Asked on Nov 19, 2013

Easy fix for missing cabinet doors

I bought my house 10 years ago after my husband died suddenly right before Christmas leaving 5 children ages 1-14. The house is almost 40 years old. Due to a job change we had a one month gap in life insurance policies. So, I have had no budget for repairs, as I have had to do major repairs ie roof, ac, hot water heater. Now the kitchen is just embarassing. Is there an easy inexpensive alternative to cabinet doors? I tried fabric and with children is not very practical. The sink has been fixed by 4 people and still leaks. Im desperate as my son who recently got his masters is bringing his girfriend home forThanksgiving and I do not want him to be embarrased. The rest of the house is ok, but I am at a loss.
  38 answers
  • On a budget I would go to your local home store and look for damaged pieces of paneling/panels and mistinted paint in a medium to dark gray for the cabinets. For now, I would cut out panels to go over the missing drawers. I posted on the pics ideas which I think will help you on a low budget. Painting the cabinets a gray will spruce them up. As for the kitchen sink leaking, where does it leak? faucet, underneath? Many plumbers do guarantee their work so they should have fixed it. To freshen up the kitchen I would also paint the kitchen walls and the countertops and you will have to by polyurethane to seal the cabinets and the countertops but it does not take much. I have painted most of my home and projects with mistinted paint and in the process of painting my kitchen cabinets with a medium gray that I bougtht for $5 and it is a $39 can of paint. I am making chalk paint so I can skip the sanding and priming step (Plaster of Paris needed). Plus you will need a couple days for the paint to cure so it can harden. I find deals all the time and you could too. Always check out the back of the store in the dark corners where they hide the bargains. Ask the paint guys if you cannot find the mistint section and see if they sell it. I buy it all the time at Lowes and Home Depot. You will at least 2-3 quarts and a gallon is better for cost effectiveness. I have even mixed paint to come up with my own color (been doing this a long time). Probably a quart for the countertop. If you find a damaged panel you cut out a fake drawer front and glue it one or use finish nails to attach. then paint. No handles so no one grabs it and rips it off. There is hope and I have worked with less than what you have. I am painting my kitchen now and it sure makes a world of difference and I am doing it for less than $20 in paint!
  • Lynn Lynn on Nov 19, 2013
    My local Craigslist always has free cabinets and drawers from people remodeling. They leave them curbside, maybe you could find some that match your style and paint them.
  • Shari Shari on Nov 19, 2013
    I think Renee is on the right track! A fresh coat of white paint would do wonders! It's a really cheap way to breathe new life into just about anything. Open shelves are a really "in" look right now so I would just capitalize on that. Pull up old, torn and worn shelf liner, paint and then arrange the contents of the cabinets without doors as neatly as possible. You might even want to paint the insides of the cabinets a different color -- something pretty to give the impression you have left the doors off on purpose! Before I even read Renee's comment, I also was going to suggest nailing some pieces of wood across the drawer openings, giving the illusion of a drawer. Once everything was painted, the fake drawer fronts probably would not be too obvious. Now, on another note, I do want to remind you that your son knows the condition of your kitchen. If he were embarrassed, he would not bring his girlfriend, or anyone home. Instead, he is probably proud as a peacock of the wonderful job you have done these past 10 years keeping a roof over his and his siblings' heads despite the very unfortunate and untimely death of their father/your husband. I'm sure he has told his girlfriend "his story" and obviously he thinks she is special enough that she will understand and not be judgmental. Please don't be embarrassed. Enjoy your Thanksgiving with your family to the fullest. It's not about WHAT'S around you but WHO'S around you.
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    • Shari Shari on Nov 19, 2013
      @Nancy Spencer Carlson Awwww, thank you, Nancy. I can empathize with Sherry. In the late 1960s, my mother-in-law suddenly found herself divorced with 4 kids between the ages of 5-14 that she had to support on her own. My husband was the oldest. She had been a housewife and had no job skills so she often worked 2 jobs and long hours at low wage jobs just to keep a roof over my husband's and his sisters' heads, and keep food on the table since my husband's father wasn't man enough to pay the lousy $10/week/per child in child support ordered by the court. My husband recounts his mother often didn't eat, saying she "wasn't hungry," just so there would be enough food for him and his 3 sisters. When my husband took me home the first time to meet his mother, I hope she was proud, not embarrassed, of the very modest home she was able to provide for those kids. After I started dating my husband, his youngest sister was diagnosed with leukemia and died 9 months later, one month after her 12th birthday. I have always thought my mother-in-law was one of the strongest women I ever have known to be able to raise my husband and his sisters on her own and deal with the devastating illness and loss of a child. Sherry's story touched my heart and if she lived anywhere within an hour or two drive of me, I'd be over there in a heartbeat helping her get her kitchen fixed up.
