what has been people's experience with kraftmaid cabinets? good quality? solid construction? does it feel cheap?
For a really really big company they do a pretty good job. Their quality control is very good, meaning that it highly unlikely that they will screw-up your order or leave some part of the cabinetry unfinished -- something that many other companies higher up the foodchain routinely do...
There are certainly better values, especially if you have a cheap rental type property or a very large kitchen with many optional/add-on type pieces, but for most kitchens that is not a factor. If you have rental property get stuff from Ikea and build total scheduled replacement into your budget, if you have a very complicated kitchen in mind you really ought to talk to one or two custom cabinet builders -- though the time lag can be a hassle, they can do stuff that really make big projects stand out...
The Karftmaid branded cabinets do not feel cheap, but they really don't make cheap cabinets under their own brand. They same firm owns some of the "ready to assemble" cabinet labels that have that "cardboard feel" to 'em. The feel of the Kraftmaid stuff is mostly substantial, especially for the slab front maple cabinets & drawers. My own sister has these in her high-end "soft modern" kitchen and most people are surprised these are 'stock' cabinets. She could have spend thousands more for custom stuff and not gotten anything better.
You can mix and match the all plywood cabinets (which are an upcharge) with the lower cost "engineered wood" without fear of visual mismatch. The all plywood stuff is more solid, especially for end pieces, around water and units that get opened and closed everyday. You can save some money for units that are more filling out a less intensely used part of the kitchen.
I'm going to guess that someone named "renov8r" knows what (s)he is talking about. But it's been my experience that custom cabinets aren't necessarily more expensive than prefab, and the quality and options are better. My sister and BIL redid their kitchen a couple of years ago, and the custom cabinets came in a 2/3 the cost of the line of prefab cabinets they priced. So unless you have a tiny and/or standard kitchen layout, I'd at least talk to a few custom cabinet makers. The cabinets really make or break your kitchen, so you want to make sure you get them right.
I don't know where you are, but you post a lot about Hawaii, and I'm thinking that would add to the cost of prefabs and make custom even more of an option.
We got Kraftmaid for our kitchen about 4-5 years ago. Overall, they have been solid. There was one piece where a sliding drawer support was broken, but our contractor should have caught this. What was helpful was that we downloaded the specifications from their web site and were able to see all the different pieces they had available. We found a retail site that had the cabinets delivered straight from the manufacturer to our house and got a very good price.
We have not had any problem with warping or discoloration and are satisfied with our choice.
Ours is six years old and going strong. At the time it was a compromise, but I don't have any regrets.
da_, So much depends upon accurate measurements of your chosen appliances, sink, and the kitchen itself. (Is your room square or trapazoidal?) We provided deadly accurate measurements to Kraftmaid and they delivered cabinets within 1/32" of perfect. Construction was excellent as was the finish. Watch out for measurement pitfalls. For example, ranges are a different depth than wall ovens. (Who knew?) Sinks can be a concern. I ordered a Kohler apron sink only to find out it shipped motor freight and weighed 150lbs.! (The cabinets had to be re-enforced and the faucet mounted differently than originally planned.) When it comes to a kitchen remodel, the Kraftmaid cabinets won't test your marriage but something will. I guarantee it.
We've been very happy with the KraftMaid cabinets we installed in our new kitchen that is in an entirely new addition to our mid-century modern home in 2005. We get lots of compliments on it as well. You can do what we did, and get knobs and handles appropriate to your style from one of the online places like MyKnobs.com. Since we're slobs, we only got clear glass doors for the center upper cabs where we keep plates and glassware, the rest on the upper cabs were frosted.