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Stock Investments Save Cabinet Costs

August 24, 1996|From Associated Press

If your kitchen cabinets look stodgy or don't have enough room, consider installing new ready-made stock cabinets.

With careful planning, a moderate cash investment and plenty of elbow grease, the project can be a rousing success: You save money, and improving your kitchen is one of the best investments for resale.

Stock Cabinets

Stock cabinets are mass-produced units offered in a limited number of styles and finishes and in standard sizes. They cost half as much as custom-built cabinets, and they're readily available through home centers, kitchen design centers and lumberyards.

The appearance and functional design of stock cabinets have improved greatly over the years. In addition to standard base and wall cabinets, better designed corner, pantry and specialty cabinets offer the capabilities of some expensive custom cabinets.

Even if you can't change the size, shape or overall layout of your kitchen, you can gain extra cabinet and counter space with modern stock cabinets. Available colors, styles and accessories will suit almost anyone's taste.

Plan for Success

Good planning is the key to a successful kitchen make-over. Remember that you won't be able to use your kitchen for preparing meals while you are installing cabinets, so do everything you can to shorten the time the project will take. Solicit professional or volunteer help as needed and allow plenty of time for deliveries so that the whole project isn't held up because of a missing unit.

Before making any design or layout decisions, spend a month or two noting all the problems you encounter while working in the kitchen, as well as improvements you'd like. Keep a list, and in a few weeks you'll have a good feel for what you want and need.

If you plan to replace some or all of your appliances, select new ones before ordering cabinets. Dishwasher width is usually 24 inches, but ranges, refrigerators and sinks can vary in depth and width. Check the refrigerator height to see if you can put a cabinet above it.

If possible, avoid changing the location of the sink, dishwasher and stove. This will avoid the hassle and expense of moving a lot of wiring and pipes.

Shop Around

Order cabinets through a home center or a specialized kitchen center. Large home centers often have a staff consultant or designer whose services are free to help you with your cabinet selection and purchase. You may or may not pay a designer fee when working with a specialized kitchen center. It pays to shop around for a cabinet style, price and consultant you like.

When you shop for cabinets, bring a floor plan of your kitchen with critical information: exact dimensions of the room and exact location of windows, doors and permanent fixtures.

If possible, include the location of wiring, plumbing and duct work. Also bring the dimensions of your old appliances as well as installation instructions and measurements for new appliances you may be adding.

Accurate measurements are important. Most cabinet dealers have kitchen-design software on a computer that makes the design process easier and more flexible. They just enter the numbers, and the computer lets you test a number of possibilities.

But the computer can't tell how accurate the original information is, so be careful when you make your measurements.

Find out how long it will take for your cabinets to be delivered. Then work backward and plan your demolition and installation schedule.

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