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Trend Alert: Should You Install Reeded Cabinets?

By 02/15/2021August 5th, 202134 Comments

You may have noticed a new cabinet profile that’s been trending, but is it a timeless choice for your kitchen? Here’s what I think about the reeded cabinet trend. 

Reeded Cabinets: Trendy or Timeless?

This week on Instagram, I posted this image (below) of a bathroom with reeded wood cabinets, which has been trending for a few years now.

I asked my followers what they thought and here were some of the comments:

“I think it will date quickly.”

“Wouldn’t this be tedious to clean?”

“Yay, I will take any cabinet style other than shaker!”

Amber Interiors

Here was a good one I responded to:

“I am confused on this one. Wouldn’t reed cabinetry date just like paint colours? Do you really recommend it for cabinetry? I would assume this should be used in a moveable piece of furniture, not something fixed. Am I misunderstanding?”

My response was similar to this (but now I’m adding to it):

There’s nothing wrong with a current cabinet door design. Everything but a home designed entirely in the French look, looks dated eventually. The real question is, “How long will it take to look truly dated?”

This is what will date your interior

Overdoing the trendy neutral colour of the moment will date your interior the fastest. For example, if in the brown trend, you filled up your home with dark espresso furniture, it’s technically dated. But a colourful interior–even with the same espresso case goods–will always last longer than a room filled with ALL brown-on-brown or grey-on-grey furniture.

What will technically make a white kitchen feel dated is that kitchen designs are constantly improving.

For example, what makes a timeless white kitchen from 10 years ago look dated from today is that now we’re designing kitchens with no uppers. Never mind upper shelving, the new trend in kitchens which looks truly luxurious, spacious and even better, feels less like a utilitarian kitchen and more like another room in your home.

Read more: How soon will my farmhouse kitchen look dated?

Jill Egan

Apartment Therapy

And here’s one (below) that looks very 2021 because of all the trendy black windows, black lighting AND black countertops:

Read more: Are Black Windows the Best Choice for Your New Build?


Regardless of that, it’s in Architectural Digest because many of us would happily take this kitchen if we could have that light and the inviting garden retreat just beyond those amazing doors. 

Just in time for this blog post, I received this question today:

“While we still have crown mouldings to install, light fixtures and stools to replace, my question is in regards to the backsplash. Learning from your blog, I know I’m definitely going with white subway tile but I have a question about installing the tile around the windows.

If we only had the one window at the kitchen sink, I would install the subway tile to the ceiling, however since we have the 2 windows, how do you handle that since I don’t think the other window would look right with the tile all the way up?  Would I leave the height at both windows to the level of the bottom of the upper cabinets?  Could I put tile up to the ceiling around the sink window but not the second window?”

While the new kitchen design is 100% better, I would remove the cabinets between the two windows (if you can manage without that storage) and then install the subway tile all the way to the ceiling. As you have already concluded, there is no natural ending point otherwise. Hang some art there instead and it will feel so much more spacious! 

I would also continue the cabinets to the ceiling with moulding. It’s one of my favorite designer tricks for updating older cabinets.

Just like in this kitchen below:

Emily Henderson

But back to trending cabinet profiles. Shaker cabinets are about as standard as they get (but that’s because it’s one of the least expensive profiles) and have we seen an awful lot of them this past decade?


And is it refreshing to see something “new”? Absolutely.

The thing is, there is no guaranteed-timeless anything you can install if you don’t pay attention to the details of your design.

Even the most classic black and white hex floor can look off in the wrong application (gasp!). Or white subway tile, if it is awkwardly meandering around badly placed cabinets.

Beauty is in the details. 

And by details, I don’t mean flourishes and embellishments as in the overwrought, kitschy version of the “French Country” kitchen that can commonly be found in too-large homes created with too-little design sense. What I’m talking about is good, functional layout, attention to levels and scale, and balance of colour and materials.

It’s when we see a trend done badly over and over that we start to turn away from it.

