Dated cabinets, don't even know what kind they are

I'm buying a new house, built in 85, these are the cabinets in the house. I'm trying to make my house beachy and the yellow tiles are ok, but the cabinets suck. I don't know what to do other than take them down and build shelves, to hold plates, glasses etc. Any ideas? I'm getting house through the USDA so they won't pay for renovating, only basic repairs. So I have to do anything else on my own. I need to keep costs down. Paint is cheap, but I don't know if it would help these cabinets any.
  27 answers
  • Shirley Shirley on Mar 05, 2015
    Cabinets look like formica...Mine were dark like that as well. Hubby won't replace as they are fine structurally....(go figure, these will last FOREVER!) However I painted mine and they look great, real happy with results. You must first clean, clean, clean! I gave mine 3 coats of primer (probably over kill) and 2 coats of semi gloss water enamel.....Did this approx 14-15 years ago and just now are needing a touch up. No yellowing at all...Let me see if I can find a pic for you.
  • Kathleen Mccarthy Kathleen Mccarthy on Mar 05, 2015
    Thank you,i thought maybe a pressed board,with some kinda veneer,but i'll look up formica cabinets,see what i can find,thank again. The cabinets are in good shape,i just think their ugly,lol
  • Schwarzy Schwarzy on Mar 05, 2015
    Definitely not the prettiest, but the cabinets look like they're in great shape otherwise. We're buying our first house and have a similar dilemma. Paint and new hardware will do the trick to renew your cabinets. And if you don't like the design in the doors, fill them in, sand and paint.
  • Kathleen Mccarthy Kathleen Mccarthy on Mar 05, 2015
    ya the design ,i dont like it, how can i cover it up?
  • Shirley Shirley on Mar 05, 2015
    Sorry about the people in the pics but they will give you an idea........Since They need a little refreshing this year, I'm thinking of staying white in the top and going a different color on the bottom.....I have plans! :) Hope this helps.....
    • Mary Mary on Mar 06, 2015
      @ @Shirley I would keep them all white which is always a refreshing color
  • Shari Shari on Mar 05, 2015
    Congratulations on your new home! Paint can improve just about anything and essentially, nothing gives more bang for your buck than paint! Fresh paint will make a world of difference in your kitchen. I agree with the others; clean well with a de-greasing type cleaner, prime (don't skip priming with a bonding primer!) and paint with a good quality paint designed for kitchen cabinets. After all, kitchen cabinets take a beating and painting them is a lot of work so you want the paint job to be durable and long-lasting. Personally, I would not take down the upper cabinets and replace them with open shelving. That is a very trendy look right now and it looks great in pictures but for me, it would not be practical. I don't know about you but at least 90% of the stuff I have in my cabinets would not be pretty enough to be on display. I don't find the groove in the doors and drawers offensive at all. It gives the doors some dimension and interest, rather than being just flat and plain, and once the cabinets are painted, I think the grooves will be less noticeable. However, I would most definitely remove the hardware in the center of the doors and fill the holes before you paint so you can install new knobs at the corner of the doors, which is the more common placement now. With just paint and new hardware, I'm willing to bet it won't look anything like the old kitchen when you are done. Good luck!
    • Shirley Shirley on Mar 05, 2015
      @Shari Yep, my cabinets had the center pulls as well...Filled, sanded and painted over them, added hardware at the "corners" and you can't tell....
  • The Rozy Home The Rozy Home on Mar 05, 2015
    I actually love your cabinets! They are so unique! I would give them a nice coat of white paint and, with the yellow backsplash, it would give you the beach look you want. Good luck!
  • Kathleen Mccarthy Kathleen Mccarthy on Mar 05, 2015
    ya,they are unique,i cant find any like them to even see I do see some close but not exactly like them,dont get me wrong,their in great shape,just wish the owner had gone with oak or something when they built the house,or updated to a beadboard cabinet type,lol.I will probably end up painting them,and hoping for the best.
    • See 1 previous
    • Terry Terry on Mar 05, 2015
      @Kathleen Mccarthy The cabinets on fixerup that look exactly like yours were wood not sure yours are not wood?
  • Brian S Brian S on Mar 05, 2015
    You could cover them with beadboard and then frame around that with lattice like the doors on this entertainment center. That would be simple enough.
  • Kathleen Mccarthy Kathleen Mccarthy on Mar 05, 2015
    I like that idea Brian ! Thanks.
    • Brian S Brian S on Mar 05, 2015
      @Kathleen Mccarthy If they are indeed formica, just make sure that the lattice is all the way to the edge so you don't have to paint the formica on the front.
  • Shirley Shirley on Mar 05, 2015
    These were the cabinets in my sisters rehab house.....they too were formica.
  • Jody Jody on Mar 06, 2015
    I agree with the paint. I know a number have used chalk based paints like Van Gogh Fossil paint. You wouldn't need to do any prep work other than cleaning them really well. It saves on the the cost and time and the transformations are beautiful.
  • Annette White Annette White on Mar 06, 2015
    You can"t imagine how much better they would look with white paint and new hardware. We were on a budget and spray painted the hardware too!! 100% better!
    • Phyllis W Phyllis W on Mar 09, 2015
      @Annette White That was my thought too. Brighten up the space. I was thinking of a gold pain in the groves and it will have a French Provincial look. Have fun!
