Cabinetry 101

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Here’s everything you need to know when making decisions about cabinetry during your kitchen renovation.

Please remember, if you ever have questions about anything regarding renovations or construction, don’t hesitate to reach out to us! Instagram is usually the best way to get a quick answer.

When replacing, updating, or relocating cabinetry, you’ll want to consider:

  • Paint grade VS. stain grade

  • Wood species

  • Cabinet features

Find out a little about each below!

PHOTO SOURCE: Our “hills” reno project  (check out the rest of the kitchen right here)

PHOTO SOURCE: Our “hills” reno project (check out the rest of the kitchen right here)


You will need to a make the decision of whether you would like your cabinets painted or stained. In terms of aesthetics, the choice might be simple for you. However, in terms of practicality, you should make an informed decision.

Painted cabinets tend to hide dust, resist water, and provide durability, however they will also show a bit more dirt, last fewer years than stained cabinets, and an overall perfect look is harder to achieve (chipping/cracking can occur).

Stained cabinets will more easily attain a perfect look, show less dirt, last longer, and better highlight the natural grain of the cabinets. On the flip side, stained cabinets will be less water resistant, might wear down with thorough cleaning, and are prone to streaks/stains if spills or water are not cleaned up immediately.

Lastly, you should know that a price difference comes with purchasing paint grade cabinets versus stained grade cabinets. Paint grade cabinets are usually lower quality wood (since they will be painted), smoothed out to create a polished painted look and therefore cost less than stained grade cabinets. Stained grade cabinets are created with higher quality wood, highlighting dramatic grain patterns and marks.

For more information, here’s a great resource for painted cabinets vs. stained cabinets.


Typically, hardwoods are recommended over softwoods for creating cabinetry because these wood species can withstand wear and tear for years without damaging. Hardwoods such as Maple, Cherry, Ash, Hickory, or Oak are all great choices.

If you plan to stain your cabinets rather than paint them, then you should put even more consideration into your wood species choice as different species can create different grain patterns and aesthetics. Here’s a great resource for comparing the physical look of each species.

We usually build our painted custom cabinetry using maple or birch because they are durable hardwoods and also cost efficient without being cheap in quality or construction. For stained cabinetry, we can’t resist saying that Walnut is one of our favorites just because the final product is always so beautiful.


If you spend a lot of time in your kitchen or bathroom, then you’ll enjoy choosing the features of your cabinetry. Features such as drawer trays, spice rack pull outs, appliance garages, hidden trash can storage, and more aim to make your life easier and increase the functionality of your space.

Unfortunately we don’t have photos of all the cabinet features we have installed, but here are some sample photos of a few of our favorite cabinet features:

Day dreaming about new cabinetry yet?? We can relate!

Let us know if you have any questions at all!

The Hills--Constructing a Dream Kitchen/Living Area

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At the top of the homeowners’ wish list were better storage, higher end finishes that still kept with the traditional style of the home, a new appliance garage, more durable countertops (quartz), warmer floors, and consistent flooring throughout the main living areas. The homeowners initially contacted Allison Jaffe @allisonjaffeinteriordesign for the new design plan, and then Skelly Home Renovations for the construction.

The homeowners in The Hills wanted to stay in their existing house but had some issues with their kitchen. Their first step was finding a designer that understood their vision, this was Allison Jaffe. The kitchen was built around a double island concept which created a clunky prep space instead of a smooth work flow. The cabinetry in the kitchen was very heavy in cabinetry closer to the dining room instead of throughout the kitchen, resulting in inconsistent and inconvenient storage. Finally, the kitchen needed to be updated from all of the builder grade cabinetry, countertops and backsplash that were selected when the house was originally constructed. Skelly Home now needed to bring Allison’s and the clients vision to life!

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The Hills renovation consisted of a full kitchen gut. The two islands in the kitchen were demoed, which created one large centerpiece island. Adding custom shaker-style perimeter cabinetry, which extends all the way to the ceiling, added a ton of storage space. Allison designed the cabinetry to have a few layers of beading, which added to the intricacy of the kitchen. The lower navy blue cabinetry combines with the upper white cabinetry to create depth and warmth in the space.

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Top Photos: The front of the fireplace got a facelift with new limestone tile. Plus, above the fireplace is a wood feature that extends all the way up to top of the 14-foot ceiling and adds interest to the room!

Bottom Photo: The countertops are quartz, and the backsplash is subway tile with an eye catching arabesque tile feature above the cooktop. We added a gas stove top with propane tank, new ceiling lighting + decorative lighting as well as under cabinetry lighting. Beautiful posts were designed to be added on the end of the island to add to the traditional feel of the space. Finally, all of the floors were replaced to engineered hardwoods to create a consistency throughout the living area, plus the renovated area received a fresh coat of paint.

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The result was nothing short of perfection! A kitchen and living space that is functional and beautiful, and one that these homeowners can enjoy for many more years to come. Bravo Allison!

Designer: Allison Jaffe Interior Design @allisonjaffeinteriordesign
Construction: Skelly Home Renovations @skellyhome Photographer: Sophie Epton @sophieeptonphotography

Ready to make your dream kitchen or living area a reality? Click on the link below to get started!

Our Favorite Countertop Options (for any budget!)

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But I love them all…

When you start dreaming about renovating your kitchen or bathroom, countertops are usually the very first thing you envision ripping out and replacing! Like many other areas of renovation, once you begin shopping around for a new countertop, the options are endless and the nicest options begin to stick out as the ones you don’t want, but you need.

Today, we’re going to share with you our favorite countertop options. There’s a great countertop out there for every budget, it’s just a matter of envisioning which is best for your space and your household’s needs.


For those that love the look of marble but want the ease of a low-maintenance countertop, quartz is the perfect choice! Quartz countertops are durable, easy to clean, easy to maintain, and look great in every space.

Seen above, quartz countertops are man-made, so there is little variation in the batches. The sample you pick will likely resemble the final product.


Similar to quartz is quartzite. Unlike quartz, quartzite is a natural stone, and therefore will have more variation among veining and coloration from batch to batch. Quartzite is durable and is actually a bit more heat and scratch resistant than quartz.

Above you can see some images of our favorite quartzite, Taj Mahal Quartzite.


Granite is quite literally rock-hard, and the great thing about granite is that even if it does chip, repairing granite can be done easily and can usually be a small DIY project. More variation of color and veining can be found in granite than in quartz, so there’s lots to choose from.

We don’t install granite often, but above you can see some of our favorite granite slabs.


Marble is naturally heat resistant, and it’s a wonderful choice for a countertop surface. Every slab of marble is different, so the look of marble in your home is truly unique. Marble is also usually stained and/or sealed for extra protection.

We typically don’t suggest installing marble in kitchens because it is so porous.


The Colosseum was created form Travertine, so if durability is a question, you’ve got your answer right there. Travertine countertops are available in cross-cut or vein-cut slabs, and both look great. Travertine tops can also be used in outdoor areas, like around a fire-pit or as a countertop adjacent to your BBQ.

Travertine is a bit more pricey, but it’s long-lasting and will add value to your home.


This is a personal favorite here at Skelly Home. Sean and I actually used live-edge maple in our first condo after we got married. A live edge countertop creates a focal point for your space. Live edge slabs allow you to see the natural knots, curls, and marbling of the wood grain as well.

There is a bit more maintenance required for this look, but we personally think it’s worth it.

Do you have any questions about which countertop will work best in your home? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us, even if it’s only to ask one small question!