A beautiful kitchen is one of those things that is at the top of everyone’s list when it comes to what they want in a home or apartment. Some even have called it the “heart of the home”. But, remodeling a kitchen can be costly and take quite a bit of time. So, today we are rounding up 8 ways that you can give your kitchen a brand new look just by giving a refresh to your cabinets. And for those of you looking to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty this weekend, a few of these can be DIYed in just a few hours.
It’s the first on our list because it’s the most transformative and also one of the easiest to do. If you have dated or older cabinets, then give them a good coat of primer and then you can paint them. We suggest either a semi-gloss or gloss sheen for the paint as it will hold up best over time and also allows for easy cleaning. Whether you go with a simple white or a color, the paint will give a fresh look to any kitchen.
A few of our favorites colors:
- Simply White by Benjamin Moore – a bright and happy white
- Hague Blue by Farrow and Ball – a deep and inky blue if you are looking for something dramatic
- Gray Owl by Benjamin Moore – a medium toned gray that is soft and neutral
- Rosemary by Sherwin Williams – a mossy warm green
Swapping out the hardware on your cabinets is something that you can easily do yourself and can be done in under an hour with just a screwdriver. Most cabinet hardware is a standard size which means that you just have to measure the current handle and get the same specs for your replacement. Try mixing up the types of hardware – pulls on your drawers and knobs on your doors – to give it a custom look.
rip out uppers
This one involves a bit more construction but if you have enough storage in your current setup then taking out your uppers can make your kitchen look much bigger and more open. You can either leave the walls bare or if you want some decorative storage then you can install a few brackets on the wall for a floating shelf. It’s a practical use of space but still leaves your kitchen feeling much more open.
If you have quality cabinets (meaning solid wood doors) and you like the style and shape but aren’t a fan of the tone then you can always have them refinished and stained a different color. It is a bit more laborious than some of the other options but if you prefer a wood look then it is something that can be done and will make your cabinets look brand new.
We talked earlier about the transformative power a can of paint can have on your cabinets, but you can take it one step further by painting the uppers and lowers a different color. Our tip – go with white for one section and then you can use an accent color on the other. By painting your uppers white you can also visually extend the vertical lines in your kitchen making the space feel a little bit bigger than it was before.
If you love the open shelving look but aren’t ready to rip out all your uppers then instead remove the doors of your cabinets to create an open shelving look. It can open up the space visually and also allows you to show off some of your prettier items. We suggest patching the holes where the door hardware was and then giving everything a fresh coat of paint to help it feel updated and intentional. You can take it one step further by painting the inside of your cabinets a contrasting color or installing wallpaper or tile on the back of the cabinets.
add trim to doors
If you have flat front cabinets and like the look of shaker style then you can have a woodworker (or yourself if you are feeling handy) add trim to the edges of your doors to give it a shaker style door. It’s a small detail that can give the cabinets a totally different look. The trim should be a thin piece of wood, maybe 1/4″ or 1/8″ and about 1-2″ wide. Once you add it onto the doors you’ll want to give everything a good coat of paint.
ADD SOME ELECTRICITY
While this one might not be as aesthetically transformative as the others, adding under cabinet lighting or plugs can improve functionality overall in your kitchen. There are a handful of undercabinet lights that are battery-powered which means you don’t even have to have them hardwired, just add the batteries and install. Or you can have an electrician come in and wire up the under cabinet lights and plugs in an afternoon.
I am in love with this article! Gonna try it son!
Oh Bobby this is timely! Can’t afford to update entire kitchen. I too thought of painting upper cabinets in simply white and lowers in a green. I have terra-cotta floor tiles that we cannot remove. What to do? I made a window treatment from a Michel design table runner that I love and am trying to tie it together.???
I love the idea of uppers in white and lower cabinets in green. (This is my current favorite shade of green.) It sounds like those colors will complement the terra cotta tile perfectly! You can also easily (and cheaply) change out the cabinet hardware too. Best of luck! xx -B
Love your designs!!! Would you PLEEEAASE advise on how to update kitchens with terracotta tiles. We can’t replace them, so how can you update that look,while painting the cabinets as well?
