Cabinetry 101: Stock, Semi-Custom, and Custom Cabinetry

Selecting your kitchen cabinetry is probably one of the most important decisions you will make as you begin the kitchen remodeling process.  The style, color, finish, and function of the cabinetry are a reflection of your home and personality. Whether you choose a basic white shaker cabinet or a custom green antique finish – understanding the differences between Stock, Semi-Custom, and Custom Cabinetry is a must when shopping around.


Stock Cabinetry

Pros: Affordability, Short Lead Time

Cons: Limited Options, Limited Cabinet Sizes

Lead Time: 2-3 Weeks

*Lead Time may even be less depending on the location of the cabinet company in relation to the job site.

Stock Cabinetry is typically your least expensive type of cabinetry.  The majority of Stock cabinet companies offer a limited range of door styles, finishes, and cabinet sizes.  This allows the company to easily and quickly manufacture the cabinets resulting in a short lead time.  Many times the cabinetry is already assembled and ready to ship once an order is placed.  Typically, Stock cabinet companies will only offer full overlay style cabinetry.  This is something to take into consideration when shopping.  If you’re looking for inset cabinetry, you may need to search beyond Stock and Semi-Custom cabinetry.

by Robinwood Kitchens, 21st Century Stock Cabinetry

by Robinwood Kitchens, 21st Century Stock Cabinetry

Semi-Custom Cabinetry

Pros: Affordability, Some Customization/Personalization

Cons: Limited Cabinet Styles/Finishes and Customization Options

(More Options than Stock cabinetry, Less Options than Custom cabinetry)

Lead Time: 4-6 Weeks

Semi-Custom cabinetry is a step above stock cabinetry in terms of cost and available options.  The majority of Semi-Custom cabinet companies offer 15-30 different finishes and door styles.  Due to the customer’s ability to mix and match, the lead time increases. In most cases Semi-Custom cabinetry is being made to order based on the design of your kitchen (vs. stock cabinetry that utilizes standard sizes).  Depending on the company, they may offer certain modifications/options to customize cabinet sizes (ex. Off standard widths and depths).  This is a major pro for Semi-custom cabinetry compared to stock cabinetry.  However, keep in mind that you still may not be able to replicate that really neat design you saved on Houzz or Pinterest with a Semi-Custom cabinet company.  The “semi” in Semi-Custom means exactly what it implies.

by Robinwood Kitchens, Hanssem Semi Custom Cabinetry

by Robinwood Kitchens, Hanssem Semi Custom Cabinetry

Custom Cabinetry

Pros: Unlimited Options, Complete Customization, Quality and Craftsmanship

Cons: Affordability, Lead Time

Lead Time: 8-12 Weeks

Custom cabinetry is the highest quality that you can use for your kitchen remodel.  A Custom cabinet company will typically offer hundreds of door style and finish combinations.  This allows for a truly personalized and custom experience when designing your kitchen. Beyond their standard offerings, many companies also offer a custom color service in which they can color match almost anything.  Unlike Stock and Semi-Custom, Custom cabinetry has very little limitations when it comes to size and types of cabinetry.  Typically, a Custom company will offer all types of cabinetry from full overlay to beaded inset.  The biggest drawback will be affordability and lead time depending on your budget and time frame.

by Robinwood Kitchens, Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry

by Robinwood Kitchens, Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry

Besides the type and quality of cabinetry that you decide to use for your remodel, the functionality and efficiency of the design is also crucial.  A really good kitchen designer can work with any type of cabinetry to make a functional and beautiful space.  Read our blog post on Plain & Fancy’s website discussing why you should work with a kitchen designer.

Below is a great resource from Plain & Fancy custom cabinetry, which quickly defines and visually explains the difference between Full Overlay, Inset, and Beaded Inset.  That’s another topic for another day!

Courteousy of Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry

Courteousy of Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry

Guest Blogging with Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry: Why it's Important to Work with a Kitchen Designer

We've been a dealer of Plain & Fancy custom cabinetry for over 20 years.  We've watched their business grow and expand over the years, so when they approached us few months ago about guest blogging on their website we were thrilled!  Plain & Fancy is a great company to work with and we're excited for the opportunity to further collaborate.

