Base cabinet design -Toe-kick space or not -ie cabs to floor?

amaranthaSeptember 29, 2010

I love the look of cabinets where the cab box is sitting directly on the floor (without the toe-kick space). I have an 8 ft section of base cabinetry that I am planning which includes the clean-up sink (30" soapstone), integrated DW, trash pull-out, 4 drawer base, and a narrow open cabinet. My sink cabinet will actually be recessed back about 3" so that would eliminate the issue of bumping into the cabinet while standing at the sink. I know I could have the countertop come out slightly more to help with the issue too. Most of the other counter I won't be prepping at and is mostly for clean-up. I'll have an island for prepping - those cabinets will have the toe-kick.

Anyone have these cabinets that go to the floor and have opinions? Would you do it again? Likes, dislikes? Any thoughts from all others most welcome.

If I don't do this I am planning the cabinets with a square base/foot - you can see this on the layout linked below.

click on this photo and it will show my file of photos without toe-kick space and this also shows how the sink will be bumped back

click on the photo below and it will link to some photos of cabinets with toe-kick space


Here is a link that might be useful:

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Generally my vote is always "do what you love, assuming it fits in your budget," but I can imagine the problem of to-the-floor cabinets (i.e. not being able to stand as close to the counter as you'd like for prep work, etc.), and I am not sure extending the counter out a couple of inches will fix it. Why? Because if you extend the counter out, then your top drawers will be harder to get into--you might not be able to reach the back of them.

I'm just speculating here, so here's how to resolve it: go to a kitchen (whether a real one or a display one) that has to-the-floor cabinets and see how you like it. Stand at the counter, pretend you're using it, etc. Make your decision from there.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 8:40PM
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I read a tip once that recommended placing a 2x4 or boxes in your existing toe kicks to see how you like the furniture style (to-the-floor) toe kick. If you're constantly banging your toes on the board or boxes, or if it feels awkward to you, then to-the-floor might not be for you.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 9:19PM
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Our current 1930s cabinets have 2" toekicks, which is an in-between option, too---it gets them up off the floor, but still has an older vintage look.

We're just using standard toekicks on the new ones, though, since neither of us really cares one way or the other about that particular aspect, and it's what our cabinetmaker is used to building so I figured why rock the boat. :)

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 9:44PM
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You know how I feel about it. ;) I like being period-appropriate up to a point. Is your house older than 1930? Is it a craftsman or tudor or...? You could always combine the looks like I did - hee hee (patting self on back for that one). Down to floor where you use it less, furniture feet where you use it most.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 10:45PM
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(oh sorry - that was artemis w/ the 1930's cabs!)

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 10:47PM
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I worked in a kitchen that did not have toe space under the prep areas and it was not a PITA, it was a PITB (pain in the back). That extra couple of inches of leaning forward during prep work adds up real fast.

Do you want to swap looks for comfort?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 8:30AM
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I don't think storage-only cabinets need toe-kicks any more than a separate china hutch would. As long as the work areas have toe room, you won't be subject to back stress.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 9:08AM
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My bathroom vanity has no toe kick area and it bugs me. For a work area, I would never skip on that toe kick, It forces you to stand in a somewhat unnatural position and it is hard on your back.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 10:09AM
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Thanks for all the replies:
Thanks ideagirl for the note about the drawer issue. I'll ask the cabinetmaker about that. Maybe lower the drawers a bit? Not sure that would help. I'll check.

chicagoans, I've stood at my current counter with toe-kicks and notice that I rarely get so close to get my feet into that space. And when I do stand close enough so that my toes extend in, it seems to tip me backwards just slightly. That feels awkward to me. I placed a small board in that space after reading your suggestion and so far I haven't touched that board with my feet - thanks for that tip. I'll see what happens with rest of family.

artemis, 2" sounds like a good option. Do you have photos of your current kitchen to post or send me to a link? Thanks.

Yep, theresse, I think you and I agree on the looks. Love yours, how you combined them so perfectly - it looks so natural and like the way it should be. That's why I'm thinking the recessed sink cabinet (sink is an apron sink, not recessed) will be enough space for the work area on this run.

lazygardens, that's right, I don't want to give up comfort for looks. Don't need the pain of that. Though, said above too, that when I stand so close to get toes in, that it actually puts a strain on my back. Maybe it has something to do with height, I'm on the short side. ?

riverspots, kind of what I was thinking. The drawer, trash pullout, and DW are not prep/work areas.

ccoombs1, I do need to be sure about this, thanks. I just remembered my newly installed bath vanity (no countertop yet) doesn't have a toe kick so I should try out some prep in there. Will just put some plywood on top to see how it works.

Thanks all. My links didn't work and photos kind of big. Will try to figure that out.
this is a better photo of furniture style cabinets

Here is a link that might be useful: link to photos

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 2:07PM
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amarantha, When I was designing my kitchen and mentioned furniture base rather than toe kick on all the cabinets, the same cautions were mentioned. Like you, I was very observant of the location of my feet while working at the counters. I never used the toe kick area. The inspiration for my kitchen was also from the Kennebec show room, the Victorian kitchen. My kitchen has been finished (99%) for a year. The sink cabinets are set back 2-3'' depending on the location. All the countertops have the standard overhang. The furniture base is fine. No stubbed toes, no backache. I encourage you to do it if you want the look. I think they are easier to keep clean than a cabinet with toe kick.

Cooking run:


Cleanup sink setback:

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 8:15PM
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Here are ours. This is either circa 1915 with modifications in a 1939 remodel, or circa 1939; not sure.