  • Nancy Spencer Carlson Nancy Spencer Carlson on Nov 19, 2013
    Now, my suggestions... (I work fast, CHEAP and 'good enough for gov't work', SO for the purists out there who want it done RIGHT the FIRST time, please skip reading this!) you will need: TSP paint water-based polyurethane paint brush foam paint brush plaster of paris small tub to mix paint/plaster of paris lath strips (nice and smooth) 2" or 2 1/2" entry-door hinges (flat standard hinges) cabinet latches something for door handles paneling/luaun granite-look contact paper super glue razor blade knife (wall paper if you want to cover the doors with it) (drill/hole saw if you have it) a good cutting guy at Lowes/HomeDepot KITCHEN COUNTER. - For the missing edging, glue/staple/nail (whatever you have) a piece of (painted) lath strip all the way around. (the paint is so the paper will stick to it.) - Thoroughly clean the counter with TSP. Don't skip this step. The counter has to be super clean to make the paper stick well. - Get a 5 yd roll of contact paper that looks like granite (see photo). - Cut pieces to cover the backsplash, the depth of the counter, plus the lath strip, plus a tiny bit extra. I'm guessing about 30", but do measure. (You will also need this measurement so you can determine how many pieces you need so you buy enough contact paper.) - Carefully remove the backing at the end of the paper. Stick it to the top of the backsplash then gently pull off the backing from underneath, smoothing it down as you work your way toward the front of the counter. Be careful not to stretch the edges if you have to reposition the paper. This is a time-consuming project, but the results are amazing! - Overlap each section by just a tiny bit. The pattern will match very well with those little pebbles/dots. After the entire counter is finished, take a razor blade and run along the bottom of the lath to make a nice clean edge. Believe it or not, as long as you don't cut directly on the countertop or set anything hot on it, this will last for a long time. If a pieces gets messed up, just replace it! Buy an extra roll just for that evenutality. ;-) FRONT OF THE CABINETS. - Probably will need to paint the frames and existing cabinet doors. Use chalk paint, definitely. It covers well, and dries fast. You can make your own. has a good. The trick is to make sure the PoP is completely dissolved before mixing it with the paint. You might want to do a test paint patch just to make sure it's good. I didn't have any trouble when I made my first batch, but other people seem to have some trouble. - Seal with polyurethane. MAKE SURE TO GET THE WATER BASED STUFF!! For the MISSING CABINET DOORS, - could you hang curtains for just a few days if time is tight? - Or a piece of paneling or luaun cut to fit (take good measurements and have the guys at Lowe's cut it for you!). - Measure the entire width, then have it cut into the appropriate number of doors. - Get some flat hinges and screw to the cabinet frame. Put super glue on the hinge face that will go on the door. carefully put the door in place and hold until the glue sets. I would suggest using gel super glue. The door hardware is standard, and not too expensive. You will need shorter screws for the knobs, since the luaun isn't as thick as standard doors. I would suggest 1" or even 3/4". (They're cheap, but both and return the size you didn't use.) - If you have the $$, pick up some cabinet latches for the inside. Or maybe glue on magnets! That would be a lot easier. Cover the paneling with paint or wall paper (I want to say find a cool poster and glue it on, but that might be a bit difficult to find and probably tacky...) For the MISSING DRAWERS, - cut a piece that will fit inside the glides. Use the leftover pieces of that paneling/luaun. I'm trying to think of a way to make a front, but not coming up with anything. - Might be best immediately to simply cut pieces to cover the opening, tack them on with brads and paint for now. - You might want to remove the existing pieces under the sink and cover them the same as the missing top drawers, just to give it a uniform look. That ought to make you feel some better about the place, and not cost too much nor take too long. Yes, it's fast and cheap, but it can be made to look decent. Good luck! Come visit me at where you can see some other fast and cheap stuff. @Sherry Timmerman If @Shari and I lived (much) closer, we would be right on over to help! But she's right: Your son isn't thinking about the kitchen. Or maybe he is... it will be a good test of the lady he's bringing home! Don't sweat it, okay? Now, Lord Jesus, Sherry needs some help here. Please give her the wisdom to measure accurately (unlike me!), the knowledge to do the work, and make known to her all the little things that she needs to take into consideration. Send her some help by way of manpower. Please also give the children the motivation to help, and give them the skills necessary. Please find Sherry all the things she needs, without costing too much. It would be so much fun watchin' God if you could put the stuff she needs right in her path, and free would be wonderful! Thanks for taking care of this for us, Lord! You are the best contractor I know!
