Guide to Replacing Cabinets - Kitchen & Bathroom

guide to replacing kitchen and bathroom cabinets

One of the first things any visitor to your home will notice are your cabinets. Whether they're in your kitchen or in your bathroom, cabinets can say a great deal about you as a homeowner. If your cabinets have an interesting, thought-provoking look – be it traditional, modern or avant-garde – people will notice. However, if your cabinets are tired, out of place or even falling apart, people may think that you don’t care much about the way your home looks.

Having great-looking cabinets, in your kitchen or in your bathroom, is a lot more important than just impressing the neighbors. They improve the value of your home. For instance, if you are looking to sell your home in the future, one of the first places prospective buyers will look is the cabinets. If the cabinets look great, work with the rest of the interior design and generally add ambiance and texture to the living spaces, you’ll be able to ask for a higher resale price. Poorly designed or out-of-date kitchen or bathroom cabinets are one of the first things a new buyer will look to replace if they don’t like them, so they'll offer a lot less for your home.

Giving your cabinets a new, fresh look doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Sometimes merely updating the hardware that you use on your cabinets – new pulls, handles, knobs or even the mounting hardware – can bring a new look to a kitchen or bathroom, adding a bit of style that helps brings a new sense of life to an entire area.

kitchen and bathroom cabinets

Kitchen and Bathroom

Your kitchen and your bathroom are probably the two most important areas of your home when it comes to resale value. They are almost always the first places prospective homebuyers look. Does the kitchen look tired or too small? Are the cabinets out of place? Is the bathroom too small? Does it look too dingy? As a prospective home seller, you want the answers to all these questions to be “no.”

Even if you’re not thinking about selling your home, these are two areas that you want to reflect your own personal style and provide a comfortable feeling.

how to replace kitchen cabinets

How to Replace Kitchen Cabinets

The first decision you need to make about your kitchen cabinets is whether you want to replace them or reface them. You can definitely save money on a kitchen remodel when you reface instead of totally replacing your kitchen cabinets. You need to make sure that your current cabinets, however, are worth the effort.

Refacing your cabinets instead of replacing them can save you considerably. It’s also a less time-consuming and involved process than putting in new cabinets. It doesn’t require you to move around appliances or locate your cooking duties to some other part of the house. Your kitchen can remain functional while your cabinets are being replaced.

There are several ways to reface cabinets:

  • Paint, stain or refinish your existing cabinets and drawer fronts.
  • Install laminate veneer or new wood over cabinets and drawer fronts.
  • Go for new cabinet doors and drawer fronts.
  • If you want to try something completely different, remove some cabinet doors, especially higher ones and go for the open cabinet look. You can reconfigure or remove interior shelving for a more updated look.

Regardless of what you decide to do, you can use new pulls, handles or hinges to give a great finish to the new look.

Refacing, however, isn’t always the right answer. For instance, older cabinets built before the 1980s were generally constructed of better materials. This allows them to deal better with refacing rather than replacing.

If your cabinets are not high quality, it makes sense to replace them with new ones. For instance, if your current cabinets aren’t deep enough to hold all your cookware or saucepans or tall enough to accommodate trays or glassware, it might be a better idea just to replace them completely.

A third option is to mix-and-match. Some cabinets can be rehabbed while others can be replaced. Talk to a professional contractor or an interior designer about this. It can be a practical way to cut costs and still have a great look.

Popular Cabinet Hardware Ideas and Design Trends for a Kitchen

Popular Cabinet Hardware Ideas and Design Trends for a Kitchen

This year sees many new ideas for cabinets and hardware designed to bring an updated look to your kitchen. Before you start, it’s always a good idea to think about what you want to do and where you want to go. Some questions you might want to ask yourself are:

  • What is my goal?
  • How long do I plan to live in my home? Am I thinking about selling?
  • Will this work for my children?
  • If I don’t have any children, am I planning on having children?
  • What is my budget?
  • When can I get started?

1. Hardware

Changing the hardware for your cabinets can bring a whole new look to your kitchen. New hardware can accentuate any new kitchen design. Here are some hardware types to consider:

  • Wire pulls: These thin curved pulls provide a great grip and make it easier to open cabinets and drawers but don’t compromise style.
  • Bar pulls: You can wrap your fingers all the way around these pulls, getting just the right grip.
  • Hexagon knobs: These geometric knobs provide a contemporary touch to any cabinet.
  • Tiny knobs: If you don’t want to make your hardware the star of your kitchen, think about using small knobs to help make things easily accessible yet don’t pull your eyes away from other areas you want to accentuate in your kitchen.
  • Full-length pulls: A pull that runs the entire length of your cabinet gives a smooth, minimal, clean look to your kitchen.
  • Mortised pulls: These pulls sink right into your cabinets or your drawers. If loose screws have been a problem in the past, they won’t be anymore.
  • Tab pulls: These pulls secure to the sides, the top or the bottom of your cupboards or your drawers. It’s a minimalist finish, but they still allow you to get your fingers under.
  • Pewter and gunmetal hardware: These trends are becoming more popular. Pewter and gunmetal aren't as harsh as black matte or as bold as brass or gold. Both provide depth and texture.
  • Wood and leather drawer pulls: People are interested in organic. For those who want to move away from the chrome and nickel knob and pull to hardware that has a little more warmth, leather and wood drawer pulls are a great choice. You don’t want to overdo it, but using these pulls for drawers on a kitchen island or perhaps a hutch can provide an impactful detail.

