Bailiwick Interior Design


Kitchen Re-Fresh OR Re-Novation? Part 1

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Working through the decision process. Design Options for Dated Cabinets.

One of the biggest question homeowners face today is how to refresh a dated kitchen? It’s difficult to decide which big-ticket items will have the most impact, not only living for today – but for a possible resale in the future. It’s one of the areas of the home I am most often asked to consult upon. Although not all kitchens are created equal here’s a few simple suggested guidelines to follow in making your decisions a little easier.

I am often asked the question, “Should we invest in new cabinets OR reface/refinish the old ones?” As the cost can be surprisingly similar for these different options, here’s what I think are the most important things to consider:

  • Does the current cabinet layout work functionally for your lifestyle? 

Take the time to really ponder the main elements of a functional kitchen cabinet layout and ask yourself; 

  • Are the sizes of my current appliances out-dated?
  • Do I currently have the storage needs my family requires?
  • Are my drawer glides and door hinges holding up to daily wear-and-tear?
  • Is the traffic flow and work triangle (relationship between your sink, stove and refrigerator) the most functional I can get out of the space I have to work with?
  • For more points to ponder – download my Kitchen Renovation Checklist from my website;

If the answer is NO, then you really should consider a new cabinet layout AND brand new cabinets since you will end up making concessions if you try to reuse the existing cabinets in a new layout.

If the answer is YES, then I’ll probe further;

  • Are the cabinets well-made, just dated?
    Often, especially in older homes, the cabinets may be well-made and of solid wood construction, BUT the finish (ie golden-oak), OR the style (ie cathedral doors), OR other details like exposed hinges give the kitchen a dated look.
  • If the answer is NO, then you really should consider brand new cabinets, as there is little reward in spending good money on a poorly constructed cabinet. Even if your budget is

If the answer is YES, then you might consider either;

  • Simply painting the existing cabinets (Benjamin Moore’s Advance Waterborne Acrylic paint is a good option.)
  • Replacing the old exposed hinges with concealed hinges (this requires a door panel that is thick enough to handle this hinge)
  • OR Re-facing the cabinets with new doors and drawer fronts and/or veneer skins on the cabinet boxes.

I am a big advocate for looking at the costs between new cabinets and re-facing costs. Depending on the finishes you select the cost savings of re-facing are minimal at best AND you will be making compromises when you discover the limitations of the re-facing process. For instance if you are looking to transition from a stained cabinet to a white cabinet you will need to apply a white veneer “skin” to the cabinet box. These “skins” will have a black edge that is difficult to conceal.

As you can see, there is a lot to consider when trying to find the best alternative for your vision AND budget. Next time I will address the other major areas of a kitchen refresh vs. renovation. This will show you why it’s a good idea to check out all your options and how hiring a professional can help you make smart decisions!

Carrie OesmannComment