While there may still be some people who oppose Charles Darwin’s concept of the evolution of man, this cannot be said of the evolution of the kitchen cabinet. In the late 19th century kitchen cabinets were nothing more than free standing work tables with a few drawers, separate pantries, and a few cupboards for the dishes. There was no need for a storage area for perishable foodstuffs as these were purchased daily.
Today, kitchen cabinets typically consist of a unified built-in system that incorporates storage areas for kitchen utensils, small appliances, linens, china and silverware; spaces for big electric and gas appliances such as a refrigerator, oven, stove, or dishwasher. Smaller electrical appliances such as a coffee maker, oven toaster, or juicer are usually set at a counter top.
The designs of contemporary kitchen cabinets are a result of various studies in ergonomics by such pioneers as Lillian Moller Gilbreth who studied household efficiency. Concepts from the time and motion study, a combination of the work of Frederick Taylor and Gilbreth along with her husband Frank, are also embodied in the layout of cabinets. Today, kitchen cabinets can have as many as 50 drawers. There are deep drawers for the storage of cookware, sponge tray near the sink, a pull-out garbage bin that is hidden inside a compartment within the cabinet, cabinets where spices are stored, another where linen are kept, and still another for china and other table ware. All these are positioned in such a way that when you are preparing a meal and the dinner table, your movements from one place to another are kept at a minimum.
In earlier times kitchen cabinets were made purely of solid wood which gave them an elegant and tasteful look. Today, however, wood has become expensive, so that cabinets are sometimes made in combination with plywood, particle boards, or medium density fiberboard. The drawer and cabinet doors are of wood while the sidings, dividers, and all those that are not immediately visible of are of less expensive materials. This preserves the classy look, without the attending cost.
For an even less expensive cabinetry, even the doors are of plywood but are covered with veneer. There are many good veneer designs available in the market that a DIYer can easily install. For the budget-conscious, veneers are a very practical yet stylish solution.