Kitchen Remodel Decisions: Overlay vs Inset Cabinetry

Inset cabinets or overlay cabinets

When it comes to choosing kitchen cabinets, there are many decisions to make. Aside from determining the color, door style and hardware, you’ll also need to pick between overlay or inset cabinetry. In order to better understand how these styles are different, here are some observations from Normandy Designer Jennifer Runner Cross, AKBD.

“With a full overlay, the door of the cabinet sits fully over the cabinet frame,” said Jennifer. “An inset door sits inside the frame of the box. With this style, cabinetry tends to look more like a furniture piece.”

White kitchen cabinets with overlay fronts
Overlay kitchen cabinet doors

Inset kitchen cabinet doorsBecause wood is a natural material, there can sometimes be imperfections. If the frame of a cabinet isn’t perfect, a full overlay door can cover it. With inset, imperfections are more likely to show. Therefore, it takes more time and effort to make the cabinet, which in-turn makes this option more costly.

When it comes between choosing between the two, the overall style of your kitchen remodel is one factor.

White kitchen cabinets with Inset fronts
Inset kitchen cabinet doors

“Full overlay doors can be modern with a slab door, more traditional with a raised panel, or transitional with a flat center panel,” said Jennifer. “Inset is usually not contemporary, and typically more transitional or traditional.”

Additionally, hinge preference also comes into play. “The hinges are concealed in a full overlay cabinet while there is the opportunity to incorporate them as part of the design in an inset cabinet,” said Jennifer. “However, with an inset cabinet, it is personal preference as to whether you would like to show hinges or not. They can be different finishes and styles, but typically look more traditional.”

Ensure your kitchen remodel is well executed and has the right cabinetry to suit your style, needs and budget by setting up a time to meet with Jennifer. Or, register to attend an upcoming seminar to learn more about the kitchen remodeling process and materials. You can also visit the Normandy photo gallery for design ideas or follow Normandy Remodeling on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

microwave drawer in green kitchen cabinets
Traditional look inset cabinet with exposed hinges
cabinet with trio of drawers with a custom spice pull out
Traditional to transitional style kitchen with inset fronts
Modern look overlay cabinet doors
Transitional style kitchen with overlay cabinet fronts
Transitional style with overlay cabinet doors






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