Today’s kitchens are often dominated by impressive stainless steel appliances and futuristic accessories. The natural warmth and texture of wood cabinetry provides a welcoming contrast, pulling your entire kitchen together.
So, whether you live in a remodeled Victorian, a country cottage or a modern urban loft, the look and feel of your room will be influenced by the natural characteristics of the wood you choose.
Types of woods
All woods used in cabinet or furniture making are classified as either hard or soft. Hardwood comes from trees such as oak, maple, cherry, birch and hickory, while softwoods include spruce, pine and cedar.
Each type of wood exhibits its own unique “personality” through twists or knots in the grain, small marks left by birds or indelible stains left by tree gum or sap. Whichever style or finish your choose, each wood has unique characteristics:
Woods, grains and colors
Birch is an almost-white wood, often used in modern designs, raised or recessed panel-type doors.
Cherry, used primarily in formal English- or French-style cabinets, has a natural deep red coloring enhanced by a cherry-colored stain.
Hickory is a sturdy, naturally brown wood with obvious markings also used in country-style cabinetry.
Maple has little graining and a pronounced yellow tint – most often used in cabinets that will be painted or stained.
Oak is the most common wood used in solid wood cabinets, because the strong graining doesn’t fade under staining. White oak is quite pale in coloring and red oak has a natural reddish tint that takes darker wood stains well.
Pine is a yellowish soft wood that is easily antiqued or distressed. It’s used primarily in country-style cabinets.
Rift oak is a veneer wood used in many modern cabinetry calling for a clean, smooth finish. The outer layer of oak is removed, leaving the light-colored vertical grain intact.
Before choosing your cabinetry, take a good look at your home’s style and décor. What you love most about your home should play a role in the cabinets you choose – no matter if you wish to retain the mood of your older home or move in a more contemporary direction. No matter which way you go, identifying your preferences helps narrow the search for the perfect wood cabinets.