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What’s the Difference Between Cupboards and Cabinets?​

by Gary Wade • May 30, 2024

When it comes to organizing a home, storage units play a pivotal role. Two such units that often stir up confusion are cupboards and cabinets. This article offers a comprehensive breakdown of the cupboard vs cabinet conundrum, addressing their definitions, uses, types, and distinct characteristics.

Cabinet vs. Cupboard

An Overview: Cupboard vs Cabinet

Before diving into the specific differences between a cupboard and a cabinet, it's essential to understand that both serve similar purposes, and hence, are often used interchangeably. Whether in urban dwellings or rural settings, both these units offer vital storage solutions. However, it's the subtle variations in their design and functionality that sets them apart.

Defining a Cabinet

A cabinet serves as a versatile piece of storage furniture. It typically comes equipped with one or more doors, and inside, you'd usually find shelves, drawers, or other storage compartments. Cabinets are predominantly made of wood, but materials like metal and plastic are also common.

Cabinets are a common sight in kitchens and bathrooms, but their utility isn't confined to these spaces. The right cabinet, selected based on its size, style, and function, can enhance the storage capacity of any room.

Difference Between Cabinet vs. Cupboard

Cabinet Varieties

Cabinets can be broadly classified into three categories: stock, semi-custom, and custom. Each type offers unique advantages and is best suited to specific requirements based on design preference and budget.

  1. Stock Cabinets: These are ready-made, cost-effective options available in standard sizes and limited style varieties.
  2. Semi-Custom Cabinets: These provide more flexibility in terms of design, finish, and size than stock cabinets.
  3. Custom Cabinets: These are the most flexible option, offering a plethora of choices in wood species, finishes, construction platforms, and modifications.

Custom cabinets can further be divided into:

  • Base Cabinets: Also known as floor cabinets, these are robust and durable, often serving as a foundation for heavy countertops.
  • High Cabinets: Also referred to as wall-mounted cabinets, these are affixed to the wall, adding aesthetic value and functional storage to any room.
  • Tall Cabinets: These are often termed as pantry or utility cabinets, offering ample storage space and a visually appealing vertical look.
  • Cabinet Doors & Drawers: These elements significantly influence the overall look of a renovated space, allowing you to flaunt your unique style.

Cabinet vs. Cupboard Differences

Understanding a Cupboard

Just like a cabinet, a cupboard is a storage furniture piece with shelves or drawers for storing various items. The term 'cupboard' itself is quite descriptive, indicating a board for storing cups or similar items.

Traditionally, cupboards are made of wood, but modern-day versions can also be found in plastic or metal. They may come with doors to protect the stored items from dust and dirt. Cupboards are a common feature in kitchens, bedrooms, and bathrooms, providing ample storage space.

Different Types of Cupboards

Cupboards come in various forms, each designed to cater to specific storage needs:

  1. Airing Cupboard: This is used to store heating system components like boilers and heaters. Its design facilitates easy heat circulation, preventing dampness.
  2. Built-In Cupboard: This is a fixed storage unit, integrated into the room's design.
  3. Linen Cupboard: These are designated spaces for storing linens like towels, sheets, and tablecloths.

Cabinets or Cupboards

Cupboard vs Cabinet: Spotting the Differences

While both cupboards and cabinets serve as storage units, they have distinct characteristics that set them apart.


A cabinet is a versatile storage unit, whereas a cupboard is typically used to display items like plates and cups through glass-pane doors. In a kitchen, for instance, pots and pans are often stored in lower cabinet shelves.


Cabinets are often equipped with adjustable shelves and glass doors, whereas cupboards tend to have fixed shelves.


Historically, cabinets were made from rare, exotic woods and metals, often featuring intricate designs. Cupboards, on the other hand, were made from more affordable materials and had simpler designs.

Cabinet vs Closet

While both cabinets and closets serve as storage spaces, they differ significantly in their structure and purpose. Cabinets are typically furniture pieces or built into walls, while a closet is more like a small room built into a house. Cabinets are versatile, housing items like food, cutlery, personal items, medicines, and grooming tools. Closets, on the other hand, are primarily used for storing clothes, shoes, brooms, and umbrellas.

Cabinets vs. Cupboards

Expert Advice for Selecting the Right Storage Unit

It's clear that while cabinets and cupboards may have overlapping functions, their construction and primary uses differ. Cabinets offer versatile storage solutions, while cupboards are often used for displaying items.

Both are integral to setting up a functional and aesthetically pleasing space. Cabinets with lockable sections and drawers can provide added security. If you're unsure about what to choose or need design inspiration, it's always a good idea to consult an expert cabinet/cupboard designer.

At Kitchen Cabinet Depot, we offer an extensive range of kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities, designed to cater to diverse needs and style preferences. With our friendly, informative, and trustworthy approach, we aim to provide comprehensive information and assistance to our customers, transforming their living spaces into functional, beautiful havens.

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