Simple Kitchen Cabinet Upgrades for a Big Impact

Kitchen renovations can be expensive and time-consuming. But small, simple upgrades to your existing kitchen cabinets can make a dramatic difference in your kitchen’s style and functionality. In this blog post, we’ll explore quick-and-easy ideas for upgrading your cabinets for a fresh new look without completely renovating your kitchen.

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Brighten Things Up with a New Color

One of the simplest ways to give your kitchen an updated look is by painting the cabinets. Adding a fresh hue is a budget-friendly way to make your kitchen cabinets look completely new.

Consider an All-White Scheme

Painting your cabinets white is a foolproof way to make your kitchen look brighter and more modern. The crisp, clean look of white cabinetry gives the kitchen a light and airy feel. An all-white scheme also serves as a neutral backdrop, allowing other elements like your backsplash, hardware, and decor to stand out.

Go Bold with Black or Grey

For a more dramatic change, consider painting your cabinets a dark hue like black or charcoal grey. This sophisticated style creates an elegant, modern look. Black and grey have been popular cabinet colors for the past few years, but they have enough staying power to avoid looking trendy. Darker cabinets keep the focus on the design details of your kitchen.

Try Two-Tone Cabinets

Another trendy option is choosing two complementary colors for your upper and lower cabinets. For example, you could pair white uppers with black lowers. This allows you to experiment with darker hues without feeling too overwhelming.

No matter what color you land on, be sure to use a high-quality cabinet paint that will hold up to frequent use and cleaning.

Update the Layout for Better Functionality

Sometimes a kitchen’s layout or storage simply isn’t practical or efficient for how you use the space. Thankfully, there are ways to upgrade your cabinet layout without taking on a full remodel.

Add Pull-Out Shelving

Installing pull-out shelves in your existing cabinet boxes is an easy upgrade. Pull-outs allow you to see and access everything stored in your cabinets. No more rummaging to find that last can of beans! Things will stay organized because you can neatly stack items instead of shoving them in.

Incorporate Drawers

Another smart upgrade is replacing some lower cabinets with drawers for a more functional storage solution. Drawers are great for storing cooking utensils, baking pans, and other awkward items. Custom drawers designed for pots and pans will keep your cookware visible and within easy reach.

Consider Open Shelving

Removing a few upper cabinet doors and adding open shelves gives your kitchen a lighter look and feel. The open concept also encourages tidy storage habits since everything is visible. Just be sure to display only your prettiest kitchenware!

Update Cabinet Doors and Hardware

Replacing cabinet doors and hardware is one of the simplest ways to upgrade your kitchen’s style on a budget.

Switch Out Dated Cabinet Doors

Does your kitchen still sport oak or cherry cabinets with raised panel doors from the 90s? Replacing old, less-than-trendy door styles with new recessed panel doors gives your kitchen an instant facelift without replacing the whole cabinet box.

You can also have your existing doors spray painted along with the cabinet boxes for a completely refreshed color scheme. Updating door hinges to soft-closing hinges cuts down on annoying slamming sounds.

Change Hardware for Instant Impact

Installing new knobs or handles is a quick weekend project that makes a major impact. Swapping out dated brass pulls for a modern cup or bar pulls in matte black, brass, or nickel gives your cabinets an upgraded look. Make sure to select hardware that works with your kitchen’s overall style.

Going for a contemporary vibe? Sleek handles in matte black or stainless steel lend an ultra-modern feel. Aimed for traditional farmhouse charm? Antique brass or rubbed bronze pulls fit right in. Mixing finishes can also infuse personality into your kitchen.

Upgraded Touches for Open Shelving

If you already have open shelving somewhere in your kitchen, a few simple upgrades can maximize the storage space while improving the overall look.

Divide Shelves into Sections

Installing vertical dividers into open shelves instantly boosts functionality. Sections neatly corral cooking oils, spices, and other staples that otherwise end up cluttering the shelf.

Add Drawers and Bins

Another smart upgrade is incorporating drawer and pull-out storage units into open shelving. These allow you to neatly tuck away small appliances and other items you only use occasionally.

Wire baskets are another option for dividing open shelves into organized sections while maintaining the airy, open look. Labeling bins make it easy for the whole family to put ingredients back in the proper home.

