Design Recipes: Cabinetry alternatives

A long shelf helps to provide extra storage. (Scott Gabriel Morris/TNS)

Millwork and cabinetry should be integrated into your environment after thoughtful planning, research and in most instances, price comparison.

In other words, you may want to determine where you would like to splurge and where you might be able to save. If done right, the splurge-versus-save approach when it comes to cabinetry and millwork can result in a space that is functional, attractive and doesn't break the bank.

If you're looking for some cabinetry alternatives, here are some tips on where to splurge and save.


Splurge on design. Before purchasing, have a clear design direction for your desired look and feel.

Splurge on quality materials. Choose items such as hardwoods as opposed to softer woods or inexpensive materials that may not last.

Splurge on sturdy construction and installation.


Save by not purchasing expensive hardware. In many instances you can find sturdy hardware through a variety of sources including local artisans, specialty stores and even flea markets.

Save by hiring a professional such as an interior designer or architect. In many cases, homeowners experience costly mistakes by not hiring a professional. Many design stores and cabinetry companies offer complimentary in-house design services.

Save by sourcing sustainably. In many cities you can find businesses that specialize in construction and architectural salvage for bargains as well as leftover builder inventory. Save through these sources and potentially discover a unique or unusual find!

Cathy Hobbs, based in New York City, is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design home staging expert and short-term rental/vacation home designer with offices in New York City and The Hudson Valley. Contact her at or visit her website at

photo A modern kitchen incorporates both cabinetry and shelving to create an industrial yet functional vibe. (Scott Gabriel Morris/TNS)
photo The absence of upper cabinetry is replaced by shelving in this kitchen. (Scott Gabriel Morris/TNS)