Also, here's our baking hutch, which is done similarly---2" toekick---but has feet added (I just noticed yesterday that they match the feet on our vintage range!) This is, incidentally, the thing I'm going to miss most when we demo, since it's getting the boot. :( (It's in a really dumb place---a separate room behind the back door---and it's 7 feet long so there was nowhere we could move it to...*sigh* Happily, the salvage people were excited to see it!) This is circa 1939 or later.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 8:45PM
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(oh, and @theresse---there's our pullout cutting board, too!)

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 8:47PM
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Amarantha - thanks! That sink idea sounds great.

Cotehele - wowwy wow that is some kitchen. I love how your stove area is like a hoosier cabinet! Really beautiful period kitchen.

Artemis - those windows definitely look like 1915 windows! I love that pull-out board! You just made me feel better about not having to make it have its own face. In your case, you just stick it right under the countertop! Also that faucet is spiffy. Yes it's a pity to see that baking hutch go! Tres cute!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 2:20AM
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oh wow, these are great.
Cotehele, gorgeous! I've seen your cabs before and I just love them. I am not going with stained cabs on this but if I were I'd copy them- they look like they are the real thing - in authentic Victorian. Just beautiful. Any chance you can post a wider shot of the sink showing the base at the floor?
Thanks artemis, love them too. I can see why you'll miss that baking center.
So, I had just been thinking (prior to seeing these latest posts) that maybe I should go with my other version - as shown on my drawing here

-the reason being- I'm going to have an unfitted kitchen- island cabs are beaded inset, currently stained that I will paint. They are salvaged cabs and they will have the typical toe kick with some added molding at corners. Similar to the green cab on the right in the pic just below this.

But see the other green cabinet on the left where you just see the corner of it- that has a nice square foot- that certainly looks great to me if I decide to not do the full furniture style of cabs to the floor (no toe kick)
I want an unfitted kitchen but don't want it to be a mish-mash. Oh, I really need help!

Here is a link that might be useful: colorful cabinet and link to photos

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 6:19AM
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I had my cabs built with a toe kick at the sink only. It has not been a problem at all for either my DH or myself. (that would be a small and larger person comparison)
You do increase your drawer depth.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 7:25AM
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We lived in an old farmhouse w/ a no toe-kick kitchen and I hated it! I was always stubbing my toes on the cabinet fronts. To make matters worse, the cabs were painted white so there was always visible smudges on the cab fronts. And, it was a back killer because of the need to bend over a bit to compensate and I was in my twenty-somethings then!

I'm completely for wringing all the storage space possible from your cabinets. And like someone mentioned above, in cabinets that are for storage only, like on a storage wall, then I agree that no toe-kicks aren't critical. But any area that has a counter is a work zone and should have a toe-kick. Folks w/ tiny feet or chubsters who have a built-in overhang to protect their toes might not actually use the space, but they're offset by skinny people & folks with double digit sized tootsies. I think it is a huge mistake to sacrifice such an important ergonomic element for the sake of 'a look'.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 7:28AM
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I don't know if this helps, but we got a look at a possible argument for toe kicks. We installed a kick pedal for the trash pullout. Neither dh nor myself every hit it by accident, but every single work person does - their boots and bigger feet run into it because their toes are well under the toekick.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 8:13AM
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Thanks amarantha and thereese! I like the stained cabinetry, but painted just seems to fit in some kitchens.

I really love your concept kitchen, amarantha. The variety of colors and styles will make it unique to your house. I hope these pictures show what you want to see. I have only a cell phone camera at the moment.

Prep Sink

Cleanup Sink

Cleanup Sink

The aluminum foil is hideous in the vent hood. It is finally replaced with this...

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 9:03PM
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I know :) a 3yo forum post. I fount this because I too am trying to decide toekick or no toekick.
I'm thinking on the three sides of my center island, I'm going to not use a toe kick. I have tested many times and when looking down, have never seen my toes under the toekick area.
For me, that area just seems a collector of dust and hard to clean area, especially dust that gets up underneath the toekick area.
I painted my upper cabinets, but will be replacing the lower cabinets pretty much with the same sizes that are there now but include 3 more.

Where do you purchase a toekick drawer? and if you do, does that cabinet have to have a toekick area or does the drawer front just go flush with the cabinet?

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 12:20PM
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Amarantha- what is it called when the sides of cabinet extend down through toe kick as they do in your drawing? And, does anyone think it would look okay with overlay cabs (European full overlay) intead of set in ones like I usually see with that. I had the rep for some Amish-made cabinet makers and he had a name for that...

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 3:31PM
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This old thread was just linked in another post. Yet another thing on my mind today...

Our KD currently has no toe kick on our island. I think it will get used on one side or both for prep, so I don't think this is necessarily a good idea. It initially had something to do with the end panel, since we're having two back to back cabinets on the island. But I think most people do, so that shouldn't be an issue. One end will be seating and the other can be flush. But the two long edges should have toe kicks, I think.

I began to question this once I saw that not having a toe kick cost an extra $55 per cabinet x 4. Plus, I believe with this look that molding is run around the entire perimeter, and THAT's the stuff that adds up cost-wise.

As we've been considering this, DH and I have both tried prepping at the end of our existing peninsula, and I don't think not having a toe kick would be bad. And we have two, exploding Australian Shepherds that make me think less toe kicks could be a good thing overall.

So many decisions...

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 2:12PM
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