Kitchen units: design ideas, inspiration & pictures | homify Kitchen units: design ideas, inspiration & pictures

Kitchen units: design ideas, inspiration & pictures

Kitchens form an important part of our daily lives. Whether we’re cooking, eating, or simply making a cup of coffee, we spend a significant part of our lives interacting with the appliances and various pieces of cutlery and crockery that find themselves in this one space. A kitchen can quickly become disorderly though, especially with all of the extra little pieces of technology that are always arriving on the market to make our lives easier. It’s important to ensure that each item in your cooking area has it’s own designated space, and this is where the humble kitchen cupboard is at it’s most needed. 

Installing kitchen units

Take your time to decide which kitchen unit would look best in your space, it might be a good idea to get an expert's opinion if you aren't sure. There are quite a few different styles you can choose from and sizes are different too, so you'll want to measure the area out fully before buying anything. Before putting kitchen units in, be they cupboards or cabinets, make sure to clear your work area. You don’t want anything sharp lying around, and glasses and plates should be packed away or put into another room while you work to prevent them being damaged, or worse, damaging you. Once these are done, grab your tools and protective gear and let the work commence. 

- Drill your pilot holes into the walls or shims, using a spirit level to ensure you lines are straight. Draw any corresponding lines or markings for holes with a pencil. 

- Put your neighbouring cabinet in place and do a spot check, making sure that all of the doors have space to move and open, and all of the drawers have space to open and close fully before continuing.

- Drill and countersink all of your holes to the filler, then attach the filler to the cabinet making sure to keep level. 

- Once the filler is secure, attach the second cabinet, keeping steps a-c in mind, to make sure that you remain straight and plumb, and to avoid loose or badly fitting units.

- Don’t forget to drill or hole-saw any holes needed for electrical wires or pipes for dishwashers and washing basins. 

- Repeat these steps as needed for all of the cupboards or cabinets in the kitchen unit design you are building and complete the build.

- Once you’ve done, install a toe-kick at the bottom to fill the remaining space to the floor.

What materials are available?   

There are quite a few different materials which you can choose from that are commonly used for kitchen design, and many of these are reflected in kitchen units. Wood is a very commonly used material because it’s strong and durable, and stainless steel is often used because it’s easy to clean and resists corrosion.   

Common woods   

- Red Oak is strong, readily available, cheap and very durable. It has a beautiful light red brown color and is easy to work with.   

- White Oak has a slightly olive color but stronger and slightly harder than red oak, making it more challenging to work with. It is also inexpensive though, which is a plus.   

- Maple is harder than oak, but not necessarily more durable. Look for Hard Maple with thin grains for the best cuts and durability.    

- Hickory is very light in color, and stands out as one of the hardest woods to work with in America because it is one of the heaviest.  

- Cherry is a beautiful wood which darkens with age. It's common in the East through the Midwestern U.S, and  is easy to work with.    

- Birch is very expensive wood to purchase, because of its fine, straight grain and limited availability, especially where certain colors are required.   

- Ash has a light color and is a common furniture wood in America. It holds color very well and can be finished with a good wood stain.   

- Pine is the cheapest and most common wood available worldwide. It has a light yellow color and is not very durable, though it can hold well if treated and varnished/stained regularly.   

Exotic woods   

- Mahogany is not native to the U.S and is considered a tropical hardwood. Its width allows it to be cut into large boards.    

- Walnut has a deep brown to chocolate brown color, and is excellent wood for varnishing and finishing. If is very durable and worked with very easily as well.    

- Ebony is an extremely dark hardwood from Asia. Its striped appearance gives it a unique ability to be used for accents and decorative woodwork.   


Laminates come in a variety of patterns and colors, and are made by pressing multiple thin layers of material with different properties using adhesives, forming a permanent and strong bond. They can be made to look like wood, are easy to clean, and resist staining. Laminates are also easily dressed with wood or steel tops, but they are difficult to repair if they are damages, especially by chipping.   

Stainless steel   

If you go for a clean stainless steel you will have a fantastic, sleek and modern look, but a polished steel will show up finger marks and scratches. Brushed steel can help minimize this so consider it if you want to go with this material. It is a completely non toxic and durable working material, which is sanitary, and easy to clean. It is one of the best materials to choose if your kitchen design is for outdoors.

Which units would be best for a small kitchen?

When building in a small area, consider what your needs are before anything else. Once you know what kind of space you require, you should talk to a professional and see what they have to say about the kinds of cabinets you need. Remember to save space by building upwards, and try to save space with your appliances as much as possible. A kitchen island with cabinet or drawer space may be the ideal solution for you, and racks or hanging hooks can really help when saving just that little bit of extra space. Lastly, consider using lighter colors, since darker colors may make a small space feel even less spacious than it already is.