Asked on Mar 10, 2014

What to do about old ugly metal cabinets?

Kelly Seifer
by Kelly Seifer
Just moved to an old farmhouse. We are renting it, however the old farmer doesnt mind if I change cabinets (good thing too). He's got these horrible metal cabinets put in that I just know he grabbed from one of his old barns when he was attempting to fix place up to rent out. Anyone have any ideas how I can re-face these ugly beasts?
  58 answers
  • Mary Mary on Mar 10, 2014
    You could stencil them and maybe add knobs to jazz them up.
  • Shari Shari on Mar 10, 2014
    Despite the metal cabinets, you sure have got the kitchen fixed up cute! It looks very "farm house-y." :) Perhaps you could use liquid nails (or something similar) to attach some trim molding on the center area of each door and apply a fresh coat of paint. I think the addition of some hardware would improve the look too and with the right drill bit, you can probably drill through the metal to attach knobs or handles.
  • KimbaCakes KimbaCakes on Mar 10, 2014
    Decoupage! Find a print or poster that you like and adhere to the cabinets or use food labels like soup, coffee etc... Or paint them a color that would better blend with the rest of your kitchen.
  • Martha Cannon Martha Cannon on Mar 10, 2014
    We had metal cupboards.. We took them to an automobile body shop and had them painted.. They came out wonderful!
  • Linda Brubacher Linda Brubacher on Mar 10, 2014
    Mosaic :)
  • Dotti Johnson-Porrett Dotti Johnson-Porrett on Mar 10, 2014
    get old pallets and glue them on the face of the doors and then paint them. Maybe some rustic pulls, even if you have to get regular (cheap) pulls and then put willow twigs on them.
  • Brenda Williams Brenda Williams on Mar 10, 2014
    Open shelving maybe
    • Dch243428 Dch243428 on Mar 10, 2014
      @Brenda Williams I agree....there is already a lot of great things going on in that kitchen. I think open shelving would be the best solution and would fit the decor without overwhelming the design. I LOVE a lot of visual interest in a room but there comes that 'tipping point' when it is just one thing to many and starts to look over done.
  • Sandy Keel Zager Sandy Keel Zager on Mar 10, 2014
    I would paint the lower cabinets white and put new knobs on top and bottom to match. And like Shari said maybe put some moulding on them. Your kitchen looks very cute as it though.
  • Shirley Smith Shirley Smith on Mar 10, 2014
    barn wood cut to cover them?
  • Donna Baisden Donna Baisden on Mar 10, 2014
    Knobs on cabinets,something with black on them
  • Nur306798 Nur306798 on Mar 10, 2014
    Remove doors and place of black and white and reon the back wall
  • Rae Busch Rae Busch on Mar 10, 2014
    I was going to suggest decoupage as well; I'm partial to book daughter did her entire guest room/study walls, it looks amazing...there are also some fun spray-paint finishes that look WAY cool and work very well on metal: hammered copper, etc. Enjoy whatever you decide to do!
  • The bottom cabinets need to be painted/distressed…maybe black, even red. Hardware change on all. Then accents and decor to compliment.
  • Bazen interiors Bazen interiors on Mar 10, 2014
    Flat black paint. Add knobs and you could apply a stained wooden strip in an x pattern to the front w liquid nails. Next option would be paint bottom white and get all matching knobs. Open shelves would be great as well! Keep it to white bowls and plates and glasses though. People over clutter w open shelving.
  • Pam Arnold-Cartwright Pam Arnold-Cartwright on Mar 10, 2014
    I agree with Sandy, I'd paint the bottom cabinets white and add black hardware to the top and bottom. Good luck with what ever you do, the kitchen is charming.
  • Harriett Anderson Harriett Anderson on Mar 10, 2014
    Know anyone who can paint tromp 'liel ? Have them paint the cabinets to look like there is something else inside.....
  • Linda Radcliff Linda Radcliff on Mar 10, 2014
    I like the white cabinets, perhaps a simple stencil on them then antique the base cabinets in a dark green stain There is already a lot going on in the kitchen, so I think open shelving would be a bit much. I love what you have done with the kitchen already .
