Kitchen cabinet upgrades can add functionality and style without breaking the bank. With these designer-approved upgrades, a basic builder-grade kitchen can become something truly custom.

1. Paint Cabinets

Painting your cabinets can be an easy, cost-effective way to transform their appearance quickly. Choose a trendy hue or opt for timeless classics to elevate their appeal.


Refacing is the most extensive and expensive of these kitchen cabinet upgrade options, yet can have the biggest impact. A company will remove and reinstall new door and drawer fronts made of wood veneer or rigid thermofoil (RTF), a melamine-based product.

Reusing hardware is also an economical solution that gives your kitchen an authentic custom feel, adding value when the time comes for sale. When choosing this route, look at ways in which existing knobs and pulls may suit the new aesthetic of refaced cabinets; otherwise purchasing all-new knobs and pulls may cost too much money. Refaced cabinet refacing offers another opportunity for saving money while giving builder-grade kitchens a custom makeover and increasing home values when selling your home in the future.

Replacing Hardware

Refurbishing cabinet hardware can give your kitchen an immediate facelift; whether the old hardware is an eyesore or simply no longer meets your family’s needs, replacing knobs and handles is sure to give the area a dramatic makeover.

When selecting new hardware, keep functionality and style in mind when making a selection. “Kitchens can be hardworking spaces,” Eldredge advises, so look for durable pieces that can withstand daily use – avoid bulky knobs that pinch fingers or contain sharp edges that could hurt you if they come into contact.

If you need to drill new holes, attempt to match the color of the wood grain as closely as possible by using wood putty.

Removing the Doors

Cabinets without doors aren’t necessary for creating an eye-catching kitchen, but simply taking off their doors will provide instantaneous transformation.

Painting cabinets is another quick and simple DIY project that can drastically transform the look of your kitchen. Choose a trendy color or go with classic white or gray for timeless charm.

Louvered, mullion or chalkboard doors can add an eye-catching element to your kitchen. Not only can these accent doors add visual interest but they’re also great at reinforcing specific design styles; paint one recessed panel door in buffalo check for an easy farmhouse-inspired aesthetic!

Open Shelving

One increasingly trendy trend in kitchen remodeling is swapping upper cabinets for open shelving, giving your kitchen an airier, modern aesthetic while making items easy to access. Though more work intensive than simply switching hardware (you’ll have to replace hinges, fill and sand holes in walls etc), open shelving makes an affordable and dramatic difference when updating kitchen cabinetry.

This update can also bring new life to an otherwise disjointed area without sacrificing storage space. Simply arrange the shelves carefully to create an appealing visual. Group similar items together for easier organization and add decorative accents such as houseplants to keep things looking vibrant.

Cabinet Extensions

Cabinet extensions are an effective way to upgrade your kitchen without undertaking an intensive remodel. By freeing up space typically covered by soffits or bulkheads, they create the illusion that ceilings are higher.

Replacement cabinet hardware can be an inexpensive and straightforward way to refresh the look and functionality of your kitchen cabinets. Select handles that reflect the aesthetic of your room while complementing its decor and complement each other perfectly.

If your cabinets feature recessed panel doors, feet can help give the illusion of raised panels by giving your cabinetry an updated appearance. This straightforward DIY project adds classic appeal and can fit almost any design style; bun feet for modern or turned legs for traditional. This option also makes an excellent way to personalize existing cabinets but retain their overall functionality.

Crown Molding

Crown molding adds visual depth and heightens a room, giving the impression of height. Crown molding can add historic character, or simply fit with contemporary decor styles.

Chapman notes that less expensive composite molding options, such as PVC and vinyl, offer the look of plaster at a fraction of its cost, while being moisture and insect proof.

If you opt for wood crown, select a profile with classic dentil detailing for maximum impact. Correct installation requires understanding how to cut coped corners and using a miter saw, which allows you to shave paper-thin pieces off of the molding. To make installation faster and foolproof, purchase or create a jig to hold the molding at its proper angle against your saw’s fence.

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