Let’s go back to the another charming bathroom with reeded cabinetry. 

Bria Hammel Interiors

If in 10 years, we’ve all been completely overexposed to this cabinet style (and I’m not convinced it will take the masses by storm, given it will definitely cost more) – the timeless white marble countertop and floor, perfectly installed sconces, pretty coordinating mirror, will still give this room longevity. 

In this bathroom the reeded texture adds interest and character. It looks custom and beautiful.

Invest in the details and you will create something beautiful that you won’t come to dislike in time. Ignore them, and your kitchen (or bathroom) will look tired very quickly, regardless of how timeless or trendy it is.

If you’d like help creating your classic kitchen or bathroom, see my virtual packages here.

Related posts:

Magazine Worthy Kitchen Designs Cannot be Easily Copied

Top Kitchen Colour Trends from the last 50 Years

Classic and Timeless Design Tips for a Home You’ll Love Forever

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  • Amy says:

    Personally I love both bathrooms, and I love this cabinet style. To me it’s a classic style that has been used in many eras. I would use it in an instant, but that’s because I love the look, not because it’s trendy or new. If you really love something I don’t think you will easily grow tired of it.

  • Rebecca Burlingham says:

    As a kitchen designer, I don’t feel this style will sell strongly, for the reasons you stated. It just isn’t for everyone. Therefore I do not think it will be outdated quickly. It will never become a trend. Designed well, this door style is timeless.

  • Beth says:

    For some reason the marble feels a little mismatched with the reeded cabinets. Is the off note elegant with casual? Color? Not sure. I can imagine either working well with something else. And the cabinets feel a little beachy. But maybe it’s just personal taste. And being overly tired. Thought provoking and enjoyable as usual, Maria, thank you.

    • Barbara says:

      I agree and was surprised to read that Maria liked this combo.
      Totally mismatched in style and colour.
      Perhaps they could improve it with a colour on the wall? Improvement, but it may still look completely off.

    • Becky H says:

      I thought the same thing, I LOVE the cabinetry, I would use it in a minute, but it seems a lot of texture that needs to be with a simpler countertop. A honed solid color marble or quartz, it seems too busy with the heavy veining.

    • K says:

      IMHO it’s perfection! To my eye, the icy, glacial cool of the grey, loosely-veined marble, the tight symmetry yet warm tactility of the cabinet, and the opulent-feeling but nevertheless simple gold fittings are all perfectly poised … It’s utterly, elegantly gorgeous!

  • OttawaRuth says:

    This article is SO timely for me. I’ve been considering the no-uppers/no shelves look for my kitchen and have actually asked myself ‘I wonder what Maria thinks’. From your article, I’m hoping you think it will stand the test of time (as much as anyone can predict these things!).

    My kitchen is cramped looking….I hope removing the uppers and adding another window or two will help.

  • Traci Zeller says:

    There’s no chance reeded cabinet fronts will look dated, but as you said, it’s expensive so there’s also no chance it’s going mass market! I personally adore them; the reeding (or fluting) makes cabinetry look so much more like a furniture piece.

  • Wilma Longman says:

    A reeded cabinet is by itself quite nice, but because the reed contributes so much pattern, topping it with veined marbled, despite it being a timeless material, breaks your very wise one pattern for finishes rule. I think the marble countertops in both bathrooms you showed is too busy for the reeded cabinets below. Perhaps a solid color counter would not compete with the reed and look better.

  • Karen says:

    I’m a hard pass on reeded cabinets because of the cleaning. Any detail on cabinets makes for more dusting. We just put the doors on our powder room vanity and I went with an inset slab drawer and shaker doors for under the sink. Low maintenance!
    Using your blog advice, I tried hard to do the timeless thing here for our DIY. I’m happy!

  • Jane says:

    I’m sorry but the “reeded” finish is something that belongs in the tropics if anywhere, imho. I have also seen it on cheap dressers with Formica tops in seedy beach motels, furnished with rattan sofas and chairs. Cabinetry is meant to be case goods, that means wood to me. Rattan is grass. Just MHO.