Maximize Corner Cabinet Storage

Corner cabinets can be notoriously tricky when it comes to storage and accessibility. However, the right organizational solutions can turn wasted space into highly functional storage.

Install Tiered Layers

Adding tiered layers transforms an empty corner cabinet into smart vertical storage. The stepped design brings items that were hiding in the back corner forward for easy access.

Add Rotating Trays

Installing corner rotating trays allows you to fully utilize every inch of your corner cabinet. Spinning trays bring items from the back of the cabinet around to the front opening. No more digging and shuffling things around!

Try Pull-Out Shelving

Custom pull-out shelves offer another stellar corner cabinet solution. The shelves glide out when you open the cabinet doors, providing easy access to the entire cabinet. This is perfect for maximizing storage for baking sheets, cutting boards, pots, and other awkward items.

Embrace Easy Pantry Upgrades

Is your pantry stuffed to the brim yet you still can’t find what you need? A few simple upgrades can transform your pantry into a sleek, smart storage space.

Edit and Categorize

The first step in any pantry overhaul is editing down items and discarding expired foods. Next, categorize ingredients into groups: oils, spices, snacks, etc.

Optimize the Layout

Think vertically to take full advantage of often overlooked pantry real estate. Install shelving to the top of the pantry space for double, even triple the storage capacity. Narrow wire shelving leaves room to stack items.

Add Storage Bins

Clear storage bins are ideal for keeping categories separated and making ingredients easy to spot. Investing in containers designed specifically for kitchen staples like flour and sugar keeps things neat and prevents spilling or pests.

Pull-out cabinet organizers also keep items accessible and make the most of vertical storage space.

Create Designated Zones

Assign specific zones of your pantry for different types of ingredients. For instance, reserve the prime, easy-access shelf space for everyday staples. Use rollout shelves or slide-out units for occasional use items and small appliances. Applying labels ensures everything gets returned to its designated home.

Refreshing Paint Colors and Finishes

Sometimes your kitchen simply needs a fresh coat of paint to revive the look. Along with painting cabinets, consider adding color to other elements like walls, trimwork, and ceilings.

Paint the Walls

An accent wall in a bold, rich tone makes that wall pop. Deep teal or navy blue adds personality without going overboard. Lighter accent colors like pale yellow keep the room feeling bright and cheerful.

If wanting an ultra-neutral backdrop, soft white or greige (a mix of grey and beige) are the perfect go-to wall colors for kitchens. These muted hues showcase decor and other kitchen elements beautifully.

Brighten Trim, Doors, and Ceilings

Painting ceiling beams, trim work, and doors crisp white refreshes the whole room even if keeping existing cabinet colors. The sudden contrast draws the eye so everything looks updated.

Stain or White Wash Beams

For a weatherworn look with rustic charm, refinish exposed ceiling beams with stain or whitewash. This is easy to DIY with supplies from your local home improvement store.

Add an Accent Wallpaper

Self-adhesive wallpaper makes adding a fun accent wall easier than ever. There are countless pattern options from subtle patterns like shiplap to vibrant florals and geometric prints. Use wallpaper sparingly on one wall to elevate your kitchen’s look without going overboard.

Backsplash: The Crown Jewel

Your backsplash serves as the crown jewel tying your whole kitchen together. The right backsplash color, material, and design complete the kitchen’s style with a final punch of personality.

Stick with Simple Subway Tile

Subway tiles arranged in a classic brick pattern continue reigning supreme. The rectangular 3 x 6-inch tiles lend a timeless, clean look to virtually any kitchen. Going all-white allows other colors and finishes in the kitchen to shine.

Get Creative with Shape and Color

Boldly shaped or uniquely colored tile backsplashes make a statement. Try azure blue or sage green tiles in a geometric herringbone design. Hexagon-shaped tiles in glossy white or black add subtle modern flair.

Combining different tile sizes, shapes, and colors creates eye-catching patterns. Just take care not to overload the space for a cluttered look. Limit patterns to one or two focal areas.

Highlight with Metallic Finishes

For a glam element with shimmer and shine, mix in metallic tiles — brass, copper and nickel are popular options. Accenting a few rows of subway tile backsplash with metallic adds a subtle yet special touch.

