Glass Front Cabinet Styles

Michelle Radcliff

Add a touch of class to your kitchen cabinets with glass front doors. Glass cabinet doors provide sparkle to kitchens of any style, from ultra-modern to country chic. Find out how to make display items pop and discover various options that will help you choose the right style of glass front cabinets for your kitchen.

Where to Put Glass Cabinet Doors

Glass front cabinet doors most commonly appear on upper level cabinets. Practical reasons for this include:

  • They are more easily seen.
  • Heavier pots and pans stored in lower cabinets typically aren't very decorative.
  • Lower cabinets are more susceptible to bumps and bangs and run a higher risk of being damaged.

Where to Place Upper Glass Cabinets

Kitchen wood cabinets with glass

Whether or not to have all upper kitchen cabinet doors in glass is a personal choice and some kitchens have them. However, many designers and homeowners alike opt for the less is more approach, designating only a few cabinets as accent pieces with glass doors. Common areas for glass cabinet doors include:

  • Corner cabinets
  • End cabinets
  • Cabinets framing the stove or kitchen sink
  • Peninsula cabinets
  • Small top cabinets, between the upper cabinets and ceiling

Lower Glass Cabinets

Occasionally, you can find lower cabinets with glass doors that face out into other rooms, like on kitchen bars or buffets. You may want to consider a more durable material such as plexiglass for lower cabinets, which is still very attractive and better equipped to handle the inevitable contact from feet and knees of those sitting at the counter.

Types of Glass

The type of glass used on cabinet fronts has a dramatic effect on the look of the entire kitchen, just as the cabinets do. The type of glass chosen and any decorative design elements, such as mullions, should complement the style of the cabinetry and the overall style of the kitchen.

Transparent or Clear

Clear glass kitchen cabinets

Just as the name implies, transparent glass offers crystal-clear views of items inside cabinets. This type of glass can be used with any cabinet or kitchen style and keeps the focus on the decorative items placed inside. For a clean, simple aesthetic, use single flat panels of tempered glass to guard against breakage.

  • Find clear glass cabinet door inserts in the classic section, among other decorative glass options, in wood and aluminum frames at Merillat.

Leaded and Stained Glass

Retro cabinet with stained glass

Leaded glass used in cabinet doors creates a look of timeless tradition. Similar to stained glass panels, leaded glass panels are held together by lead, copper or zinc cames, which are thin strips of metal that form a pattern. Commonly featured in historic buildings throughout America, this artisan style glass is a hallmark of Craftsman style homes.

When colored glass pieces are soldered together with copper foil, you get stained glass panels. Stained glass cabinet doors lend the same traditional feel as leaded glass and provide a custom look to cabinets.

Seeded Glass

Seeded glass cabinets

Seeded glass is infused with air bubbles that occur during the manufacturing process. The bubbles can be small or large depending on how the glass was made. Seeded glass doors provide a vintage look and work well with Shaker style cabinet doors and cottage or traditional style kitchens.

  • Diamond Cabinets offers seeded glass and many other textured glass cabinet door inserts; use the tool on their website to find a retail location near you.

Frosted Glass

Frosted glass cabinets

Frosted glass is created by sandblasting clear glass to make it appear more opaque. Although frosted glass has a considerably distorted view, it still retains a limited amount of transparency, allowing shapes and colors to show through. Frosted glass cabinet doors look great with stainless steel and the clean, sleek finishes of modern kitchen cabinets.

  • At Kitchen Magic, you can find frosted glass as well as other textured glass panels for cabinets.

Textured Glass

textured glass cabinets

Textured glass is embossed with various patterns that appear ribbed, fluted, reeded, wavy, pebbled, or floral. Glue chip glass is a form of textured art glass with a winter frost or fern-like pattern. Much like frosted glass, textured glass has limited transparency depending on how heavy the texture is. This type of glass is used in both modern and traditional applications. Leaded glass that has a textured appearance lends an Old World feel to kitchen cabinets.

Decorative Mullions and Cames

cupboards with decorative mullions

Wood mullions and metal cames applied to glass door panels provide the look of individual panes of glass. They can appear in a standard square grid pattern, an X pattern, as Gothic arches and as overlapping curves. Decorative mullions and cames on glass cabinet doors provide stylish architectural detailing and an upscale look in traditional style kitchens.