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  • Christa Francis Christa Francis on Nov 19, 2013
    Adding my prayers to yours Nancy. That was wonderful!
  • Julia Douglas Julia Douglas on Nov 19, 2013
    Sherry, where your drawers are missing I would cut a piece of plywood into The missing drawer space and paint it with the rest of the cupboards. Then find baskets to fit for drawers. You can also paint your counter tops. It is a little toxic, but cheep. The other thing I would do is strategically place ladder, drop cloths. paint cans neatly around the room when they get there. No one is going to look at a half finished project and expect perfect. Who knows ...she might want to help....what a fun thing to do together
  • Cynthia E Cynthia E on Nov 19, 2013
    Sherry I ran across this product during a search -- looks to be wonderful and same price as painting countertops (it's a film/ like the appliance film covers, says REALLY durable in fact building an island for kitchen thought about granite but couldn't afford so think I will use this ) . Now I agree with the others for all missing Drawers, put plywood base in and fill empty drawer holes with baskets, whether of wire, metal or natural. For doors leave them off, In fact take them all off I agree completely with Shari in Tampa Fla. go with the open look paint inside and out and arrange things neatly. And on a second note Shari stated it perfectly, no need to be embarrassed in fact you should be proud of what you have accomplished all alone over the years.., relax and enjoy your holidays and if you do redo your kitchen do it for yourself. And show us pictures :)
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    • Cynthia E Cynthia E on Nov 20, 2013
      @Betty I am on a fixed income ( I was looking for the appliance film-- you know ones that make look like stainless steel-- was hoping to find in copper or bronze when I ran across this) we are going to be building a small island, I can't afford granite but I can do this, and from demo very easy to apply.... I am going to put bullnose molding around island top first and then apply this to whole thing , from prices I saw it might be even cheaper than painting and a whole lot easier--- post pictures if you do it :) -- thought could also use this on shelves (even if do everything people have suggested do them 1 step and what you can afford to do at a time) -- look like they were granite also huummmm... Just remember your Son is not embarrassed and neither should you be, a lot more important things like family and taking care of them, Enjoy yourself and family :) On another note where in Carrollton are you ? -- You are in my old hometown. I grew up in Carrollton, (lived on Williams lane) went to Carrollton Elementary and Newman Smith H.S. ,
  • Karen Hart Karen Hart on Nov 19, 2013
    This is what I would do for a temporary "update". If there is a dollar store or something comparable near you, purchase wrapping paper or brown craft paper and decoupage torn pieces to resemble a pattern, tile, or for a leather look use the brown craft paper rubbed with shoe polish then sealed with something relatively durable for now to refresh your counter tops. The cabinet doors I would just give them a good scrubbing and distress them even more and add "new" door handles by using old silverware or dollar store ones. You can bend the forks or spoons to resemble a door pull. For the missing piece I would use some scraps of wood and wood glue and distress that piece also. Where is the sink leaking? If it is the drain the replacement parts can be bought as a kit and are usually relatively inexpensive. If the sink itself is leaking you may get lucky and find a used one at a salvage yard or local thrift shop. Good Luck and don't stress too much over the girlfriend. She should be impressed that you have overcome a tragic circumstance and have raised a successful young man! :)
  • Carole Carole on Nov 19, 2013
