upgrade kitchen cabinets

Sleek hardware and under-cabinet lighting can help transform existing kitchen cabinets. (Getty Images)

Want to give your outdated kitchen a cheerful refresh without spending a fortune (or antagonizing your landlord)? Luckily, even if you don’t own your apartment, you don’t have to live with the cheap, dark cabinetry it came with. Revamping your kitchen cabinets can go a long way toward making your kitchen feel like a modern space where you actually want to hang out. Here are 5 fast and easy ways to upgrade kitchen cabinets with minimal effort and expense.

Upgrade 1: Repaint

In general, paint is the easiest way to transform any room or piece of furniture, and kitchen cabinets are no exception. Not only will a fresh coat of paint cost you a fraction of the price of replacing the cabinetry altogether, it will also totally transform the mood of your space. Whether you go for a clean and simple white, a light, airy shade or a rich, bold color, choose a hue that makes you feel calm and comfortable. Interior designer Kati Curtis recommends Farrow & Ball’s Hague Blue for kitchen cabinets that pop in an on-trend dark teal.

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Upgrade 2: Change the Hardware

Simply switching up the hardware on your cabinets can make a world of difference. Most cabinet styles are easily adaptable to any type of knob or pull. To bring outdated cabinets into this decade, ditch those drab old handles and choose a sleek style in a shiny chrome finish instead. Or, if you prefer a more rustic or traditional look, pick a round shape in brushed nickel or pewter. Gold is a great way to add a hint of glamour. Home Depot and Lowe’s both have large selections of affordable options, and if you want to go really high-end, check out Rejuvenation.

Upgrade 3: Reface the Fronts

It’s no secret that we’re fans of peel-and-stick wall and floor decor — there are great options out there for removable wallpaper, tile, and moreand that love extends to kitchen cabinets as well. There are many peel-and-stick wood veneer options on the market, and if you’re feeling daring, you could just as easily go for contact paper in a fun graphic pattern.

Upgrade 4: Turn Them Into Open Shelves

Rather than redoing your cabinet fronts, why not remove them altogether and enjoy an airy, open-shelved look? If you’re not a fan of the interior finish, you can always cover it up with paint or wallpaper. Here are our best tips for styling open shelves in the kitchen. 

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Upgrade 5: Add Lighting

Finally, we’re strong believers in the power of good lighting. Adding small lights underneath your kitchen cabinets will instantly make the whole space feel cozier and brighter. These undercabinet LED lights are a breeze to install and even include a handy dimmer function. Lighting can also transform the look of cabinets without even touching them if you bring in some modern pendants or a fun overhead fixture, which will bathe your whole kitchen in a warm new light. 

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