Old Formica Cabinet to Modern Coastal

7 Materials
$200
2 Days
Medium

My friend‘s kitchen needed an update! After raising twin boys and what seemed like most of the entire football team, Cassy’s kitchen had seen some absuse! Since the boys and their 40 closest friends have finally gone away to college, it seemed like the perfect time to figure out what could be done. If anyone has a child in college, you are well aware... it ain’t cheap! Try having twins!! Needless to say, money was tight- a real budget didn’t exist, so we had to make the most of what we could find- spending the least possible amount. In the end, Cassy has a totally new look! Once the cabinets were done, we built a table to go with the new look. (Her old table looked just as bad as the cabinets!) You may see it in some of these pics- but I will get into the table on another post!
let’s begin!
In this first photo You can see, these are plain (VERY PLAIN), Formica, old-school cabinets. They don’t look horrible here, but trust me... even in their best days, they weren’t very pretty!
Removed the doors, ready to reface!
Removed the doors, ready to reface!
After researching our options, it seemed the most economic and logical way to go, would be to attempt to fabricate/make trim, to reface the doors. Thankfully, we read that shaker cabinets aren’t going out of style, anytime soon and since the doors were flat, it seemed it would be fairly straight-forward. Some trim, a little sanding and painting and voila!
Well... it wasn’t that simple! Who KNEW there would be so many trim options, for what at first site, seemed like standard straight cuts!! Ultimately we chose hobby board, from Home Depot. It is lightweight, thin, but not too thin and relatively inexpensive. So we measured and picked up the boards, wood glue, paint and Brad nails. (You can do the nailing by hand, but TRUST ME... it went MUCH easier with the pneumatic nailer!!!) initially I thought we would rely primarily on the glue- by spreading it on and clamping. After one cabinet, I realized this way would be a time consuming nightmare- instead, we put very thin layers of glue on the boards and nailed them in, right away.
Making spot to sand and fill/paint
Making spot to sand and fill/paint
Miter saw- only needed straight cuts though
Miter saw- only needed straight cuts though
Brad nailer, HIGHLY recommend!
Brad nailer, HIGHLY recommend!
Our production line!
Our production line!
After a couple mistakes, (measure twice cut once!) we really started moving. I cut and attached while Cassy filled and sanded. We switched “positions” when we got tired of what we were doing. We both painted.
Positioning and nailing the trim
Positioning and nailing the trim
We tried to make the cuts as perfect as possible, but perfect wasn’t really necessary, as we filled in any gaps with joint compound and sanded smooth.
We had this entire project done in two days. Granted, we worked tirelessly day and night, but we even managed to come up with an idea to make a them a bit more modern/feminine with a coastal feel- (will get into that shortly!) keep reading!
We did a total of 23 doors
We did a total of 23 doors
Sand sand fill fill
Sand sand fill fill
My turn!
My turn!
we Knew we wanted to add a little “bling” but not too much. After all, raising twin boys, athletes... is not a job for the faint. After years of “boyish charm”, Cassy was really craving something that showed that although she had spent the last 19 years being coach, mom, dad, doctor, etc. underneath it all, she was truly a WOMAN!! We spent hours trying to find some photos of inlay- I’m typically good at research and after hours of looking, i could only find ONE photo that even resembled what we were thinking about doing. Ironically, it was a post on this site, where a woman put little tiles in the center of the doors. It was close, but still not really what we had in mind. We took a ride to floor and decor to browse around and see what we could come up with. It practically JUMPED out at us!!
EDIT: since so many are asking where to buy the sheets. I’m attempting to put a link at the bottom of this post, to amazon-
Paper thin mother of pearl sheets
Paper thin mother of pearl sheets
after all of the doors were put together, painted and dry, we used a dremel with carbide tip to cut the sheets to the perfect size. We glued it down with thin set. since we wanted subtle bling, we chose to only place it in the area around the stove and microwave. It was absolutely perfect! we found handles first on Amazon, using prime for next day delivery.. we thought we had a great deal. To our disappointment, the handles were awful. This ended up being the most expensive part. We returned the amazon handles and purchased solid stainless steel, from lowes.
old formica cabinet to modern coastal
all in all, this was a pretty simple project. With that being said, the right tools definitely made a big difference and I’m not sure I would attempt this without them. We are thrilled with this result! It was fun! In all honesty, I’m not sure i would consider going into business doing this, but seeing the transition was amazing!!
old formica cabinet to modern coastal
old formica cabinet to modern coastal
What do you think??
old formica cabinet to modern coastal
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Jessica Hoffman

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 37 questions
  • Robina
    on Apr 8, 2018

    You switched to Lowe’s for the pills what size did you use?

    • Jessica Hoffman
      on Apr 12, 2018

      I believe these are 8 or 9 inches. I don’t recall- but they weren’t the largest. They were the ones just over the 5 inch pulls

  • What I can use to give the original luster to my light oak kitchen cabinets. Nobody has done any TLC in several years.

  • Rose
    on Jul 11, 2018

    I have formica cabinets, that I too want to transform. My question is it looks as if you put the board around the cabinet door to give the effect of the shaker look. I see on some the inset you used was a tile effect which looks beautiful. On the remainder of the cabinets did you leave the center formica? If so, how do the two-tones look close up. Is there a big difference between the wood rails and the formica center when painted?

Join the conversation

148 of 177 comments
  • Sheri Farley
    on May 27, 2018

    Absolutely gorgeous girls love it and I love your jeep too!! Have one myself and love love it!! Lol

  • Linda Abate
    on Aug 14, 2018

    Your cabinets look sooooooooo awesome. Love how you added the tiles to some of the cabinets to totally change the look. Beautiful job.

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