2. Other Kitchen Cabinet Design Trends

Kitchen cabinets witnessed many new bold directions recently. This year will likely see many new innovative designs as well.

  • Concealed storage: More homeowners are moving towards concealed storage options in their kitchen designs.
  • Open shelving: This is a trend that is increasingly growing in popularity. Wood, metal or glass shelving replaces upper kitchen cabinets. It’s a trend that’s made its way over from restaurant and hotel spaces. It’s a movement away from the minimalist look that was popular in the past.
  • Colored cabinetry: The all-white kitchen cabinet is a thing of the past. These days people want to incorporate color cabinets that make a statement and create a mood. People are using gray wash blues and colors like hunter green. When paired with the right fixture or hardware, such as brass, they provide a great look.
  • Contrasting textures: Look for contrasting textures and sleek finishes to make an appearance this year. Cupboards and cabinets that feature textured bronze inlays with matte fronts on sandblasted timber is one possibility. It’s a great idea for anyone who is looking for a touch of urban glamour.
  • Combination of classic and modern: This comes from people who desire to have integrated looks with all the amenities but don’t want a kitchen that looks like it’s from the Jetsons. They want kitchens that provide new features like smart appliances but still feel welcoming and warm.
  • Matte black is as popular as ever: While some people may want to move away from the matte black finish, the reality is that it’s still a dominant choice for hardware accents, kitchen fixtures and profile details. It’s a crisp accent color in a light-colored kitchen. Matte black finishes add some drama without plunging your kitchen into darkness.
  • Stainless steel hardware: Don’t think about using stainless steel for only knobs and pulls. You want to use stainless steel nuts, bolts and screws because they help bring attention to detail and craftsmanship.

How to Replace Bathroom Cabinets

You'll have the same choice to make about replacing bathroom cabinets. Do you want to reface them instead?

This often depends on the age of your bathroom cabinets. Another concern is cabinet size. An older cabinet may not have enough space for toiletries and other bathroom items. This is particularly true if you have a growing household and a limited amount of bathroom space.

If your older bathroom cabinets still satisfy your space needs, think about installing new hardware and trying a fresh coat of paint. Wash the cabinet down, sand it, and then apply the new coat of paint. After the paint dries, put on your new hardware. The new hardware should reflect your style – it could be newer and modern or perhaps warm and traditional but with a bit more style.

Another reason that you might want to replace your older cabinets is moisture. Bathrooms get a lot of wear and tear. So you want to choose materials that stand up to heat and excessive moisture. The last things you want to find in a bathroom cabinet are mold and mildew. It may be time for those old cabinets to be replaced by newer cabinets that have more up-to-date sealing that prevents the growth of mold and mildew.

Popular Cabinet Trends and Cabinet Hardware Ideas for Bathroom

No one wants a cluttered-looking bathroom, so there’s a movement towards cleaner and brighter looks.

  • White cabinets: White continues to be a popular bathroom cabinet trend. The colors go with almost all bathroom styles and any other colors because of the neutrality of white. White cabinets also make your space look larger, which is particularly important if you have a small bathroom.
  • Open shelving: Open shelving is not just popular in kitchen cabinets but in bathroom cabinets as well. They can give a bathroom a more luxurious, spa-like look and make it friendlier and more inviting. It’s also another way to make your space look larger than it is.
  • Brushed nickel hardware: Nickel is one of the more popular choices for hardware for bathroom cabinets, with chrome a close second. They work well with the cooler, neutral colors that are more popular for bathroom cabinets and vanities.
  • Floating bathroom cabinets or vanities: This is a very contemporary look. Floating vanities make a modern statement about your bathroom. A wide cabinet or vanity provides an ultra-sleek minimalist style.
  • Barn door cabinets: This is currently a very popular home décor item. These mounted cabinets often have open spaces on one side and a barn door-inspired cabinet door on the other side. They are both stylish and functional.

Other Areas To Consider

If you’re thinking about remodeling or refacing your cabinets, you might want to make this part of an overall remodel.

Other changes you might want to consider include:

  • Flooring: If your floor is tile, do you want new tile? Or perhaps you would prefer hardwood? Think about the overall look that you want to bring to your room.
  • Countertops: If your kitchen is old when you replace your cabinets, you might also consider replacing your kitchen countertops. Think about how your cabinets will work with other new wooden countertops or perhaps granite countertops. Countertops also play a role in the kind of hardware you’ll choose. You want your cabinets, hardware and countertops to work together.
  • Lighting fixtures: There is nothing worse than working in a too dark kitchen. It is the bane of every cook, and if your kitchen is a frequent gathering place for your family, friends or guests, it’s just unpleasant. Look into new and updated lighting fixtures that will provide much more light for your kitchen area if the current ones don’t provide enough.
  • Appliances: Appliances do so many things these days. Refrigerators tell you that you are out of a certain item. Dishwashers hold many more dishes than older models. Coffee makers brew that perfect cup of coffee. If you're remodeling your kitchen, think about replacing some of your older appliances. After all, you don’t want to have new cabinets, new flooring and new lighting fixtures with old tired-looking appliances that just drag down the overall look you’re trying to achieve.

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