Kitchen Cabinet Makeover (Actually, It Was More Like Plastic Surgery).

9 Materials
3 Months
You won't believe these are the same cabinets! I mean, I have a hard time believing it, and I was there for the entire 5-part transformation. All three months of it. (Don't worry, it wasn't hard. I bet you could do it faster.)
Kitchen Cabinets: after.
Kitchen Cabinets: before.
As you can see from the pictures, there was quite a bit more to this makeover than a couple coats of paint. For 10 months, these cheap, orange cabinets sat in our basement while we overhauled the kitchen above. Once we finished building our new walls, we hung the cabinets back up, and I set about disguising them. Step 1 was a process known as "embiggening" the cabinets (that's a technical term, I swear).
Step 1: Make the cabinets look taller.
I built a box out of MDF and anchored it to the wall (you can read more about that process here: I chose MDF because it's cheap yet paintable. This was the point where most of my friends and family began to doubt my design judgement. They clearly lack my vision. In the face of dissent, I just did what I always do: I stuck my fingers in my ears and yelled “LA-LA-LA-LA-LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU AND MY IDEA IS AWESOME LA-LA-LA-LA-LA!” and barrelled on through to Phase 2: Painting.
Step 2: Paint.
I sealed up the kitchen, a la Dexter, and broke out my paint sprayer for this job (which I detail here: I went with Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo -- yup, that's oil-based -- in Mountain Peak White. The best part was keeping the windows open and the A/C off during the hottest week of the year, to allow the paint fumes to escape. Nothing like wearing a paint suit and respirator in a plastic tent in Minnesota in August to make you really wish you had just forked over the cash for new cabinets. Too bad we were fresh out of cash. Anyway. Once the cabinets looked more like cabinets and less like a collection of cardboard boxes taped to the wall, I moved on to Phase 3: adding crown molding.
Step 3: Add some fancy trim.
Ugh, crown molding. How many angles can there possibly be? All I can say is, thank God for wood filler and paint. Let's just say that quality craftsmanship is NOT one of the reasons this whole cabinet makeover took so long. There's more to that story, which you can find here: But, it did eventually get done, and it looked pretty good, too. So I commenced Step 4: Making the Insides Pretty Too.
Step 4: Decorate!
FABRIC! For $7.99 a yard, plus spray adhesive, I covered up the particle-board backs of the cabinets (more on that here: You might not think this is an important step, but let me ask you this: does your spouse leave the cabinet doors open after he's done in the kitchen? Or "she," I guess, but this seems like something only guys do. Does it drive you nuts? I feel your pain! That's why I came up with the fabric solution! Now I can enjoy pretty pink zigzags while passive-aggressively shooting dirty looks at my husband and refusing to just close the damn cabinet door myself! Everybody wins! Speaking of doors:
Step 5: Bling.
I figured, if the doors had to cover up the happy pink zigzags, then we might as well make the doors look classy. My version of “classy” involves spray paint, by the way. And, I wrote a decent tutorial on how to make the installation of hardware easier (here: And now? It’s time for vindication that my judgement was spot-on. Let's have one more before-and-after, shall we?
Cabinets: before.
Cabinets: after.
Okay, okay, one more:
I love a good before-and-after, don't you?
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Sarah's Big Idea
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Frequently asked questions
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3 of 13 questions
  • Janice Koontz Janice Koontz on Oct 29, 2018

    Is the code in your area of the country not require an exhaust fan over a gas stove?

  • Alee Santiago Alee Santiago on Nov 05, 2018

    Did you paint the counter top as well? Or bought new tops ?

  • Eun33582811 Eun33582811 on Nov 05, 2018

    How did you attach the microwave?

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2 of 310 comments
  • Awesome job!

  • CLG CLG on Dec 10, 2018

    I am blown away by what you did...just amazing!! The vertical "lift" makes this smaller kitchen seem larger indeed. Your design is so sleek & minimized - no space to put all sorts of crap above & gunk it up. Congratulations!!