DESIGN - Light / Dark /Color & Perceived Size
Somewhere in the evolution / development of a design the color of the wood and the finish comes up. They will affect what people perceive when they see the piece. So here are some examples of light and dark. Ignore the example cabinet's shortcomings, they were done for a thread on design in alt.binaries.pictures.furniture a while back and were available for this page.
In this example there's basically a frame structure and "the cabinet". What if I went with contrasting woods, one dark and one lighter - maybe walnut or mahogany and alder, beech or perhaps maple. Turns out that this decision point could affect the visual, as opposed to the actual, size of the piece. I did the cabinet idea in PhotoShop because it allowed manipulation of the image - change proportions and "color". Tried a dark frame with a dark cabinet, a light frame and a dark cabinet etc..I liked the dark frame / light cabinet because a) it focused attention on the cabinet and b) it seemed solid but the cabinet seemed lighter in weight not just color. That would be examined next.
Cabinet #2 seems wider than cabinets #1 and #3. Cabinet #3 may seem taller than #1 and #2 while cabinet #4 on the right seems taller and wider than the other three. #1 has a dark "frame" and dark center. #2 has a light frame and a dark center - the light frame making it appear wider. #3 has a dark frame and a light middle, making it look narrower and the center pop out a little. #4 has a light frame and a light center and appears taller and a little wider than the other 3 examples. Light things seem closer and bigger than dark things.
OK - now add color. #2's center seems too dark. #3 seems to loud with too much red. #1 and #4 don't make you squint your eyes, either to see what's in the dark area or to avoid the red. So color must be a factor in the design process. Though I initially liked the idea of a dark frame and a light cabinet, I liked the light/light combination better once color was added. It would make the whole piece appear larger but IMHO it seemed to work, at least to my eye.
It was time to go look at wood. I had some stuff the lumber yard guy called Mexican Maple which looked more like mahogany, but not quite. There'd be more than enough to do the cabinet and a shelf or two. It's a little redder than shown in the Orange Brown Inside & Outside shown above but should work. And I had enough maple for the "frame", or I could use some ash I had. So once again, the design changed. As long as I was changing things I decided to get rid of the "slab" handles which I'm sure you decided early on just had to go. Sinple cut in pulls would be much better - sort of blend in with things.
The decision to go with carved in pulls on the doors meant a) widening the center stiles and thickening both the rails and stiles. They'd look the same from outside so that wasn't going to change what the piece looked like muchl.