As we’ve mentioned before, if your kitchen layout is satisfactory and the major appliances do not need replacing, you can achieve the look of a new kitchen by simply dressing up the existing cabinets. There are a number of options for upgrading kitchen cabinets:

The easiest and most obvious sort of facelift calls for repainting or refinishing, and possibly installing new hardware – hinges, door handles, and drawer pulls. As mentioned above, the heavy use to which kitchen surfaces are subjected dictates the use of top quality materials. Use high or semi-gloss paint, and take the time to properly prepare the cabinets and drawers with adequate sanding, cleaning, and priming to ensure that the paint will adhere well. If you are replacing hardware, be sure to fill all holes carefully before sanding. Apply two thin coats with a good quality brush so as to avoid brush marks, drips, and puddling. When the paint is thoroughly dry, the new hardware can be installed. Be careful in mounting the hinges so that the doors line up vertically and horizontally.

If the old surface is badly damaged, cracked, or peeling, sanding alone may not produce an acceptably smooth surface. You may have no choice but to use chemicals to strip the paint to the bare wood. You may then prime and paint, or stain and varnish, depending on the look you want. Paint strippers are hazardous, so follow all the safety precautions recommended by the manufacturer.

If your cabinet doors are flush, you may want to dress them up by adding decorative molding. There are a variety of molding profiles available. Cut mitered comers and attach them in whatever rectangular pattern you choose, using brads and glue. Fill the brad holes with vinyl spackle and cover any open seams with a thin bead of caulk.

Old doors and drawer fronts might also be replaced. This is easy enough if the cabinets are painted. If they are stained, matching the wood type, grain, and color could prove to be difficult, if not impossible.

Here are a few more tips based on National Kitchen & Bath Association recommendations:

  • It’s a good idea to shop around to get a feel for price, appearance and features as you formulate choices and priorities within your budget. Visit kitchen dealers, home centers and lumberyards. Determine whether you want stock, semi-custom, or custom cabinets. Kitchen dealers offer more personal attention and usually a design service as part of their overall fee. Home centers may provide some design assistance as part of your purchase.
  • Crown moldings and trim pieces can provide a custom look. Select a cabinet and molding style that harmonizes with the rest of your home.
  • Consider accessories for maximizing storage space. Lazy Susans, pull-out shelves, and appliance garages are among the options.


A complete kitchen renovation project is a major undertaking in terms of time and money. If you analyze your kitchen and your family’s needs, you may find that the only objectionable feature of your present set-up is the color or the condition of the cabinets. An upgrade project can provide you with the look of a new kitchen.

Obviously cost will determine which route you take with regards to your kitchen upgrades so it’s good to get a few good estimates from some reputable kitchen remodeling contractors. Search our local directory to find the right fit for you and just keep in mind that average costs for refinishing kitchen cabinets is about $500, while the average costs to replace kitchen cabinets is over $5,000. Find your city below and get started on your project today!

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