Kitchen wall cabinets are an integral part of any kitchen design. They provide essential storage space while also being an important decorative element. With so many options available, from sizes and layouts to materials and finishes, choosing the right kitchen wall cabinets requires careful thought and planning. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about selecting, designing, and installing kitchen wall cabinets to create your dream kitchen.

Types of Kitchen Wall Cabinets

There are several main types of kitchen wall cabinets to consider:

Standard Wall Cabinets

These are the most common type of wall cabinet. They typically have solid sides and come in standard widths like 12, 15, 18, 24, 30, and 36 inches. Standard cabinets have either flat or recessed panel doors. They can include shelves or drawers inside. Standard wall cabinets are mounted directly onto the wall.

Corner Wall Cabinets

Corner cabinets maximize awkward empty corner spaces with storage. They come in several shapes like diagonal, blind, lazy susan, and L-shaped. Corner cabinets make use of wasted space and create more kitchen storage.

Tall Wall Cabinets

Tall cabinets provide additional vertical storage space. They are taller than standard cabinets, often with heights up to 84 or 96 inches. Tall cabinets work well for broom and appliance storage. They also make a stunning design statement.

Open Wall Shelving

Open shelving skips cabinet doors entirely creating an airy, casual aesthetic. It works well for frequently used items you want to access quickly. Open shelving can also display decor items, dishes or cookbooks.

Appliance Garages

Appliance garages are specialized cabinets that conceal small countertop appliances. When closed, they provide a sleek minimalist look. But open the door, and you’ll find a microwave, coffee maker or other handy gadgets.

Kitchen Wall Cabinet Dimensions

Kitchen wall cabinets come in set standard sizes. However, you can also customize cabinet sizes to fit your space exactly. Here are the typical dimensions to consider:

  • Height – Standard cabinet height is 30 inches. Tall cabinets are 84 or 96 inches high.
  • Width – Common widths are 12, 15, 18, 24, 30 and 36 inches. Depth is typically 12 to 24 inches.
  • Toe kick height – Toe kicks raise the cabinet off the floor, usually by 3 to 5 inches.
  • Ceiling height – Standard cabinet height suits ceilings at least 84 inches high. Higher ceilings accommodate taller cabinets.

When laying out your kitchen cabinets, combine different cabinet widths and heights to maximize storage and create visual interest. Also be sure to measure your kitchen space carefully to plan cabinet sizes.

Layout Options for Kitchen Wall Cabinets

The layout of your kitchen wall cabinets impacts function and aesthetics. Here are popular kitchen wall cabinet layout options:

Full Height Cabinets

In this traditional layout, wall cabinets extend all the way from the countertop to the ceiling. It maximizes storage space but can feel imposing in small kitchens. Using a mix of open shelving and full height cabinets creates a lighter look.

Partial Height Cabinets

Partial height cabinets stop above the fridge, range or other appliances, creating a statement backsplash area. The unfinished space adds architectural interest and makes rooms feel more open.

Stepped Layout

A stepped layout staggers cabinet heights across the kitchen in rows. It gives a modern, layered look that adds dimension. Combining tall and short cabinets is an eye-catching option.


A bilateral symmetrical layout mirrors the same pattern of cabinets on either side of a kitchen window, range or sink. It has a very ordered, classic look when cabinets align precisely.

Floating Cabinets

Floating cabinets are mounted a few inches off the wall onto a ledger board instead of sitting directly on the floor. It lightens visual weight, showcases the wall color and eases cleaning.

Materials for Kitchen Wall Cabinets

Kitchen wall cabinets come in a wide array of different materials. Consider the pros and cons of each option:


The most common cabinet material, wood offers a timeless, traditional look. Oak, maple, cherry and hickory are popular choices. painted wood provides nearly endless color options.


A budget-friendly material, thermofoil fuses PVC onto medium density fiberboard. It resists scratches and moisture and is super easy to clean. Thermofoil comes in hundreds of colors and grain patterns.


Metal kitchen cabinets provide an ultra-modern, industrial vibe, especially paired with stainless steel appliances. Copper, brass, zinc and chrome are trendy options.


Glass-front cabinets create an airy, open aesthetic that shows off contents. Glass inserts in cabinet doors add a decorative focal point while retaining some privacy. It must be tempered for safety.

Kitchen Wall Cabinet Finishes

The finishes you choose for kitchen wall cabinets dramatically impact their look, from sleek and modern to homey and rustic. Consider these popular finish options:


Painting cabinets any color you can imagine opens up endless possibilities. It also allows you to easily change up the look down the road. Use high quality cabinet paint for the most durable finish.


Staining wood cabinets enables you to highlight the natural wood grain beauty. Oak, walnut and maple take stain well. Choose a light, medium or dark stain based on the look you want.


Glazing wood cabinets adds a sheer tinted coat over stain. It creates more depth and dimension with color built up in recesses. White glaze over dark cabinets is striking.


Distressing mimics the worn, battered look of antique cabinets. The edges and surfaces are manually roughed up through techniques like rasping. It lends cottage character.


Whitewashing coats cabinets in a chalky, opaque white finish. The dimensional wood grain still shows through. Whitewash gives cabinets beachy character.

Cabinet Door Styles

Experimenting with different cabinet door styles is an easy way to dramatically change the look of your kitchen. Consider mixing and matching door designs for visual interest.

Recessed Panel Doors

With a center recessed panel bordered by a frame, these doors have a classic, traditional style. The deep indent adds dimension and definition.

Raised Panel Doors

On raised panel doors, the central panel is slightly elevated and borders are indented. They have a formal, elegant look perfect for antique-inspired kitchens.

Slab Doors

Slab cabinet doors have a flat, simplistic design without any recesses or indentations. The minimalist style provides a clean-lined contemporary edge.

