1. Try a Two-Tone Design
The solid maple cabinets in Canadian homeware designer Nicole Duff’s kitchen weren’t in bad shape. She just hated their “dated, orangey tone that screamed late 90s.”
-Duff and her husband decided to paint the upper cabinets white and the lower cabinets a charcoal gray, which, she says, “is very on-trend right now.”
They began by thoroughly cleaning the wood with TSP cleaner (a heavy-duty product designed for pre-painted surfaces). Next came a high-adhesion primer, followed by the paint. The entire process took about a week to ensure sufficient drying between coats. Once dry, Duff applied clear silicone cabinet stoppers on the back of each door to prevent them from sticking and tearing off the paint.
2. Add Some Glass
At age 25, Virginia-based kitchen and bath designer Ebony Stephenson was “working on a very strict budget” when she updated the kitchen in her very first home. The existing builder-grade oak cabinets were hardly the sleek, modern style she craved. So she came up with a dramatic solution that was both easy and inexpensive.
Stephenson removed all of the upper cabinet doors and brought them to a carpenter, who cut out the center panel in each door (a handy DIYer can do this at home). She replaced the wood with translucent glass panels ordered from a local auto glass company. (You can also check out shower door and mirror suppliers.)
After sanding and priming the doors, she painted them a true black to match her black appliances. Finally, she inserted the glass herself, swapped out the hardware, and re-hung her sleek new cabinets.
Stephenson estimates she spent between $50 and $100 for all eight doors, and approximately $300 for the glass. New, brushed nickel hardware from her local home store was $20. The results? Stephenson thinks they’re priceless.
3.Give Wallpaper a New Purpose
Does the view inside your glass-front cabinetry lack pizzazz? Nancy Dalton, partner in the Seattle design/build firm Baywolf Dalton, uses wallpaper on both the interior backs of cabinets and the backsplash below to jazz things up.
4. It’s Not About the Base (Coat)
Not everyone has the patience for multiple, painstaking steps. If you want great cabinets in record time, consider a can of chalk paint. This thick paint doesn’t need primer, glides on easily, and dries to a warm, aged finish. It’s a perfect project for new DIYers — or anyone without much time on their hands.
Human resources professional Karen Torchia transformed the “weird, dark brown-stained cabinets” in her Boynton Beach, Fla., kitchen in about 15 hours using white chalk paint followed by a shiny, white gloss coat. The whole project cost around $200.