replacing kitchen cabinets: HomeDepot? Web Order? Small Store?

I am sure this has been discussed a million times, so many times in fact that it is mind boggling... so I'll try a simpler approach and ask in a consolidated message.
I just finishing installing 2600sq/ft of hardwood floors in our house and it is time to replace the kitchen cabinets (I removed them in order to install floor underneath and now have them as modular units on upside-down rug with cut counter pieces...)
1. We are replacing our cheap 20 y/o kitchen cabinets.
2. I know kitchen remodels can yield some huge profit margins so I don't want to get shafted but I am willing to yield the manufacturer and retailers an acceptable profit - everyone needs to eat and pay mortgages.
3. We want to get decent quality (kraftmaid, etc) at good value. Not looking for best of the best type of stuff, but something that will look good and feel good and last 20 years.
4. I will be doing the cabinet installation myself
5. We are looking to spend around $3-4k for wall/floor cabinets for a 10'x9' L shaped kitchen with a 5'x5' island in the middle (open floor concept)
What are the benefits/disadvantages of doing these:
A) Go to HomeDepot, do the drawings in their computers, and order through them.
B) Go to online retailer (like buycabinets.com) and order through them
C) Go to small kitchen remodel store and order throught them
I know HD is a large corporation and that has some benefits. But I'd like to hear what you think and why...
Thanks!!!!!
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On 17-Jul-2005, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I recently bought kitchen cabinets through home depot. I did installation myself, though they arranged countertop install.
Plus side
1) kitchen designer was generally knowledgeable though missed on some major points 2) cabinets are beautiful (American Woodmark Charlottesville in Natural Maple) 3) cabinets are of fairly high quality, the drawers all work well, doors are square etc. 4) additional mouldings were quick to arrive.
Minus side 1) backordered cabinets severely crimped installation schedule and forced multiple reschedules of countertop people
2) kitchen designer recommended (and sold me) crown moulding and pilaster moulding that simply did not work together with ceiling height cabinets. I was assured by her at design time it would all work. Crown forced doors down below bottom of face frames so pilaster was unusable. I ended up eating the pilaster as it's all custom order. I should have known better but so should have she.
3) Design as done would not have worked because designer neglected the minimum countertop overhang. This didn't show up until after all the cabinets were up and the countertop templater arrived. Fortunately I had 1.5 inches over and above the drawings on that wall so I dodged a big bullet. I did have to move a base cabinet over 1/4 inch while he was there and now the refrigerator just fits into its space. I consider this point to be a non-starter for me ever using them again. Fixing this w/o that extra 1.5 inches would of been fairly difficult at that point.
4) Their hardwood mouldings for this series of cabinets is very expensive and really unnecessary except for the highest quality installs. It was also very difficult to install compared with pine moulding. So unless you feel it's not good enough I would recommend going with clear pine or finger joint pine moulding depending whether you want to stain or paint it.
Point 3 is the kicker for me. I'm not saying that home depot is unusable but if you do use them go over the design with a very fine tooth comb. Don't rely on the kitchen designer to have verified all the details. Especially when you are doing the install yourself.
good luck ml
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We got the basic "Mill's Pride" kitchen cabinets (maple finish) through HD, but they misread their own drawings and ordered a counter top that was 2 1/2" too short. It took a week or two to get it replaced at HD's expense (quicker than the original), but we got to keep the old one and cut it into sections to make tops for cabinets in other rooms.
The cabinets were easy to assemble and install and were still doing well when we moved a couple of years later.
Perce
On 07/17/05 01:23 pm snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com tossed the following ingredients into the ever-growing pot of cybersoup:

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The other posts are pretty accurate: HD designers are inexperienced. If you want to use them because of cost, be sure you buy one of the kitchen design software packages and check all the dimensions yourself. Go over any discrepancies before you order. In fact, you can send the design to the cabinet manufacturer's customer support, and they can adjust as necessary. They're happy to provide this service.
I have purchased cabs on-line, and do not recommend it. Although HD backorder can be difficult, there's no shipping costs for returns. If you have a finish problem with one of the doors, or it's warped or not square, you'll have to pay the return shipping. It's not cheap.
Rock
On 17 Jul 2005 10:23:34 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

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You might be able to do the regular wall/base cabs for that, I doubt you'll be able to include the island for under $4K, not with Kraftmaid any way...
I went through Lowes for our kitchen remodel. I have ~16' of base and ~16' of wall cabinets in a "modified" U shape (U with sink, peninsula and counters; range/MW/fridge and two base cabs opposite the U).
We went with the Shenadoah line (Hickory Grove, in natural w/cathedral doors on wall cabs, square panels on the bases, standard overlay). Pretty standard cabs with the exception of an "easy reach" corner wall unit ($284) and an upgraded "Super Susan" lazy susan unit ($453) for the corner base, with only one 4 drawer base ($350). The original cabs were hung from a soffit so our cabs are not to the ceiling. The sink base (36") was offered as "free", about $300 off as I recall.
After adding trims, filler pieces and skins for the exposed side of the peninsula and kicks, and an end shelf (wall) unit, (no drawer or door pull hardware included) it came out just over $4200 (w/5% tax & shipping). About another $1200 for counters and a couple of hundred for full counter to cabinet tile splash. U counter is laminate w/rolled "no spill" front edge, 4" rolled cove edge at the wall edge, 37" width for the peninsula counter with simple rolled edge on the back side. We bought solid granite for the two counters flanking the range from a local place that had remanants.
I had very few issues with the cabs, nothing I couldn't work through on the install. Finish is great and the "lively" grain of the hickory is absoulutely beautiful. Full slide out, all wood dovetailed drawers, plywood sides blah, blah, blah... (BTW, that hickory is only about one step softer than petrified wood, it's some tough stuff, bring your sharp drill bits)
I ended up working with two different people at Lowes, one for the initial layout then when we went back to order w/changes we had another fellow, who happened to be a retired general contractor.
Both were very good at what they were doing. The software did it's job very well also. The manufacturer offers the ability to track your cabinets as they proceeded through the building/shipping/delivery pipeline.
I think it is a mistake to paint with such a wide brush to say HD, or Lowes or Big Bills Box Store is "no good" or "they don't know what they are doing." I hear that all the time and all I can say is that is must be a local/regional thing. I've had nothing but good experiences in our local HD and Lowes (SW Idaho).
When I went in to choose/purchase the sink and faucet at Lowes, I had a guy helping me. After I picked out the sink/faucet, the guy marched me through the plumbing dept, pointing out all the other items I would need during installation, explaining the choices/features/benefits of each item. Although I'm experienced enough to know what I needed, it was nice to have him show me exactly where it was and point out some options. Almost without exception, I've found helpful, expereinced and knowledgable sales people at Lowes. The one time I stumped the guy in the tool dept was when I asked if they had any reverse drill bits, he'd never heard of them before...
YMMV
<snip>

Good luck, have fun, plan on $pending well over what you think you will. <G>
DJ
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The kitchen that HD designed for our old house was fine, but they misread their own (computer-generated) drawing and ordered a counter top the wrong size; I admit that the labeling of the drawing was confusing. They ate the cost of a new one (~$600) and we got to keep the wrong-size one as well, sections of which made great counter tops for cabinets in other rooms.
The cabinets were "Mill's Pride" (one of HD's cheaper lines) and were still in fine shape when we moved a couple of years later.
Perce
On 09/01/05 01:26 pm Rock tossed the following ingredients into the ever-growing pot of cybersoup:

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