2. Pretty in Paint

Nothing updates old cabinets as quickly as fresh coat of paint.

Painting cabinets yourself is cost-effective — a few gallons of paint, sandpaper, cleaner — but the process is time-intensive. You can paint most cabinet surfaces, but proper prep is key to success. For laminate and melamine finishes, be sure to rough up the surface with 150-grit sandpaper, and apply a good bonding primer before topping it off with the color of your choice.

If you’re going to dive into this DIY project, keep these tips in mind:

  • Lighter-colored paints will make your kitchen seem bigger.
  • Don’t skip on prep. Thoroughly clean cabinet doors and boxes to remove grease and dried-on gunk; fill holes or nicks with wood putty, then sand.
  • Sand each coat of paint so your final coat will look perfect.
  • Lay doors flat to paint, and wait until each side is completely dry before painting the other side. It will take more time, but you’ll avoid ugly drip marks.

3. Molding Miracles

Crown molding adds a touch of class to the tops of tired cabinets for less than you’d expect. Three-inch, primed composite crown molding with a dentil design costs as little as $20 for 8 feet.

It’s easiest to add molding when you’re repainting cabinets; that way you’ll get a perfect match.

If you order matching wood molding from your cabinet’s manufacturer, be prepared for a color difference between new molding and older cabinets. Natural wood cabinets (especially cherry) will darken with age.

For a look at other crown molding miracles, take a look at this slideshow.

4. Fancy Glass

Change the glass insert in a cabinet door, and you change the look and feel of your kitchen.

“Decorative glass takes stock cabinets and gives them a custom look,” says Anthony Longo, who sells glass panels.

Not all cabinet doors are candidates for a changeover, however. You’ll need the kind of door with a removable panel. Check the backs of your doors to see if the center panel can be taken out.

Types of glass inserts are limitless — contemporary, bubbles, raindrops on water, antique — and cost $7 to $9 per square foot. So, you can change the look of a 2-door, 30-inch-by-24-inch cabinet (about 5 square feet of glass) for between $35 and $45.

5. Task Lighting

Once, the only way to shed light on kitchen tasks was by hard-wiring under-cabinet lights — an expensive and messy task. But you can add lighting under and inside cabinets with battery powered, peel-and-stick LED lights.

Of course, battery-run lights are not as bright as their hard-wired cousins. But at about $8 each, you can afford to buy several and scatter them around. LED light bulbs last for thousands of hours of use.

Related: The 8 Most Financially Savvy Home Improvements You Can Make

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