    I agree with everything Shari said regarding you should be proud you kept it all together and not feeling any shame or embarrassment about this kitchen! In your shoes with little time to fix it all up before a visit from the girlfriend, I would get some curtain rods or cable and use hardware store purchased canvas painters drop sheets. They are as tough as old boots, cheap to replace when they get grubby and you can get some fabric paint, small sponge roller and some masking tape and put some stripes onto them - not all over, say one thick stripe to the centre of each curtain, with a thinner stripe either side. OOoh La la - with the white distressed looking paint (so what if it is actually distressed and not designer distressed paint! The work is already done for you!) it will look quite French! You could re-do the lining on the cupboard shelves with some Mexican Oil cloth cut to size and glued or use double sided tap to adhere to the shelves. The Mexican Oilcloth is very practical as it is washable as it has a sort of plastic coating over fabric. You can get some terrific colours which you only see when you pull back the curtain to retrieve something from the shelves or a blue gingham oil cloth could be in keeping with the French look. Going forward - if you wanted to redo your kitchen on the cheap at some point - check online and your local papers for houses being gutted or knocked down - check Craigslist or ebay or whatever you have where you can buy second hand kitchens. Some people let their old kitchen which may be in good condition but just not to their taste go really cheap as they need to get rid of it. You might need to get a couple of friends to help you remove the kitchen and transport it to your place though. Just an option for further down the track when you are not suffering so badly financially but still need to work on a tight budget. I would like to add I am so sorry for the loss of your dear husband and it sounds like you should be patting yourself on the back for keeping the family together and keeping a roof over your heads. I hope things improve for you soon. Your kids will be very proud of their strong resourceful mum!
  • Sherry Timmerman Sherry Timmerman on Nov 19, 2013
    Thank you everyone for your suggestions, help and prayers. I could just cry that so many took the time to reply. My son said that they had discussed marrying, so I wanted to make a good impression, not send her wanting to run away! I will take all of your suggestions and I think I can set some long and short term goals for my kitchen. Thank you all so much.
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    • Jane B Jane B on Nov 21, 2013
      @Sherry, I know a little of your experience, as I became a widow four and a half years ago ... but thankfully, my daughter was grown. I don't have anything to add to all these excellent suggestions, but I wish you all the best. Don't be hard on yourself; it sounds to me as if you've done a great job raising your kids.
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Nov 20, 2013
    Sherry, lighten up on yourself. A woman struggling to raise 5 kids alone with no financial help deserves a metal and has the strength most of us can only hope for. Clean up as best you can. Get rid of that paper inside those shelves, wash everything down good and start painting...the baskets sound great! Even wire baskets are adorable! In fact, if you go with the industrial look, wire baskets make great pendant lights for a kitchen! Your prayer should be that your son has picked a lovely girl that can see the difficulties you have gone through and will love you for having been there for your kids. If she is obsessed with having "the best" then give her a hug and wish her the best and pray she never has to face hardships in her life! Goodness, I am old, but I sure wish I lived close so I could come help you work to get that kitchen fixed up!
  • Erin@UpcycledUgly Erin@UpcycledUgly on Nov 20, 2013
    Hi Sherry- I know that the McKinney restore usually has used cabinet doors you can choose from for very little (I want to say around $5?). Another option could be to clean up really well (like @Jeanette S said) and perhaps add some baskets from Marshall's, HomeGoods, etc.-- like an "open cabinet feel"? I bought some cute metal wire-type baskets with a burlap liner from the Marshall's in Frisco for cheap. If you can't afford to repaint, I'd distress the cabinets more as if on purpose (shabby chic!)! I'm with all of these ladies-- wish I could come give you a hug and help you!! Most of all, it sounds like you're a terrific lady. I'm sure your son will be proud to bring his new girlfriend home, no matter what your kitchen looks like!! Blessings to you and yours!!
  • Betty Betty on Nov 20, 2013
    White paint, new hardware and I left the TOP cupboards of my kitchen cupboards with no doors. I had read somewhere that leaving doors off in a small kitchen makes it appear bigger. Which it did. (I have a small kitchen) I could/would not leave them off the bottom cupboards tho. Kids, pets, who knows what could get in there. :) I have to repaint mine too. Can't wait until it is done. :) Good luck.