  • Nancy Stivers Smith Nancy Stivers Smith on Mar 10, 2014
    Open shelving for would absolutely finish this space off beautifully and it opens up that cute little window above the sink...cute space :-)
  • Linda Maglio Linda Maglio on Mar 10, 2014
    Could you do something with that bead board material?
  • Kelsie Baxter Kelsie Baxter on Mar 10, 2014
    vintage look decals or stencil work
  • Funnygirl Funnygirl on Mar 10, 2014
    Cover them in burlap with black knobs.Too plain?you can also use coffee burlap bags which have writing on them .Im thinking of doing that to my cabinets also.If you don't like burlap a different fabric will work also.
  • York Gardener York Gardener on Mar 10, 2014
    You might find some appealing appliance magnets or other large format ones that would change the look of the cabinets.
  • Barbara Barbara on Mar 10, 2014
    Metal cabinets are so retro, I have them in my kitchen , they have glass door that slide open. install tracking and replace the doors with fancy glass, mine are so beautiful, they have florescent lights under them. Mine are paint a beautiful color, ponderosa pine, it's similar to an aqua color. I love my metal cabinets, my lower cabinets are off white with butter scotch glaze. Maybe not your taste but just an idea
  • Melissa W Melissa W on Mar 10, 2014
    I have a group on Face Book and this is what we do. We help each other with decorating ideas. Please join our group and I'm sure we will be able to help you our with those cabinets.
  • Tina Wickham Tina Wickham on Mar 10, 2014
    I would paint them there are different ideals out there you could hot glue picture frames without glass on them before painting
  • Rose Rose on Mar 10, 2014
    if you like the bottom cabinets you can get a stain that matches them that is for metal and stain them I did that to our cabinets in the old farm house we use to live in
  • Keith B Keith B on Mar 10, 2014
    You could use wood veneer it can be glued with contact cement, cuts with a utility knife, and can be stained. You could also use laminate in a wood grain color but need specialty tools.
  • Deb Runkel Deb Runkel on Mar 10, 2014
    Why not strip the paint off and do like a hammered tin facing.
  • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on Mar 10, 2014
    @Kelly Seifer lots of good ideas on here. You are renting so don't want to spend a lot. You could use the paper decoupage technique on it. You apply paper with kilute lepages glue and then when dry stain and then when you get the depth of colour you want you apply verathane. Very simple technique and inexpensive. Leaves a leather look appearance. If you sear ht for brown paper you will come up with several sites that have used. I do have links in my posts.
  • Beatrice Abfalter Beatrice Abfalter on Mar 10, 2014
    Cover with leather or like leather?
  • Sandy Eck Sandy Eck on Mar 10, 2014
    I love the white metal cabinets. That's how old farmhouses was back in the day.
  • Janeece Trontvet Janeece Trontvet on Mar 10, 2014
    I've never had open cabinets myself, but love them on some of these sites--I think that's the way to go too. You can find a piece of wood for shelves and it would be an easy fix.
  • Suzette Hagen Suzette Hagen on Mar 10, 2014
    How about wall paper, or contact paper for the metal? ( there are NEW designs in contact paper) The wood ones ( on bottom) can be sanded and painted another color... add decorative knobs!!! How about BARN RED in semi gloss????
    I like them. Paint them a color you like better!
  • Angie Magee Gustin Angie Magee Gustin on Mar 10, 2014
    I like the white cabinets! Maybe put some long handles on. Something rustic.
  • Tomi Belgard Tomi Belgard on Mar 10, 2014
    I like the white cabinets too, you have done a lovely job on decorating the whole kitchen I think they fit right in. Maybe some pretty pulls, but you nailed it girl!!
  • Jamile B Jamile B on Mar 10, 2014
    They have painting kits for formica counters that look like granite. If you could find one that matches the counter then it would look great.
  • Dana Corby Dana Corby on Mar 10, 2014
    Metal cabinets are wonderful -- I love the one I rescued from a curb nearly 20 years ago and currently have in my laundry room. But if you don't like them, that's fine. As my mother always said, "That's why they make so many flavors of ice cream." But since they don't actually belong to you, I'd like to suggest what I did about that same time to my then-landlord's hideous harvest gold refrigerator: cover them with Contact (adhesive vinyl) and paint over that. When the time comes to return them to their original color, you just peel it off.
