Kitchen trends seem to come and go every few years, but painted kitchen cabinets are quickly becoming an overwhelming favorite of designers all over the world, and that trend looks likely to stay. For many years, painted kitchen cabinets were the most common type of cabinets. This was mostly because the carpenters that built the house constructed the kitchen cabinets directly on the kitchen and pantry walls, and all site-built woodwork was less expensive if it could be made from paintable wood. Very expensive homes would still have the pantries and other utility areas paneled in rich, stained wood, but their big kitchens were even more likely to feature painted kitchen cabinets. Really large kitchens were outfitted with fixtures that were more like freestanding furniture than a series of enclosed boxes secured to the wall.
Kitchen Cabinets From the Factory
During the last half of the 20th century, the way homeowners purchased kitchen cabinets changed. Kitchen cabinetry was no longer built on-site. Manufacturers began to produce standard kitchen cabinet box sizes. When building a new home, or renovating an existing one, customers would pick out their kitchen cabinets from a catalog. A clerk or other designer that understood kitchen cabinet layout helped them choose the particular cabinets, and the only thing that made one design different than another was the door style, material, and finishes. For decades, everyone opted for solid oak doors, stained a medium brown, with all the cabinets installed at once.
The Factory Finish Was Tough, But Hard to Fix
People began noticing problems with stained wood cabinets. The factory finish on them was very tough, but once it was worn out, it was almost impossible to refresh it as you could with painted kitchen cabinets. The ropy oak grain of the typical late-century cabinet was based on colonial styles, and no longer fit into more modern styles. Homeowners became frustrated with their worn-looking woodgrain cabinets and tried to paint them, but the wood wasn’t smooth enough to produce a good finish, and the only answer was to remove them and replace them with new painted kitchen cabinets.
Painted Kitchen Cabinets Make a Comeback
The modular designs of the newer breed of painted kitchen cabinets were perfectly suited to today’s modern kitchens. Kitchens have become the central hub in every home, and they’re much more open than they once were. Homeowners and designers wanted to banish the clutter, and streamline the look of the kitchen finishes. Painted kitchen cabinets were perfect for bringing an orderly, clean look. Modular cabinets can be made from any number of materials, so designers revived steel cabinets with tough finishes and bright, striking colors. Designers loved the explosion of color choices. Instead of a handful of dull browns and reds, they could choose any color that paint manufacturers could produce. Customers loved being able to choose anything from warm grey kitchen cabinets to fire engine red range hoods. Modern paint coatings are much tougher than in the past, but if you wear them out, they can also be refreshed with a new coat. That’s why for practicality as well as attractiveness, painted kitchen cabinets are here to stay.