Updating Kitchen Cupboards
Old and Outdated?
Get a New Face!
Reviving Kitchen Cupboards
I have an 80s style kitchen with white melamine cupboards and light oak trim. The trim is actually part of each door. It's not glued on the top. I want to update the look, but I don't have a clue what to do. I can't afford to get new cupboards, so I would like to do something with paint or hardware.
Absolutely paint the cupboards, but talk with the hardware store first. I know that you have to clean the finish, and apply a primer. But it has to be a primer specific to kitchen cupboards, as does the paint, and it probably will need to be an oil base as you will need to protect from kitchen moisture. Average cost for the primer is $20 and the paint will run about $16 to $20. The beauty of that is you can pick the color.
Another idea is to router out a center, and put in smoked plexiglass. Trim the glass on the face side of the cabinet and then paint the cupboards. This will give a more open and airy feel to the kitchen.
Here is one quick and easy way to update your kitchen cupboards that is also inexpensive. Since the melamine does not paint well it would be better to replace the entire door. Flea markets and swap meets often have someone there who sells modular cabinets and doors for the cabinets. You can buy the door only for as cheap as about $8 per door. Of course, there are more expensive doors available also.
J. K. T.
Does the wood trim make a "picture frame" on the cabinets? You can use fabric to dress up the cabinets. Cut the fabric to fit, soak in starch, smooth onto the melamine, and let dry. If you get tired of this look, simply wet the fabric and remove. The melamine will not be damaged. If you don't want to fill the entire space, you can cut flowers, teapots, or any other shape that pleases you out of inexpensive fabric.
You can learn lots of cool techniques online for free if you do a little searching, or you could try what I did to my bedroom's stark white laminated furniture; I used permanent markers to "paint" them, then topped it off with a spray-on varnish to protect the finish. It looks like some sort of stone if you use small, circular strokes with the marker and keep going over the same area while it's still wet. Obviously, depending on how big your cabinets are, this could end up costing more than faux painting unless you happen to have a mate who stockpiles markers! But it's a cool look, and definitely not something you see every day.
You could also just go out to a hardware store and pick up some very plain, contemporary hinges and handles. The kitchen you described sounds very much like a kitchen I saw recently in an IKEA catalogue, so you may not be as out of date as you think you are! Pick silver handles, or brushed steel, for an instant update.
We had the same cupboards you described. They were an off white color. We purchased new white cupboard doors and we painted the rest of the cupboard. First, we used a high quality primer and then melamine paint. We also bought new knobs for the cupboard doors. My husband installed the cupboard doors himself. This cost us a fraction of the price of buying new cupboards.
We also painted the ceramic backsplash. The tiles were a dark brown color. We used primer and white high gloss oil paint. Everyone who came over thought we had bought all new cupboards and backsplash.
Here's one more tip. As suggested by the paint store, we used foam rollers to create an extra smooth surface on the cupboards and tile.
One thing you can do to those 80s Euro cabinets is to tape off and then paint the wood trim in a great color. Instantly, this will tie the cabinets back into the kitchen by either accenting or matching the wall color. Consider using a deeper version of the wall color on the wood trim, and then use another version of the same color in the fabrics in the room, as well as the things with which you decorate the room. Add some great color in a couple rugs, and you will soon have a kitchen with a whole new look and very little money spent.
Sue in Horicon, WI
Melamine cupboards are hard to paint. I suggest that you get metal flashing from the hardware store and cover them so they will look like stainless steel. Measure to fit and sand the edges for a professional look. You can leave the oak trim for contrast. All you have to do is hammer in the flashing. You can also use flashing for the backsplash under the cupboards. Just check out home improvement websites for more information.
On several remodeling shows, I have seen them cut out the center part of the cupboard door, replacing the wood with chicken wire, cloth curtains, or plain or fancy glass panes. Of course, if you do this, the center part of the door will be gone forever.
Take the Next Step:
Sign up for our free weekly eNewsletter Surviving Tough Times.
Looking for an answer to a frugal living question? Click here to ask a
Dollar Stretcher Stretchpert!
Copyright 1996 - 2013 "The Dollar Stretcher, Inc." All rights reserved unless specifically noted.
Contact the Dollar Stretcher at:
PO Box 14160
Bradenton FL 34280
"The Dollar Stretcher, Inc." does not assume responsibility for advice given. All advice should be weighed against your own abilities and circumstances and applied accordingly. It is up to the reader to determine if advice is safe and suitable for their own situation.