  • Mary Mary on Mar 06, 2015
    I would remove the hardware and fill holes. Then use Rust-O-Leum Cabinet Transformation! This stuff is AMAZING! Everything you need comes in the "kit" and there is no sanding involved! There are lots of colors from which to choose, in a "light" category and "dark". In your case, I would stick with white. There is a CD included in the kit that explains everything. They recommend removing the doors, however, I never have, and it works fine. Best feature, is that it goes over ANY substrate, and has proven to be super durable! (I should do a commercial for them!) I've used this product for several clients on kitchens as well as bedroom furniture, and even tables we custom built. Highly recommend!! Good luck!
  • Barbara C Barbara C on Mar 06, 2015
    You can also remove some if the doors to have your cabinets more open. Paint the inside a light color to set off whatever you display.
  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Mar 07, 2015
    Definitely paint. It will brighten up your kitchen. You can put a trim around the grooves to hide them. Am not a fan of removing doors to make open shelves in a kitchen. I would remove the wood valence on the kitchen window. If there is a light behind it, I would then remove the curves. I'd also replace the curtains (as cute as they are) with a simple mini-slat blind.
  • Swan Road Designs Swan Road Designs on Mar 07, 2015
    I think @Brian S is on the right track. However, in order to save some time and money, you might use beadboard wallpaper instead of beadboard itself. The application would be simple and most likely allow you to spend the money difference on some more-decorative molding to trim around the wallpaper.
  • Moxie Moxie on Mar 07, 2015
    I would paint them and maybe even outline the recess detail an stencil in the middle ..or if you want more modern are they real wood doors? Can you flip them and then paint them so you don't have the recess detail at all? Paint and hardware really can make a huge difference on a budget.
  • Liliana Wells Liliana Wells on Mar 08, 2015
    One of former neighbors filled in the indentations in the fronts with paint-able wood putty. After drying, sanded and then painted them white. Prep is the base for a successful paint job. Don't rush any of the steps. Good luck.
  • Trudy Hibler Trudy Hibler on Mar 09, 2015
    Remove a couple of doors and the hinges and paint the rest white. The indentations can either be filled in with wood putty...a labor intensive job but worth it, or paint them. I also recommend chalk paint (making your own is so much less expensive...use calcium carbonate as the add in since it is chalk) since it requires less prep work. Check out D. Lawless for hardware. I don't usually mention a store by name, but they have some incredible buys on hardware and there's free shipping with orders over $50.00.
  • Bev Bev on Mar 09, 2015
    Oh,that kitchen could be so cute!!! It's a novel just waiting to be written!!!! Go with white,or soft grey,maybe both,white on top,grey on bottom cabinets....Take down all the doors,save the hinges and screws,clean the doors,frames and interiors with tsp. if the cabinets are in good shape and you like a rather antique finish,Rustolium puts out a great kit for cabinets. You could also do chalk paint,but I would sand,prime,and use a sprayer for a hard beautiful finish. You can also " transform " your countertops to look like granite. Have a ball,and good luck.
  • Lisa Kaplan Gordon Lisa Kaplan Gordon on Mar 09, 2015
    Why not spray paint them a soft yellow, if that's your color. A little paint and new pulls will make all the difference.
  • Jeansandtshirtschick Jeansandtshirtschick on Mar 09, 2015
    I've seen these kind of cabinets trimmed out with shaker style trim and painted white. They looked fantastic! Attach flat trim right over the routed areas and fill any areas that still show. Also, I'd remove scalloped wood valance over sink.
  • Leslie Leslie on Mar 10, 2015
    Frame out cabinets with wood trim that is wide enough to cover the grooves. Watch the thickness of the trim you buy so as not to hinder any of the doors from opening fully. Remove handles from center of doors and fill in holes with wood putty and sand smooth. Paint cabinets white or light gray. Install new handles where they are traditionally intended to be....not in center of cab. Remove as many of upper cab doors as possible and paint insides same color you choose for cab doors. Remove scalloped piece over window area. It is going to look fantastic!
  • Kayo Frazier Kayo Frazier on Mar 17, 2015
    Ok, Here's my 2 cents...I would take down all the doors, then figure out which cabinets you would like to keep open. Set aside those doors in the garage. For the remaining upper doors I would trim them out then get paint able ceiling tiles for the middle part of the door, you can find them @ Lowe's or Home Depot. For the bottom cabinets, trim them out & add bead board in the middle of the door. For all the cabinets I'd paint them white inside & out.. Hope this helps.
  • Beth Gee Beth Gee on Mar 17, 2015
    Go to They have gel stain that requires only light sanding. Remember if you paint, you have to keep them painted you will never get all the paint off. I am 3/4th of the way finished with mine. Great product. And no, I don't work for them! Lol
  • Suzanne Suzanne on Mar 19, 2015
    Paint hides a multitude of sins (esp. centered hardware). Fill the hardware holes and look for some hardware closeouts after painting those babies white (the cabinets). Whatever you do, please don't put any gold paint in the groves. Paint the color right over the grooves to de-emphasize, minimize the groves. Once you get the cabinets under control, the rest will emerge with accents with yellow. Painting is easy these days...light sanding with a mouse sander if have one, primer (Kilz maybe) and top coat. Viola! Magic! Some chrome hardware to match the stainless sink maybe! You won't believe how you can transform those cabinets and inexpensively. Keep us posted.