24/07/2023  •  , ,

Modular Kitchens vs. Custom Kitchens

Estimated Read Time: 5 Minutes 

Whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly option or are finally ready to create your personalized dream home, there’s a style of kitchen for you.


Kitchens come in many different shapes, styles, designs, and price points. Two popular kitchen options are modular or custom


Both have unique characteristics and offer different benefits depending on the homeowners’ style preferences, lifestyle, and budget. 


At Deslaurier, we have over 40 years of experience providing custom cabinets and kitchen design services to our customers. In that time, we’ve incorporated our custom cabinets into thousands of homes, ensuring our clients get the personalized kitchen of their dreams.


Of course, we also understand that custom cabinets aren’t the solution for everyone. 


In this article, we will delve into the features of modular kitchens and custom kitchens, comparing their design and layout flexibility, cost implications, and installation processes. 


Let’s get started! 

Table of Contents

What is Modular Kitchen Design?

What is Custom Kitchen Design? 


Design Selection

Layout Flexibility


What’s Right For You?

Design with Deslaurier Custom Cabinets 

Modular Kitchens 

A modular kitchen is a type of kitchen design that is made up of pre-manufactured units or modules. These units can be assembled in a variety of configurations to create a customized kitchen interior design. 


Modular kitchens offer a range of designs and configurations, providing flexibility in terms of layout and functionality. They are typically produced in factories and then assembled on-site.


They include cabinets, countertops, and appliances. Appliances such as ovens, ranges, and refrigerators can also be included in modular kitchen designs.


These components are designed to fit together in a modular fashion, allowing for easy installation and customization. 


Modular kitchens are well-suited for standard shapes and layouts, such as straight, L-shaped, U-shaped, and galley kitchens, as they are designed to fit seamlessly within these common configurations.


Custom Kitchens


Custom kitchens are designed and built according to the specific requirements and preferences of the homeowner. 


These kitchens are typically crafted by professional kitchen designers and contractors who work closely with the clients every step of the way to create a unique and personalized space from top to bottom. 


Custom kitchens offer limitless design options, allowing for precise customization of materials, finishes, layouts, and features. 


They are usually built on-site during new builds or full-fledged remodels, taking into consideration the existing space and unique architectural elements of the home.

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The Cabinets

Cabinets play a major role in any style of kitchen. They set the tone for the aesthetic style and overall functionality of your kitchen design. 

As such, they’re also a key differentiator when comparing modular and custom kitchens. 


What are Modular Kitchen Cabinets?

Modular kitchens are often based around the “modules” of cabinets. 


Modular kitchen cabinets are pre-made units (modules) that come in a range of standard sizes, styles, finishes, and accessories. These cabinets are designed to be easily mixed and matched to create a customized kitchen layout


Not to be confused with stock or semi-custom cabinetry. Although modular cabinets, depending on their manufacturer, are typically closer to semi-custom than they are standard, run-of-the-mill stock cabinetry.


The modular nature of these cabinets allows homeowners to choose from various components, such as base cabinets, wall cabinets, pantry units, and specialized storage options, to fit their specific needs.


Think of them as the LEGO or building blocks of kitchen cabinetry. 


What are Custom Cabinets? 

As the name suggests, custom cabinetry is custom-built to meet your exact specifications, whatever they may be. 


Custom cabinets are made to fit your kitchen precisely, maximizing the use of space and providing a seamless look. Irregular or unique kitchen layouts are better suited for custom cabinets since they can be designed to accommodate any physical challenges or constraints.


When you’re shopping custom, you truly do start with a blank canvas. 


Everything, including cabinet materials, size, construction, colour, and finish (paints and stains and custom colour matches) can be adjusted to suit your taste. Suddenly, oddly shaped corners and exceptionally tall ceilings are a breeze to work around.


Because custom cabinets are designed and built to order on a case-by-case basis, they usually come with the longest lead times. However, since custom kitchen designs are a lengthy process, the long lead times aren’t typically an issue for most projects.


