How to renovate old kitchen cabinets

Updated February 21, 2017

Using special techniques, you can upgrade existing kitchen cabinets or find used cabinets to incorporate into your kitchen space. It's important to look at many options, so you can choose the one that fits your decorating style. For example, if you like to finish a project quickly, you might wish to leave the cabinets in place and redo them there. If you enjoy meticulous work, you may want to take the cabinets outside to sand, paint or stain. By going over different ways to upgrade their colour and design, you can choose a plan that works with your schedule, too.

Look at the option of repainting all cabinet surfaces. Sand and refinish rough surfaces before adding new paint. Use a small paint roller to apply white paint to upper cabinets and burgundy paint to base cabinets, for example. Be sure to add crown moulding along the ceiling perimeter, if cabinets reach to the ceiling.

Add new doors as a quick way to get a major makeover. Stain or paint old cabinet shells, but add brand new doors. Paint cabinets pale gold and add maple doors, for example. Paint the cabinetry units white and add new white pre-made doors, as another option. Buy one or two doors with glass fronts or wire fronts to really dress up old cabinets.

Combine colours and finishes for a real artistic touch. Sand wood cabinets and use two colours of stain, as one option. Use cherry stain on two cabinets side by side. Stain a third cabinet light maple. Repeat this pattern throughout the kitchen. Paint cabinets on upper walls and base cabinetry in alternate colours, too. Use both antique white and hunter green or copper and burgundy, as possible combinations.

Install something old to give a wake-up to a tired kitchen. Purchase a 1920s dish display cabinet and paint it bright yellow. Use it as a free-standing cabinet in a kitchen with refinished cherry cabinets, for example. Paint an old cabinet bright red to use with chrome cabinets to re-create the 1950s.

Use tile work and hardware to enhance the cabinets' backsplash area. Paint all cabinets a high gloss black, for example, and install light gold tiles in the backsplash area. Use glass door knobs and drawer pulls, or add nickel hardware to give the cabinets a contemporary touch.

Things You'll Need

  • Sandpaper
  • Paint
  • Paint roller
  • Crown moulding
  • Stain
  • Pre-made cabinet doors
  • Free-standing old cabinet
  • Tile
  • Hardware
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About the Author

Judi Light Hopson is a national columnist for McClatchy Newspapers. She is founder of Hopson Global Education and Training and co-author of the college textbook, Burnout to Balance: EMS Stress. She holds a degree in psychology from East Tennessee State University, and has been a professional writer for 25 years.