How to Update Built-In Cabinets in a Living Room

Written by jan czech
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Built-in cabinets in your living room provide storage where you can tuck away everyday clutter such as children's toys, craft projects, board games, electronic equipment and books, newspaper and magazines. They also add architectural detail to your room and are desirable to home buyers. As your home ages, your built-in cabinets may become dated and need a facelift. Tearing out and replacing them can be expensive, but if they are well made, you can modernise them for a fraction of the cost.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Door and drawer fronts
  • Paint
  • Stain
  • Paint brush
  • Clean cloths
  • Furniture wax
  • Hardware
  • Polyurethane
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Screws
  • Screw driver
  • Saw
  • window
  • Sand paper
  • Wood stripper
  • Protective goggles
  • Heavy rubber gloves

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  1. 1

    Replace the cabinet doors and drawer fronts. Have new doors and drawer fronts with a more modern look custom made to fit the cabinet boxes or buy them ready made. Paint or stain the boxes to match the new doors.

  2. 2

    Change the hardware. Buy new hinges and knobs with a more modern appearance. Use hardware made with material that matches material already present in the room. For example, choose brushed pewter hardware to coordinate with brushed pewter ceiling lights.

  3. 3

    Refinish the cabinets. Spruce them up with a new coat of paint or strip the wood and apply stain, wax or polyurethane.

  4. 4

    Take off the cabinet doors. Opt for open shelves. Use them for holding books and displaying collections.

  5. 5

    Reconfigure the shelves. Create a media centre by removing shelves to make room for your television and other electronic equipment. Add more shelves to hold books, DVDs and video games.

  6. 6

    Substitute the upper half of floor to ceiling cabinets for a window. If the cabinets are on an outside wall, remove the top cabinets and install a window in their place. Create a window seat with the bottom cabinets providing storage underneath.

  7. 7

    Extend the cabinets. Build shelving with glass doors above cabinets that come half way up the wall for a hutch effect. Use it to store glassware and fragile collections.

Tips and warnings

  • Before you update your built-ins, study decorating books and magazines for ideas on creating a look that matches your personal style.
  • If you are having custom work done on your cabinets, interview more than one cabinet maker, check his references and look at samples of his work.
  • When stripping the finish off wood, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions. Work in a well-ventilated area and wear protective gear.

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