. Past cabinet tests at Consumer Reports proved that you can have these and other once exclusive features yet still wind up with shoddy construction.
Research manufacturer and retail websites, then take a good look at store displays; you’ll be able to tell the quality cabinets from the polished pretenders once you know where to look. Trust your taste. The kitchen should complement the rest of your home, so choose what you love.