Rebecca wrote this article for Plain & Fancy on the importance of working with a kitchen designer.  Kitchen design, remodeling, and working with customers is our passion at Robinwood.  We find great satisfaction in seeing the joy on our clients' faces as they see their new kitchen come to life.  We're excited to share our opinion on why homeowners will greatly benefit from working with a kitchen designer

Below is the link to Plain & Fancy's website and blog.  Enjoy!

Plain & Fancy Blog: Why it's Important to Work with a Kitchen Designer


p&F blog.jpg

Before & After: Wonderful Walnut Kitchen Remodel

In a 2017 study conducted by Houzz featuring kitchen trends in the U.S., white cabinetry still remains the most popular among homeowners renovating their kitchens. In fact, white kitchens are twice as likely to appear in the homes of the Millennial generation when compared to the Baby Boomer generation.  Similarly, at Robinwood Kitchens we would estimate approximately 80-90% of kitchens that we’ve remodeled over the past five years have been in the “white” family.  White cabinetry is classic, makes any space feel more open, and coordinates with just about any style.  We certainly do love a beautiful, white kitchen – but we can’t help but get a little excited when a homeowner brave enough to think outside the box comes along!

This kitchen renovation is the perfect example of how to utilize beautiful, dark, walnut cabinetry to defy all perceptions that it would make a kitchen feel smaller or dark.  The combination of natural light from the new windows and light colored countertops, flooring, and backsplash compliments the walnut cabinetry and keeps the space feeling light, open, and airy.

Modifying the overall layout of the kitchen was also a priority in this remodel. Below are a few key changes we made to make this kitchen more functional.

1. Relocate the Cooking Area

Considering the island wasn’t overly large to begin with, having the cooktop in the island left little work/prep space and also made sitting at the island less desirable.  The homeowners envisioned an island that was more functional with storage space and seating for their young children.  The cooking area was relocated to the adjacent inside wall, which provided multiple opportunities for a focal point in the new kitchen. 

2. Opening up the Space

The existing footprint of the kitchen wasn’t small by any means, but due to the age of the home it was closed off from the rest of the house.  A non-load bearing wall was removed between the kitchen and adjacent family room, creating a wide-open space great for everyday family interactions and entertaining.  In addition to removing the wall, we also decided to eliminate the full wall of sliding doors in the existing kitchen.  While the natural light was a nice feature, once the aforementioned wall was removed there were two sliding glass doors out to the deck next to eachother.  We decided the best use of the wall in the kitchen was for a built-in bench seat, a new picture window, and to relocate the refrigerator.

3. Pantry Space

The existing kitchen included a built in pantry closet, which was typically found in homes of this era.  With the new walnut cabinetry this pantry definitely would have stuck out like a sore thumb.  However, for storage and functionality purposes a pantry cabinet was definitely on the wish list.  Our proposed solution was to install a shallow pantry with adjustable shelves matching the new cabinetry.  The new pantry definitely flows with the aesthetic of the new kitchen and the shallow depth allowed for more circulation around the island with seating.

We hope you enjoy the transformation with some before and after photos below!


Trend Report: Looking Back on Kitchen Design in 2016

With 2017 just around the corner, we wanted to reflect on the kitchen  design trends of 2016.  We’re looking forward to what 2017 has to offer the kitchen and bath industry!


Mixing Metals

From brass to copper and even rose gold, these statement pieces can be found everywhere from Restoration Hardware to Home Goods. It’s become very popular to use brass hardware as a pop of color on white and dark cabinetry.  It can also be used in contemporary and traditional designs, making the trend very versatile.  This aesthetic can be considered somewhat of a "throwback", so we're interested to see if this trend will stand the test of time and make it through 2017.

