How to Update Kitchen Cabinets on a Budget

Replacing kitchen cabinets can be an expensive project.

Remodeling or updating an older kitchen can brighten the room and add value to most homes. While major upgrades, such as replacing cabinets, can be an expensive venture, you can update kitchen cabinets with a number of simple and inexpensive projects. Projects such as replacing hardware or painting are simple enough for a do-it-yourself project.

How to Update Kitchen Cabinets on a Budget

    Cleaning kitchen cabinets may also help remove lingering odors.
  1. Clean all kitchen cabinet doors, hardware and interior thoroughly. Exposure to grease, smoke and years of use can leave kitchen cabinets dirty, dull and unappealing. A good cleaning can often reveal colors or details lost to dirt and grime, resulting in a simple, inexpensive makeover.

  2. Dated hardware can make even new cabinets look old.
  3. Update kitchen cabinets by replacing pulls or handles, hinges or other hardware. Purchase new hardware with the same mounting configuration as the existing hardware, thus eliminating the need to drill new holes. Take advantage of sales by being flexible on the type of hardware you purchase.

  4. Consider washable paint to aid with cleanup of food or other kitchen spills.
  5. Paint cabinet doors and drawers to update the look of kitchen cabinets. Use bright or glossy colors to brighten the room and give the cabinets a newly updated look. Consider painting hardware as well for a more modern look.

  6. Replace cabinet doors for an inexpensive alternative to replacing the entire cabinet.
  7. Replace drawer fronts and cabinet doors to update or change the appearance of kitchen cabinets. Take an example of the existing doors and fronts to the hardware store for size and shape comparison when purchasing replacements. This choice eliminates the expense of replacing the entire cabinet.

  8. Countertops are available in wood, granite, quartz and other materials.
  9. Replace the kitchen cabinet countertop. Countertops are typically easy to remove by unscrewing screws or brackets attached from inside the cabinet. Measure the existing countertop and have your local hardware store precut a new top before delivery or pickup.

  10. Wood stain is available in a variety of colors and tones.
  11. Strip and re-stain older wood cabinets, doors and drawers. Remove drawers, doors and all hardware, and place in a well-ventilated area. Strip the old finish and allow to dry before applying a new stain. Once dry, reassemble and reinstall the cabinet components.

  12. Tip

    Remove cabinet doors and all hardware to allow for easier cleaning. Check hardware store closeout sales for great discounts on new hardware. Be sure to level new countertops before attaching to the cabinet. Clean and apply primer before painting cabinet doors and fronts.


    Hire a licensed electrician or plumber for projects involving wiring or plumbing.

About the Author

Jeff O'Kelley is a professional photographer and writer, currently based in the Tampa, Florida area. His images and words have been featured by websites and publications such as CNN, Creative Loafing and Tampa Bay Times. O'Kelley holds associate degrees in telecommunications and website design from St. Petersburg College.