Inset vs Overlay

February 19, 2016

Inset vs overlay kitchen cabinetry

In designing a kitchen, the final product is really the sum of all of the details.  And there are so many details.  Of course, the obvious like cabinetry color, style, counter tops, and back splash, but it goes way beyond that.

One of the decisions that you need to make is whether you want inset or overlay cabinets.  I’ve done some exploring into this debate and I’ve found a lot of information that can be useful in making a decision.

Inset doors are set within the frame of the cabinet, so the drawers, doors, and frame are all flush.  Typically, hinges are exposed but they can also be hidden.

Inset vs overlay kitchen cabinetry

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I love the aesthetic of inset cabinetry, and part of it is an appreciation for the craftsmanship that goes in to building them.   And when there is craftsmanship, there is cost.  It is approximately 15-30% more expensive for the inset option.  And that’s not the only drawback.   You lose a lot of storage space because the cabinet face is inside the cabinet.  Some people complain that their larger dinner dishes do not fit in the cabinets.

Inset vs overlay kitchen cabinetry

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Also, they are more prone to problems because there is only 1/8 inch between the door and the frame.  If humidity levels rise above 60%, then you risk the wood expanding, which results in doors getting stuck and alignment issues.  Even if your humidity is under control, it’s very likely that you will have to periodically get the alignment adjusted.  It sure does look pretty though!

Inset vs overlay kitchen cabinetry

Inset vs overlay kitchen cabinetry

Via

Inset vs overlay kitchen cabinetry

Via

Another option that has become very popular is full overlay, which provides a similar, clean look, without some of the issues.  The doors and drawers are set over the frame, with approximately 1/2 inch between.  I love this look as well because of the clean and modern lines.

Inset vs overlay kitchen cabinetry

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Inset vs overlay kitchen cabinetry

Via

Inset vs overlay kitchen cabinetry

Via

Inset vs overlay kitchen cabinetry

Via

Inset vs overlay kitchen cabinetry

Via

Inset vs overlay kitchen cabinetry

Via

Inset vs overlay kitchen cabinetry

Via

Both styles can be beautiful, so there really is no right answer.  It’s just a matter of personal preference and what you can live with!

For more kitchen inspiration, visit our Pinterest kitchen board.

 

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