Style is easier to recognize with your eyes than with words: You know it when you see it, and the photo that inspires you most can often surprise you. Think you know your kitchen style? Glass cabinet inserts represent an ideal compromise between solid cabinetry and open shelving. They keep out dust and debris yet help to open a kitchen up visually and showcase striking dishware and decorative items. And today we have more choices than ever for choosing kitchen cabinet glass doors — the market is loaded with interesting textures and techniques. Here are some of the most popular options you’ll come across.
Good for: Modern kitchens and non-neatnik homeowners. Frosted glass, which is blasted with sand or grit to achieve its translucent quality, lends a cool, sleek feel to a space. Because it screens the objects it fronts (some better than others), you can probably get away with a stack of mismatched melamine or a jumble of tumblers. You also can have frosted glass etched with custom designs to add one-of-a-kind style.
Frosted doesn’t mean opaque. Visitors might not be able to read the words on your cereal box through the glass, but they can tell when the items on the shelves have collapsed into a big mess. Dedicate a little time daily or weekly to keeping things organized.
Good for: Creating an elegant, traditional feel. Leaded glass has an appealing artisanal quality, and you can spin its design in any number of directions, from Gothic to Craftsman. If you’d like a hint of color, you can also choose stained or art glass — especially nice in backlit cabinetry, which sets the different hues aglow.
Also consider … Want the real deal? You can find antique leaded glass panels at salvage shops, flea markets and specialty retailers, and through online suppliers.
This works well for all kitchens and all styles. Plain, transparent glass is a classic, fail-safe choice, as well as the most widely available. Select a tempered style to guard against breakage. You can either use single flat panels, as in this kitchen, or go with decorative mullions to enhance your kitchen’s design.
There’s no hiding anything behind this type of glass. You’ll need to make sure that whatever it frames is neat and well arranged, unless you’re comfortable with guests getting a peek at your crumpled bags of potato chips and collection of cartoon mouse mugs. Plus, it shows smudges and fingerprints instantly. Keep the window cleaner handy.
Good for: Vintage chic. Seeded glass, which dates back to colonial times, is pocked with tiny bubbles, which give it its name. It usually has a wavy quality as well. It’s handcrafted look and old-fashioned appeal makes it a natural fit for cottage, Shaker, and traditional kitchens.
Also consider … The bubbles and dots in seeded glass can be tiny, large or anything in between (authentic vintage seeded glass will often have smaller bubbles). If you want to showcase dishware, collectibles or other cabinet contents, go for smaller seeding. Larger bubbles can better obscure less pristine displays.
Good for: Eye appeal. Textured glass is just what it sounds like: glass molded or embossed with a pattern for visual and tactile appeal. It can be ribbed, pebbled, grooved, beveled or otherwise patterned. It’s popular not only because of the layer of interest it adds, but because it helps to blunt the outlines of cabinet flotsam within, and it masks smears and streaks well.
Also consider … With some textures, you run the risk of a dated look down the road. (Anyone remember the random, crackly patterns of the 1970s?) The simplest styles, such as ribbed glass, are less likely to fall out of favor.