5 Easy Ways to Update Your Kitchen Cabinets

Cabinets make up a significant portion of your kitchen, and the style you choose can set the tone for your entire space. If yours are outdated or lack storage solutions, they can be a challenge to use.

Changing up the look of your cabinets can be as simple as switching out hardware or adding trim. These easy cabinet updates will give your kitchen an upgrade without a full renovation.


One of the most common ways to update cabinets is with a fresh coat of paint. This is especially true for dated builder-grade kitchen cabinets, as a modern color like grey or white can make them look brand new.

When painting, use a high-quality primer and cabinetry paint (like Benjamin Moore Advance or Sherwin Williams ProClassic) to get the best results. Also be sure to touch up the “kick plate” area near the floor, as it gets scuffed and kicked around a lot.

Add a fun pop of color to your kitchen cabinets by applying self-adhesive cork ($2, Hobby Lobby) to the front of a cabinet door panel. Then jot down shopping lists and recipes for easy reference.


Cabinet refinishing is a great option if your cabinets are in good condition but just looking dated. This DIY upgrade involves sanding down and reapplying the original stain or sealer to update their look without the cost of replacing them entirely.

To start, Shipwash recommends making any necessary repairs like filling chips and scratches with wood putty. He also suggests using a palm sander and a paint sprayer with plastic drop cloths to prepare the cabinets for painting or staining. This update is a great way to give your kitchen a modern makeover for under $500.

Replace Doors

Cabinet doors can have a major impact on the look and feel of your kitchen. If you want to change the style of your cabinets, consider replacing your existing doors and face frames.

Use patterned sheet metal to give your cabinets a unique touch. Tape a pattern to a raised panel door, then cut narrow wood trim pieces and copper to fit around the frame.

Refacing your cabinets is a big project, but it will make them look like new. You can reface them by covering their exterior surfaces with self-sticking wood veneer and adding new doors and drawer fronts.

Add Hardware

Cabinet hardware isn’t just about looks—you interact with knobs and handles every morning and night. Choose hardware that’s easy to handle so you can open and close your cabinets without straining.

Purchase a set of matching knobs and handles that coordinate with updated finishes, such as sleek black or matte metal. A home improvement store’s wood putty can help fill holes from old hardware. Choose a shade halfway between the light and dark wood grain to best hide the hole.

Add Shelves

Whether you’re completely into the open shelving trend or just want to add some visual interest, strategically removing cabinet doors can create a fresh look. Try it on a few cabinets, and if you like the look you can always replace them later.

Another simple way to add shelving is to use old door panels as inserts. Cut a piece of scrap wallpaper to size, then adhere it to the recessed panel using spray adhesive. Add a little extra pizzazz to the design by adding a patterned insert.

Add Glass Doors

Solid cabinet doors can create a very uniform look, but adding glass doors in some places adds visual interest to the kitchen design. Use them to display your favorite decorative dishes, or a collection of unique vases.

Cut 1.5-inch craft boards ($5, Michaels) to the length of the inset panel on your cabinet door, then glue them on angled at the top and bottom edges. Add reeded or leaded glass, a mullion insert or a cane webbing pattern to the panels for extra visual texture.

Filling in empty space above upper cabinets makes a room feel taller and more finished. Install pull-out trays, lazy susans and corner organizers to make it easier to access cookware and flatware.

Add Corner Drawers

Refacing cabinets is a big project, but it’s also a major overhaul that can dramatically transform your kitchen. Refacing involves keeping the cabinet boxes and covering them with self-sticking wood veneer and replacing doors and drawer fronts.

Use electrical tape to create a lattice design on a door, then paint over it with a bright color. It’s a great solution for hiding minor imperfections, plus it adds a pop of personality. Turnable storage solutions like lazy susans or turntables make it easy to access lower corner items.

Add Patterns

One of the best cabinet upgrades is a fresh coat of paint. Opt for a color lighter or darker than your original shade to create a custom look.

If you have the empty space above upper cabinets, fill it in with a patterned fabric to make the room feel taller. Try a woven reed or leaded design for classic kitchen designs, or try mullion inserts to add a more custom look.

A DIY wood valance can hide even the most damaged doors, and it makes a great place to jot down shopping lists and recipes. Interior lights provide task lighting for countertops and ambient illumination after dark.

Add Texture

One of the quickest and most affordable ways to change your kitchen’s look is to add texture. If your kitchen’s palette leans toward the all-white or monochromatic side, adding texture can help create contrast and interest.

Try a textured surface like copper or brass on your cabinet door. Alternatively, use wallpaper to add pattern to the flat surface of a raised panel.

Add a chic accent to wood cabinets with crown molding. Depending on the design you’re going for, this simple addition can elevate your entire room.

Add Storage

If you want to add style and storage to your kitchen cabinets, try adding glass door inserts or removing some cabinet doors to create open shelving. You can also use a decal or stencil to add a fun pattern to the front of a cabinet door.

If your kitchen is all white, repainting them a fresh color will instantly brighten and modernize the space. And filling in empty spaces above upper cabinets will make the room feel taller and more finished. If you’re up for a bigger project, refacing cabinets is another way to drastically change the look of your kitchen.

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