Making the Right Kitchen Cabinet Choice

Making the Right Kitchen Cabinet Choice

Selecting new cabinets can be a big expense when remodeling and may account for as much as 30%-40% of your kitchen renovation budget. They set the design style for your kitchen and you’ll have them for years. But how do you know what to choose? At Jim Keller Kitchen, Bath & Home, we’ve been helping clients with kitchen design for decades. Here is a basic guide to the different quality levels of kitchen cabinets.

Traditionally there have been 3 common categories of cabinets; stock, semi-custom, and custom. With the explosion of cabinet companies and their high-priced marketing departments it’s become increasingly harder to decipher what exactly you are being sold. Seems everybody is a semi- custom or custom cabinet these days. When all else fails one rule still holds true; You get what you pay for! There is no magic bullet, cabinets are all built using similar technology and raw materials. Just because a cabinet has “wood construction” or “dovetail drawers” doesn’t guarantee a quality cabinet. There are still a lot of shall we say questionable practices out there such as over representing quality, so there is no substitute for working with a reputable designer or contractor. We will try and give you a guide to get you started so you can go in with a good idea on what is right for you whether you’re in Algonquin, Lake In The Hills, Carpentersville or in West Dundee, IL.

Stock cabinets

Stock has become a bad word; traditional stock lines have begun calling themselves semi-custom. We prefer to keep it real, stock doesn’t necessarily mean poor quality. Stock cabinets can be a very good choice for your kitchen remodel depending on your wants and needs.

Stock used to mean exactly that, in stock, cabinets you could stop in and take home or at least get in a couple of days. They were assembled and finished, put in a box, and stored on a shelf somewhere. With the advent of just in time inventory, customers demanding more options, and the problems of storing that amount of cabinets, “stock” doesn’t really mean stock anymore. We use the term “stock” as more of a price point description. Outside of a few vanities at the local home center, or the more recent trend of unassembled cabinets imported from overseas, most cabinets today are made to order.

The lower end of the stock category is not designed for a lifetime of use, they are focused for the apartment and flip house projects. Because of the lower-quality materials and hardware, they may not hold up well under daily use for the long-term. Be wary of low-cost lines that seem to offer a lot of options or modifications, they may sacrifice quality to keep the costs low. Also watch for the imported “RTA” (ready to assemble) cabinets in a box. Some may say “Made in the USA” when they really mean “Assembled in the USA”. How these are made or under what standards is almost impossible to confirm. Remember the high formaldehyde content in some imported flooring from a few years ago??

At the upper end of the stock category you can find a reasonably well-built cabinet, but they may lack many options or finishes. If you can design around their limitations, they can be a solid choice for your project and offer good value vs cost. Stock cabinets will typically come in 3” width increments and a few height choices. They may allow limited depth modifications.

Semi-custom cabinets

Semi-custom is the most popular choice when it comes to cabinets. Unfortunately, that popularity also makes it the hardest to navigate. Everyone wants to be considered semi-custom. It has that; “it’s a nice upgrade, but not too expensive” feel. Be wary of cabinets labeled “semi-custom” but with limited choices. To many cabinets that really belong in the Stock category will label themselves as semi-custom. Semi-custom will also have a large price variable. Not all lines are equal in quality and the more options the higher the cost.

With true semi-custom cabinets, you will get significantly more style and finish choices, allowing for a more custom feel to your kitchen. Some may also have the capability of custom finishes. They should come with high quality soft close hinges and glides standard. Semi-custom also should have the ability to give you almost any size cabinet down to at least ¼” increments in width, height, and depth. This allows for a better fit in the kitchen with less blank fillers. The fit and finish will be better than lines in the stock category.

Semi-custom cabinets come in a large range of quality. Furniture grade plywood construction should be at least an option, if not standard. However, don’t automatically disregard a cabinet that uses a high quality MDF or assume if plywood is used it guarantees quality. There is low quality plywood also. Most of the imported ready to assemble cabinets use plywood because it’s lighter and weight means everything when shipping across the ocean. Furniture grade MDF is more stable than plywood and is used a lot in frameless style construction where construction tolerances can be tighter, even in some high-end lines.  

