Give your busy kitchen a fresh, new appearance without breaking your budget.

How to Add Decorations to Kitchen Cabinets

by Michelle Ullman

Outdated, boring or worn-looking cabinets drag down the appearance of your entire kitchen. Although you can replace or reface cabinets, both projects are expensive, time-consuming and disruptive. Transform your cabinets so they set the style for the whole space. As long as the cabinets are in good condition, you can update them yourself in little more than a weekend. Enlist the assistance of your children, and the work goes even faster.


Painting your cabinets is one of the easiest ways to freshen the entire appearance of your kitchen. Options include: painting the entire cabinet, inside and out; painting just the cabinet doors and drawer fronts; or only painting the trim. Whatever method you choose, you should first remove the cabinet doors, drawers and the hardware. Lightly sand the areas you plan to paint, and brush or spray on a coat of primer, followed by several thin coats of paint to build up a smooth, shiny finish. Apply polyurethane or varnish to seal the paint. Although you can't go wrong with classic white, yellow, green or red cabinets are bold and cheerful.

Fabric or Wallpaper

Add color along with pattern by applying wallpaper or fabric to your cabinets. This method works best on cabinets with a trim border around a recessed center. Remove the cabinet doors, then wash them thoroughly with liquid dish-washing soap. Cut wallpaper or lightweight fabric to fit the recessed center of each cabinet door. Use wallpaper paste or strong craft glue to attach the wallpaper or fabric; smooth away air bubbles or creases with a squeegee or ruler edge. Finish your update with several coats of protective acrylic sealer.

Decorative Molding

Add textural interest to boring, flat cabinet doors. Use wood glue to attach decorative trim around the perimeters of each cabinet door, or just highlight the upper edges. Create a recessed center by gluing wood trim around the middle of the cabinet door. Use wood trim, flat craft pieces or foam designs to make patterns on your cabinet doors. Repeat the design from door to door, or change it slightly on each door. After the embellishments are in place and the glue is dry, paint the entire cabinet door for a seamless appearance.


If you are limited on time, money or DIY experience, update your cabinets with new hardware. Visit your local home improvement center for a large selection of knobs, drawer pulls and hinges. Pick hardware that suits your decorating style: shiny chrome in a contemporary kitchen, black wrought iron for Mediterranean decor, rustic metal in a country home or colorful glass or ceramic knobs for a retro or eclectic style. To make over your cabinets, simply unscrew and remove the old hardware, then install the new pieces.

About the Author

Living in California, Michelle Ullman is a professional writer with particular expertise in home, garden and pet/nature topics. Her work is published on many websites. She loves crafts and has a deep interest in design and DIY projects.

Photo Credits

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