Looking for simple DIYs to make your kitchen look high end without spending too much? Here’s how to update kitchen cabinets on a budget.
I am all about a budget.
Especially in a kitchen.
Especially if there are ways to do things that look high end, but cost a FRACTION of what the high-end look costs.
When we moved into this house and remodeled this kitchen we had a budget. There were so many things that needed to be done. We needed new airconditioning and new windows and a new bathroom and the doors needed to be refinished and rooms needed to be painted.
Here’s the entire before and after tour of the house.
One thing that was challenging was kitchen cabinets.
I wanted these amazing kitchen cabinets that were extra tall and went up to the ceiling.
Except I didn’t know that extra tall meant extra expensive.
So here’s how we created them.
Here’s how we solved the problem.
And here’s how to update kitchen cabinets on a budget.
How To Update Kitchen Cabinets on a Budget
1. Measure the height of your cabinets
Here’s the before.
And let me walk you through the process to get to this place.
These are standard kitchen cabinets.
They actually came from another room in the house that we remodeled and we brought them in here and repurposed them for the kitchen.
Standard kitchen cabinets come in 30″ or 36″ or 40″. When you add them to the wall, the top of the cabinets sit at 84″ or 90″ off the ground. That explains why there’s always a space on top of the kitchen cabinets because the cabinets never go all the way to the ceilings.
Except in magazines.
And high-end kitchens.
But if you buy those custom kitchen cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling?
You can’t send your children to college.
2. How to update kitchen cabinets: Measure your ceiling height
These cabinets were 40″ tall and sit on the wall at 90″.
Our ceilings are 9 feet tall in the kitchen and the ceiling measures 108″.
These cabinets were never going to go all the way to the top of the ceiling.
Unless I came up with a brilliant idea that costs under $100 and makes your cabinets look like you spent thousands on them.
3. Add plywood to the top of the cabinets
All we did was add an 18″ piece of plywood to the top of the cabinets that extended all the way to the ceiling.
Install the cabinets first.
And then? Cut three pieces of plywood 18″ tall and the width of your cabinets and attach them in place.
4. Add crown molding to the top of the plywood
And then added crown molding to the ceiling to make them appear even more custom (and to hide the seams next to the ceiling).
This created the look of high-end cabinets for a fraction of the cost.
(total aside: don’t you love how there is always an except when I’m telling you about a project?)
Except there was a seam between the cabinet and the piece of plywood.
Most people wouldn’t notice it, but I’ve lived with it for two years and it drove me crazy. Look at the pictures and you’ll see it. It’s ever so slight, but in person it’s much more noticeable. Also, we needed to caulk the crown molding next to the ceiling because there were starting to be cracks.
You can see that in the pictures as well.
Part of the fun of living in a 110-year-old home.
5. How to update kitchen cabinets: Add molding to hide the seam
The solution was obvious.
We needed a molding piece to hide the seam.
This molding came from Lowe’s in their specialty molding section.
My husband cut the molding to fit and cut the edges at an angle like this.
Next, we attached the molding next to the seam.
6. Cut edges to fit
Here’s the molding attached to where the seam was on the cabinet. The last step when figuring out how to update kitchen cabinets.
Then we caulked and primed the molding.
And painted it to match the cabinets.
The cabinets look like this.
I know it’s such a simple change, but the difference makes the cabinets look even more custom.
Just between us?
I’m thankful for a budget.
It helps you to think outside the box.
It helps you to get creative.
It helps you to remind yourself…
…that it doesn’t have to be expensive to be beautiful.
PS If you are looking for some more kitchen remodeling tips in addition to how to update kitchen cabinets?
You have come to the right place.
Here are some of my favorite ideas:
- How to make a transom window out of windows—you can use old windows to create a DIY transom for your kitchen
- How to add door molding—update your doors with simple moldings to make them look high end
- How to save money on a kitchen remodel—simple tips to remodel your kitchen without a lot of money
- How to build a plate rack—this is one of my most popular DIYs because it takes very little money and not a lot of time