Kitchen Design, How To's

How to Achieve a Full Custom Kitchen Look With A “Stock” Cabinetry Line

First of all, all those beautiful kitchens that you see on Pinterest and in those design magazines are probably designed using a full custom kitchen cabinet line. These cabinet lines offer an array of cabinet constructions to choose from, door styles, and virtually limitless color and stain options and they can typically custom build anything that you can imagine! Custom cabinet lines are amazing for those of us with a healthy budget and a desire for something out of the ordinary. However, that is not everyone and there is no reason that you can’t have your cake and eat it too with what’s referred to as a “stock” cabinet line.

Forevermark Lait Grey Cabinetry

What is a “stock” cabinet line?

What I mean when I say “stock” cabinetry isn’t that they are cheaply made- it is that they are readily available. These cabinet lines usually ship relatively quickly, within 4-6 weeks or potentially even sooner! They have the ability to do this because they typically limit the cabinet styles, door front selections, and finishes. Not to say that there isn’t plenty of options to select from to achieve the look you want in your space. With all that being said, here are my top tips to make sure you are getting the most out of your stock cabinets and creating a beautiful finished look in your kitchen for a fraction of the cost. Keep in mind that all the kitchens in this post were designed with stock cabinets.

Panel in Your Refrigerator

Forevermark Uptown White Cabinetry

This is my number one tip! If you are trying to cut the budget, do not do it by removing your full depth refrigerator cabinet or your fridge panels. Paneling in your fridge is the best way to create a full custom built in look and the full depth cabinet above is a great place for bonus storage.

Don’t Skimp Out on Top Moldings

Fabuwood Cabinetry

Adding crown molding to the top of your cabinets is a must if you are going for a full custom look. Even the most beautiful kitchens can look unfinished without some sort of crown molding. You do not have to select a ornate crown molding either, there are usually 4-6 options for moldings available in stock cabinetry lines. If you are looking for a simpler look, ask for a cove crown molding like this one:

Fabuwood Cabinetry

Or go for a more modern look by requesting a flat filler material as a crown molding like the kitchen below. This is a great way to add something extra to the top of the cabinets without the traditional feel some crown molding can create.

Forevermark Cabinetry

Speaking of Crown.. Close the Gap Between your ceiling and the top of your cabinets!

Unless you absolutely love storing items on top of you cabinets (along with spider webs and dust bunnies) I highly recommend closing the gap between your upper cabinets and the ceiling. Of course, there are exceptions to this, like having extremely high ceilings. However, if you have ceilings where this is feasible definitely do it! It will make your kitchen feel much larger and rack up extra storage space.

Forevermark Cabinetry

If You Can’t Close the Gap-Consider Stacking Your Moldings to get the job done

White Shaker Cabinetry- Forevermark

Stacking your moldings at the top of your cabinetry is a great way to bridge that gap between the top of your cabinets and the ceiling. If your ceilings are too high for one strip of molding, try stacking a flat molding below the crown and cabinetry for extra height to close that gap.

Add Decorative Doors to the Sides of Exposed Cabinet Ends

Forevermark Cabinetry

Adding decorative doors to the sides of exposed cabinets is a sure way to achieve a custom looking kitchen. This is something I see left out again and again and you can really tell a difference in the design. Without the decorative doors the sides of you cabinets can look plain and unfinished. The only time I would consider leaving these out of your design is if you are going for a very simple look, then maybe just a base board molding will do the trick. Leading me to my next tip…

Include a Base Board Molding around your island and on exposed ends of cabinetry


It’s a small detail that makes a big difference. I highly recommend including base board molding around your island and at the end of your cabinet runs, especially if you plan on installing the decorative door panels formerly mentioned. Many of the stock cabinet lines do not “integrate” the deco doors into the sides of the cabinetry. This leaves a 4-5″ flat panel from the bottom of the door to the floor. This gap can be filled by a baseboard molding to really finish the look.

Throw In Some Glass Front Cabinets

Forevermark Cabinetry

This tip is more of a personal design preference. However, if you want to display some of your unique glassware or add some layered lighting to your kitchen by adding lights to the interior of a glass front cabinets, this is a great addition to your design to make it feel more custom. Most stock cabinet lines offer glass front cabinets either with a flat glass pane or a mullion door with glass. Some will also provide doors that are “prepped for glass” leaving the installation and purchase of the glass to you or your installer.

Add a Matching Hood, Yes, They Have Them

Fabuwood Cabinetry

Custom hoods are becoming more and more popular. I personally love the look of a hood above the range. It creates a stunning focal point in the room. Many stock cabinet lines offer hood covers in finishes that match the cabinetry. Or add the hood in another finish in the line to create some contrast. Although, I am a huge fan of custom built hood covers a well, this is also a great way to create interest in the kitchen and it doesn’t necessarily have to come from a cabinet company.

Add Inserts Provided by the Cabinet Line

Fabuwood Spice Pullout

With people spending more time in their kitchens, cabinet inserts are becoming necessary and popular. Because of this, many stock cabinet lines are starting to offer these inserts with their cabinetry and the best part is- many of them can come pre installed! Fabuwood Cabinetry is a line that I personally sale that offers some of the best interior fittings. If you are interested in seeing the best inserts for your kitchen, check out my blog post here for my countdown of the 10 best kitchen inserts you wont believe your living without.

Create a Custom Look By Installing Cabinets Back to Back Or on The Sides of your island

Fabuwood Cabinetry

Large islands are taking over the world! Okay, not really, but they are definitely taking the glory from the dining room table. The popularity of open concept homes has transformed the use of the kitchen island from being a great space for additional storage to being the heart of the home. You don’t need custom cabinets to create a beautiful statement island with seating for your whole family. All you need is creative designer and the space.

Don’t Leave out Light Rail Molding, Even If You Aren’t adding under cabinet lighting…

This ones another small detail that can make a big difference. Most times the underside of stock cabinets are a raw material or a light wood veneer that does not match the finish on the front and sides. Adding the light rail doesn’t only help conceal this a bit, it also adds that much more of a custom look to your design.

Select a Full Overlay Cabinet

Alright, this is my last and easily my most important tip for a custom looking kitchen. FULL OVERLAY CABINETRY. If you look at the two kitchens above, one has a full overlay door-meaning that the door covers most if not all of the face frame of the cabinet and one has a partial overlay, revealing the frame. Full overlay cabinetry is overall more seamless and cleaner than a partial overlay cabinet. Personally, I don’t recommend using any other style.

Fabuwood Cabinetry

If you would like to learn more about the difference between these two cabinet door overlays and other styles of cabinetry such as inset cabinetry, check out my blog here defining the differences.

Thank you for reading, if you enjoyed this post follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest for more design tips and before and after’s of projects! If you are planning to remodel your kitchen in the New Hampshire area and would like to find out how to schedule a design consultation reach out to me today!

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