Inexpensive Ideas to Make Kitchen Cabinets Look Nice


The basic kitchen cabinets for a 10 x 12-foot area cost between $4,000 and $20,000 before installation and countertops. Minor kitchen remodels return more than 90 percent of their cost in home value. The kitchen models in home improvement showrooms are very attractive, but not everyone who wants to replace or update cabinets has the money required to buy new cabinets. If your kitchen is in need of repair, refreshing or updating, there are many ways to make old and outdated cabinets look nice without a huge investment in new cabinetry.

Add Glass

  • If the wood is still attractive on your cabinets, purchasing glass (or Plexiglas) inserts and taking some time with basic carpentry skills will give you an attractive new look. Plain glass, Plexiglas or leaded glass add a sophisticated touch to existing cabinets while creating visibility and showcasing ceramic or china dinnerware and glassware. The project includes removing upper cabinet doors, creating a template to use on doors to cut out, cutting out the form on doors with a jigsaw, sanding the cutout well, inserting glass and affixing the glass to the door with a frame that is either glued or screwed over it to hold it in place.


  • Painting cabinets updates and freshens old finishes, adds new color and livens up an area. Depending on what kind of wood and finish is on existing cabinets, preparation will include tasks such as surface cleaning to remove dirt, dust and grime, stripping old varnish and wax, sanding and priming. Very old cabinets with wear and tear may need filling and sealing cracks and holes in the wood. Use enamel, acrylic or oil-based paint with regular application or any of a variety of attractive paint techniques, such as antiquing, sponge application, crackling or faux finishes to give the appearance of fabric or other decorative looks.

Clean and Add New Hardware

  • Cabinets that are in good condition can easily be updated with a gentle cleaning to remove dust and grime, polishing with light furniture wax and new hardware. Get rid of dated, old hardware and replace it with new drawer pulls and cabinet handles or knobs. New cabinet lighting either above counters or above top cabinets adds to the updated look.

Do Your Homework

  • Before starting any home remodel or do-it-yourself project, do some research to find out exactly what kind of work is involved, what kind of materials and tools are required and how much it will cost. Get a couple of estimates for the work from contractors to compare. Determine if you will get the results you want by doing it yourself or if you would save money and time by hiring professionals to perform the work.

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