Top Knobs "Bit Pull" in Brushed Bronze

Top Knobs "Bit Pull" in Brushed Bronze

Soft Shades of Cabinetry

While white kitchens will always be a favorite, in 2016 soft muted colored cabinetry make a breakthrough into kitchen design.  From charcoal and soft gray to muted blues and pale green.  Plain & Fancy Custom cabinetry released new enamel finishes that perfectly represent this new trend. Since 85-90% of the kitchens we remodel at Robinwood are of the white variety, we love any trend that introduces color into the space. We hope this one is here to stay!

From Left to Right: "White Sand", "Khaki", "Fawn", "Mystic Blue", "Mystic Green"

From Left to Right: "White Sand", "Khaki", "Fawn", "Mystic Blue", "Mystic Green"


The Reclaimed Wood Effect

Using reclaimed and rustic wood is an instant way to add charm to any space, no matter what the age of the home.  The uptick in this trend may be due in part to the popularity of TV shows such as Fixer Upper (for those of you who aren’t familiar – a wholesome couple from Texas who remodels homes for clients often using reclaimed wood beams, ship lap, etc.).  We happen to love this trend, especially by incorporating wood countertops and shelves into a kitchen design.

For the authentic look of reclaimed wood, we highly suggest visiting Real Antique Wood.  Located in Irvington, NJ, they travel throughout the tri-state area to demolish old barns and reclaim the wood to create new projects.  From tabletops to fireplace mantles, they do it all.  The best part is each piece is unique and has it’s own story!

Below are some photos of projects we've on worked with Real Antique Wood:


Marble-Like Quartz

Marble has always been a desirable material to utilize in kitchen design.  While homeowners love the look of marble, the maintenance can often be a turn off.  Many families we work with to remodel their kitchen are opting for man-made quartz countertops that mimic the look of marble.  In 2016 we saw a huge improvement in the realistic resemblance of marble from all quartz manufacturers.  Now homeowners can benefit from the easy maintenance characteristics of quartz, without having to sacrifice the marble aesthetic. 

Below are some of our favorite quartz colors:

Cambria "Torquay" 

Cambria "Torquay" 

Functional Design

With the continued success of websites like Houzz and Pinterest, homeowners requests for functional cabinet accessories have increased exponentially.  Wish lists for kitchen remodels have completely transformed to include specific information about spice cabinet organization, pot and pan storage, and pantry pullouts.  Homeowners are now very informed on the endless possibilities of cabinetry organization and often share their Houzz ideabooks with us to communicate exactly what they’re looking for.

See Previous Blog Post for more information:

Storage Solutions 101: Accessorizing Your Kitchen



Before & After: Family Friendly Kitchen Renovation

Being in business for 40 years, we’ve seen it all! From expansive and open concept kitchens to compact and tiny kitchens.  No matter what size the space is, we love working one on one with our clients to create the most functional kitchen possible for their family to enjoy.

For most soon-to-be renovators the phrase, “the bigger, the better”, comes to mind when discussing kitchen design and planning.   While this idea may reign in the realm of possibilities and options, believe it or not - a large kitchen isn’t always the most functional.  Since space is a premium, when designing a small kitchen it’s important to figure out the absolute must-haves. One of our first questions to the homeowner is always “What is it that you like about your kitchen, and what would you absolutely want to change or improve?”  The answer to this question typically helps us form a list of wants and needs, then we can figure out the best way to incorporate those given the allowed space.

When we first met with this family of four it was obvious their existing space wasn’t working for their lifestyle.  We give the homeowners credit for trying to make the orange and gray scheme work by installing some fresh wallpaper and using chalkboard paint. But even they agreed that it was time for the orange countertops to go!  Besides the aesthetics of the space, they felt the kitchen wasn’t living up to its full potential.  

Here is a list of wants/needs the homeowners requested for their kitchen remodel and how we collaborated to incorporate them into the new design:

1.      More (Useful) Storage

The wall next to the refrigerator was probably the most under-utilized space in the whole kitchen.  To upgrade this family’s storage, we added a tall pantry cabinet with rollout drawers, a wall cabinet with glass to display cookbooks, coffee cups, etc, and a base cabinet with rollout drawers.  The addition of a trash pullout cabinet is also a must for anyone!

