Kitchen unit design ideas, inspiration & pictures

How to install kitchen cabinets

Nobody is expected to DIY their own kitchen cabinetry. Thus, if you don’t have the required skills, rather make use of a seasoned professional to ensure the best results for your kitchen.

However, if you buy a kitchen cupboard from a DIY or kitchen store, the required fittings are provided, meaning you don’t need to purchase any special mounting brackets or tools, and you can pretty much do the job yourself. That involves the following:

·         Mark out the position of the outside edges of the cabinet on the wall where you want your cabinet to be. At the desired height, draw a horizontal line using a spirit level (a laser levelling tool for quick and accurate horizontal positioning can also be used). Seeing as the mountain brackets are usually adjustable, you can still change the position of your cabinet horizontally and vertically after fitting them.

·         Fit a wood batten with a cross section of about 20 x 45 mm under the line you’ve marked on the wall. This is to support the cabinet while it’s being mounted and can be removed afterwards (simply fill the holes). Mark out the mounting points for the cabinet on the wall to show where the brackets will be fixed.

·         Drill the required holes in the wall and insert the nylon wall plugs. Fit the supports supplied with the cabinet. Make sure you are using good-quality wall plugs as they have to support the weight of the cabinet and its contents.

·         Mount the cabinet on the wall. Each bracket inside the cabinet has two screws: one to adjust the height to make the cabinet horizontal, and another to tighten the cabinet against the wall.

·         When fitting the doors, choose carefully which direction works best. Fit one part of the hinge to the inside wall of the cabinet, and the other part in the corresponding round recess in the door. Slide the two parts of the hinge into place and screw them together. The hinges are adjustable in three directions, helping you to hang the door completely straight.

Keep the following in mind:

·         Start with all corner units (if relevant) and work your way from there.

·         Hang top cupboards first so that the lower ones won’t be in your way during installation.

·         Remove all drawers and doors of your DIY kitchen cupboards to make the task much easier.

What are the best materials to use for kitchen cabinets?

DIY kitchen cabinets are available in a multitude of options, both in South Africa and abroad, with numerous built-in designs to pick from. Of course the final decision will come down to your budget and the style of your kitchen.

Some choice options to consider include:


·         Red oak (strong, durable, inexpensive)

·         Hard maple (lighter colour, medium density, more costly than oaks)

·         Cherry wood (quite hard-wearing, a contemporary material that darkens with age)

·         Pine (the only softwood used for cabinetry, dents easier than hardwoods, has a pale yellow colour)

·         Mahogany (stains well, with a rich/reddish look, quite hard).


Made up of multiple layers of sheet materials and sealed with a plastic coating, laminate is not quite the same as wood. It offers a stain-resistant material that’s easy to maintain, is relatively cost-effective, yet can be difficult to repair if damaged. Laminates can accessorise quite perfectly with real wood or even metal trims.

Stainless steel

Adding a sleek finish to any space, stainless steel cabinets are also hardwearing and practical, making them the ideal choice for contemporary kitchens. However, they do have a tendency to show scratches and smudges easily, and can be some of the most expensive options due to being trendy. 

What kind of kitchen units should I use in my small kitchen?

It is the responsibility of a professional kitchen planner to come up with the best solution for a small kitchen in terms of effective cabinetry. However, should you want to try it yourself, the following guidelines can point you in the right direction.

Think practical when deciding not only which cabinets to use for your kitchen, but also where to place them. A kitchen is, first and foremost, a working zone, which means the presence of cabinets must assist in storage and the clearing of clutter, thereby contributing to any cooking-, baking-, or other task you will be accomplishing.

·         For a small kitchen, opt for small cabinets to keep everything proportional.

·         Opt for smart designs to enhance your kitchen’s functionality, such as drawers and cubby holes to hide away kitchen goodies.

·         Make use of wall space, even if it means installing cabinets up to your ceiling, which can actually create a seamless and integrated look.

·         Add racks to the back of your cabinet doors to improve functionality. This will also cancel out the need for more bulky cupboards, taking up less space.

·         A smaller room requires lighter colours to add visual spaciousness, so stay away from darker mahogany and other types of cabinets.