  • Deb Higgins Deb Higgins on Mar 10, 2014
    Take off the metal doors, replace with a wooden frame with chicken wire inside the frame. Or just take off the door completely, paint or stain the remaining white with a color to match the bottom cupboards and just have open shelves.
  • Diane Day Diane Day on Mar 10, 2014
    check out what @FunkyJunk Interiors - Donna did to her cabinets & how it's not permanent so you can switch it out & take it down when/if you move
  • Gerri Smith Veatch Gerri Smith Veatch on Mar 10, 2014
    I think a hammered metal paint would look awesome.
  • Julie Birt-Thueson Julie Birt-Thueson on Mar 11, 2014
    Try painting them with a lacquer paint.
  • Gregory Tim Johnson Gregory Tim Johnson on Mar 11, 2014
    Use a stencil of your choice that will blend with your theme for the kitchen, an add some color to it to make it stand out more ...
  • Janine H Janine H on Mar 11, 2014
    paint bottom ones white as well, add fork and spoon pulls, handmade, very farmhouse!
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Mar 11, 2014
    There are some great spray paints around these days. My son painted his curb side find bench in a copper color and it is beautiful. He put on new wood and it now sits in an alcove on the front porch! I would paint the bottom cabinets a charcoal and then the top metal ones pewter. Then accent the kitchen with white walls (not a blue white) with a touch of red. That would be stunning.
  • Beverly Stamp Beverly Stamp on Mar 11, 2014
    Had the same issue here, cabinets were white, the bottoms brown...yuck. Painted them a creamy color, they now look like wood ! Added country checked curtains with the pip berries & added glass shelves to the sides to display some roosters..
  • Emma Pettit Emma Pettit on Mar 11, 2014
    Paint them with a wood grain roller cover.
  • Sally Lauren Sally Lauren on Mar 11, 2014
    I like them - but paint the bottom ones white to match -
  • Michele Eures Michele Eures on Mar 11, 2014
    The white looks ok, but they get lost in the white wall behind them. When I look at the picture I see brown and white. Maybe the metal cabinets could be in an accent color like a barn red, or rust. And then, I like the suggestion from someone about the stenciled graphic over it. Do you have a program on your computer like photoshop or ArcSoft photo studio? I uploaded your picture to my program and played with painting them different colors. I like the look of the rusty red color. This was just a rough coloring job. lol But you get the idea.
    comment photo
  • Heather Gibbs-Kennedy Heather Gibbs-Kennedy on Mar 11, 2014
    Rust-oluem cabinet restoration. Can g it at home depot and it is so simple to use and only cost $80.00. I did mine with it and my family and friends thought I went out and bought new cupboards
  • Bonny Wikle Bonny Wikle on Mar 11, 2014
    Just having a kitchen would be nice! LOL We are building and camping all at the same time!
  • Maggie McGoo's Mom Maggie McGoo's Mom on Mar 11, 2014
    What if you would make board & batten "shutters" and attach to fronts?
  • G. Bryant G. Bryant on Mar 11, 2014
    Remove the doors and replace w/framed glass paneled doors or do the chicken wire thing, and there's always a favorite color paint you/wife like. Or, take the doors off, paint the back of the cabinets and use some nice doilies for accents like shelf paper.
  • Shirley Shirley on Apr 27, 2015
  • Leslie Leslie on Apr 27, 2015
    With the landlords permission, I would paint upper and lower cabinets in a light to medium gray. It will lighten the look of the room and coordinate with your counter top. Buy 4 handle/pulls that resemble the ones on the lower cabinets and install them on top cabs. Should be an economical fix, as you will only need sandpaper to take the shine off the lowers and some latex paint. Gallon of paint from Walmart around $17 a gallon.
  • PennyB9 PennyB9 on Aug 16, 2015
    For a quick and reversible fix, I've seen very nice results on metal cabinets with both wallpaper and contact paper. And there are some beautiful designs in modern contact paper.
  • Penny Penny on Jun 20, 2016
    i would just take the doors off and have open shelving.....then paint the frames to match your kitchen.....oh, i just love your kitchen!