Shaker Doors

Similar to slab doors, Shaker style doors have a flat center panel but are framed by wide rails and stiles. They have a versatile farmhouse feel.

Arched Doors

For a unique touch, arched cabinet doors have rounded tops instead of straight edges. They lend a graceful, artistic ambiance to the kitchen.

Glass Doors

Glass-front cabinet doors maintain an open aesthetic while protecting contents from dust. Frosted, etched and colored glass options create privacy.

Cafe Doors

Cafe style doors feature full length hinges allowing the doors to open fully parallel to the cabinet. They are sleek and take up no visual space.

Organizing Kitchen Wall Cabinets

Kitchen wall cabinets should be optimized for smarter storage and organization. Consider these tips:

  • Install adjustable shelves at different heights to accommodate various items.
  • Use lazy susans in corner cabinets to access items easily.
  • Try pull-out shelves to view everything tucked away in deep cabinets.
  • Use door racks to hang cooking utensils within easy reach.
  • Consider pull-out tray dividers to neatly organize baking sheets and cutting boards.
  • Install under-cabinet rollout spice racks to keep seasonings nearby when cooking.
  • Use interior cabinet vertical dividers to neatly file baking pans and sheet trays.

Selecting Hardware for Kitchen Cabinets

The hardware finishes you select for kitchen cabinets have a big impact on their overall look and feel. Consider the style of your kitchen when choosing hardware:

  • Brushed nickel has an understated, modern appeal that fits contemporary kitchens well.
  • Polished chrome lends a sleek streamlined look and plays off stainless steel appliances.
  • Bronze, brass and gold finishes provide a glamorous, warm traditional vibe.
  • Aged copper and brass develop an antiqued patina over time for a vintage charm.
  • Matte black hardware makes a sophisticated style statement and pops against light cabinets.
  • Go minimalist with matching cabinet hardware that disappears into the cabinet color.

Mixing metal finishes can add an appealing contrast, for example combine brushed bronze and chrome or black and white.

Installing Kitchen Wall Cabinets

Installing kitchen wall cabinets is best left to professionals. But here is an overview of the standard installation process:

  • Mark stud locations on the wall and where cabinets will be positioned. Cabinets must attach securely to studs.
  • Add ledger boards horizontally along the wall to strengthen mounting points and level cabinets.
  • Pre-drill holes into the studs at the desired height to mount wall cabinets onto. Holes should be at the precise location of studs.
  • Use long cabinet screws to firmly attach cabinets onto the wall through the pre-drilled holes.
  • Level and test cabinets, adjusting until completely straight. Add shims if needed to fill any gaps.
  • Run a bead of silicone caulk along the edges and around any gaps to seal for a seamless look.
  • Attach any fillers, valances and trim molding for a built-in custom appearance.

Hiring a professional kitchen designer and installer ensures your new cabinets are mounted securely and properly on the wall.

Design Inspiration for Kitchen Wall Cabinets

Kitchen wall cabinets can be designed in endless different configurations. Here are some inspiring ideas:

Modern Elegance

Full-height glossy white slab cabinets accented with sleek gold hardware fixtures emit refined sophistication. Large swaths of windows and light surfaces keep the vibe airy.

Rustic Charm

Weathered wood cabinets stained in a natural wheat color paired with open shelving lined with galvanized metal evoke cozy cottage character. Cafe cabinet doors provide visual interest.

Vintage Appeal

Glass-front wall cabinets fitted with antiqued brass hardware and wired glass shelves complement the well-worn charm of limewashed shaker cabinets. Molding frames built-in appliances.

Dramatic Contrast

High-gloss lacquered navy blue cabinets make a daring style statement contrasted with pure white countertops and open whitewashed shelving. Gold tap hardware is eye-catching.

Contemporary Industrial

The unique look of hammered metal cabinetry finished in dark charcoal gray combined with polished concrete countertops creates an edgy modern vibe. Exposed piping furthers the dynamic.

Frequently Asked Questions About Kitchen Wall Cabinets

What is the standard height for kitchen wall cabinets?

The typical height for standard kitchen wall cabinets is 30 inches. However, you can also find wall cabinets in 36, 42, 48 inch and even taller heights for an alternative look.

How deep are most kitchen wall cabinets?

Standard kitchen wall cabinets range from 12 to 16 inches deep. However, depths can be customized as shallow as 6 inches or as deep as 24 inches to fit your space. Deeper cabinets increase storage capacity.

How much space should you leave between kitchen cabinets?

Its recommended to leave a minimum of 30 to 42 inches between countertops for main kitchen work zones. For traffic areas, allow at least 42 to 48 inches between cabinets.

What is the best material for kitchen cabinets?

Wood is the most popular kitchen cabinet material for its attractive, classic look and durability. Maple, oak and hickory are top choices. Thermofoil and plastic laminate are affordable options.

What height should upper cabinets be above the counter?

Standard practice is to install wall cabinets 18 inches above countertops. However, the height can be adjusted from as low as 12 inches for a more integrated look to as high as 24 inches for more openness.

Should you paint the inside of kitchen cabinets?

Painting the interior of cabinets is an optional final step. While not mandatory, it gives cabinets a fully finished look. Use high quality cabinet enamel paint for a hard, glossy surface that is easy to wipe clean.


The optimal design for your kitchen wall cabinets depends on your space, storage needs and style preferences. Carefully thinking through all the size, layout, material and finish options allows you to maximize both aesthetics and function. Taking time to organize interiors and select coordinating hardware pulls your whole kitchen together into a harmonious space you will love cooking and spending time in for years to come. With proper planning and professional installation, you can implement your dream kitchen cabinets.