9 Ways to Upgrade, Repair, and Reconfigure Your Kitchen Cabinets by Laura Newcomer

New cabinets are a major investment. In fact, data suggests fresh cabinetry can eat up nearly 50 percent of the cost for a total kitchen makeover. If you can avoid replacing your kitchen cabinets, you can save some serious dough—and free up cash for other home renovation projects.

If that sounds easier said than done, it’s time to change the way you think about your current cabinetry. With a little imagination (and some elbow grease), there are countless ways to repair, refurbish, reconfigure, and otherwise upgrade your kitchen cabinets so they continue to suit you as your functional needs and aesthetic preferences evolve. Then of course there are times it makes more sense to go ahead and start fresh. Here are nine stellar ideas, plus signs that it’s time to fully replace your cabinets.

1 Make Repairs

Cabinets can become damaged in a variety of ways, from termites to moisture exposure and plain-old wear and tear. But these damages don’t have to be a death sentence. If the damage isn’t extensive, it might be possible to repair the cabinet(s) in question. If you know your way around a toolbox, you may be able to complete the repairs yourself. Otherwise, consult a professional to determine whether repairs are in order.

2 Add Under-cabinet Lighting

Installing lighting underneath your cabinets can transform them from “meh” to “wow” by creating a warm glow throughout your kitchen and illuminating your workspace. It greatly enhances the functionality of your kitchen by making it easier to see while you prep meals or rummage around in cupboards. Install dimmable under-cabinet lighting to create the feel of a customized space.

3 Add crown molding or other trim

When you’re unhappy with your cabinets, it’s easy to blame them for all your aesthetic woes. But sometimes it’s the details around your cabinets that make all the difference. Adding crown molding, scribe molding, toe-kick trim, or other trim around your cabinets can make the whole kitchen appear more finished and customized.

4 Install roll-out shelving and other organizational systems

It’s possible to enhance the functionality of your kitchen without replacing or reconfiguring the cabinets. Simply add roll-out shelving to your bottom cabinets or install other organizational tools in the form of hooks, magnetic spice holders, and more. With just a few DIY upgrades, you can transform your kitchen into a highly functional space.

5 Reface the cabinets

The idea behind refacing is to make cosmetic changes to the visible parts of the cabinets. This process can take several forms, from painting the fronts of the cabinets to installing a veneer over the cabinet fronts or replacing the cabinet doors but leaving the cabinet boxes intact.