Design Choices

Modular kitchens often come in pre-determined styles and designs, offering a range of options to choose from. 


While you do have plenty of different selections to choose from, you don’t have the same opportunity for personalization every step of the way. 


On the other hand, custom kitchens provide complete freedom to create a unique style and design that perfectly matches the homeowner's vision and aesthetic preferences.


As their name suggests, custom kitchens offer a vast amount of design flexibility. They can essentially be a “blank slate” when you start your design process. 


Every element can be personalized to the homeowner's desire, ranging from cabinets and countertops to lighting and plumbing fixtures.


Ultimately, how custom you go is up to each individual client. 

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Layout Flexibility


Modular kitchens are designed to fit standardized modules, which limits the flexibility to modify the layout or dimensions significantly. 


Custom kitchens, however, offer greater flexibility, allowing for the creation of unique and tailored solutions that maximize the available space and cater to specific needs. This can result in an elongated process, requiring additional plumbing, electrical and other roughing work to be completed. 


Particularly when working with layout challenges like large bulkheads, troublesome corners, or unique ways to extend your cabinetry to the ceiling. Custom kitchens take every inch of space into account to create a perfectly made-to-fit final product. 




When it comes to installation, modular kitchens are a much quicker and easier process. 


Modular kitchens are typically easier to install than traditional kitchens because they are pre-fabricated and can be easily assembled on-site. This can also make it easier to relocate or move the kitchen if necessary.


For custom kitchens, it’s a far more elongated process from installation to completion. 


There’s often a lot of additional millwork involved in custom kitchens. Things like crown moulding, toe-kick, and other decorative trim are cut and installed on-site to perfectly fit the required specifications. 

Not to mention something like the kitchen countertop surfaces. 


Countertop fabricators will take their measurements after your cabinets are installed. Then, they fabricate the countertop to the specific dimensions at their shop before bringing it for installation. Depending on their timeline, this process will typically take a couple of weeks. 



Lastly, the driving force behind almost all home-improvement choices: cost. 


In general, modular kitchens are more cost-effective compared to custom kitchens


Since modular units are mass-produced, they benefit from economies of scale, making them relatively affordable. 


The fact that they can be easily installed and require less custom carpentry work also decreases the total expenses of a modular kitchen design.


On the other hand, custom kitchens have a number of factors that heighten the overall cost, particularly the inclusion of modified “custom” products to fit your specific kitchen.


The products involve personalized design and craftsmanship, from custom cabinetry selections like door styles and high-end paints and stains to custom fabricated stone countertops and backsplash. 


Not to mention you’ll more often than not be working with a design specialist from start to finish, and the cost of a custom kitchen will be far more than a modular kitchen of the same size. 

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What Kitchen Is Right For You?


Ultimately, the choice between the two depends on factors such as budget, time constraints, desired level of customization, and the importance placed on unique design and style.


If you want a budget-friendly kitchen with a shorter process, a modular kitchen checks all the boxes. They’re cost-effective and easily installable solutions with a range of pre-designed options, 


If you want more personalization and don’t mind the increased costs, custom kitchens are perfect. They offer complete design flexibility, tailor-made to suit specific requirements and personal tastes. 


Each style offers pros and cons depending on your unique needs in a kitchen design. 


Discover Deslaurier Custom Cabinets 

Are you looking for a personalized custom kitchen design to fit your home’s unique needs? You’ve come to the right place! 

If you have your eye on custom cabinetry, Deslaurier Custom Cabinets has everything you need. With over 40 years of experience to our name, we provide our clients with a fully customized design process with our talented team of designers


Book a consultation with a Deslaurier design expert at our Ottawa showroom today! 


Live outside the area? Find a Dealer to connect with near you! Interested in becoming an authorized Deslaurier dealer? Visit our Become a Dealer page to learn more!

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