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Updating kitchen cabinets make tired drab kitchens look fresh again. Knowing how to update kitchen cabinets, can save you the cost of completely replacing them. Most cabinets, no matter how unattractive or outdated, can be drastically improved by following the tips below.
  • Clean your cabinets. A good cleaning may bring new luster to tired but handsome wood. Try TSP to remove grim and grease.

  • Change the hardware. Try something zippy, like bent twig fork handles, hand-painted ceramic knobs, clear glass handles and knobs, or metal pharmacy pulls. For unity, match cabinet hardware and faucet finishes (all brass, copper, steel, iron, or so on).

  • Paint them. A little paint goes a long way. Are you going Contemporary? Paint simple cabinets with a high gloss lacquer-look finish in a zingy new color or colors. For example, paint base cabinets one color and wall-hung cabinets another. Antiqued cabinets in off white, buttery yellow, mellow rose, watermelon red, and apple green add an Old World charm that’s especially comforting. Paint cabinets high-gloss white for an instant Country look. Or stain them a natural, wood color in the Victorian style.

  • Add bead board as a backsplash and paint it a crisp white. Paint your cabinets’ outsides white and the insides a nautical blue for a seaside effect.

  • Relaminate all cabinets in one solid color. Or, for a more Contemporary or Eclectic look, mix and match colors and interesting patterns. For example, keep the cabinet boxes plain and add different colored or patterned doors (or vice versa).

  • Exchange old doors on plain cabinets. Try new fancy doors in the style of your choice.

  • Add classic architectural trims to plain cases. You can include fluted pilasters at the corners, pediments, and crown moldings on top or deep base moldings at the bottom.

About This Article

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About the book authors:

Katharine Kaye McMillan, former senior editor of a New York City-based national magazine, is a writer whose work appears regularly in magazines and newspapers. She is a contributing writer to internationally circulated Florida Design Magazine. She is the co-author of several books on decorating and design, including Sun Country Style, which is the basis for licensed signature collections of furniture and accessories by three leading American manufacturers and importers. A graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, she holds a masters degree in psychology and is a doctoral student in psychology at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida.

Patricia Hart McMillan is a nationally known interior designer, whose interior design work for private clients, designer showcases, and corporations has appeared in publications worldwide, including the New York Times and USA Today. Known as a trend spotter and for clearly articulated views on design, she is quoted frequently and extensively in both trade and consumer publications. She a ppears on TV and talk radio. A prolific writer, she is coauthor and author of seven books on interior design and decoration, with Sun Country Style signature collections of furniture based on two books. She has taught decorating courses at several colleges and conducted numerous seminars across the U.S. She is decorating editor for Christian Woman Magazine and reports on design trends for The Sun-Sentinel, a Tribune newspaper based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She has been editor-in-chief of two publications and was head of a New York City-based public relations firm representing some of the most prestigious names in home furnishing and building products. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a minor in art history (with an emphasis in architecture), from the State University of New York (New Paltz). She was awarded a certificate from The New York School of Interior Design.

Katharine Kaye McMillan, former senior editor of a New York City-based national magazine, is a writer whose work appears regularly in magazines and newspapers. She is a contributing writer to internationally circulated Florida Design Magazine. She is the co-author of several books on decorating and design, including Sun Country Style, which is the basis for licensed signature collections of furniture and accessories by three leading American manufacturers and importers. A graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, she holds a masters degree in psychology and is a doctoral student in psychology at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida.

Patricia Hart McMillan is a nationally known interior designer, whose interior design work for private clients, designer showcases, and corporations has appeared in publications worldwide, including the New York Times and USA Today. Known as a trend spotter and for clearly articulated views on design, she is quoted frequently and extensively in both trade and consumer publications. She a ppears on TV and talk radio. A prolific writer, she is coauthor and author of seven books on interior design and decoration, with Sun Country Style signature collections of furniture based on two books. She has taught decorating courses at several colleges and conducted numerous seminars across the U.S. She is decorating editor for Christian Woman Magazine and reports on design trends for The Sun-Sentinel, a Tribune newspaper based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She has been editor-in-chief of two publications and was head of a New York City-based public relations firm representing some of the most prestigious names in home furnishing and building products. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a minor in art history (with an emphasis in architecture), from the State University of New York (New Paltz). She was awarded a certificate from The New York School of Interior Design.

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