Updating Your Cabinets + Making Your Kitchen Uniquely Yours

cabinet-renovationsWe all spend a lot of time in our kitchens. It seems that any time family and friends come together, the kitchen is the center of all the activity. We like our kitchens to be welcoming, functional, and beautiful. But what if your custom kitchen cabinets are old and worn, out of style, or have those dark, nasty stains around the handles? Cabinets are the face of your kitchen; when they are in poor condition, they can affect the whole atmosphere of your space and even decrease the value of your home.

If you decide that it’s time to update the look of your cabinets, you have 4 options with different price ranges to consider:

  • Repaint
  • Refinish
  • Reface
  • Replace


Using paint to change the appearance and color of your cabinets provides a modern look for your kitchen. Repainting is also the cheapest option because materials are not too expensive and you can do the work yourself. However, repainting does not allow for changes in design or layout. If a more significant change is what you are looking for, you will want to consider re-facing or even replacing your cabinets entirely. But for a simple change, repainting is the way to go.

Despite what you may see on some of the popular (cheap, quick, and wrong) DIY shows on TV, you should not just slap a coat of paint onto your existing cabinets. You may get a quick and easy change of color, but in the process you will also be getting a maintenance and durability problem. If you decide to repaint your cabinets, you will need to dismantle, prep the surfaces, prime and then paint for a durable and professional look.


Many kitchen cabinets are finished just like furniture- the wood is stained and then covered with a clear, protective top coat. Refinishing these types of cabinets requires a similar process to refinishing old furniture. You can clean and remove part of the top, clear surface with solvents, even out the color, and then apply a fresh top coat for a perfect finish. Basically, you are maintaining the color and appearance of the wood while restoring the top coat of clear finish.  Please note that cabinets made prior to 1980 may have lead in the paint or finish. If you think this may be the case with your cabinets, make sure you consult a professional for your refinishing needs.

Like repainting, refinishing must be done correctly. You will want to dismantle the cabinets and properly prep the surface before you begin refinishing. Typically, there is no need to completely strip the finish from the cabinet door unless paint has been applied and you want a stained and varnished finish.  Keep in mind, however, that stripping paint and refinishing is a big job. If you really want to strip the paint from your cabinets for a real wood finish, it is usually better to just go with refacing or replacing your cabinets entirely.

Jigs and multi-mark tools are excellent for seamlessly installing hardware.Reface
If you want to make a more substantial change to the look of your cabinets, you may consider refacing them. Refacing your cabinets can get pricey, but this option is still cheaper than replacing your cabinets altogether. You maintain the framework of your existing cabinets and simply replace the door and drawer fronts.

If you decide to reface your cabinets, make sure that the existing frames are in good condition. If your cabinets were not made of quality materials to begin with or the frames are old and worn out, refacing will only postpone a problem that will need to be fixed eventually. Chances are that later down the road you will end up completely replacing your cabinets anyway. If you decide to try refacing your cabinets, it is best to bring in a professional; he can tell you if refacing is the best option for your kitchen and ensure that you get a quality and updated look that will last.

Replacing provides you with the opportunity to not only change the appearance of your kitchen cabinets, but the style and layout as well. Replacing is also the best option if your existing cabinets are made out of poor quality materials or are in poor condition. In either case, replacing your cabinets can not only improve and update the look of your kitchen but increase the value of your home as well.

Replacing your kitchen cabinets is the most expensive option. You will want to hire a professional to install your cabinets for you, and bringing in an interior designer may be a good idea as well to ensure that the style of cabinets will best suit your lifestyle and the design of the rest of your home. Replacing cabinets often makes up the majority of the cost of a kitchen renovation. However, if done properly, it is usually worth it.

Whichever option you choose, repainting, refinishing, refacing or replacing, the decision to update your cabinets is one that you will be happy you made every time you walk into a kitchen that is uniquely yours.

Do you have a question regarding your existing or future home?  Send us an email at  scot.mclean3@gmail.com