Thank you in advance!
Okay!!… I’m going to do it! Upper cabinets will be white and lowers will be matte black. My daughter and I watch Queer Eye all the time and probably have seen each episode at least 10X and other favourites even more. Your designs are impeccable, versatile and so refreshing. You have such a gift. Thanks Bobby.
I love how you can completely transform an entire space with just using paint. Thanks for your kind words and good luck with your cabinets! xx -B
I love the ideas. I can’t wait to try some. Do you have any ideas for a long narrow galley kitchen?
What kind of prep work do you suggest for painting old honey oak kitchen cabinets (dated 90’s)? The fronts are real wood, but the rest is fake…so, is there a special kind of primer paint I should use on the inside and the out after sanding & scrubbing (I am assuming that is necessary)?
Love ❤️ your article! It inspires me to want to update the design of an old space. I’m redoing antique furniture with this black gold combo and it’s so exciting to see the beauty of the kitchen cabinets done this way. Can’t wait!!!!! ? Wish Bobby could design my loft facing the mountains.
Thanks so much!
My fiance and I are thinking about remodeling a home that we bought together so we can start our family in a nice community, and I really would like to change up the entire kitchen. I appreciated that you said that if you choose a semi-gloss paint for cabinets, they can look like new. I have been considering getting new ones custom made so I can fit them exactly where I want in the oddly-shaped kitchen.
Glad we could help. Good luck with the remodel!
I’m glad you talked about how you can refinish your cabinets or you can change them out completely to change the shape. My wife wants to update our kitchen for the summer and she wants finer looking wood cabinets. I’ll have to pass this along to her so she can order some custom cabinets.
Hey Bobby. I painted my laminate kitchen cabinets with chalk paint last year but they are stained already with fats, etc. Can you recommend a paint that will adhere and last better? I’m in the UK so not sure what paint types differ from here to across the pond?! Thanks so much I’m advance, Colin x
Since chalk paint is matte, it will show stains and imperfections. I recommend a semi-gloss or enamel finish from Dulux, which is more durable. xx -B
I love the two-tone cabinetry! Quick question, if you have a floor to ceiling cabinet, should it be painted to match the uppers, or the lowers? I have a full size cabinet to the right of my fridge, and I want to make sure it’s still cohesive with the rest of the kitchen. Thank you!
That depends on the colors you are using. I would paint the cabinet the lighter of the two colors. Thanks for reading!
My daughter and I are just in love with your style we are binge watching you guys currently. Your kitchen designs are very inspiring!
Thank you so much! xx -B
Love your ideas, thank you. All my walls are painted Simply White and will be re-facing the oak kitchen cabinets. Would Simply White on cabinets and Grey Owl on island work? Thanks!
Yes, I love doing an island in a different color than the cabinets. Grey Owl is a beautiful choice. -B
What primer would you recommend? We have laminate cabinets and want to update them!
Definitely do your research but find a primer that works specifically for laminating cabinets like this one: https://amzn.to/2ztsb60 Good luck with the project! xx -B
I love these suggestions!! I especially love the look of two different colors of cabinets and mixing different styles of hardware ??
Thanks love! xx -B
Just wanted to say thank you for all the tips, we’re going to tackle painting the old boring cabinets a dark green/blue (plus brassy hardware) and I feel like your ideas have given me permission to go bold!
Thanks so much for reading and good luck with your cabinet makeover! xx -B
Hello! Your designs are lovely. Do you have any ideas for what to do with the space above kitchen cabinets that don’t go to the ceiling? We have about 14 inches above ours and can’t afford to replace them. I was thinking maybe track lighting and some leafy plants? Any ideas would be appreciated!
I think plants are the best option. They can fill that space nicely and add in some texture and interest. Check out this post for even more ideas. Thanks so much for reading. xx -B