Exploring the Pros and Cons of Partial Overlay Cabinets (Part II of IV Part Series)


January 22, 2024

We are in the middle of a series on the different types of cabinets offered to clients. Check out our first article on Inset Cabinets. There we addresses the pros and cons and how to know if this style is right for you.

Today we will be discussing partial overlay cabinets. This combination of words can often leave homeowners feeling overwhelmed and confused.

When you hear the words cabinet overlay what is being addressed is how much of the front of the cabinet frame is being exposed.

So for today, we will focus in on a partial cabinet overlay. This means that some of the frame of the cabinet is exposed around the doors.

Usually about an inch or two on all sides. Unlike inset cabinets, a partial overlay cabinet or drawer front sit on top of the cabinet frame.

Partial overlay cabinets are one of the most popular choices by homeowners who are seeking styles such as classic, traditional, transitional, craftsman and traditional farmhouse styles.

Partial overlay cabinets tend to lean less modern in their appearance.

Because cabinets are extremely instrumental in setting the tone and style of a home, we work hard to educate our clients on inset, partial overlay, full/partial overlay and full overlay before we get to “the cabinet” meeting.

We want them to do their homework, visualize options, and weigh what option is best for them based on their families needs and budget.

So without further ado, here are thoughts to think about in regards to partial overlay cabinets

Pros of Partial Overlay Cabinets

  1. Cost-Effective Solution: for clients who love the classic, timeless look of inset cabinets but do not have the budget they require, we think partial overlay cabinets are a great alternative. Partial overlay cabinets come in pre-fabricated options as well as custom options from a cabinet maker.
  1. Traditional Aesthetic: we see partial overlay cabinets show up in various styles of design. They might be the most versatile of all cabinet and drawer fronts. Chances are most of the cabinets you love in a friends home or in a model home are partial overlay. The exposesure of the cabinet face frame can help to add warmth and charm to kitchen, butler’s pantry, prep kitchen, bathroom, office, library and closet design.
  1. Easier Installation: smaller door sizes make partial overlay cabinets easier to install. They do not require as meticulous of measurement, calculation and cut as that of inset cabinets. The installation process of these cabinets tends to save the homeowner time and money.
  1. Design Flexibility: as previously mentioned partial overlay style cabinets can fit into various design styles and home aesthetics. The versatility is endless with finished, hardware and panel styles.

Section 2: Cons of Partial Overlay Cabinets

  1. Limited Storage Space: with partial overlay cabinets there can be wasted or unused space between cabinets and face frames. Much of this is due to the smaller door size. We recommend staying on the larger size with this style as smaller doors and drawers will not provide what most homeowners are looking for. It is important to work closely with your designer and cabinet maker to make sure you maximize space as well stay within visual aesthetic parameters.
  1. Reduced Accessibility: it is noted that smaller doors on partial overlay cabinets might make it slightly challenging to access items stored within. For our clients who have this concern, we discuss the options to add on pull out shelves specifically in lower cabinets and pantries.
  1. Potential Outdated Appearance: for most clients who come in with the thought that partial overlay cabinets are outdated, we recommend these clients look at the cabinet face and make adjustments. A lot of times what they are truly saying is outdated is the cabinet face and not the overlay. We will cover cabinet faces more in depth in another post. For the client who leans modern, we recommend full overlay cabinet fronts. This will be discussed next in our series.

We hope you have enjoyed this explanation of partial overlay cabinets, as well as a break down of the pros and cons.

We encourage you to really look at all of the options when it comes to cabinet door and drawer lays.

What works for one home, may not work for another. Movement of family changes throughout the years. Maybe what you needed with little kids is not what you need today as an empty nester.

The possibilities are truly endless. We encourage you to consult with a designer they will be your greatest resource. Learn as much as you can. And be honest about your family needs and budget.

As always, feel free to reach out. We would love to help if we can.

leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2022 Highland Home Design Company | Site Design by Jessica Gingrich