Among the upgrades most sought in a kitchen are new cabinets and appliances, granite, marble, or even concrete countertops, and the ubiquitous farmhouse-style sink top the list. If the expense of these renovations is out of reach, however, there are some simple changes that can give your kitchen a new look. Open shelving, for example, can breathe new life into aging wood cabinets.
If you spend much time flipping through decorating magazines or watching home-makeover shows on TV, you’ve probably seen kitchens with open shelving. As part of a kitchen remodel, it’s probably not the first thing we think about … but as an inexpensive way to upgrade the busiest room in the house, it probably deserves consideration.
The trend of open shelving creates an elegant place to display dishware, crystal, antiques, your cookbook or wine collection, dry goods, or even your canning jars. With a little time and effort, you can create this look in your kitchen.
Here’s what to do:
- Remove the doors to some (or all) of your upper cabinets. The look is especially attractive with cabinets that line a single wall. Note: you won’t want to do this to lower cabinets that store cleaning products or that hide plumbing.
- Carefully remove hinges. Fill any remaining holes or gouges in the cabinet faces with wood filler or a product appropriate for your cabinet material. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to achieve the best results.
- Sand and smooth the cabinet faces. Wipe them down with a degreaser cleaner. For primer and paint to stick, the surface should not have any oil or grease.
- Prime the entire cabinet (inside and out) with a high-quality paintable primer. Priming is important to cover darker colored wood or paint, stains, discolorations, and to hide any repairs you’ve made to the surface.
- Paint your cabinets with a paint designed for the surface of the cabinets. Use a satin, semi-gloss, or gloss finish. Apply your paint with a small flat roller designed for smooth finishes. You’ll probably need more than one coat, so give plenty of drying time between coats, and take care to avoid drips as they will mar your elegant finish.
- Create a new look with crown molding or specialty trim. Add a subtle geometric wallpaper to the shelf back for an interesting effect. For a farmhouse motif, use a print with fine, vertical stripes or chicken-wire design.
- Install lighting in the cabinets to highlight your special display. If there is no power outlet nearby, use battery-operated puck lights.
- Paint lower cabinets a complementary or contrasting color to finish out your look. Lighter upper cabinets with darker lower ones add depth and dimension to a smaller kitchen.
Finish out your look by filling the shelves with artful stacks of dishes or pottery, books, and jars of colorful nuts, seeds, peas, and beans.
If you’re upgrading your kitchen to place it on the market, seek the advice of your real estate professional on popular and trending color choices for your project.