Asked on Dec 28, 2017

How can I change up old metal kitchen cabinets besides painting them?

I have old 1950's metal kitchen cabinets that we have painted of course many times and many different colors to change up the look of the kitchen. I would love to completely tear them out and replace with wood but our budget will not cover that at this time. The cabinet doors do not come off so anything I would do to them has to be done while they are still hanging on the hinges. I would welcome any ideas/suggestions that others have to spruce up my kitchen and give it a different look. Picture shows one side of the kitchen, opposite side with the oven and stove has too much stuff on it to want to show the public!
  12 answers
  • Ramona Wanger Ramona Wanger on Dec 28, 2017

    Sand them down to bare metal with appropriate sanding tools for metal.(consult with a metal worker skilled person. Create a patern with motion of your sander, like using a circular motion or other motion. ) this would give it a creative industrial modern look. Go crazy with the knobs and handles. I would love to see this if you do it. Hope it works for your project.

    • Darlene Geary DiMaria Darlene Geary DiMaria on Dec 28, 2017

      Thank you Ramona, that sounds like a very interesting project with a very cool outcome I'm sure. I'll think on that one.

  • Sharon Sharon on Dec 28, 2017

    You can use wallpaper on them..... I think white on top and maybe a dark blue or dark gray cabinets on bottom would give a fresh look. Love the new beadboard wallpaper.

    • Darlene Geary DiMaria Darlene Geary DiMaria on Dec 28, 2017

      I really like this idea Sharon, wallpaper would really make a difference and be on the easier side to accomplish. Thank you for this great idea.

  • Kay27246977 Kay27246977 on Dec 28, 2017

    go back to natural and change what you can in the kitchen to match the look

  • Tinyshoes Tinyshoes on Dec 28, 2017

    Can sand and repaint, numerous colors from lights to darks

    • See 1 previous
    • Kara Kara on Sep 15, 2020

      I also have metal cabinets I was thinking of making doors outta pallet wood and just replacing the doors and painting the base. Anyone have any idea if this would work for us?

  • Fiddledd224 Fiddledd224 on Dec 28, 2017

    Apply Contact paper or the heavy duty adhesive marble paper. Make sure you turn the edges over the top instead of cutting flush to the edges or they will start to curl up because of the steam in the kitchen.

    • See 2 previous
    • Fiddledd224 Fiddledd224 on Dec 31, 2017

      I used Contact paper on my apartment kitchen cabinets in the "marble" pattern....not only did the kitchen look modern and clean but it came right off when I moved out :)

  • Cheryl Cheryl on Dec 28, 2017

    Sand & Prime, then spray paint thin coats. I think you could get money for Vintage/ Retro Cabinets & appliances. Then use the money to buy new ones.

  • Lisa King-Boyle Lisa King-Boyle on Dec 28, 2017

    Truthfully, I would do use Rustoleum paint, I know that the will not rust but they look so pretty with this. Lisa

  • Vicky Davis Vicky Davis on Dec 31, 2017

    Why not make them look like wood? Add a 'frame' to each one made of thin strips of wood, so the frames aren't too heavy.

    Either paint to get the wood color, or use contact paper? [Add the frames after the contact paper. Just to the front, so the doors still close. Don't wrap the paper around to the back, since it would just wear out.]

    Paint the edges to match.

    Then get new handles, if you don't care for the ones you have.

  • Jamie Dickerson Jamie Dickerson on Oct 14, 2019

    Keep them and change the knobs, counter tops, and sink if possible. Go with the updated retro look that incorporates some open shelving with them (requires removing some of them) and new backsplash or tile. You can get a great new look and have some great cabinets that you may come to love as is!

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Dec 21, 2020

    Hi there,

    You could give them a Dappled finish using a sponge or brush, or Stencil and or add a trim and enclose Washable Wallpaper or Fabric using Mod Podge. You could change the Handles Have fun.....

  • Kelly Russell Wilson Kelly Russell Wilson on Aug 01, 2023

    I had mine bead blasted and then used marine paint. It settles and leaves no brush markets when tipping as you would on a boat.

    I'm contemplating with the idea of selling my home and although I love my 50s cabinets...they will last another 70 years, I'm afraid they will hamper my sale

  • Mogie Mogie on Aug 06, 2023

    You can really go crazy with all the patterns of contact paper. Would be an easy way to change the look of the piece often.