How to upgrade cheap kitchen cabinets

You may think that if you build or remodel your kitchen on a budget, you will not be able to create the kitchen of your dreams, but it is not necessarily true. There are plenty of things you can do with affordable, simple kitchen cabinets – like those from Ikea and Home Depot – to make them look customizable and add your own personal flair, even when splurging is not an option. This is where designers share their favorite tips for upgrading inexpensive cabinets with a few tricks you can even apply to your existing cabinets.

Fill in the gaps with a crown shape.

For Gina Gutierrez of Gina Rachelle Design, everything revolves around ensuring that the design extends from floor to ceiling so that there is no gap between the ceiling and the wall units. “We use moldings, end moldings, and filler panels to fill in any gaps in ceilings, walls, over refrigerators, etc.,” she explains. “This creates a polished, bespoke look.” And for even more customization, Gutierrez adds that she “likes to lay out on an island or peninsula if possible,” noting that you can even easily adapt Ikea cabinets to a farmer’s sink – with the help of some simple construction site joinery, of course.

Increase interest with new hardware.

Designer and queer-eye star Bobby Berk tells House Beautiful that his biggest tip for upgrading otherwise simple enclosures is to use “high-end” hardware. “The styles can be very limited when it comes to case profiles, so I like to swap out the hardware for something more individual,” he shares. “There are so many great options from large retail stores that look good quality but are very affordable.” And to make it feel really individual, Bobby suggests mixing and matching styles between your top and bottom cabinets. “Lower doors get knobs, lower drawers get handles and upper latches”, for example.

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Drawer handles made of brass and leather

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Don’t forget the hinges.

Hardware may just be about upgrading your style, but practicality should also be considered when upgrading your kitchen. “Always choose the slow-close hinge – you won’t regret it!” Advises Raymond Boozer, main designer at Apartment48. Not only do they prevent your cabinet doors from slamming (who wants to hear that?), They also extend the service life of your cabinets through less wear and tear.

Play with the lighting.

“I bring in nice lighting,” says Gutierrez. Skip the usual recessed can lights, guess what, and instead wonder if you can add pendants, sconces, and base cabinet lighting. Changing the lighting can transform your kitchen as a whole, even if you opt for simple cabinets. “These parts are not only functional, they also add dimension and texture to a kitchen,” Gutierrez adds.

Modern Scandinavian open space with kitchen accessories, plants, wooden shelves and a straw sack.  Design room with white brick walls.

FollowTheFlowGetty Images

Integrate open shelves.

Adding some open shelves – which Berk notes has been making a comeback lately – is another easy way to make your kitchen look more individual and a little less plain. It also offers you a functional display area. “It’s about everything to me – it not only opens up the room visually, but also allows you to flaunt some of your prettier items,” says Berk.

Remember: less is more.

“I really stand by the phrase ‘less is more,’” says Berk. “Especially when it comes to kitchen cabinets. Instead of going for a cabinet style with a lot of detail or a busy pattern in the wood grain, go for something simpler. ”Berk notes that he usually sticks to flat front cabinets or panel-style doors as they are classic and timeless. Plus, you can always swap out the hardware to change your style later and really improve the look.

With Semihandmade you get closer to the measure.

You don’t have to go entirely custom-made to achieve an even more individual look with Ikea cabinets. September Workshop designer Jennifer Vaquero tells House Beautiful that for a more personalized look you can turn to companies like Semihandmade (which she notes has skyrocketed in popularity). “They make bespoke cabinet fronts for the Ikea boxes, including lacquered wood,” explains Vaquero. “This allows your kitchen to be any color under the sun that was previously reserved for custom kitchens. I have a lot of customers who want it because it is a relatively inexpensive way to get a custom kitchen.” However, it is worth noting that while “the end result is beautiful,” this path is more complicated and takes more time.

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Market Editor, House Beautiful
Brittney Morgan is a well-known land mermaid and maiden with a love for handicrafts, red lipstick, and buying way too many throw pillows.

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