Let's consider each in turn. Two of the basics of kitchen cabinet design are quality issues. The other two are about style and taste.
1. Material. What material will be used to build your cabinets? Material is one of the most important decisions you will make because the design and style of your cabinets are the major factor determining style and design of the entire kitchen. You have several choices:
Metal (stainless steel, aluminum). Metal can be both expensive and heavy to hang. Some metals - especially those used in the past - were subject to rust. Metal can be available in colors or it can be painted. These cabinets also show any dings or dents if they are accidentally hit with a pan, and they will show scratches. For these reasons it is not a popular choice in kitchen cabinet design.
Wood combinations. Some cabinet makers use less expensive wood, such as plywood or pine, to build the cabinet case and then use doors and exterior panels of better or more expensive wood. Some also use particle board or other composite materials. Any wood cabinets can be painted in the color of your choice. You can use a glossy finish or a matte finish.
Solid wood. These cabinets are built entirely of finished, high-quality wood, such as hickory, oak, maple or more expensive woods like cherry or walnut. Traditional kitchens and some country-style kitchens might use a dark wood, such as cherry, mahogany, walnut or ebony. Contemporary kitchens tend to use lighter color woods such as birch or maple. You will want to consider the color, the grain of the wood and the finish applied to the wood. Better cabinets are finished with several coats of polyurethane to protect the wood. Solid wood is currently the most popular kitchen cabinet design choice.
2. Construction. Low quality cabinets are often put together with glue or with nails or staples. This is not a good idea (if you have the choice) because under the heavy use of kitchen cabinets and drawers, they will not last. High quality cabinets will be joined with dove tail construction. This is one of the most important aspect of kitchen cabinet design.
3. Door Style. There are many types and designs in cabinet doors. The door style is the primary determiner of kitchen cabinet design. For example, a contemporary kitchen would almost demand a flat panel door design. Raised panel design, on the other hand, is the preferred door style for a traditional style kitchen. Other cabinet designs include these door styles: reveal-overlay panel, frame and panel, beaded frame and panel, square raised panel, curved raised panel, bead board panel and cathedral panel.
4. Accessories are the final basic element of kitchen cabinet design. Accessories include knobs and handles, organization customizations, accessibility options and specialty modifications. Knobs and handles should match both the style of the kitchen (rustic, worn, sleek) and the other metals used in visible places in the kitchen. For example, brushed metals work very nicely with stainless steel appliances. There are many devices and gadgets that can be installed in drawers and cabinets to organize the contents. Many custom or customized units have these items built in. Accessibility items include things like sliding trays or spinning units (lazy Susan, for example) to make things in the cabinets easier to reach. Specialty modifications are changes made to any cabinets to make them function over refrigerated drawers or bar refrigerators, etc.