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Flat Panel Custom Cabinets

Moving right along blogging about the kitchen, let’s talk about cabinets. I’m going to skip all the intro fluff and jump right into the pictures. Here they are fresh after installation.

Flat panel custom cabinets - made of maple
modern style custom cabinets
IKEA vs custom cabinets
smooth cabinets
new construction custom cabinets - flat doors

These are flat-panel custom cabinets made out of maple. I chose flat panel (also known as slab cabinet doors) fronts because I wanted a clean modern look (more info here), and I choose maple because that’s the only choice I was given. Makes it simple. Sometimes not having options is really nice.

The original plan wasn’t to get custom cabinets. I’m trying to keep costs down with this build, and I thought IKEA cabinets would be perfect for that. So I made an appointment, sat down with an IKEA cabinet specialist, and laid out the kitchen as I had previously sketched.

IKEA kitchen design
IKEA kitchen design - which cabinets to buy?

Everything was going swimmingly and the price was reasonable at around $6,500 (I’m guessing here because I can’t find the quote to save my life, but I think that right). Then the sales guy said we could go ahead and order them, they had all the cabinet doors but none of the frames in stock. He told me he had no idea when they would be available again, since they were having severe supply issues due to Covid. He said it could be a couple of weeks, or it could be six months or more.

Well, I didn’t have six months. So I scrapped that whole idea and just ordered custom cabinets. The price for custom cabinets was 11K, which could be built and installed (Ikea doesn’t install) in about six weeks. The cost was way higher, but also solid wood and ready when I needed them.

So custom cabinets it was. Turns out it was a great idea, because I went ahead and ordered my office cabinets from IKEA, and after about 5 months of waiting for them to arrive IKEA canceled my order, refunded my money, and said they had no idea when they would be back in stock.

Anyway, that’s the back story.

The next step was to choose a stain color.

stain samples for flat panel Mid century cabinets

Here is my sample board of the three colors I tried. They are (from top down) Early American, Colonial Maple, and Golden Pecan, all by Varathane.

What stain should I pick for my cabinets?

And here is a video I made while choosing a stain color and looking ridiculous on my apartment patio.

I ended up going with Early American. It’s darker than I had originally wanted, but it was the right choice for sure.

flat panel maple cabinets stained with Minwax Early American

As I was going through all my pictures to try and find ones for this post, I quickly realized that I took a grand total of zero of the cabinets at stain stage. I did, however shoot a quick video….so all I have is a few semi-fuzzy screenshots to share.

If you are wondering what that huge black shadow is, it’s the pantry. I wanted some painted cabinets to break up the wood, and since I didn’t end up with any upper cabinets, the pantry was the only logical place.

wood cabinets with black pantry cabinet

Trust me when I tell you I struggled with the color. I went through all the options, but since it’s right next to the blue tiled fireplace, I choose to keep it simple with black. Do I love it? No, not really…but I don’t hate it either. It’s just…ehh.

Also, can we please have a moment of silence for the coffee station that could have been? I jacked something up in my sketch, and it turns out there was only enough room for it to be 12 inches wide, when I had thought it would be double that.

mid-century kitchen design sketch
tiny coffee station oops

Look how tiny 😂🤦‍♀️  Luckily, I just have a Keurig slim, so it fits…but it’s tight.

Also worth noting is that there wasn’t room for a cabinet between the dishwasher and refrigerator, like in my sketch.

flat panel custom cabinets for a new construction MCM style home

Thank you, thank you…I’ll be here all night.

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  1. It’s better to learn and grow from your mismeasurement at your own house than someone else’s I guess?!?

    Looks so cool – can’t wait to see what you are actually living with!

  2. Just a thought – if you were to remove the 12″ coffee cabinets and move the fridge cabinet right against the wall would that allow you to build and install a slightly larger cabinet beside the dishwasher ?

  3. The cabinets look great! I had the same problem with the 12″ cabinet next to the refrigerator. We were dying laughing that it was so small. Our coffee maker fits, but it is just comical how small it is. We actually pulled the top cabinet forward more with a false back so we could access it better next to the fridge.

    1. Same…you just have to laugh. It does function though. It’s also up against that full-length window, so it feels spacious even though it’s not.

  4. I might move the fridge against the wall. simpler look. the tiny cabinet looks like a mistake. however, it’s all very beautiful.

  5. Sorry…it’s the hideous mid-century look I grew up with..except our kitchen cabinets were painted….aka boring…..no character and will get dated fast.

    Each to his own but thanks but mo thanks.

  6. They look great! And it’s useful to have solid wood cabinets.Years from now you may be glad you spent the extra to get them.

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