  • Betty Betty on Nov 20, 2013
    P.S. I think the same builder built our houses. :) My cupboards are the same inside, minus the paper. :)
  • Bobbie Long Bobbie Long on Nov 20, 2013
    check out the salvage businesses. In Knoxville there is a huge wear house that has tons of cabinet doors, lots of different sizes. I bought some for my kitchen. They don't match, but when painted the same color woh cares? Another option is to move some doors from one set of cabinets to the more prominent ones. Ones from up to the down cabinets. Leave the up cabinets open for display. And put that new daughter in law to work! She can help! God bless you honey and meet your every need as only He can!
  • Betty Betty on Nov 20, 2013
    Hi Cynthia! I support myself, so I complete understand. Lucky I might even be able to afford this. I need to find out if it is in the area where I live as I live in a rural area. Or, find it online! I sure hope so! I really like the look of it and the price might be just right! I sent a link to my sister too, just cuz. LOL I think you meant to reply to the writer of the post. :) Just realized when I got to the part about the son. I also replied to her post. It is ok, I learned something today too! About the instant-granite! Thank you for that.
  • Gretchen Gretchen on Nov 21, 2013
    Lightly sand and put a fresh coat of semi gloss paint on what is there. Paint inside the cabinets too in order to lighten them up and not have them be "black holes." Then change out the shelf paper to something solid and neutral (preferably that matches the paint color). I wouldn't rush to cover the openings right now - paint will go a long way in pulling it all together. Have a great time with your son and his girl!
  • Nancy Gramm Nancy Gramm on Nov 21, 2013
    Wow, you've gotten some great responses! IMO, your biggest problem, aside from money, of course, is how little time you have before Thanksgiving to get anything done. I think your best bet right now would be to do what you can and forget the rest. If you can get to ReStore, great. Measure your drawers and look either for replacements or pieces you can nail on the front. Pick up some boxes from the grocery store in sizes that will fit inside your cabinets and paint them all the same color, then use them as baskets. It'll make the shelves look neater without much in the way of cost. Here's a technique to shabbify the boxes (I know; I made up a word and spell check doesn't like it.) Or just paint them. Then sand the heck out of your cabinets to give it a shabby look. If you find it difficult to pull up the paper from the shelves, try blasting it with a hair dryer, then pulling. You may have to do it a little at a time, but the heat should soften the adhesive. Above all, enjoy your Thanksgiving with your family! I know they're proud of you.
  • Sally Sally on Nov 21, 2013
    Consider looking for a Habitat for Humanity ReStore. They have a about everything of stuff not used in the building of one of their houses. TONS of wood in every size you could stain and add nice pulls (usually have those too, cabinets (could use fronts). Appliances to plumbing supplies all at more than reasonable prices
  • Amanda Caldwell Amanda Caldwell on Nov 21, 2013
    I'm not sure if this will help or not, it looks like everyone here has given some great ideas! I was thinking some cheap wooden yard sticks, painted white for a frame and then backed with chicken wire. Not sure it that would fit your kitchen theme or not, but an idea :)
  • N. Susan Hart N. Susan Hart on Nov 21, 2013
    Habitat ReStore is a great idea. I love the doors that are in your kitchen. A coat of paint makes a huge difference. All of the above suggestions are very good. Make everything as easy on yourself as possible. The girlfriend is coming to meet YOU not the kitchen.
  • Connie Shurtz Connie Shurtz on Nov 21, 2013
    Wish I was there to give you a hand. Sweetie are are strong and a powerful woman. Consider taking an old table cloth or curtain and putting the children's handprint's on it and painting, Faith, Hope and Love. If the girlfriend doesn't get it then you know where her heart is. Hugs and Happy Thanksgiving! It's what's on the inside that counts.
  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Nov 21, 2013
    You've raised a son with an education. As long as the house is clean and the food is good, I think you'll be fine. Best suggestions would probably be the simplest - paint adds an amazing look to cabinets that have seen better days. Takes little time, too. You might want to show them your "remodel" ideas for the kitchen because people tend to be enthusiastic with remodel ideas (see all comments!). I'd take care of the sink first before anything else. Maybe some (or all) elements need to be replaced. Habitat stores have some amazing finds, and Home Depot and Lowes often have free classes so you can learn how to do something yourself.
