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Your Options for Upgrading Kitchen Cabinets

Your Options for Upgrading Kitchen Cabinets

Should you buy custom, ready-made or repaint your existing kitchen cabinets? Learn some of the basics here.

Every kitchen needs cabinets. Then there’s the type of door and hinges you should pick, how many drawers you want, how tightly the kitchen cabinets fit into the space … the task of picking them can be overwhelming. “Anyone who’s not hiring a designer is essentially designing it themselves,” says interior designer Holly Thompson of Holly Thompson Homes.

As usual when choosing a foundational element of your house, consider function, then form and style for the best fit for you and your family.

Custom Kitchen Cabinets

These kitchen cabinets are made exactly for your space, sometimes down to the 1/16-inch. “The absolute best you can get is factory-finished custom, with a kitchen designer. But that’s really pricy,” Holly says. And not every “custom” cabinet has equal value. “You can have a person build you custom cabinets out of their garage, but they won’t be as good,” Holly says.

Green sink area in downstairs kitchen
A corner of Jenny Zacharewitz's dining room has a small wet bar with cabinets built-in. Photograph by Jaki Hawthorne.

Semi-Custom Kitchen Cabinets

This slightly less-expensive approach means you still have plenty of sizing options, but they’re based on a pre-set list from the manufacturer. “Most people will be looking at semi-custom, not custom,” Holly says. The most expensive kitchen cabinets at big box home improvement stores like Home Depot are semi-custom.

kitchen with large window in minnesota diy farmhouse
The boho farmhouse theme of Sarah Pollio's kitchen works well with the gold hardware on her white cabinets. Photo by Andrea Rugg.

Ready-Made Kitchen Cabinets

This means you’re purchasing pre-made cabinets that don’t give you a lot of size options. It will be cheaper, but less … well, custom. “You can get a decent cabinet that’s not that custom that will work pretty well, and use filler strips to make them fit,” Holly says.

Alyson Dorr homestead kitchen
This historic Montana homestead house got new cabinets that retain the look and feel of an older home. Photo by Jeremiah and Rachel Photography.

Repurposed Kitchen Cabinets

This is Holly’s personal preference. “I would go to ReStore and get repurposed cabinets,” she says. “You can buy them cheaper, and the quality will be better than the cheap new ones from a big box store. Cabinets that have survived being ripped out usually have pretty good quality.” Then you can paint them whatever color you want. 

Repaint kitchen cabinets to white with farmhouse style
Repainting your cabinets can do a lot to update your kitchen! And we have full instructions on how to repaint your cabinets here. Photo by Victoria Van Vlear.

Repainted Cabinets

“The cheapest option is to repaint your cabinets,” Holly says. “A lot more people will be doing that now, because the supply issues are making new cabinets more expensive.” This option is DIY-friendly too, if you’re willing to get your hands dirty.

For more of Holly Thompson's DIY wisdom for the kitchen, see How to Get Faux Marble Countertops. And of course, don’t forget to follow us on InstagramFacebook and Pinterest to get your daily dose of farmhouse inspiration!

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