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Update kitchen cabinets with paint

Dated or worn kitchen cabinets can be a huge eyesore, and no matter how much you decorate around them, they still stick out like a sore thumb. Replacing them is a huge expense that is not always necessary if the cabinets are in decent shape. Refacing cabinets is a less expensive endeavour but might still be out of reach if you’re on a tight budget. An affordable update is possible if you’re willing to put some elbow grease into the project.

Painting your kitchen cabinets is the least expensive way to give them a fresh look. As you can see in the photo, the right paint colour can transform a kitchen. The grey-blue paint has a cottage-style look to it that is both charming and current. The panelled backsplash and wall suits this style beautifully and is a clever coverup for old tiles. I like the dry finish to the paint rather than a high-gloss finish. Paints today don’t need to be high gloss to be durable, thankfully.

The paint colour you select will depend on a few factors. Stationary items like flooring, appliances and the countertop need to be considered when choosing a colour for the cabinets. Once you’ve determined the colour realm you’ll be working with (warm or cool colours) then you can have fun choosing what’s right for your cabinets. You don’t have to stick with one colour either. Check out decorating sites and magazines for ideas for duo colour combos for kitchen cabinets. It can be attractive to split the top and bottom cabinets with two different colours.

You can opt out of painting the inside of the cabinets if they are in decent shape and are neutral in colour. White shelf liner is a good idea and might be enough to brighten up the interiors, but if the cabinets are dark inside and out then it might be a good idea to paint the interiors as well.

If it’s affordable, it’s a good time to consider updating the countertop, sink and cabinet hardware to give the kitchen a truly fresh look. New hardware can be pricy if you’re looking for matching pieces so consider mixing things up a bit and using less expensive, mismatched hardware that has a similar finish or can be co-ordinated with other mismatched items. If you decide to paint the top and bottom cabinets in two different colours, for instance, then it would be fine to use a different style of hardware with each colour. If your current hardware has a great style but is just the wrong colour then consider painting it. Another idea to keep expenses down is to drop into several hardware stores and head for the clearance bins to see what you can find. The only thing you have to keep in mind is the size of the existing hardware so you can find ones that will fit the holes in your current cabinets. It’s a good idea to take a piece of the existing hardware with you when you’re out shopping.

New linens and window treatments will finish off the new kitchen décor. If the flooring is boring then consider colourful kitchen mats to co-ordinate with your new colour scheme. Include a few new accessories like white and black photography to give the new space a modern touch, and a hanging pot rack and wall knife rack will free up cupboard space. Even something as simple as a new trash container can add to the look. These are all things that are affordable and doable and can add up to an overall fresh look.

Kitchens take a beating over time so it’s good to freshen them up on a regular basis. Work with what you have and buy what you can afford. Use paint to update the big things and include a few new touches to give the room back its vitality.

About the author


Connie Oliver is an interior designer from Gimli, Manitoba.

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