Four Inexpensive Ways to Dress up Kitchen Cabinets

By Rob Sabo Columnist

Spending thousands on cabinet refacing isn't the only way to dress up a dreary kitchen. Here are four inexpensive and relatively easy solutions to breathe new life into your old kitchen cabinets that won't break the bank.

1. Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets for a Country Look

If your cabinets are a high-grade hardwood such as maple, beech, cherry, walnut, or oak, you may want to think about re-staining them rather than painting over those beautiful wood grains. But if you have paint-grade cabinets in your kitchen, you can get a classy country look by painting them with a white or antique white finish. Make sure all cabinet surfaces are cleaned of dirt and grease before painting. Some professionals recommend a spray-on application for the most even coverage and to use oil-based gloss and semi-gloss paints. Don't skimp on the paint! Good paint applies better and has a more durable finish than cheap paint.

Choose your color carefully! White cabinets can brighten up a dark kitchen but they may be too bright for some well-lit kitchens. And consider a two-tone color scheme for a decorative accent.

2. Add Molding to Dress Up Plain Cabinetry

Decorative wood molding can jazz up plain-looking kitchen cabinets with little hassle. You can choose from a wide range of molding styles that you can add to either the tops or around doors to give your kitchen cabinets a professional accent. Cabinet refacing specialty stores like have many examples of beautiful crown molding and wood trim including crown molding with a rope finish, flexible dentil molding, and French provincial trim that you can inset on kitchen cabinet doors.

Note: To do this job right, you need a decent miter saw to cut molding pieces correctly, especially to match 45-degree end cuts.

3. Add New Hardware

This is perhaps the easiest dress-up of them all. Internet retailers, such as Woodworker's Hardware, and national home improvement stores carry huge selections of new handles, knobs, and door pulls. From antique to contemporary, they have a look to match any kitchen decor. At the very least, you can clean your existing hardware by soaking it in hot soapy water with a good detergent cleanser and scrubbing off tough grime with an old toothbrush.

4. Upgrade the Interiors of Kitchen Cabinets

Purchasing slide-out shelving, tilt trays, and drawer dividers is another easy retrofit to your existing cabinets--and lazy Susans are an excellent way to optimize space in deep corner shelves.

Implementing some or all of these upgrades can jazz up your kitchen without giving you the budget blues.

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