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Kitchen Renovation - Tips for a New Look using Existing Cabinets

Updated on April 7, 2016

Keep your existing cabinets and update your kitchen

Glass doors display colorful items and break up the expanse of wood
Glass doors display colorful items and break up the expanse of wood

Have you always wanted to update your kitchen but just can't find the time or money for a full kitchen renovation? Outside of your appliances, your cabinets are typically the most expensive part of the room. They can be extremely functional and beautiful to look at - or the exact opposite. Oftentimes, we think we have to replace the whole set of cabinets to get a new look or add usability. But there are many different options to bring new life to your kitchen without breaking the bank. If your cabinets are basically in good shape, think about keeping them and using some of the tips below to give them a facelift.

Door Inserts - With most cabinet doors, it is fairly easy to remove the insert and have glass cut to fit the opening. Take a look at the picture above. Decorative glassware can be displayed behind the glass doors. Besides bringing color to the kitchen with the dinnerware, the expanse of wood is broken up by using a different material.

Remove doors - Similar to using glass inserts, the doors of a couple of cabinets can be removed altogether to reveal open shelving, which, again, can be used to display special pieces of kitchenware or decorative items. The wood used on stained cabinets is typically of a higher quality so that the grain can show through. So keep that in mind when thinking about painting stained cabinets.

Repaint or Stain - Giving your cabinets a whole new color scheme is a great way to make a major change to your kitchen. There are so many colors and options to choose from, you can select something that is totally opposite from your current look. Keep in mind that you can always paint over painted or stained cabinets, but you can't stain over paint.

Flat front kitchen cabinet doors before.
Flat front kitchen cabinet doors before.
Beadboard insert was added to the kitchen doors as well as glass on a couple of the doors.
Beadboard insert was added to the kitchen doors as well as glass on a couple of the doors.

Replace doors - You can also replace all of the cabinet doors with a different style and then paint or stain to match the existing cabinets. In the 2 pictures above, the original flat front doors in this old house had a layer of beadboard added to the front and were then framed out. They're the same doors, just with a different dressing.

Insides - What lies behind the doors is equally as important as the looks of the front. You can have pull out drawers added to cabinets to help organize and access pots and pans or add dividers to store baking sheets so that they are easier to find when you need them.

Hardware - This one is always mentioned but you really can add a whole different look or style by changing out the hardware. Just make sure to measure the length between the screws of any handles you want to replace. If you don't want to create a bigger job by having to fill in existing holes and drill new ones, you will want to look for handles that have the same width between screws as your current handles.

Desk area to the left of stove changes the use of that area
Desk area to the left of stove changes the use of that area

Single section - If most of the layout works well, you might consider only changing a single section. You could remove a set of lower cabinets and replace with a desk area if that is a needed function in your current kitchen. The kitchen in the picture above also added cubby holes for bills or office supplies. The kitchen below added a wine rack in place of a set of upper cabinets. This area is now a great buffet style serving area.

Add cabinets - If your cabinets don't go all the way to the ceiling or are topped by a soffit, you might consider adding a row of cabinets along the top for more storage. You could add glass front doors and open shelving for display space or regular doors to keep those items that are used infrequently.

A wine rack over a set of regular cabinets turned this space into a serving area for entertaining.
A wine rack over a set of regular cabinets turned this space into a serving area for entertaining.

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