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How to Update Kitchen Cabinets Without Replacing Them

carpenter installing hinges in a cabinet

If you’re looking to revitalize your kitchen cabinets without having to completely replace them, you can:

Let’s go over each option in more detail.

Want to update your kitchen cabinets? Contact us online or call (480) 641-9611 and we’ll send one of our cabinet experts to your home to give you a free, no-obligation quote to update the look and feel of your kitchen cabinets.

Refinish or reface the cabinets

If you’re ready to change the color of your kitchen cabinets, a professional can offer you 2 options:

  • Cabinet refinishing: With a cabinet refinishing, the professional will remove the existing finish from your cabinet boxes, drawers, and drawer fronts. Then, they’ll apply the new finish of your choosing.
  • Cabinet refacing: A cabinet refacing includes everything in a refinishing, except you also get brand new doors and drawer fronts. At Cabinet Coatings, we’ll give you doors and drawer fronts made of solid hardwood, instead of cheap plywood or particle board ones that other companies might use.

Thinking about just repainting the cabinets? That can be an economical way to give cabinets a fresh look, but if you can foot the additional cost, we’d suggest refacing over repainting cabinets for a longer-lasting, lower-maintenance cabinet finish.

Replace the hardware

You’d be surprised how much new cabinet pulls can update the look of your cabinets.

Replacing the cabinet knobs and handles is a relatively cheap and easy upgrade, since most pulls screw into the door or drawer front.

To make sure you’re replacing the pulls with ones of the same size, you can take one of each kind of pull into a home improvement store. They can help you find replacements of the same size.

If you’d like to measure the handles and knobs yourself, learn how to do so in our blog “How to Measure Kitchen Cabinets.”

In addition to upgrading cabinet pulls, you can also install hardware like:

  • Soft-close door hinges and drawer tracks, which also help extend the life of your cabinets (no more forceful slamming)
  • Pull-out shelves, toe-kicks and racks to better organize and maximize the space within your cabinets
  • Lazy Susans to make corner cabinets easier to access

Fill space above your existing cabinets

Most builder cabinets are installed with space between the upper cabinets and the ceiling.

To give your cabinets a truly custom look, have a professional install above your existing upper cabinets either:

  • Ceiling cabinets. These cabinets are smaller than your existing upper cabinets. For added texture and contrast, install cabinets that have inserts different from the rest of your cabinets. Popular inserts for ceiling cabinets are beadboard, glass or wire mesh.
  • Crown molding. This is a decorative trim that closes the gap between your upper cabinets and the ceiling. Whether the molding is the same color as the ceiling or the cabinets, or a contrasting color, it makes your kitchen look taller and more refined.

Our experts at Cabinet Coatings can remodel your kitchen to add crown molding or ceiling cabinets that harmonize with your existing cabinets for a refreshed, customized kitchen.

Remove cabinet doors

Open shelving has become a popular trend for kitchen cabinets. If you don’t want to go for a complete remodel to install minimalist shelves, you can achieve a similar look by removing the doors on your existing cabinets.

Worried about exposing clutter? Try removing the doors on just a couple of cabinets. This will allow you to experiment with using your dishes and glassware as decor to achieve the open yet functional look.

A few tips when removing cabinet doors for open shelving:

  • Patch any screw holes from hinges. Since the cabinet frames will be exposed, you’ll want them to look clean and finished. Patch screw holes and make sure to apply the same finish to match the rest of the cabinet boxes.
  • Finish the insides of the cabinets. If your cabinet backs and shelving are unfinished, or are finished but looking a little dingy, don’t leave them that way. Finish the cabinet insides to match the outside of the boxes, or finish them a different color or with wallpaper to help the cabinets stand out.

Install under-cabinet lighting

Lighting installed beneath the cabinets is a great way to add ambience to your kitchen.

You can choose between 3 types of under cabinet lighting:

  • Strip lights (linear lights) are long, narrow boxes of bulbs that work well under long lengths of cabinets.
  • Puck lights are sets of usually 3 or 6 small, thin discs. These are good for small spaces.
  • Rope lights (tape lights) are very thin, flexible strips of LED lights that are great for adding a variety of lighting colors to long stretches of cabinets.

Depending on the cabinet lighting you choose, the lights can be:

  • Warm white (appearing more yellow), cool white (looking more blue) or just about any color you want
  • Powered by batteries or an electrical outlet
  • Controlled via an electrical switch, remote control, or smartphone app

You can also have a professional install integrated lighting, which is built into (instead of adhered under) your cabinets for seamless, customized lighting.

Ready to update your kitchen cabinets?

Contact us online or at (480) 641-9611 to schedule an appointment. One of our cabinet experts will give you a free, no-obligation consultation to update your existing kitchen cabinets. We’ll work with your tastes and budget to help you refresh the look of your kitchen.

Tim Statezny