How To Update Kitchen Cabinets Without Replacing Them

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Give new life to old kitchen cabinets! Here are five easy DIY ideas to update kitchen cabinets without replacing them.

Kitchen cabinets are one of the most attention-grabbing features of the kitchen. So when it comes to giving the kitchen a whole new look that’s more modern and up to date, the cabinets are a great place to start.

how to update kitchen cabinets without preplacing them

But did you know the average price of replacing kitchen cabinets can cost anywhere between $4000-$15000? This makes kitchen cabinets at the top of the list being the most expensive item to replace in a kitchen remodel. So how does one update their kitchen cabinets without breaking their budget? I have some great ideas!

Today I want to share with you five easy ways I updated our kitchen cabinets without replacing them. My kitchen remodel budget was tight, so as much as I would have absolutely loved to rip out our old cabinets and replace with super gorgeous new cabinets, it just wasn’t doable.

So I worked with what I had, got creative and got busy. And you can too with these simple DIY ideas. Try one of them or do them all! Anyone one idea will help you update your kitchen cabinets for a new look you’ll love!

how to update kitchen cabinets without replacing them

Don’t Skip This: If you haven’t seen the Before and After of our kitchen remodel, it’s definitely a post you don’t want to miss!

So let’s jump right into those five easy ways to update kitchen cabinets. As always, you can use the table of contents below to jump to any idea:

Paint The Cabinets

Never underestimate the power of paint! Our kitchen cabinets were old, builder grade. But simply painting them quickly gave them new life and our kitchen a much more modern look.

Just to remind you, here’s a picture of how our kitchen cabinets looked when we moved in.

kitchen cabinets before paint update

And here’s how the kitchen cabinets look today. Even though I painted the cabinets with a gray color, the kitchen still feels so much brighter than before. This one change definitely gave us a more modern kitchen.

after with kitchen cabinets painted Chelsea Gray

You may be thinking right now that painting your cabinets is too hard or you’ll screw it up. Both aren’t true! It does take some time and your kitchen will be a mess for a week or so. But, it is totally worth it!

I have a great kitchen cabinet painting tutorial that will walk you through the steps I took to paint mine – you can read it HERE.

If your kitchen cabinets are already painted, another great way to update them would be to pick a new paint color or give them a fresh coat of paint. Paint is such an affordable update option – especially when you can buy it on a big sale.

Add Hardware

Another easy way update kitchen cabinets without replacing them is to add new hardware or switch out your existing hardware. Kitchen cabinet hardware is such an easy way to make a big impact on your kitchen!

Our kitchen cabinets had no hardware installed. So I had the freedom to pick almost any style that I wanted. Which was great! I went with stainless steel bars and pulls to compliment our appliances.

Hardware comes in all kinds of styles and price points making it perfect for a quick way to give you cabinets and drawer fronts a more modern updated look.

update kitchen cabinets with simple new hardware

If you are unsure of how to pick a style or finish of hardware that will compliment your current kitchen decor, no worries! I have a great post on how to easily select hardware HERE.

Extend Cabinet Height

Now this next update idea can be a little controversial but I’m still going to share it! And if you’re kitchen feels tiny, this is an kitchen cabinet update you will want to put at the top of your DIY list.

One of the things I disliked about our kitchen cabinets was the 10 inch open gap at the very top.

Ideally, kitchen cabinets that extend all the way to the ceiling are what most home owners want – and for good reason. Extended cabinets offer more storage and give your kitchen height, making it feel much larger.

Since my open area above my cabinets was too small to add storage, I decided to just extended the upper cabinets with wood and add crown molding to finish the look.

update your kitchen cabinets by adding height and extending to the ceiling

Is this space no longer available for any storage whatsoever? Yup. Am I mad about that? Nope. Cause honestly, if anything was to be stored that high up – I’m obviously not really using it.

So I’d rather declutter and keep my kitchen storage to items that I really need and use.

update kitchen cabinets by extending them up to the ceiling

This one update made our kitchen feel so much bigger and taller. It was shocking!

So if you want to make your kitchen feel multiple feet higher – give this super simple cabinet update a try. It only took me about a day to complete. And I share all my tips and tricks on extending kitchen cabinets in this tutorial HERE.

Add Molding

If you want to really dress up your kitchen cabinets and give them a more professional, expensive look, molding is the trick!

When I extending the cabinets, I add molding to cover up seams and to add character to the cabinets as well. It didn’t cost much at all for a few simple trim pieces. And the look was such a great way to give these old cabinets a new style!

But I didn’t stop there, I also added molding to our base cabinets as well.

update kitchen cabinets with simple molding for a more modern look

The whole project took me about 2 hours from start to finish. And I am SO glad it’s done because the results turned out beautiful and it gives our cabinets such a clean look. Those little details can really add up when it comes to the look of your cabinets.

And of course, I have a great molding tutorial (found HERE) that shows you exactly how I added my molding with tips and tricks to help you do this simple update right the first time.

Glass Doors

Our kitchen renovation took me a little over four months to complete. Now remember, I was working on this all by myself. So even though I still had one project I wanted to complete, I just had to take a break.

But eventually, I did get back to updating our kitchen cabinet doors with one DIY project I’m so glad I didn’t skip.

I grabbed some leftover Chelsea Gray cabinet paint and got busy transforming two cabinet doors with glass inserts. The new glass doors instantly classed up our kitchen and gave it a fresh look!

insert glass to update your kitchen cabinets without replacing them

Adding glass is a great option because it gives old cabinet doors some visual interest. And that update alone can make a big difference in the look of your kitchen cabinets.

The best part of this kitchen cabinet update was how affordable it was to complete and I didn’t even need tools! You can see how I added the glass in this easy tutorial HERE.

Did you update your cabinets in a different way? I’d love to hear what changes you made so let me know in the comments!

Hopefully these ideas will give you some inspiration when looking to update your kitchen cabinet doors. Don’t forget to PIN for later!

Give new life to old kitchen cabinets! Here are five easy DIY ideas to update kitchen cabinets without replacing them.

More Kitchen Inspiration

If you are looking for even more kitchen improvement or decorating tips, be sure to check out these reader favorites below: (just click on the image or title of post for more information)


  1. I’ve been wanting to paint mine but I was afraid to choose the wrong color then have it look worse. But those are beautiful styles

    1. I hope the post gave you some helpful ideas. Updating them yourself will save you a ton of money and you get exactly the look you want! 🙂

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