  • Kate Allen Kate Allen on Nov 21, 2013
    I agree with the others. Really clean the house and tear off old contact paper. paint every a fresh coat of white paint and leave it at that. Good luck!
  • Sherry Timmerman Sherry Timmerman on Nov 21, 2013
    Wow! More great ideas! I am going to do what I can this weekend. I have someone coming tomorrow to fix the leak for the fift and hopefully last time. I had never thought if boxes as baskets. I will post after pictures!
  • Sherry Timmerman Sherry Timmerman on Nov 21, 2013
    His girlfriend seems incredible. She is from Texas but her parents are now missionaries in Africa, and she lived there and Paris. I saw some pictures of her in Africa and the surroundings there, so maybe my rustic kitchen will make her feel at home! It feels like a jungle in there!
  • Sally Sally on Nov 22, 2013
    Susan Hart, your idea is the very best. I let people know, if you are coming to see me--you're welcome any time. If you're here to see my house--give me about 6 weeks. But please call ahead. Betty, if you are worried about Thanksgiving and you are cooking, let all your guests you will trade turkey for cabinet doors!
  • Nancy Gramm Nancy Gramm on Nov 22, 2013
    Just returned from Costco and, Sherry, that's the best place to find boxes of all sizes. At ours--and I'm assuming all are the same--you can enter through one door without a membership, and that's where you find the boxes. Good luck.
  • Cynthia E Cynthia E on Nov 23, 2013
    Sherry It might be too late for Thanksgiving, BUT you could tell your whole family now instead of gifts for Christmas for you, that you would love to have a remodel my kitchen party... Let them know you need a new sink (they could chip in on if needed) draw up ideas of what you want in end ... I don't know just popped into my head but I'm sure it would work-- kinda like a barn building party Then you could help someone on a project they have for the home. I don't really know how to set 1 up but I'm sure others might know.
  • Nancy Gramm Nancy Gramm on Dec 03, 2013
    Now that Thanksgiving's over, I'd love to hear how it was for you. Hope it turned out well.
  • Teri Herzog Teri Herzog on Dec 03, 2013
  • Marianne Litkei Grimbly Marianne Litkei Grimbly on Dec 03, 2013
    I would love to know how things turned out.
  • Patricia Brining Patricia Brining on Dec 03, 2013
    We bought a home where the man covered the bathroom closets with paneling to save money. We went to the hardware store and bought white shelving the closest in size =cut them off to proper size and painted the bottom! Put a pull on and the hinges from the old cabinet! Buy one shelf long enough to cut in half for a set of doors! Mine look great and are very easy to clean with the finish! Lowes charges $6 to cut the board for you! God Bless you and your children!
    • Nancy Spencer Carlson Nancy Spencer Carlson on Dec 06, 2013
      @Patricia Brining In all my experience with Lowe's cutting boards for me, the most I have ever been charged is 25 cents a cut. Usually they don't charge me at all! (That could have something to do with the fact that they know us by name - and what project we're working on at the moment!)
  • Z Z on Jan 06, 2014
    @Sherry, how did your meeting with your son's girlfriend go?
  • Therese C Therese C on Jan 06, 2014
    I realize my suggestion is coming far to late to help for the past better late than never. If the upper cabinets are okay (the doors) you could remove all of the lower doors and have plywood cut to the exact size of the old doors, use trim wood and glue it on into a frame around the new plywood doors( don't worry if the pattern doesn't match the top cabinets as you are doing ALL of the lowers), use the old hinges on the new doors, paint them, reinstall them and VOILA! an instant kitchen! You can use the same idea with the missing drawers...plywood, paint, and small hinges to make instant pop down drawer fronts! Good luck and post pictures!
  • Pam Lewandowski Pam Lewandowski on Mar 16, 2016
    Hello fellow Texan. Checking to see how things turned out, Sherry! :)
  • Nancy Spencer Carlson Nancy Spencer Carlson on Apr 07, 2016
    @Sherry Timmerman we all want to know how things worked out!! Did you survived Thanksgiving? Is your son now married to the amazing girlfriend? How's Texas? I want to move there! Looking at Gainesville.
  • Barbara Belanger Barbara Belanger on Feb 22, 2017

    Thanks for the ideas