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Replacing cabinets in a tract home

So here’s an interesting tidbit from this week. By interesting, I mean painful as well as useful.

I redesigned a room where the client wanted to replace the cabinets but didn’t want to use custom cabinets. Once the cabinets were ordered, we had a challenge. The old cabinets were built in place in the home and there were no kick bases in one area — the doors and drawers extended down to the carpet.

Now,  I never thought to mention to the client that the new cabinets all have a kick base.

Example of a cabinet toekick

This elevated section prevents the door from rubbing against the carpet or floor….or your toes.

The home was a tract home, meaning an entire subdivision was built with cabinets that bore no resemblance to stock cabinet sizing. When the client and I met, she was upset to lose all the space.  Had I thought it would have been an issue,I would have brought it up. I certainly had all the drawings showing the new cabinets and we had a previous discussion about about keeping the costs down.

We’re both taking responsibility. She assumed the cabinets would be reinstalled as is; I assumed that she knew (based on previous projects I had worked on with her) that cabinets are built with a toe kick. We’ll be replacing the cabinets; she’ll pay for the custom charges to fabricate the cabinets with a minimal toekick.

And before you ask? This is a first in my career. Perhaps it might be useful for you.

Until next time,


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  1. What an awesome post and an awesome ideas. It’s what makes life so interesting. The house was definitely a very special place and will remain in my heart forever. Thanks………..

  2. Oh my. I don’t think that would have occurred to me either. I do clarify a toe kick verses furniture base (that is what our cabinetmaker calls a non recessed toe kick). I like clients to know the difference and where a recessed toe kick is needed for ease of use and where it is not.

    It is so hard to see in the mind of the client. I tend to over communicate, but still I get surprised.

  3. Carol in Denver says:

    A toekick that is not recessed from the cabinet face means every time you stand at that cabinet you have to lean forward to work because your toes hit the cabinet, rather than sliding under the cabinet. Having no toe kick is very uncomfortable and, I would think, cause body problems.

    • Yes, Carol, you are correct. In this case, these cabinets were not meant to be worked at. They were entertainment and bookshelves, so no toekick was necessary.