Custom cabinets

Custom cabinets are the most expensive option, however many items that are options in semi-custom may be standard or come with a minimal cost in a custom line. A semi-custom kitchen with a bunch of options may cost as much or more than a custom kitchen. A custom cabinet may be the best choice especially if you are looking for that truly unique space. The fit and finish here is top shelf.

With custom cabinets, the sky’s the limit. Choose an exotic wood, invent your own custom door style or finish. Any special features can be included since they are being designed and built just for you. 

Be wary of small local cabinet builders that will meet the dictionary definition of “custom”. However, they may not be using the best finishes they tend to break down in relatively short order. Look for their warranty, usually a good indicator. A quality custom or even semi-custom cabinet line will carry a lifetime warranty against defects. Are they going to around in a few years if you have any problems? Cost, another good indicator, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is.

At Jim Keller Kitchen, Bath & Home, we provide our clients with the highest level of service to help them get the very most out of their kitchen remodel. From up-front planning and consultation, through design and construction, to the day you begin using your new kitchen, you can rely on Jim Keller Kitchen, Bath & Home to guide you every step of the way. Call us today at 847.844.1900 if you live in the Barrington, Elgin, or Crystal Lake areas, and you can begin creating the perfect kitchen or bath for your home!

Making the Best Decisions Before Starting Your Kitchen Remodel in Barrington or Throughout Chicagoland

Making the Best Decisions Before Starting Your Kitchen Remodel in Barrington or Throughout Chicagoland

There is no doubt that a kitchen remodel involves a lot of decisions. From the budget to the materials to the layout, being well informed will pay dividends. The clearer your roadmap is, the smoother the project will go. Jim Keller Kitchen, Bath & Home has decades of experience helping clients through the remodeling process in Barrington, Algonquin and Hoffman Estates.

Project scope

First, consider the scope of your project. Are you simply replacing cabinets & countertops for a quick update or do you want something more extensive? Will walls need to be moved? Soffits removed? Appliances relocated? Determine what you would like to accomplish in your new kitchen.

Establish your budget

Nobody likes to think about money, but establishing your budget early in the process will save time and minimize frustration in the long run. Knowing how much to invest in your kitchen remodel in Barrington IL can be a hard question to answer. After all, it’s not something you do every day. Using Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs Value 2020 Report is a good place to get an idea on average project costs in your area. You can also refer to our Cost of a Kitchen Remodel article for more information. Decide how much you are willing to invest in the project; then develop a realistic budget.

Create your wish list

Now you can move on to the fun stuff! What’s on your wishlist? What problems are you trying to solve? What would make your life easier? What would make the kitchen a pleasant place to spend time in? Are you looking for more storage, countertop space, built in appliances? When you finish your list, prioritize your items to make sure the most important things are included.

Your style

Think about what you like and put together your ideas. Pinterest and Houzz are great sources for kitchen remodel pictures and ideas. You can create your own file to share with your kitchen designer. You may notice that you are drawn toward certain styles as you browse through kitchen pictures. Designers like to use words like transitional, French country and Contemporary, but you may have a different definition of those than others. Pictures of kitchen remodels help everyone get on the same page.

The right fit

Now that you have an idea of what you want and how much you want to invest, it’s time to find a kitchen remodeling contractor. Finding the right fit can be the difference between your dream kitchen and a remodeling nightmare. For a simple cabinet replacement, a trip to the local home center and “chuck in a truck” may suffice. For more extensive projects finding the right professional will make all the difference. Ask friends and relatives for recommendations, read online reviews, check out websites and testimonials. Develop a list of questions to ask prospective firms. Ask about the design process and about the installation process. Do they have their own crews or is everything turned over to outside contractors? Will the people you started with be with you during the whole process?

In our opinion, the single most important factor in a successful remodeling project is finding that relationship. After all you will be partners for the next several months from design through installation and beyond. Developing a trust you can lean on through what can be a long process makes it easier and much less stressful.

At Jim Keller Kitchen Bath & Home, we are a 2nd generation business that has been remodeling homes for decades. We pride ourselves on the relationships and friendships we have developed during that time. We will work through different ideas, create different layouts for you to consider, use both hand sketches and computer aided design to help you evaluate all the options – and let you know about the behind-the-scenes necessities you may not be aware of.