2.      Eat-In Kitchen

In any house the kitchen is the heart of the home (no matter what size!).  So, this family with young children really wanted to maintain the eat in aspect of their kitchen.  We came up with a multifunctional table concept that incorporated storage and seating.  The cabinet underneath the table is used for both support and storage.  The wood tabletop mimics the look of reclaimed wood and adds interest and warmth to the kitchen.  Now there is a comfortable space in the kitchen for the family to eat a meal together or the kids to do homework.

3.      Appliance Upgrade

Besides cabinetry, the next big ticket item for a kitchen remodel is appliances.  The functionality and aesthetic of the appliances are obviously important, but how the appliances function in the actual space is also a priority.  Since the square footage of the kitchen was a limiting factor, we decided to keep the basic layout and make some tweaks.  By creating a dedicated space for the microwave in a base cabinet, the homeowner was able to purchase an undercabinet stainless hood that was vented to the exterior.  By relocating the sink to the corner we were able to gain a little more space between proximity of the sink and dishwasher, making clean up easier and more comfortable.

4.      Overall Aesthetic

It’s been proven that the style, color, and lighting of your space can have a direct effect on your well-being.   Whether it’s family meals, chatting about work and school, or doing homework, the kitchen is typically a space where a lot of families spend time together. So, it was definitely important to update the style of the space to reflect the family’s personal style and taste.  Compared to the vibrant colors of the existing kitchen, the homeowners opted for a clean and fresh look.  The subtle gray cabinets paired with the white marble-like quartz countertops is a timeless look that will stand the test of time.  The funky dimensional tile with hints of blue creates a unique, eye-catching pattern to add a little element of fun to the kitchen.

Enjoy the before and after photos of this family friendly kitchen below!




What to Expect: How to Prepare For Your Kitchen Renovation

With the warm weather, kids out of school, and vacation opportunities – the summer months are the most popular time to embark on a kitchen renovation.  Some view this as an opportunity to eat out every night.  However, there are definitely ways to eat home cooked meals without breaking the bank and gaining extra lbs (wouldn’t you rather spend more on the kitchen remodel?!).  The homeowners who suffer the least during a kitchen renovation are typically the ones who are the most prepared.  Based on our experience we’ve compiled some tips and ideas that will hopefully help you survive your next kitchen renovation!

  • Making some meals ahead of the kitchen renovation demo and freezing them can be a life saver.  Not only is a home cooked meal comforting but it eliminates the necessity to eat out every night of the week!


  • Definitely keep your old refrigerator in a separate room until the new one is installed. Having the ability to refrigerate and freeze food will make the world of a difference.


  • One of the biggest benefits of renovating during the summer is having the grill as your new best friend.  It can’t get any easier than that!


  •  Completely clean out and remove any food products, packaged goods, small appliances, etc. from the kitchen cabinetry before the demolition phase. Now is also a good time to binge clean!  Throw out expired canned goods, food products, etc.  Organizing your new kitchen will be much more enjoyable if you’ve already done this.


  • Set up a temporary kitchen with small appliances and food products in a separate room. Keep the essentials handy.  Frustration begins to brew when you’re looking for a quick meal and realized you already packed the cans of soup away. Bins with drawers or baskets can be used to organize items by type. Being organized can make this experience much less chaotic.


  • Some small appliances that you may find helpful for making meals during the renovation:

o   Panini Press or Electric Griddle (some have both options)

o   Crockpot (We recommend using Reynolds Slow Cook Liners for easy clean up)

o   Toaster Oven

o   Microwave 

o   Hot Plate


  • You will be without a sink and dishwasher until the counter top is installed, so stock up on paper and plastic products if you do not have access to another sink. 


  • Designate a space (garage, basement, etc.) to keep items needed for the kitchen project (sinks, faucets, lighting fixtures, etc.) so they are easily accessible for installation.



