How To Update Kitchen Cabinets without Refinishing

Photo of kitchen cabinets

Sometimes an aging kitchen just needs to accentuate its inherent charm. If you just purchased a new home with an older kitchen or you want to make the kitchen you've been living with a little more charming and colorful, you can do it without replacing the cabinets or getting bogged down in striping and refinishing. Here are some suggestions on how to love what you have, and have what you love.

Step 1

Vintage Facelift
An older kitchen with all white cabinets and old-fashioned black and white wall and counter tile can speak about the past with retro charm. Brighten up the scheme with cheery yellow wall paint. If you're lucky enough to have curved corner shelves, outline the edge in a perky blue. Hang blue and white check curtains over the sink and add an open shelve above, also trimmed out in blue, to display vases, vintage cookie or coffee tins, candlesticks or whatever collectibles you like. Keep the color going with brightly patterned ceramic canisters on the counter. Add a spice rack or wooden shelf painted in blue on a bare wall to add a pop of color and a little extra storage. Whether you want to add roosters, cherries or Tuscan accents and sunflowers, this color scheme will work with a myriad of themes.

Step 2

Easy Fixes

  • When cabinets must have a facelift, it's much easier to paint than to strip and refinish. To paint cabinets, you just need to lightly sand the existing surface. It's easiest if you remove doors and drawers, remove all hardware and work on a flat surface. A roller makes the work go faster.
  • Replace old cabinet fronts with glass for a quick facelift. Paint the interiors a deep shade that will contrast nicely with your collectibles so they stand out.
  • Change hardware on your cabinetry for a quick and easy update. This little stylistic change can inspire a whole new look and color scheme that you can continue throughout the room with changes in wall art, curtains, chair cushions and accessories. Glass knobs add a little sparkle to a dull kitchen.
  • Try a new backsplash to brighten things up. Green and white tiles add cheer to a dark kitchen. Make a backsplash out of mirrors to open up the space and reflect light. A glass store can cut mirrors for a perfect fit.
  • Replace upper cabinets with open shelving. Shelving is much cheaper than new cabinets and you can paint them or choose hardware, like elegantly scrolled wrought iron brackets, to tie in with a theme. Open plate racks and storage let you introduce color and charm into a kitchen while also opening up the space. Hang cups or cooking utensils below the shelving for convenience and decorative appeal.

Before rushing to replace or refinish cabinets look for other ways to bring color and brightness to the kitchen. Bright accessories, wall paint, cheerful window treatments, stylish wall art, collectibles arranged on the top of upper cabinets, and improved lighting can all make a big difference.

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