  • Joanna says:

    I love the reeded cabinets and consoles we are now seeing. It looks fresh.
    Like others, I think the heavily veined marble doesn’t suit it. Too busy, perhaps? Personally, I would go with a solid white counter top.

    I like the look of no uppers but I never understood the need for open shelving that you need to keep organized, clean & decorated. I’m happy to see that trend might be waning.

  • Renée says:

    I really like reed furniture; in fact, I have been looking for a transitional reed bed frame for some time without any luck.
    The reed cabinets in those bathrooms look great but I don’t think they would be practical in a kitchen because sauce/food splatters would be difficult to clean, especially where the reeds join. Maria, If one has shaker style cabinets in the kitchen, is it a good idea to have reed cabinets in the bathroom? Shouldn’t cabinets have the same or similar style throughout the house?
    As to no uppers in the kitchen, in my opinion that is practical only if the kitchen is large enough to accommodate the equivalent storage in lower cabinets or there is a very large pantry. So many different things are required for food preparation, these items need to be stored somewhere close to where the cooking is happening.

  • Maria,

    I love the no upper cabinets, but most of my clients want storage over looks…And most do not have large kitchens so they need
    all the possible storage they can get. I am not very good about telling them to “edit” their stuff!

    • I’m working on 3 active installation projects for kitchens and NONE wanted open shelves. No glass fronts, either. One has a 20’ kitchen with an island and the other 2 are more normal sized large kitchens with islands in custom homes. One burned down in a SoCal fire, the other has the original cabinets from the 90s. All three wanted solid wood doors that weren’t shaker.

      Agree that the reeded cabinets go better in a bathroom and did it for a powder room and bar in a house at the beach where she wanted a Hawaiiana look. She’s a realtor and was happy with how it turned out about 10 years ago in her own home. Didn’t care about resale.

      Pretty and practical are what I aim for and what works for the actual client. I’ve seen enough dumb designs in kitchens I’ve been called in to redo and consult heavily with the kitchen users. Not like I have an opinion or anything, LOL.

      • Maria Killam says:

        I agree Karine, it’s not practical for the average kitchen but I think a little space on either side of the hood fan or well placed area with uppers shelving can help to create a more custom, airier look! In my kitchen edesign packages, I came across so many kitchens that are straight uppers and lowers with zero personality and I think taking out some bulky looking uppers helps to create that! Maria

  • Coco says:

    Completely agree with Maria about the kitchen before/after. Unless the crown molding ties it in with the rest, that cabinet between the windows has to go. Art work would look great but also consider open shelves; I’m not a fan but they could work here.

    And since the light fixtures aren’t in yet I would suggest forgoing black and using something like brass or milk glass, especially over the island. And the island fixture should be more substantial than the current one, to balance the huge island. Not a decorator; just my opinion.

  • Min says:

    Reeded cabinets look beautiful but that looks incredibly difficult to clean. In my own home that could only be in an infrequently used space, never a kitchen or bath. I suppose if it was going in my house in the Keys that I only visit once a year, sure. Personally I think flat-front, painted, inset cabinets are the best way to go for timelessness and livability.

  • Mary says:

    I find both bathrooms fresh and beautifully finished. Reeding is an ornamentation that has been used in architecture and furniture for centuries much like and the reverse of fluting. To my eye the Reeded wood surface is textured with a matte finish and the marble although veined has a smooth surface. I love the contrast. The brass fixtures marry the two finishes handsomely.

    • Maria Killam says:

      I agree, I see the wood cabinets strictly as jeans and the white marble (even though they are slightly different on the floor and countertop on the last one) do not bother me at all.
      Beautifully done! Maria

  • Kay says:

    The reed cabinets are very pretty, but not for me.

