Rule of thumb for deciding width of wall cabinet doors?

flseadogJanuary 31, 2011

DD's current kitchen has some wall cabinets with 25" wide doors. When she opens them she needs to step back from the counter or they would hit her in the face. It's one of the many things that irk her about her current kitchen. Now that she is working on the wall cabinet portion of her plan, most of her wall cabinets could have sets of 15" or 18" that open out so she could see the entire contents of whatever cabinet she is using. Is there some way of deciding the best wall cabinet width? She has some inches to play with and different possible ways of handling her corner cabinets (either angled corner or blind corner which she thinks she will prefer)so she wants to get the best use of her space but also have an attractive rhythm to the cabinet sizes. She says she's afraid of having a hodge podge of sizes or that everything the same size will look monotonous. Any advice? Thanks.

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I don't think similar sizes makes for monotony...For one thing, there are often elements to break up the runs of cabinet doors (windows, range hoods, fridges), or certain ones you can't dictate the size for, like over a wall oven or fridge.

Proportion is important to the look, so the style and height of the cabinet door will weigh in. Framed doors will create a different illusion of size and proportion than a flat door, for example. The shorter the door, the wider it will seem, and the opposite for tall doors. I ran an extra rail across our doors near the top to break up the narrowness of the 48" doors.

Anything less than 12" looks pretty skinny, and to me 18" and wider starts to look awkwardly big to me. I preferred keeping my doors between 13 and 17". Even in my large kitchen, I kept the doors close to 15", which works great for a decently sized single cabinet or really useful double.

Here is a link that might be useful: pics of my kitchen

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 7:31PM
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I think at some point a designer told me that either 12" & 15" or 15" & 18" were best (I forget which she said!).

I had 24" in a rental house, and that was a little too wide for me. I had 21" wide on each side of my range in my last place, and really liked that size in that location. I had one cab that was 14" and it was almost too small. I like 15" and 18" for how they look, and prefer 18" since that size is usually most convenient for my things. I dislike 12" since they don't hold much. JMO.


    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 8:17PM
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Asthetically it is preferable to make all cabinet doors on your uppers the same or similar sizes.

functionally, it makes sense to have doors somewhere in the range of 12-15 as you won't have to step back to open the door. anything bigger can make you step back to varying degrees.

the bigger the doors, the more likely they are to warp if their real wood, like a 24inch door.

These were suggestions by my cabinetmaker.

Also the taller the cabinet, the weirder the narrow doors look.

IMHO, if your doors are narrow, flat panel doors look better, compared to raised panel, skinny raised panel doors, have an even skinnier raised panel.

It all depends on the size of your kitchen too. function can trump asthetics. I'd still stick to 18inch door max with a max cabinet of 36"

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 9:17PM
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My 24" upper has double doors, no stile in the middle. Very good use of space. I have 1 15" cabinet and think it is a bit small.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 9:46PM
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Thanks for all the help. The kitchen DD is living with now is about 30 years old. The custom cabinets in it were not well done to begin with and seem to have been sized according to the materials the cabinet maker had available rather than according to how an actual person would use the kitchen. In my opinion some of them are even hinged in the wrong direction. It's good to hear that doors in the 12"-18" range are commonly recommended since this is what DD has been able to work out as the best functional plan for her reno. Thanks, again.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 11:54AM
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Basically agreed with everything above---personally I like doors between 15" and 21", with 24" okay for a single large door. But I think she'd be fine anywhere in the range you're talking about.

One thing to remember, too, is that your eye will not pick up small differences. In our old kitchen, no two sets of doors were the same width, but the main differences you noticed were the big 21" doors and the little 15-18" doors, not the distinctions between the 16" and 17" pairs next to each other. In our new kitchen, I only discovered this weekend that our doors aren't all the same---they were designed to all be 18" but apparently making all three equal meant the blind corner pullout didn't have quite enough space, so our cabinetmaker adjusted it in the shop so that there is a pair of 17.5" doors and then an 18.5" door. They're all in a row and your eye reads them as being the same (or at least, our eyes do). I only figured it out when I was measuring drawers and discovered we had an extra inch of interior space in the drawer over the blind corner! So you have some wiggle room.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 12:12PM
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I appreciated reading all the advice about door width on this post.( I posted on a somewhat similar topic, forgetting about this post.) I think we will have 18" inset single door upper cabinets and 36" wide double door inset wall cabinets. I guess this will make the doors themselves about 16 inches wide. My sense, after reading this post, is that the 21" wide, single door cabinet I had been momentarily considering for the layout will be too wide.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 6:35AM
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