5 Ways to Spruce Up Builder Grade Kitchen Cabinets

When it comes to improving a kitchen, giving builder grade cabinets new life is one of the most effective and affordable ways to do so. Builder grade, or contractor grade, kitchen cabinets often are looked down upon due to their low price tag and lesser quality. However, with the right planning and creativity, they can be made to look incredibly striking and give your kitchen the appeal and ambiance you want.

If your kitchen is filled with builder grade cabinets, there are several ways to give them an upgrade without destroying the existing layout. Furthermore, you can improve your kitchen’s style and functionality without breaking the bank.

Here are five strategies to consider.

1. Look into Refacing

Refacing is probably the best and most cost-effective way to upgrade your kitchen cabinets. Usually, the process involves a) removing old doors, drawers, handles, and knobs; b) adding a thin layer of real-wood laminate to all the visible parts of the cabinet framework; and c) adding new doors and drawer fronts. The hinge hardware, knobs, pulls, and molding can also be upgraded. Here a few routes to take in regards to refacing:

1. Doors

When replacing the cabinet doors and drawer fronts, you can choose from a variety of styles and materials. Usually, rigid thermofoil (RTF) material is the cheapest, while solid wood doors tend to be the most expensive. You can also do away with the doors altogether and opt for open end shelving.

2. Veneer

Real wood veneers come in different styles like oak, cherry, and maple. A more affordable alternative is plastic laminate. It is durable, moisture resistant, and comes in hundreds of colors and patterns.

3. Glass Door Inserts

Alternatively, you can add glass door inserts to the face of the cabinet doors. They are a perfect middle ground between solid doors and open shelving. Transparent glass inserts usually suit all styles and all kitchen types. However, they don’t conceal anything. So, you will need to add adhesive backing or paint the interior of the cabinets in a suitable color for a polished look. If you are interested in a more modern ambiance, frosted glass inserts are a great way to go. You can etch these inserts with custom patterns and designs. Seeded and leaded glass have a vintage look suitable for traditional decors.

4. Hardware

The final step in refacing involves replacing hardware. This includes knobs, pulls, and hinges. European hinges are a very popular choice these days. This is mainly due to the fact that they remain invisible while the door is closed. Other options include semi-concealed hinges, wrap-around hinges, exposed hinges, and non-mortise hinges.

Concealed hinges usually come with built-in adjustability, which allows you to slightly change the position of the door without having to remove the hardware completely. Throughout your choices, always be wary of how the hardware complements the new look of your kitchen and how the light will hit each piece

2. Add Accents

One of the easiest ways to bring a custom look to your builder grade cabinets is to add accents like moldings, corbels, split turnings, legs, and feet. Moldings are usually used to fill the gap between the cabinets and the floor, or the ceiling.

You can also add decorative wood legs to the bottom of a unit. A few of the most popular leg styles include tapered, turning, pilaster. Some more common feet styles include tulip, bun, and metal. Although corbels are used to support countertop brackets, you can use them as room dividers also. Wood corbels are popular. However, metal corbels can add a chic look to your kitchen.

3. Upgrade the Countertops

Upgrading the countertops is a fantastic way to draw attention and highlight your cabinets. The most affordable way to upgrade a kitchen countertop is to paint it (depending on the material). You can also cover it up with different materials such as wood veneer or metal. Another way is to lay marble tiles on your existing countertop. A slightly more labor intensive option is to replace the old one with smooth concrete.

The other option is to replace the countertops altogether. Butcher block countertops are a hot trend right now. However, there are plenty of suitable countertops options to compliment your cabinets. These include quartz, granite, marble, recycled glass, laminate, or solid surfacing. Just make sure to choose the look that fits your style.

4. Install Under-Cabinet Lighting

Under-cabinet lighting more than suffices for both decorative use and functionality. The decorative illumination adds depth to your kitchen, allowing you to adjust the mood of the room. Compared to other upgrade options, under-cabinet lighting gives a great deal of bang for your buck.

You can choose to install hard-wired, plug-in, or battery-operated lighting under the cabinets. The lighting options typically include LED, incandescent lights, and halogen bulbs. Usually, under-cabinet lighting is placed as light bars in order to cover a larger area. Pucks can cover small areas such as the cabinet or ceiling corners. LEDs require high upfront cost, but are very durable and can save on energy in the long run.

5. Splurge on a Backsplash

A backsplash can create a unique focal point for both your builder grade cabinets and kitchen countertops. A backsplash is normally comprised of decorative tiles to dress up particular areas of the wall between the countertops and cabinets.

Ceramic or porcelain tiles are some of the most popular backsplash options. You can mix and match bold colors to bring out a custom vibe for your kitchen. For a vintage look, you can try a travertine tile backsplash. A glass backsplash, on the other hand, can add a more urbane look. You can also choose from timeless classics like stone veneer, sandstone, and faux metal.

When it comes to designing a backslash, it’s a smart choice to choose a lighter color shade for darker cabinets. For white or lighter colored cabinets, either a bright or darker color works surprisingly well. You can also add a little drama to your kitchen backsplash by stenciling your favorite designs or patterns.

Conclusion

Updating builder grade cabinets can make a dramatic difference in a kitchen. Fortunately, turning builder grade kitchen cabinets into a stunning piece of interior design work doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. From refacing cabinet doors to adding a backsplash, these tips will help you customize your kitchen easily.