Will I regret reduced storage in framed cabinets?

zackinNovember 8, 2012

Having followed GW for months, thought obsessively about every detail of my full remodel, having a complete design and appliances ordered, I suddenly realized that the cabinets my GC uses (Wellborn) are framed, not frameless. I'm very anxious that I'm making a bad decision because of the loss of storage space with the frame. I'll have three 30" lower cabinets with 3 drawers each. I'm less concerned about the uppers and cabinets with doors because I don't think so much space is lost.

I've lived with frameless for over 30 years and it never dawned on me that I would lose drawer space with the Wellborn cabinets. I like my GC and his craftsmen are excellent. They did both of my bathrooms and I was entirely satisfied. Also, I've given him a sizeable deposit.

He's willing to go with one other cabinet company that he has used in the far past (Adelphi) but I don't like what I see on that website.

I love the solid wood door that I picked from Wellborn and the wood stain is exactly the look I want. I'll have a pretty large pantry, so this might not be such a big deal. However, I'm worried that I'll kick myself for making such a big investment and not getting this detail right. BTW, my style is contemporary, so the cabinet doors will be slab, full overlay.

Any advice greatly appreciated, and thanks for sticking with this long post.


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My gut reaction was to answer "yes!" and move on, Haha. I'm a frameless girl. : )

It's so hard if you have found a look you love. My advice is to take inventory of the things you will be storing in the drawers. Find out the interior dimensions of the framed drawers HxWxD. If everything will fit, go with it and the look you love.

If everything doesn't all fit (and would fit with the extra storage in frameless), you may have a bit of a battle on your hands getting GC to go with someone other than his 2nd choice. Not sure why he would be so adamant. Is he making a kickback behind the scenes ?

If you are looking for other frameless lines, we have UltraCraft and love them. ultracraft.com.
They are Frameless cabinets that allow size modifications in 1/16" increments to height, width, and depth (or all 3) at no additional cost. So, go ahead and make your uppers 13" or 14" deep for those extra large salad bowls and charger plates. And cut down on the fillers you need by making your cabinets the exact width you need them, instead of being forced to choose from 3" increments. Also, standard is Blum full extension soft close drawers, soft close doors, no charge for finished sides, dovetail drawers with fully captured bottoms, and bunches of other stuff is standard. 100 year warranty. A lot of GWers used to get them, but I rarely see them mentioned around here anymore (other than me, lol).

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 6:33AM
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I would say no...not that much. I did a calculation one time for a customer of mine and it was less than 5%. And plus I was able to build the cabinets to whatever sizes she wanted/needed so even though they were less total space they were much better use of the space. If 5% really matters then I say you have too much stuff. (ha)

I am a cabinetmaker and I prefer the look of a framed cabinet...plus with a framed cabinet you can do inset or inset with a bead which is my favorite look.

Travis Alfrey
Pinehurst, NC

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 11:33AM
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I'm a frameless person too but that said, I've been monitoring this forum for quite some time and my understanding is that the best advantage with frameless is their additional space when designing a small kitchen. Sorry, I can't say what the "breaking point" is for small, but if you have a large pantry, doesn't sound like yours is small.

But you can google this site for frameless, lots and lots has been written. Some sound very "idealogical" with their opinions rather than basing them on facts. (maybe a bit like politics, LOL.) I think this sometimes sounds to me like a "contemporary" vs "traditional" discussion and I am definitely in the contemporary world.

