10 Kitchen Cabinet Makeover Ideas to Transform Your Space

Kitchen cabinets are often the focal point of the kitchen, so upgrading them can make a huge impact on the look and feel of the entire room. Even if you’re on a budget, there are tons of DIY makeovers you can do to breathe new life into your kitchen cabinets. Here are 10 amazing yet affordable kitchen cabinet makeover ideas to transform your space.

1. Paint the Cabinets

Painting the cabinets is one of the easiest and most affordable makeovers you can do. A fresh coat of paint allows you to change the color scheme of your kitchen instantly. Whether you want to go bold with a colorful hue or keep it simple with a crisp white, a painted cabinet upgrade can be done in a weekend.

When painting cabinets:

  • Remove doors, drawers and hardware and clean surfaces thoroughly before painting
  • Sand down glossy finishes to help the paint adhere
  • Prime first before painting for a smooth finish
  • Use a high-quality cabinet paint for a durable finish
  • Apply 2-3 thin coats and let dry fully between coats

Painting tip: For a distressed, chippy look, wet a rag with water and lightly rub paint in certain areas after the final coat fully dries.

2. Stain or Refinish for a Wood Makeover

If your cabinets have a wood finish, refinishing is a great option to change the color and bring back the wood grain pattern. Lightly sanding and applying gel stain allows you to create a rich, updated wood finish in any shade you desire.

For a deeper makeover, you can strip the existing finish completely and re-stain the bare wood. This takes more work but lets you achieve a brand new wood cabinet look.

Tips for refinishing wood cabinets:

  • Use chemical stripper to remove old finish if desired
  • Lightly sand to rough up surface before staining
  • Wipe on gel stains for easier application and custom colors
  • Apply polyurethane for protection after staining
  • Work in ventilated area and allow proper dry time

Refinishing cabinets takes some work, but the beautiful wood results are worth it.

3. Update with New Hardware

Replacing the old cabinet hardware is an easy upgrade that can give your kitchen a brand new modern or vintage look. Swapping out worn handles and pulls for new ones allows you to choose hardware that matches your preferred design aesthetic.

Some popular hardware makeover ideas include:

  • Sleek, minimalist handles in matte black or brass for contemporary style
  • Vintage glass knobs for a cottage or farmhouse vibe
  • Bold, chunky handles in bright colors for eclectic personality
  • Antique-inspired pulls for traditional flair

Make sure to measure your existing holes properly so you can find replacement hardware that fits. Updating handles and pulls is simple, affordable and makes a big visual impact.

4. Apply New Veneer for Modern Look

Applying cabinet veneer liner is a DIY-friendly option for drastically changing the look of your cabinets without replacing them. Self-adhesive wood veneers, plastic laminates and repositionable paper veneers now make veneering projects easy, allowing you to get a modern, designer look.

Some popular veneer makeover ideas:

  • Sleek wood veneer for mid-century modern style
  • Bold geometric or textured laminates for contemporary flair
  • Removable wallpaper veneers for temporary makeovers

Tips when applying new veneers:

  • Clean cabinets and remove doors for easy application
  • Measure carefully and dry fit veneers before removing backing
  • Use a roller to adhere veneers smoothly onto cabinet boxes/doors
  • Trim excess for a seamless look
  • Seal veneer edges with clear caulk

Veneers instantly update the look of cabinets affordably.

5. Add Glass Doors for Open Display

Installing glass cabinet inserts or doors is a gorgeous way to transform solid cabinetry into open display storage. This makeover allows you to highlight pretty dishware, collectibles or storage containers behind glass.

There are several easy routes for adding glass doors:

  • Buy ready-made glass door inserts that fit existing cabinets
  • Have glass custom-cut to size and install into cabinet frames
  • Replace solid doors with DIY frosted glass panels

Make sure to properly measure existing doors and frames first. Updating part of or all upper cabinets to glass transforms the ambiance into airy, open shelving.

6. Apply Contact Paper for Temporary Makeover

For a super quick and affordable makeover, contact paper is a great temporary solution. By simply cutting out contact paper to fit your cabinets and sticking it on, you can give cabinets a fresh look without any major work.

Some popular contact paper upgrade ideas:

  • Wood-patterned paper for faux reclaimed wood texture
  • Marble or granite-look for high-end style
  • Graphic prints for eclectic flair
  • Metallic papers for glam feel

Tips when applying contact paper:

  • Thoroughly clean and dry cabinets first
  • Carefully measure and cut out paper to fit cabinet surfaces
  • Use a plastic smoother to apply paper evenly and remove bubbles
  • Use exacto knife to carefully trim excess around edges and openings
  • Start on cabinet frame edges first before covering door face

Contact paper instantly updates cabinets for very little cost. Peel it off whenever you want to switch up the look again!

7. Add Molding for Architectural Detail

Adding trim molding is an easy upgrade that makes simple cabinetry look custom and built-in. Molding gives cabinets decorative architectural detail and customization to suit your style.

Ways to add pretty trim details:

  • Install crown molding atop wall cabinets for elegance
  • Use bun feet trim to give base cabinets the look of furniture
  • Add beadboard panels for country cottage charm
  • Frame cabinet fronts with decorative molding frames

Carefully measure, cut and adhere trim pieces to cabinet frames using construction adhesive and a brad nailer. Fill nail holes, caulk trim seams and touch up with matching paint for a seamless finish.

