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What Is an Inset Cabinet and What Makes It Unique?

Feb 08, 2022
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We don’t need to tell you how important the look and feel of the kitchen are to a home, and the most crucial aspect of a kitchen’s aesthetic is cabinetry. In many ways, kitchen cabinetry can make or break a home. Inset cabinets have seen a boom in popularity in recent years, and you’ve probably heard of them in some respect, even if you’ve never studied cabinetry before. If you are passionate about modern or even transitional design, then an inset cabinet could be just what you want for your new kitchen. But what is an inset cabinet, and what makes it unique? In this article, we’ll answer precisely that, as well as give you a total rundown of what insets are, how they differ from overlays, and whether they might be the best choice for your kitchen project.

What Is an Inset Cabinet?

Let’s begin with the basics of an inset cabinet and how it differs from a more traditional overlay cabinet. An inset cabin has a door or drawer set into the cabinet frame so that it fits flush with the face of the cabinet when you close it. Since it sits flush, you need a door pull, handle, or knob of some kind to open the door because you can’t grab the edges of it like an overlay. You’ve almost certainly seen and used an overlay cabinet yourself at some point, as it’s been one of the most popular cabinet styles for decades in America. Overlay cabinets feature a door that overlaps on the frame and stops on top of it. It’s a simple but significant difference between the two and can dramatically change the look and feel of your kitchen design.

The inset cabinet may seem like a new phenomenon, but that’s only because it’s recently seen a contemporary revival. The origins of the inset cabinet date back centuries, way before the boom of flush and modern designs of today! Insets became popular in the Georgian and Victorian eras of the 18th and 19th centuries in Britain and Europe, where they were handmade by artisans. For a while, they fell out of favor in the 19th and 20th centuries, especially in America. But, inset cabinets have become widely popular in modern times, as they’ve been adapted to fit with innovative designs. What’s old is new again!

What Style Is an Inset Cabinet?

Will inset cabinets go with the style you seek? Only you can judge what your kitchen needs, but the great thing about insets is how flexible they fit with almost any type. For many years, designers rarely used insets or only did so for traditional styles that harkened back to the Victorian age where the insets came onto the scene. But modern designers and homeowners grew to like the clean-cut lines and minimalist design on insets for their modern layouts. Insets were a change of pace from the traditional cabinets as they offer a full view of the cabinet frame while taking up less space, making them an ideal option for smaller kitchens that needed to maximize space. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that inset cabinetry is also safer and less likely to be damaged by minor nicks and scrapes.

One of the reasons insets have become so fashionable is their design flexibility. It almost seemed that inset cabinets were destined to be revitalized for contemporary style! But insets aren’t reserved exclusively for those aiming for a modern look. The fact that they’re from a distant period lends them to also be used in more traditional kitchens. And, because they can be customized in a variety of ways with colors, finishes, and moldings, they can be crafted to fit in all kinds of kitchens.

What Makes Inset Cabinets Unique?

Insets are unique in many ways, but they stand out primarily from overlays because they are adaptable and customizable. As we mentioned, you can alter inset cabinets in whatever way you like to fit in with other styles besides modern. For instance, you can choose beaded or non-beaded insets. Non-beaded insets keep the door or drawer flush and smooth, making them ideal for those looking for a minimal look. The beaded insets offer an added layer of decorative design, ranging from simple lines to more extravagant patterns. Starmark inset cabinets have a plethora of options to choose from, so you can find the look that best fits what you want for your kitchen. You also have multiple options for the look of your cabinet doors with insets.

There are three standard inset cabinet door styles you can choose from, each sporting a unique fashion. First, there’s the shaker, which is probably the most common. The shaker door features a recessed center panel with squared edge molding. It’s a contemporary, simple look which is why it’s a familiar combination with inset doors for modern kitchen designs.

Along with shakers, you can pair inset cabinets with raised-panel or mission-style doors. These are more traditional options as the raised-panel extrudes from the door instead of sitting flush or recessed like the shaker. Overlay cabinets use raised-panel doors often. Mission style is another traditional design, featuring a usually handcrafted, recessed panel with a built-in arched door front. It’s quite an old-fashioned look but undeniably eye-catching. Of course, if you want to go with a very modern design, you can get wholly flush and smooth doors instead of any of these options.

What Hinges Go With Inset Cabinets?

Like with its doors and finishes, inset cabinets give you multiple options when it comes to hinges. Hinges may not seem like the most crucial design element, but remember—every detail matters. Perhaps the most common hinge for insets is exposed, but there’s certainly no rule against using others. Concealed (otherwise known as invisible or European) hinges fit well with a modern and minimalist aesthetic, but you can also find insets with butt hinges that work well with the overall design.

Now that you’ve got a better idea of what an inset cabinet is and what makes it unique, you can better determine whether the style fits your overall kitchen design. With their sharp lines and simple look, inset cabinets can go great with a contemporary design—but don’t underestimate its use for more traditional, transitional, and other styles. At iCabinetry, you can get custom wholesale cabinets explicitly tailored to your needs without going over budget, whether you’re a professional contractor or DIY warrior. Come back for more cabinetry info and design tips!

What Is an Inset Cabinet and What Makes It Unique?

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