  • KraftMaid Cabinetry offers dozens of decorative glass cabinet door designs with oil rubbed bronze and nickle cames or wood mullions. You can also find forged metal and pewter mesh grills without glass. To purchase, use their Find a Retailer button to locate one near you.

Painted Glass

For a sleek look in an ultra-modern kitchen, consider painted glass cabinet doors, which appear completely opaque. With painted glass, the focus is on the color of the cabinet rather than what's being displayed inside. Dozens of color options allow for vibrant kitchen design.

  • Cronos Design carries painted glass and plexiglass cabinet door inserts designed to go with their aluminum frame cabinet doors. Fill out the quote request form to get a price estimate.

Lighting Options

lighted glass kitchen cabinets

The icing on the cake for glass front cabinets comes when interior cabinet lighting is installed. Illuminated cabinets highlight collections of art glass, crystal, silver serveware and fine porcelain dinnerware while also adding extra sparkle to the glass doors themselves. Pegasus Lighting offers the lighting options below for interior cabinet lighting.

Puck and Recessed Lights

Puck lights are small, round LED, halogen or xenon lights that can be surface mounted or recessed within the top of the cabinet. Puck lights work well for highlighting individual objects or groups of objects with beams that focus downward. These lights are available in hardwired, plug-in and battery-operated varieties.

LED Tape and Rope Lights

LED tape and rope lights are generally simple to install. Rope lights are held in place by mounting clips. Tape lights come with an adhesive backing and can be mounted on wood, metal, glass and most other smooth surfaces.

If you decide to run a continuous line of these lights through connected glass front cabinets, you will need to drill small holes through each cabinet wall. You will also need to drill a hole through the bottom of the cabinet closest to an outlet.

Rope lights require a power connector which plugs in to the end of the light and has a power plug on the other end for plugging into an outlet. Tape lights require a 24 volt DC driver for each continuous run of lights. A power connection cord is required to connect the tape lights to the driver.

LED Strip Lights

LED strip lights have a hard outer casing, giving them a straight edge profile that is still sleek and narrow. Four different options for mounting include:

  • Flat mounting clips- mount the light flush to the cabinet top interior
  • 45 Degree angle mounting clips- the straight edge can be mounted in a corner
  • Adjustable mounting clips- allows the fixture to pivot
  • Magnetic tape- fixture can be mounted to a metal cabinet top interior

LED strip lights also require a 24 volt electronic transformer with either a hardwired or plug-in set up.

Enhanced Cabinet Displays

In addition to interior cabinet lighting, painting or wallpapering the back wall of cabinets with glass fronts adds a pop of bright color to kitchen cabinetry. This helps break up large expanses of wood tones or neutral colors such as white and defines the silhouettes of display items.

Glass shelves placed inside cabinets with clear flat panel glass doors add an extra layer of transparency, giving cabinets a light, luminous look that is particularly flattering to displays of cut crystal bowls and stemware.

Design Advantages of Glass Front Kitchen Cabinets

Glass front kitchen cabinets provide a light and airy feeling of spaciousness in the kitchen. Glass doors add a delicate and refined look to dark or heavy wood cabinetry.

Peninsula cabinets featuring glass fronts and backs open the kitchen up to the adjoining room, allowing views and light to pass through. Double-sided glass cabinets installed in front of kitchen windows bring in outside views and cheerful natural light.

Potential Disadvantages

Though there are many advantages to choosing glass kithcen cabinets, there are a few potential disadvantages to consider:

  • Safety - Homeowners with children often opt for acrylic cabinet doors as a safer alternative to glass.
  • Cost - Acrylic inserts are also popular with DIY kitchen cabinet glass door projects, as they are typically cheaper than real glass.

Additionally, the glass will need routine cleaning and maintenance.

Maintain Your Glass Cabinet Doors

Kitchen cabinets are susceptible to greasy, oily splatters and smudges and smears from hands, especially when near the stove. Glass cabinet doors require frequent cleaning to keep them looking pristine and shiny. Clear flat glass panel doors show every fingerprint. If you have children, textured or frosted glass can help mask fingerprints and smudges.

Glass Front Cabinet Styles