Think Outside the Tile

Get creative by using other materials for your backsplash. For example, arrange antique mirrors or colored glass in creative patterns across your backsplash area. Natural stone slabs or metallic sheets like hammered copper make a unique alternative to tile.


What are some budget-friendly kitchen cabinet upgrades?

Some affordable yet impactful kitchen cabinet upgrades include painting them with a fresh color or finish, replacing the hardware like knobs and pulls, installing new hardware like soft-close hinges or pull-out shelves, replacing doors and panels, and adding organizational elements like drawer organizers, bins, or racks.

What are some easy ways to update my kitchen cabinets without a full remodel?

Some simple cabinet upgrades that can make a big visual impact include adding new hardware like knobs or pulls, painting or refinishing the cabinets, adding molding for a built-in look, installing new doors and fronts, updating the hinges and handles, adding pull-out shelves for better accessibility, and adding organizational inserts like lazy susans or drawer dividers. These affordable upgrades can refresh the look of your kitchen without the cost of fully replacing the cabinets.

Should I paint or stain my cabinets for an update?

Both painting and staining kitchen cabinets can refresh the look, it just depends on your style preference. Painting allows you to cover the existing cabinet finish fully and choose from almost any color from light and bright to dark and dramatic. Staining updates the wood tone and color while allowing the wood grain to still show. So if you want a solid, opaque color then paint is the way to go, but if you want to keep a natural wood look, choose a stain.

What type of new hardware should I choose to update my cabinets?

Hardware offers an easy way to update your current kitchen cabinets on a budget. Try unified hardware like handles or knobs in brushed bronze, oil-rubbed bronze, brushed nickel, polished chrome, matte black, or even glass or crystal for an elevated look. Or go mismatched with vintage-inspired hardware by using different shapes, finishes, or styles on upper and lower cabinets. Hardware is an inexpensive change that can have a big visual impact.

Should I just replace the doors and fronts instead of the whole cabinets?

If your cabinet boxes and frames are structurally in good shape but the fronts are looking outdated, then replacing just the doors and fronts can refresh the look for much less cost than completely new cabinets. Look for replacement doors that match your existing cabinet layout or upgrade to a more modern shaker-style design. Ensure they are made of quality materials like solid wood or durable thermal foil or laminate. Updating door fronts and hardware makes cabinets look brand new!


Upgrading your kitchen cabinets can feel like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to require a full-scale remodel or remake. Implementing just a few simple and affordable changes can give your kitchen a fresh new look and make a world of difference. By switching out the dated hardware, applying a coat of trendy paint, or replacing the door fronts, you can bring new life to your existing cabinetry. Opt for brushed bronze handles, on-trend matte cabinet paint colors, or modern shaker-style doors to transform the space. The potential impact small upgrades like these can have is astounding. Suddenly your kitchen will look and feel cleaner, brighter, and more expensive. 

With strategic tweaks and upgrades, the heart of your home will become a space where you feel comfortable hosting dinner parties or simply fixing a weekday breakfast. The right small changes can make the biggest difference in not only the aesthetic but also the functionality of your kitchen. Simply by investing in a few easy DIY cabinet upgrades, you can create a whole new modern, inviting, or contemporary vibe. 

Don’t live with a kitchen you feel stuck with or overwhelmed by – a mini makeover is totally doable and worthwhile. In the end, it’s adjustments like a coat of paint here and new knobs there that have the power to give your kitchen the breathtaking transformation you’ve been dreaming of on even the tightest budget or schedule.

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Tuncer Dagdelen<span id="position"><h6><b>Owner<h6/></span>
Tuncer Dagdelen

Tuncer Dagdelen is the owner of Gold Kitchen Cabinets & Granite Quartz Countertops. He has been offering quality cabinets for both kitchen and bathroom. Has huge selection of granite, quartz and marble countertops colors. You can find Tuncer on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Simple Kitchen Cabinet Upgrades for a Big Impact

Kitchen renovations can be expensive and time-consuming. But small, simple upgrades to your existing kitchen cabinets can make a dramatic difference in your kitchen’s style

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