But bottom line, for me, I am sick and tired of pulling out a drawer and having utensils stick to that upper bar in every drawer that is not frameless. I probably fall in the category of having too much stuff maybe or having too many large utensils that I like to keep in my shallow drawers.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 12:55PM
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I have framed in an 11'7 x 13 kitchen. I am fine. No pantry, but I do have a big shelf thing in the laundry area for large things that I hardly ever use, such as my turkey roasting pan which might come out 2x a year. I have been married for 47 years so you can imagine how much stuff I have accumulated. I really did box up a lot of things I never use, or I have doubles and triples. Some went to the Goodwill and some things are in a carton in the garage because I will never need them but I don't have the courage to get rid of them

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 1:05PM
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It is definitely a trade off. I just finished my kitchen and did framed Rutt cabinets in walnut. I just fell in love with the look and worked from there. I also have two stacks of 30" drawers as well as two stacks of 32.5" drawers, plus one drawer under my speed oven. I have tried to cull my collection of pots and pans (which I keep in the two lower drawers of each of the 30" stacks. The drawers are less than 8" deep, so my tall stockpot does not fit into any drawer. So I had to find someplace else for that. Mostly everything else fits. It's just that I can stack fewer things, which is not always a bad thing in fact.

So bottom line, it was worth it to me but it really depends on what your storage needs are.

I posted a lot of pictures a couple of weeks ago, including some of the insides of my drawers. Since I don't know how to link the post, I will bump it up for you. It is called "Almost finished NYC galley...."

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 1:06PM
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Actually it is called "Almost done..."

By the way, elphaba is absolutely right about the utensils sticking. That is why, for example, I can next two saute pans but not three because otherwise the handle will hit the frame. I am terrified of messing up my cabinets so I have to train my family to replace pots and pans exactly where they came from. A bit of a pain, but worth it to me because I am in love with the look. You need to think about stuff like that.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 1:13PM
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Thanks so much for all of the replies so far.

I never thought about the utensils sticking behind the frame when I open drawers. That would definitely drive me a little bonkers.

I have read a number of older GW threads on this subject and found a sort of consensus that the framed only gives an advantage if you want a traditional or inset look. Since I definitely want a contemporary, full overlay slab door, I'm concerned about giving up without gaining anything much.

I just spoke to my GC, who will look into a couple of frameless lines that he has access too, but he's not very enthusiastic. He thinks it's harder to make the hinges work as well without needing future adjustments, when the cabinets are frameless and that the framed are generally better construction. I'm not sure that these ideas are really well founded, or based largely on his comfort zone and convenience.

Having received your comments, I do feel better about the space issue. I think I'll be fine either way. I just don't want to be kicking myself for not considering everything.

many thanks again.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 1:19PM
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In answer to your original question- if using framed cabinets I design with that in mindso there s Less loss. The real issue is vertical clearance at drawers and (in brands without a dust top) things getting stuck.
As to construction- it's a personal pinion but you can get a better frameless for the dollar- there are more cheap (not so good) fraed available.
Hinges- frameless are better- easier to adjust over time and none of the adjusting screws go into wood which eventually loosens.
Contemporary- frameless as you can get tighter reveals between the doors (though there is a new hinge out for framed that is getting closer)
Installation- framed are easier to install, lighter and can be bent a little if need be. Frameless are stiffer, unforgiVing s initial layout for install is more important.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 2:13PM
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I've had framed cabs all my life and have never had an issue with utensils getting stuck on the frame. Maybe I don't stack them that deeply? I never knew such things as frameless cabs existed until I found GW. Somehow, I've survived to tell the tale! ;) I wouldn't worry as much about framed/frameless as finding a high-quality cab in your budget that works with your aesthetic. JMHO.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 6:20PM
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I did IKEA frameless cabs in my last house and moved into this one with more traditional-look, framed cabs. I haven't noticed any difference in my cab usage. My biggest beef with this kitchen is the pull-out drawers are behind cabinet doors. So you have to open the doors wide before you can pull out the drawers. I miss my IKEA deep pull-out drawer cabs!

BTW - both kitchens are on the large side.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 7:26PM
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If you have a shrinky-dink kitchen like mine, frameless are the only way to go as every cubic inch counts. If you have more space in your kitchen, it doesn't make much difference and you can make a decision for other reasons. You like the ones your GC proposed and you have adequate space? Go for it. I am very attached to my frameless and find them far superior to the framed ones we had before, but space really, really matters to me and that is where the attachment comes in. This is one of those things where there isn't just one viable option.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 8:01PM
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