    I’m not the only one who thinks that the current fashion of kitchens without uppers is beautiful but not, in most kitchens, practical. I do not want to be always stooping to open a drawer for dinner plates or the vast array of spices and condiments and other things one grabs while cooking. My own kitchen is arranged with most pots and pans on racks above and next to the stove, salt and pepper and vinegar containers next to the stove, herbs and spices also close by. Part of the beauty of the no upper kitchen is its serenity, which would be disturbed by any clutter, no matter how necessary. I suppose the people who want such a kitchen design have very large kitchens in large, expensive houses. That’s fine, but to hold it up as a standard does not serve the mid-range market.

    Since remodeling my own kitchen in 2013 I have viewed hundreds of kitchens online and have concluded that what is important to me has little to do with era and everything to do with convenience and charm. The heavy, dark wood kitchens one sees so frequently are the reverse of charming; give me an untouched 30s or 40s or 50s kitchen and I can do something with that.

  • Alice says:

    This is a big “no” for me–reminds me of cheap Tiki style furniture from the 1950s and it looks very difficult to clean. I’ll bet we’ll see a ton of YouTubers showing us how to do this ourselves with a hot glue gun and 10,000 dowels from Hobby Lobby!

  • Patti says:

    I have a follow-up question regarding the subway tile for the reader’s kitchen design. Is it better to continue the moulding across the tile at the top of the window or stop the moulding at the cabinet? This is something I am struggling with in my own kitchen makeover and I have seen it both ways on the internet (I only have a single window above the sink). Thank you!

    • Diane says:

      I raised the dinky cabinets in my rather small kitchen, added a couple of (wavy?) glass doors & inside lighting. The other cabinets have solid doors. My contractor continued the moulding above the window (which also has moulding around it.) It’s a very traditional look but it doesn’t bother me in the least in this Georgian townhome.
      He did a great job on the corners, btw.
      I think you can tack up a piece, eyeball it, and quickly decide if you like it or not.

  • Carol says:

    I don’t mind the reeded cabinets in the bathroom, or a unique furniture piece in the kitchen. Don’t think they’ll ever be outdated, just not a good practical choice for a kitchen.
    Maria, I’m curious what you think of raised 5 panel cabinets in a kitchen. White ? Do you find them dated looking or too busy or acceptable for a traditional home? My husband refuses to consider shaker, but I would like to convince him of their practicality and clean lines.

  • Monica says:

    I like the reeded cabinets for a bathroom. The texture of the natural wood finish plays nicely with the marble. For a kitchen, I prefer white shaker style doors with or without decorative bead. When we remodeled our kitchen 10 years ago, we installed a large built in china cabinet to hold dishes and a couple open shelves for coffee mugs and seasonally changing art work. When it’s time to sell, we’ll take down the open shelves and install uppers. However, I personally would never go back to standard upper cabinets.

  • LC says:

    I was not prepared to like this reed-textured cabinetry, but I do. It appeals to the part of me that loves a slightly natural/travelled/exotic/tropical look. But…for a kitchen? Unless you have other people cleaning your kitchen for you, YOU will be the one wiping each groove top to bottom when something sprays, as things do in kitchens. And routine maintenance, ditto. If you use a lot of product and sprays in the bathroom (I don’t) then think twice about using it in a bathroom. Just sayin’ there are practical considerations.

    I like the light-grey-and-white veined marble top just fine, and it would equally nice with a soft white solid surface (or granite, even, for those who like that look).

  • Cindi says:

    Great article. I have to say though I disagree with you on white marble. It is sooooo ubiquitous now, I think we will look back and think it is dated as well. I for one am entirely sick of it.

  • Jodi Bennett says:

    You state in your blog the reeded vanity is not custom. Where might I find this vanity. We are building a new home and am desperately trying to find someone to build a vanity like this and no luck. Are there companies that mass produce this type of cabinet?

  • alyr says:

    Never in a million years. Once you’ve experienced the “trendy” furniture cleaning payback you should be wised-up LOL! Just like wicker, bamboo, louvers, rattan, ETC. I’m all about simplicity, time saving and longevity.

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