Before & After: Cabinet Refacing Transformation

Cabinet Refacing is a service we’ve been specializing in since the 1970’s.  We often call it our “bread and butter” because refacing is what eventually led to Robin’s transition from cabinet refinishing to complete kitchen design and remodeling.  Cabinet Refacing is a great way to give a kitchen a face lift.  It provides the opportunity to completely transform the aesthetic of a kitchen without having to embark on an entire remodel.  The high quality materials we use from Conestoga Wood paired with the craftsmanship of our installers allows us to provide a service that is unique in the kitchen and bath business.


It’s especially rewarding when we’re able to transform a space that not only fits the personal style of the homeowners, but also functions better for their family and lifestyle.  In this particular project, Cabinet Refacing was the best option for a young, growing family of three. The existing layout of the kitchen worked well for the couple, but they knew with a baby on the way that extra storage would be a necessity.  By installing all new doors and drawer fronts in a fresh door style and bright white finish, the kitchen looks brand new compared to the original condition of the oak cabinetry.  An adjacent empty living area that was occupied by a lonesome shelving unit was not living up to its potential for the homeowners.  Through a collaborative effort, we designed and installed additional pantry cabinets that are the perfect place to store food and baby items.  During family get togethers the central base and wall cabinets can act as a coffee bar and buffet.  For a closer look into the changes we made to transform this kitchen, see our before and after photos below!

Storage Solutions 101: Accessorizing Your Kitchen

In the past few years we’ve noticed an increase in our client's wants and needs for storage solutions in the kitchen. With the popularity of interactive social media websites like Houzz and Pinterest, consumers are much more aware of the abundant amount of options available to them.  One of our favorite steps in the kitchen design process is sitting down with our clients and taking the time to review all accessory options.  This is one of the ways the homeowner can really personalize their kitchen depending on how they cook, clean, and entertain.   

The following storage solutions are ones that we have found to be most common and successful among our projects.  Enjoy!

1.      Rollout Drawers

No matter the budget, rollout drawers are probably the number one request we receive from our customers.  Typically installed in base cabinets and pantries, rollouts are a simple solution that create a convenient way to store a variety of items.  In base cabinets 15” wide and over, rollouts can be especially useful for small appliance and pot/pan storage.  In pantry cabinets rollouts are ideal for the storage of cans, packaged goods, and cereal boxes.  

(Photo Credit: Robinwood Kitchens)

(Photo Credit: Robinwood Kitchens)


2.      Utensil Organizers

Installing a utensil organizer in a drawerbox can make the world of a difference for meal prep.  Imagine prepping for dinner and all your utensils are haphazardly thrown into the drawer next to the stove.  Not only can it be dangerous (accidentally picking up the microplane instead of the whisk?!), but think of how time consuming it can be to dig through the drawer to find the utensil needed.  A well-organized drawer can make meal prep faster and more enjoyable for all the cooks in the house.  Utensil organizers are often offered in a variety of layouts to suit the consumer’s needs. 

Custom Utensil Divider by Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry (Photo Credit: Robinwood Kitchens)

Custom Utensil Divider by Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry (Photo Credit: Robinwood Kitchens)


3.      Spice Pullouts

Spice storage is another one of the top accessory requests from our clients.  Spices and bottles of oil are often described as the most inconvenient and difficult things to store in a kitchen.  Simply keeping bottles, jars, and cans of spices in a wall cabinet can cause chaos while cooking. Instead of having to move three rows of spices out of the way to find the thyme, a pullout mechanism installed inside a wall or base cabinet would allow the cook to easily find the ingredient needed for their recipe,  Spice pullouts are available in a variety of sizes, which makes them easy to incorporate into even the smallest of kitchens.

(Photo Credit: Robinwood Kitchens)

(Photo Credit: Robinwood Kitchens)

(Photo Credit: Robinwood Kitchens)

(Photo Credit: Robinwood Kitchens)


4.      Trash Pullout

A pullout trash can is a no-brainer to incorporate into any kitchen design.  Understandably it may be difficult to dedicate an entire cabinet to trash cans in a small kitchen.  An alternative solution is to install a pullout trash can under the sink.  The trash is still easily accessible and is kept out of sight and smell.