We provide the highest level of service to make sure your kitchen remodel is successful and gives you years of pleasure. From upfront planning and consultation, through design and construction, to the day you are able to begin using your new kitchen, you can rely on Jim Keller Kitchen, Bath & Home to guide you every step of the way. Call us today at 847-844-1900 if you live in the Barrington, Elgin, or Crystal Lake areas, and you can begin creating the perfect kitchen or bath for your home!

Staying Safe With COVID-19

Are we working?

Our team members are still hard at work. Our office staff is mostly working from home and are setup to do virtual appointments and answer any questions you may have about remodeling in general and remodeling through a pandemic.

Are we taking on new work?

We are equipped to take on new clients and are running virtual appointments and presentations.
Although we are all anxious to get back to “the way things were,” being quarantined at home for weeks on end may also have you realizing some areas of your home that just aren’t functioning as well as they could be and it is a great time to start thinking about a few remodeling projects of your own. If you’d like to learn more about starting a project, fill out our contact form and we can start the conversation!

Is our showroom open?

While we are anxious to fully open and welcome visitors to our showroom, for the safety of our clients and staff we are closed to the general public for the foreseeable future. We are using virtual meetings as much as possible. When a showroom visit is required, we will set an appointment time when we can limit staff to a minimum. Special sanitation measures will be in place along with social distancing and masks are encouraged.

How is Jim Keller Kitchen Bath & Home protecting themselves & their clients on job sites?

The team has compiled a list of protocols and procedures to be strictly followed on all job site for the foreseeable future. These protocols are more than just new procedures, they are our promise to our employees, clients, and community to do our part to flatten the curve and keep our society safe through the course of this pandemic.


  • The work area of a job site will need to be quarantined off from the rest of the house as completely as possible. We already do this currently; however, we are going to take things further with this protection.
  • Jim Keller Kitchen Bath & Home are using HEPA construction filters wherever possible on projects. (These filters have been used on our job sites for several years and more are on order!)
  • Production team members will be required to wear face masks while in any unquarantined area of an occupied home or when more than one team member is on site.
  • We are limiting the number of team members on the job at one time as much as possible including subcontractors.
  • Jim Keller Kitchen Bath & Home will be providing hand sanitizer and disinfecting cleaners to be left on the job at all times. Vigorous hand washing (for 20 seconds) should be done several times per day. Disinfectant wipes will be on the job to wipe down work surfaces.
  • Jim Keller Kitchen bath & Home employees must also follow the following guidelines:
    • If they, or anyone they live with is ill or has a fever they must stay home and not report to work.
    • Employees must maintain a social distance from every one of at least 6′ whenever possible.

Stay Safe. Stay Healthy. Stay 6′ Apart.

5 High-End Kitchen Countertop Choices

5 High-End Kitchen Countertop Choices

While granite has been the most popular countertop option throughout the years, it’s made its mark on the design world and is now being taken over by newer high-end materials. Although it’s still a popular option, you have many other choices to consider for your kitchen countertops.  

Are you aware of which countertops are trendy that will add a great deal of style to your space?

We have installed many luxurious and high end countertops for many families in Barrington, Inverness, St Charles, IL and more, and that’s why we have gathered five high-end kitchen countertop choices that you could display within your own home to create that perfect space. If you would like to learn more about these countertop design trends, be sure to continue reading or contact us:

  • Two Countertops Are Better Than One. Why have just one countertop when you could have two? Instead of highlighting one material in your kitchen, you can combine two different materials that complement each other and create versatility in your space. Some choose to break up the large expanse off their central island as a way to define its multiple functions. For example, your preparation area can showcase a sleek quartzite or marble, while a finished walnut can warm up your seating area for a stunning combination.
  • A Timeless Classic. If you want your kitchen to stand the test of time, have it showcasing a black and white appearance. You can update your space but still have it complementing some architectural roots. A timeless style of white cabinets paired with black countertops provides a bright yet edgy appearance. Incorporating a honed finish, or matte look to your countertops showcases a more muted finish with little shine, or maybe you would prefer a glossy quartz with marble veins. There are so many options to match your tastes even when it’s just black and white.
  • Precious Stones. You have the opportunity to add a great deal of style and beauty to your kitchen with the use of precious stones. You can have your countertops in all stone for a truly luxurious appearance. You can also make your kitchen one of a kind by incorporating precious stones, which adds dimension and gives an eye-catching appearance. Popular choices include jade, rose quartz, blue agate, even copper.
  • Marble. If you are searching for a countertop material that has been a kitchen countertop staple for years, then look no further than marble! Extremely durable, marble is sure to not only make a beautiful statement throughout your kitchen but hold up for many years to come. Marble is a popular trend for islands and lately many choose to waterfall the marble vertically down to the floor instead of using flat countertops, for a more sophisticated statement. From black to white, you can discover the perfect color of marble to complement your personal taste.
  • Brazilian Blue Stone. Have your kitchen highlighting a one of a kind appearance by choosing Brazilian blue stone for your countertops! This unique material will create your countertops to be a focal point within your space. Pair yours with shaker-style white cabinets and you will create a bright and welcoming kitchen that everyone will certainly enjoy.

Luxurious kitchens should present a high-end appearance! As the heart of your home, you want your kitchen to be a representation of your personal style and taste. These are just five of the luxury countertops options that you could choose to present within your own home and we would love the opportunity to speak with you about your design ideas for your kitchen.

Are you ready to install high end counter tops in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago? If so, please contact us here at Jim Keller Kitchen, Bath & Home, as we would be pleased with the opportunity to help you. 

A Guide to Luxury & Upscale Kitchen Cabinets

A Guide to Luxury & Upscale Kitchen Cabinets

The kitchen is said to be the heart of a home. Enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning, cooking meals, hosting guests and more; your kitchen is certainly an important part of your home and living. Many therefore look forward to having a beautiful and luxurious sense of style with their kitchens depending on their tastes, life changes or inspirations. Showcasing luxury and upscale kitchen cabinets is a great way to bring the kitchen space to life, since kitchen cabinets are a major part of the kitchen visually.

We believe that every kitchen should present the best cabinets! That’s why we have created a guide to assist you with choosing luxury and upscale kitchen cabinets for your own home. At Jim Keller Kitchen, Bath & Home, Dundee IL, we’ve remodeled several upscale and luxurious kitchens with the cabinets they deserve and will share a few things to consider when looking to replace or upgrade your kitchen cabinets with a luxurious one. If you would like to learn more, we have them here for you:

  • Style. There are many high-end design options to suit every taste when it comes to kitchen cabinets! When selecting your cabinets, you will want to determine which style you fancy. European, traditional, contemporary; there are an array of styles that you could choose. So be sure to browse around and speak to an upscale kitchen remodeler like us so that you can determine which cabinet design you would like to showcase throughout your own kitchen.
  • Organization. Your kitchen cabinets should not only be beautiful, but functional as well! When selecting yours, you will want to ensure that they are able to complement how you would like your kitchen to be organized. After all, you will have many items placed within them, from plates to glasses and all should be able to be stored and accessed with ease. Built-in drawer dividers, pull out shelving; many organizational elements can be utilized when designing your kitchen cabinets!
  • Layout. Anyone can choose kitchen cabinets that are eye-catching. However, it’s important that the layout is functional for your kitchen specifically. The layout of your kitchen cabinets should be planned in a way that suits your space so that you can access what’s within them with ease. By working with a kitchen remodeler like Jim Keller Kitchens, you can ensure that your space is created with functionality in mind.
  • Custom-Made. You have the opportunity to present a one of a kind sense of style throughout your kitchen with custom-made cabinets! By creating a custom design, you will be able to showcase a high-end and unique look. This is ideal for those who really want to make a statement and have their kitchen cabinetry standing out from the rest.
  • Brands. There are many brands of kitchen cabinets that you could choose from. Therefore, you will want to determine the best one for the vision that you have for your own cabinets! We use Custom Wood Products for our kitchen cabinets, they are custom designed, built and are of the highest quality materials as we provide our customers with top quality. 

Every kitchen deserves to showcase gorgeous cabinets! These are just a few tips to assist you with selecting yours.

Are you all set to design your own kitchen with an interior designer in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago? If so, please get in touch with us here at Jim Keller Kitchen, Bath & Home, as we would be pleased with the opportunity to assist you with bringing your design vision to life!