8. Frost Glass Panels for Updated Style

Frosted glass cabinet inserts quickly provide updated style. The translucent glass softens the look of kitchen cabinets for a more modern, light and airy feel.

There are a few easy ways to frost existing glass doors:

  • Use frosted window film that sticks on easily over glass panels
  • Spray on frosted glass paint for a permanent etch-like effect
  • Lightly sand glass with fine grit paper to create a frosted texture

Frosted film is the easiest option – just cut to size, remove backing and smooth onto glass surface. Updating part of upper cabinets to frosted glass achieves a gorgeous, more contemporary look fast.

9. Incorporate Open Shelving for Lightness

Incorporating open shelving into partly solid cabinetry is on-trend and creates visual interest. Mixing closed and open storage achieves a lighter, airier look than all solid cabinetry.

Some ideas for adding open shelving:

  • Swap out a few upper cabinet doors for open shelves
  • Remove doors and cut openings on existing cabinet boxes
  • Install wall-mounted floating shelves near full cabinets
  • Build DIY modular shelving into kitchen design

Style open shelves with pretty kitchenware, baskets, or functional storage jars. Just be sure to still include adequate enclosed storage. The mixture of open and closed creates a lovely, customizable kitchen.

10. Update Cabinet Interiors

Don’t overlook the cabinet interiors! Adding functional storage accessories provides hidden organization while you revamp the outer look.

Smart additions inside cabinets include:

  • Shelves or drawers to optimize space
  • Slide out trays or racks for easy access
  • Lazy susans for corner cabinet rotation
  • Pull-out spice racks hidden behind doors
  • Under-cabinet racks for cookware storage

Take time when planning a cabinet makeover to assess your interior storage needs and include upgrades inside too. Organized storage will keep your revamped kitchen looking tidy.

Transform Your Kitchen with These Makeovers

With these 10 budget-friendly kitchen cabinet makeover ideas, you can easily upgrade your kitchen’s style without breaking the bank. A simple coat of paint, new hardware, or glass door inserts can make cabinets look brand new again. For more dramatic changes, refinishing, new veneers or open shelving create gorgeous focal points.

Figure out which makeovers best suit your taste and kitchen’s needs. Focus on the cabinets first, then complement your upgrades with countertops, backsplashes, flooring and fixtures. With some creativity and DIY dedication, you can affordably achieve your dream kitchen. Don’t be afraid to tackle cabinet transformations yourself – the gorgeous results will be well worth it!

Frequently Asked Questions about Kitchen Cabinet Makeovers

Kitchen cabinet makeovers can seem daunting. Here are answers to some common questions on how to successfully transform your kitchen cabinets affordably.

How much does it cost to redo kitchen cabinets?

The cost to redo kitchen cabinets varies widely based on the scope of your makeover. Small upgrades like new hardware or paint cost $20-50 per cabinet. New doors or veneers average $100-500 per cabinet. Full custom refacing with new veneers, doors, and drawers costs $1000-2000+ per cabinet.

What is the most cost effective way to update old kitchen cabinets?

The most budget-friendly makeovers are painting, adding new hardware or contact paper. Refinishing also upgrades wood cabinets nicely at a moderate cost. Focus on visible surfaces like doors rather than full boxes to save money.

Can I paint over existing varnish on kitchen cabinets?

Yes, you can paint over varnished wood cabinets without fully stripping. Lightly scuff sand to rough up the glossy varnish, then use a high-adhesion primer before painting. 2-3 coats of quality cabinet paint will cover old varnish nicely.

What’s the best way to paint kitchen cabinets?

The best process is to remove doors and hardware, clean surfaces, sand glossy areas, wipe clean, use a bonding primer, then apply 2-3 thin coats of specialty cabinet paint, allowing proper drying time between coats. A small foam roller and angled brush works well.

How do I paint cabinets white without brush strokes?

To avoid noticeable brush strokes on white cabinets, use a foam or microfiber roller and high-quality trim paint. Thin coats applied smoothly leave the least brush marks. Slowly rolling paint in the same direction gives the most seamless look.

How do I give my cabinets an antique look?

To antique kitchen cabinets, try glazing over painted cabinets with a dark color then wiping back to settle into cracks. Or apply gray wood stain over existing finish, letting it soak in unevenly. Distressing by rasping edges also adds antique charm. Top with a matte polyurethane sealer.

Can I use contact paper on kitchen cabinets long term?

Contact paper is best for temporary kitchen cabinet makeovers of 1-2 years max. While quality papers withstand moisture and heat, over time they may curl at cabinet edges. Easier to remove than wallpaper, contact paper lets you refresh the look inexpensively.

Should I hire a professional to reface kitchen cabinets?

In most cases, redoing cabinets yourself costs less than hiring a professional, though refacing takes skill. For more complex work like installing new cabinet boxes or changing layouts, a contractor is recommended. Get quotes first to compare cost of DIY vs professional help.

What is the most popular kitchen cabinet style for resale?

For the best resale value, neutral two-tone kitchens with white uppers and medium wood base cabinets appeal to most buyers. Clean-lined Shaker style doors in subtle colors and hardware also have widespread appeal. Avoid bold paint colors or offbeat styles.


With some creativity and elbow grease, you can transform the look of your kitchen cabinets affordably. Any of these DIY makeover ideas will upgrade your cabinets to give your kitchen a fresh new style. Just decide which approach fits your budget, design vision and skill level. Have fun unleashing your inner interior designer to craft your dream kitchen. With strategic upgrades in key areas, you can achieve high-end looks without the huge price tag.