Everyone knows “custom” usually means expensive. They also takes longer than stock cabinets to receive. The order sent into the manufacturer is more complicated, and each piece is completely a la carte. However, you get what you pay for as they say, and custom cabinetry may end up being a place you choose to prioritize in your budget.
First let’s review when stock cabinetry makes sense. If you are in a rush, custom cabinetry may simply take too long. Stock cabinets can be delivered in a couple of weeks as opposed to custom cabinetry which can take a couple of months. Secondly, if you really aren’t that interested in a lot of detail in the kitchen, and you just want something functional and clean, spending your money on custom cabinetry may not make sense. If you choose the right manufacturer the durability is still there even if it’s stock (solid wood cabinets with good hardware). A major limiting factor would be the variety of colors and door styles. A given stock line of cabinets will have a much smaller selection than a custom kitchen, but if you find a color and door style you like. It may make sense to go with it.
However, if you are looking to create a room that is artistically interesting and more than just functional, custom cabinetry is the only option. The designer’s hands are tied when restricted by the constraints of stock cabinetry, so creativity is inherently stifled. For example, a stock line may come with one option for a wood hood, and it may be completely unappealing, leaving a stainless steel hood as your only option. Custom cabinetry allows the designer to literally draw anything. Color options become plentiful, and paint colors can even be matched to the colors of other manufacturers. So if there is a specific color you are looking for, custom cabinetry is the way to go. Finally, a complex floorplan may all but require some custom cabinetry to ensure the space is properly utilized. Stock cabinets only come in specific sizes, usually increments of three inches. Additionally, by allowing the designer to build cabinetry to any size, the functionality of each cabinet can become more targeted, making sure specific cookware and cabinet accessories fit into the design.
There are also semi-custom manufacturers that manage a balancing act, offering a hybrid strategy. This middle choice sometimes works out really well, and suites the needs of the homeowner while saving some money. Making a decision can be daunting because there are more cabinet manufacturers than anyone has time to fully research. However, sitting down with a designer and discussing your priorities, budget, and must haves, usually makes the decision pretty clear.