The Secret to Getting the Look of Wood Cabinetry Without Breaking the Bank

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It’s no secret that the kitchen is one of the most active spaces in a home. It’s where we cook, enjoy a few meals a day, try our hand at baking and deal with tidying up the aftermath of the day’s work. With all this in mind, it’s great to have a space that is both stylish and functional—because as much as we love a pretty space, ultimately designing a great kitchen is about figuring out how to protect appliances and surfaces from constant wear and tear.

Melamine has been around since the 1930s—the synthetic material is made from wood, resin and paper all combined under intense pressure—but hasn’t always gotten much respect. For years, you could spot the difference between melamine and real wood from a mile away. Things have changed over the past few decades, though:  according to Sandra Mendes, senior designer at AyA Kitchens, recent technology has helped make synthetic materials like Melamine look even more realistic… which means that it’s more appealing that ever to incorporate this durable material (which is also highly sustainable and less expensive than wood) into your space.

So if you’ve always wanted that wood look, but have been have been scared off by the price tag, melamine might be a suitable alternative. Feeling melamine-curious? We’ve got some tips from Mendes on how to incorporate the versatile material during your next kitchen makeover.

1. Accents
Photo Credit: AyA Kitchens

“Melamine works great as an accent. Think floating shelves, open cabinets or kitchen islands,” says Mendes. “Its durability makes it perfect for the hustle and bustle of this space, so don’t be afraid of small nicks and scratches.”

2. Keep it Hidden
Photo Credit: AyA Kitchens

“Melamine also works perfectly as a hidden accent,” Mendes explains. “Pro tip: Using melamine for cabinet interiors creates a delightful surprise when the cabinets are opened.”

3. Wood Tones
Photo Credit: AyA Kitchens

“Pair light wood tones with darker solid colours—like graphite or dark grey—for added drama.”

4. Dark Tones
Photo Credit: AyA Kitchens

“Alternatively, pairing dark wood tones with white creates a clean, modern look. Opt for dark wood cabinets to create a kitchen that is chic and contemporary.”

5. Wall Paneling
wood-cabinetsPhoto Credit: AyA Kitchens

“If you prefer a different style kitchen to the typical modern look,” Mendes says, “Use melamine on wall paneling to create a traditional, cozy kitchen space.”