All About Our Ready To Assemble Cabinets

Gray kitchen with white marble countertop greige cabinets and butcher block island. Off white subway tile backsplash and white plaster range hood

We bought our home in August 2021 and expected it to be a project. The plan was to DIY renovate everything on a budget. This meant no new kitchen cabinets for our kitchen renovation! The counters were laminate – easy to pry off without damaging the cabinets beneath. Then we’d sand, prime and paint these perfectly fine (albeit dated) cabinets. Well as a DIYer it pains me to admit… I did not roll with this plan. Enter ready to assemble cabinets!

If you want to skip straight to the link to my cabinets, find them here!

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Why I Chose Not to Reface My Kitchen Cabinets

Previous cabinets, halfway through my refacing attempt

Too Many Hours

I went as far as stripping and sanding a few doors before realizing what a gigantic project it would be. The crevices of the doors were impossible to get into. I know, I know, DIYers need to be okay with forfeiting a bunch of time. But time is a currency too and I just wasn’t doing this fast enough. It wouldn’t be worth it.

Bad Timing

It was Fall. It would be below freezing by the time I got to the end and then the paint wouldn’t cure properly… unless I brought the project inside. Plus, we had 100 other projects lined up to make our home more liveable for our then-2-year-old.

Wrong Style

Just testing paint colors here. You can see the extra frame/lip inside the stiles.

The style of the door was shaker, but with an inside frame (see photo). This I could live with, but it wasn’t ideal, and that’s also what made it so tricky to sand.

There Was Another Option…

I wouldn’t have given-up on this project without a back-up plan, and it turns out there was a good one. For new cabinets you can choose:

  • Custom
  • Prefabricated
  • Ready-to-assemble (RTA)

And I chose ready-to-assemble!

About Ready To Assemble (RTA) Cabinets

The end of 2021 was a bad time for those unable to DIY their renovations. Contractor prices were high, waiting periods were long, and materials were in shortage. Were? Are?

I visited a local kitchen remodeling company for a quote. It was hilarious. The I went to Lowes and Home Depot to check out the cabinets they sell off the shelf. I love these stores, but the cabinets were not quality enough for a kitchen.

I thought.. Custom is definitely too expensive. Let’s check online for more quality prefabricated options. I came across a few sites with really pretty ready-to-assemble cabinet options!

Sample of options while browsing thertastore.com

I was surprised I’d never heard of this before! There were so many sizing options, and offered drawers, cabinets, above-fridge, you name it! There was even a microwave cabinet (the future subject of much debate). Many had quick-ship available too.

I had my kitchen’s footprint in mind, but if that gives you a headache, don’t fret! All of these sites offer “free room design”. I ended up choosing the Stone Shaker line from theRTAstore.com. They arrived in 2 weeks – a massive barrage of flat-packed boxes.

Now The Hard Part

Okay, one cool thing about these RTA online stores is that they have preassembled options too. Still a good deal compared to custom, but pricier than RTA. Keep this in mind if you want less DIY work.

ready to assemble gray shaker cabinets partially assembled
This took a while, but we were so impressed by the quality!

Putting these together took no great skill or know-how but it was time-consuming. Still, less time than refacing the old cabinets would have been. Plus, we could complete the project inside the house.

We were really surprised by the high quality. They are heavy and sturdy, all the drawers and doors are soft-close, and the drawers have dovetail joints, which were pretty fun to tap into place. Not too shabby!

Can you believe we were actually living in the house during this time?!

All the cabinets you see here cost us $4300 in total, less than half the cost of custom cabinets of the same size. It requires extra time, but the assembly wasn’t too difficult.

Now installing them is a different story. If you want to hire a handyman for something, hire them for the installation. The uppers just take some measuring and two strong people. The lowers take a lot of measuring, a laser level, and trial and error. Our countertop installer had to come back twice because the lower cabinets weren’t level enough, but we got there in the end!

Most Asked Question: “What Color Are Your Cabinets?”

The color is custom by Sherwin Williams, and the manufacturer will give you an account number to request at any SW store. However, I couldn’t figure out how to convert SW paint can labels to an RBG code! It looked very similar to SW Repose Gray to me. Check out my video on the color comparison. While it’s not an exact match, its pretty darn close.

One Year Later

I’m still happy my my choice. The paint finish is something I don’t think I would have been able to achieve myself, even with the world’s best sprayer. I’m loving the soft close drawers and doors too. I highly recommend this method for a partial DIY kitchen renovation if you have it in you. Look at the end result! Isn’t she pretty?

The result!

2 thoughts on “All About Our Ready To Assemble Cabinets”

  1. What is your opinion of the RTA kitchen cabinets after using them for some time? Are they sturdy? Drawers glide smoothly? Doors cliose smoothly? Shelves laminate or wood? All comments appreciated. Where did you purchase your brand?

    • Hi Shirley,
      I’ve had them for about a year and a half and am still happy with them! Everything glides and closes smoothly. The shelves are laminate finish, but finished very nicely. My one complaint is that some of my drawers (that I use for utensils and “junk drawer”) are kind of shallow. It could just be the ones I chose, but double check the specifications compared to what you’re used to before ordering! I ordered from theRTAstore.com but there are quite a few RTA sites out there. Good luck!

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