5.      Hanging Cookware Pullout

We truly had one of those “A Ha!” moments when we saw this accessory for the first time.  Glideware has created the hanging cookware pullout which is a great alternative to rollout drawer storage for pots and pans.  This accessory allows you to store the pots/pans together with their coordinating lids.  It also eliminates stacking pots and pans within each other, which is an annoyance that is also damaging to the cookware itself.  This hanging organizer can also be utilized in other spaces such as the mudroom (backpacks, purses, etc.), outdoor kitchens (grilling utensils), and even the garage (extension cords, tools, etc.).

Hanging Cookware Pullout by Glideware (Photo Credit: Glideware)

Hanging Cookware Pullout by Glideware (Photo Credit: Glideware)

6.      Toe Kick Step Stool

This accessory is literally a hidden gem.  Most homeowners keep a step stool in nearby to aid both the vertically challenged and young children yearning to help in the kitchen.  The toe kick area of a base cabinet is an open space that can be utilized for additional storage.  This is the perfect place to install a step stool.  It is both hidden out of sight and is easily accessible for all to use.

Toe Kick Step Stool Installed in a Robinwood Kitchens Project (Photo Credit: Robinwood Kitchens)

Toe Kick Step Stool Installed in a Robinwood Kitchens Project (Photo Credit: Robinwood Kitchens)

7.      Drawer Peg System

The majority of homeowners find drawer base cabinets with deep drawer boxes as the preferred method for multipurpose storage.  Lifting heavy stacks of dishes and bakeware from a base cabinet rather than a wall cabinet is more ergonomically comfortable for users of all ages.  The drawer peg system is an insert that can be customized to your specific needs.  The pegboard and removable pegs allow you to easily modify the use of the cabinet. 

(Photo Credit: Richelieu Hardware)

(Photo Credit: Richelieu Hardware)

8.      Appliance Garage

The appliance garage has made a comeback within the last few years.  With the increase in small appliance usage (Coffee Makers, Blenders, Espresso Makers, etc.), more customers are looking for a way to store these items so they are easily accessible without the countertop clutter.  There are a few ways to incorporate appliance garages into the kitchen depending on the layout and space available.  Tambour doors installed below a corner cabinet are a notion of the past.  The appliance garage of today will often incorporate bi-fold or pocket doors for a more contemporary aesthetic.


9.      Base Pullout

Base pullouts are available in many different sizes, forms, and functions.  This particular base pullout by Rev-A-Shelf is a space saving accessory that provides three different storage options.  Knives can be difficult to store for obvious reasons, but this pullout provides a safe and organized way to store knives of any size.  The stainless steel utensil bins offer an alternative way to store the items used most while cooking. To top it all off the lower shelf provides extra storage for mixing bowls or even packaged goods.

Base Cabinet Pullout Knife/Utensil Base Organizer (Photo Credit: Rev-A-Shelf)

Base Cabinet Pullout Knife/Utensil Base Organizer (Photo Credit: Rev-A-Shelf)


10.      Corner Drawer Cabinet

While we could write a whole blog post about corner cabinets (stay tuned!), we wanted to touch base on the Corner Drawer Cabinet because is the new alternative to the commonly used lazy susan.  The corner cabinet is often deemed “awkward”, and for good reason! Everyone knows how cumbersome it can be when you have to literally crawl into your cabinet to retrieve a bowl that fell off the lazy susan.  The opportunities for organized and easily accessible storage are definitely opened up by incorporating diagonal drawers.  Currently the Corner Drawer Cabinet is only available from our custom cabinet companies.  We believe that as it becomes the “norm” for corner base applications that it will be offered in all price ranges.

(Photo Credit: Glenvale Kitchens via Houzz)

(Photo Credit: Glenvale Kitchens via Houzz)

To view more photos of the above mentioned storage solutions check out these ideas from Houzz!

15 Most Popular Kitchen Storage Ideas on Houzz

Kitchen Storage Solutions Hide and Keep

Kitchen Storage Solutions for Every Nook