Overlay is mostly an aesthetic choice. There are multiple kinds of overlay, and you can associate them with multiple kinds of kitchen designs. When choosing an overlay, you should go through catalogs, look on Pinterest, take pictures of your friends' favorite kitchens, and develop a vision for what vibe and style of kitchen you want. Then, you can choose the overlay that best suits your cabinet.
Types of Overlay
There are multiple types of overlay. If you don't know, overlay is essentially how much the cabinet doors cover the cabinetry around it. So most of the types of overlay are self-explanatory, but there is more detail below.
Full overlay doors leave almost no space, meaning that the cabinet door almost completely cover the cabinets. There will be only a quarter inch or so between the doors. This leads to completely covered cabinets. These cabinets are a fairly traditional look. You often see it in beautiful wood cabinetry. This kind of overlay is beautiful and give the cabinets a custom look. Full overlay cabinets require door handles because they would be difficult to open otherwise.
Partial overlay cabinetry is just what it sounds like – the doors only partially cover the cabinetry. There is often one or more inches of space between the doors. This style does not require hardware and is easy to install. These are fairly traditional looks as well and are cheaper than full overlay cabinets.
These doors are fully inset, with no covering of the cabinet face. These doors require a special kind of hinge to install. They are often made with flat, laminate cabinet doors – they are often used in hospitals and other places where easy-to-clean cabinetry is important. These kinds of cabinets can be made with other kinds of doors too, though, and create a much more modern feel than other kinds of overlay. They are often used in minimalist style kitchens or in homes that need a push into the modern century. Don't think these doors have to be flat or boring though – zero overlay doors can still have beading or other features. These doors need hardware as well in order to be able to properly open.