What to do about those kitchen cabinets

We have recently received many calls from clients requesting what we call a “surface remodel” of a kitchen and bathroom. By our definition, surface remodeling is keeping the general footprint of the space and upgrading the surfaces and finishes. Sometimes clients opt to keep their existing cabinetry, floors, and/or appliances. We incorporate design ideas and partner with a residential remodeler to update countertops, lighting, backsplash, plumbing hardware, sinks and accessory hardware in the room.

Cabinetry resurfacing, meaning updating the doors and painting or overlaying a veneer over the boxes of the cabinets, is an increasingly popular consideration for homeowners. Sometimes homeowners want to salvage cabinetry thinking it will save them money, when in fact purchasing new cabinetry for some kitchens is a better value. In fact, in a smaller kitchen or in bathrooms or vanities, sometimes it costs as much to reface the cabinets and it does to purchase brand spanking new solid wood cabinetry! How do you know if it is better to purchase new or keep your existing cabinetry? The decision is similar to having an older car that needs repairs. Sometimes it makes sense to invest in your older model vehicle, and sometimes it makes sense to trade it in and purchase a newer car. To illustrate this point, here are some reasons cabinet resurfacing wouldn’t be a good option for your remodel.

  • Be honest about your existing cabinetry function. Do you have doors in corners that cause you to remove many items in the cabinet to retrieve an item in the back? Do you have cabinet doors that open into one another causing chaos?
  • Is the exterior of your cabinets starting to de-laminate in any areas?
  • Check under your sink. Do you see particle board, bubbling or peeling veneer?
  • Would your kitchen benefit a new footprint? Your microwave doesn’t need to be above the stove or on the counter? Do you have a comfortable area in the kitchen suitable for family and friends who always seem to gather around?
  • Are you looking to purchase new appliances now or in the next 3-5 years? When you do purchase new appliances will you want a convection oven, a warming drawer, or an under counter wine/beverage refrigerator?
  • If the shelves in your cabinetry are built in, you might want to consider new cabinetry. In some cases these non-removable shelves will start to bubble from wear or water damage.
  • Do you have a 12″ to 18″ space between the top of your cabinetry and your ceiling. Does it bother you? Today’s styles of cabinetry tend to lengthen to the ceiling or soffit. This open cavity is frequently used for displaying baskets, foilage and other accessories. It can be a dust collector and can date a space.

In contrast, sometimes it may be a sound investment to invest in your good, ole’ reliable car (or existing cabinetry in this case.) Check the list below. These are reasons you might be a good candidate for cabinetry resurfacing:

  • Your cabinets are in good condition inside and out.
  • You like the look and function of your existing cabinets
  • The doors are a bit dated, but new doors with an update profile and euro hinges (hidden hinges) would make a big difference
  • You like the existing layout of your kitchen including the space, work triangle, appliance locations, and height and size of cabinets.

Refacing cost is approximately $100 – $150 per door and drawer (raised panel doors with intricate detail would be more). In some cases purchasing new cabinets is around the same cost, and at that time you can review options like pullouts, adjustable shelves, and options to enhance your cabinetry design with profiles and height changes that add to the overall aesthetic of the room.

If you are actively considering a remodeling project in your home, we welcome you to call us for guidance. We are happy to introduce you to the area’s most reliable and expert remodelers and contractors. Doing your homework upfront and meeting with the right professionals can ensure a well executed plan and a remodel that you will enjoy in your home for years to come.



Angela Todd Studios For Custom Furnishings

Angela Todd

Owner & Principal Designer

Angela is the principal designer at her boutique interior design firm in Portland, Oregon. She is known for creating memorable backdrops that tell the story of fascinating and intricate lives.

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