Kitchen cabinets are the centerpiece of every kitchen design.  They dominate the space and define your kitchen style with a combination of material, shape, color, and finish.  Cabinetry is a practical component of the kitchen, containing essential storage space for all your kitchen tools, food, and more.  The exterior of your cabinets is where your style is defined, based on your chosen door style as well as the finish.  In this week’s blog we will explore the array of cabinet doors available to help define your kitchen design style.

If you have been searching online for kitchen cabinet styles you may have already realized that the terminology used to describe them can be very confusing.  Some terms are even used interchangeably depending on the source you read.  While it helps to have a basic understanding of the language used to describe cabinet doors, don’t get too caught up in the actual terms.  Instead, browse pictures online to find styles you like, talk to kitchen design professionals to get assistance in navigating the available products, and visit kitchen remodeling showrooms that have cabinetry displays and samples.

The following guide is meant to give you an overview of the cabinet door styles available, to help you get started in your search for the perfect kitchen cabinets.

Recessed Panel

In the simplest terms, a recessed panel cabinet is any door with a frame surrounding a central panel set back from the frame.  You will sometimes see these cabinet doors referred to as “flat panel” (though just to make things confusing, flat panel and slab are sometimes used interchangeably).  This cabinet style is generally simple, though you can find recessed panels with more intricate details like a beaded frame.  Or make your recessed panel beadboard to achieve a more rustic, country style kitchen design. Recessed panel cabinetry works very well with both natural wood and painted wood finishes.

gray kitchen island cabinetry


Shaker cabinetry is very popular, particularly with the growing trend toward transitional style kitchen design. The understated elegance of this cabinet style is ideal for transitional kitchens, but can also fit in a more contemporary, modern, or Scandinavian style design.  Shaker cabinetry originates from the 1800s when the Shaker community produced simple, but high-quality furniture.  Shaker is essentially a variant of recessed or flat panel cabinetry, with a minimalist style, meaning it has a basic frame with no extra decorative features.


Slab cabinetry is the most modern, sleek design available, with a completely flat door. It is sometimes referred to as “flat” or even “flat panel” cabinetry.  Slab cabinetry is low maintenance as there are no edges or crevices to keep clean.  For the most minimal, modern look this type of kitchen cabinet door can be installed with no handle.  It can be found in everything from natural wood to glossy, quirky colors.

kitchen design with peninsula

Raised Panel

Like recessed panel cabinets, raised panel has a frame consisting of four pieces of wood that surround a central panel. In this case, though, the central panel is raised with a profile or contour.  This kitchen cabinet style is more typical in traditional kitchen designs, but you could find it suits a transitional style kitchen remodel as well depending on how ornate a central raised panel you choose.  There is more customization of the design when it comes to raised panel as you can select different shapes for the panel. For example, Cathedral style doors have a single arch at the top of the raised panel and may also have another arch at the bottom.  This style of kitchen cabinets only suits wood cabinetry and can be found in stained or painted varieties.

transitional kitchen design

Glass Front

Glass front cabinets effectively replace the flat panel inside the frame of your cabinet door with a glass central panel. They suit almost any style kitchen design and serve to break up wooden cabinetry and enhance the brightness of your kitchen.  Be aware that while they contribute to an open, airy feel in your kitchen they also expose the contents of your kitchen cabinets. Many people limit glass front cabinetry to only some areas (like upper cabinets), where they can carefully arrange glassware or more decorative items.  Or choose frosted glass that gives a similar effect but helps to hide items inside the cabinet.  If you want to go for a more decorative look, choose a mullion style door where the glass panels are broken up by strips of wood.

kitchen island with glass pendants

We have extensive experience working with a wide range of kitchen cabinet styles, and our Lansing, Michigan showroom is the ideal place to see full kitchen displays and cabinet samples.  Start by browsing our kitchen remodeling gallery and then contact our kitchen design team to discuss your cabinetry style.