How to update kitchen cupboards

We’d all love a brand new kitchen but sometimes our budgets just can’t stretch to the latest gadgets or fancy fixtures and fittings. But you can still give your kitchen a face-lift for a fraction of the cost with a few clever design tricks. Start by revamping your kitchen cabinets and your kitchen will start to look fresher and brighter. Here are some tips to get you started.

How to update kitchen cupboards

Cupboards painted with spray paint by Plasti Kote.

Fit new handles
If there’s nothing drastically wrong with the kitchen units, your cheapest option is to replace the cupboard and drawer handles. This is an easy DIY job andmakes a huge difference. Wooden button knobs suit country kitchens while chrome bar handles add an urban edge. Stay contemporary with a leather design or go retro with quirky cupcake or ladybird knobs. For help, read our handy guide on how to change door and drawer handles.

Preparation work
If you’re bored with the colour of your cupboards, why not paint them? This does require a bit of time and effort but a change of colour can transform tired cabinets. Before painting, unscrew handles with a screwdriver. You can remove cupboard doors, but painting them in situ is better as you can do both sides, the top and bottom in one go and you won't have to rehang them.

How to paint melamine
For painting onto melamine, you’ll need a specialist product like Dulux Cupboard Paint, £19.99 for 600ml, which is ten times tougher than conventional satin. For best results, melamine must be in good condition before painting. Dulux recommend lightly scuffing the surface with wet & dry abrasive paper dipped into diluted washing up liquid. Rinse then allow to dry before painting.

Painting timber doors
Solid wood doors will need to be sanded down, then primed with a wood primer or multi-purpose primer/undercoat. After undercoating, either gloss or eggshell can be used for the top coat. Gloss is hardwearing but tends to highlight any imperfections and getting an even finish is difficult. Eggshell is easier to use, and should be quicker, especially if you swap a brush for a mini roller. To get a flawless finish, it’s best to apply two thin coats rather than one thick layer.

Using spray paint
For super-quick results, pick up a few cans of spray paint. Plasti Kote’s range of Cupboard Colours, £6.98 for 400 ml, is specially designed for updating MDF and melamine units and requires no brushes or primer. All you have to do is ensure your doors are clean and free from grease. When you’re ready to paint, remove cupboard doors. Most modern doors are hung from hinges that have a sprung loaded quick release catch. Pull back the catch and the door will come free. Spray paint is best used outside as the spray goes everywhere!

Use your imagination
Fancy personalising your kitchen? Paint offers a host of possibilities. Instead of sticking to a single shade on doors, get creative with masking tape and design a two-tone look or stripes. Or how about adding a pretty stencil to random doors? You could also use blackboard paint to create a handy notice board for all the family. Kids will love it!

Wall stickers are also a great way to change the look and feel of your kitchen and can be bought to size. Choose a small design that will fit on your cupboard doors and can easily be changed if you get bored and want a new look entirely. Find out more in our article decorating with wall stickers.

Replacement doors
If your doors are beyond help, the only option is to replace them. Many companies now sell replacement doors online but bear in mind that in most cases you’ll have to remove the old doors, measure up and re-hang the new ones yourself.

Kitchen Magic has a range of doors to suit every taste including solid wood, high gloss, painted and panelled Shaker style. You can choose from over 400 style and colour combinations. They also provide a planning and fitting service.

What’s your style?
Think carefully about which look is right for you before ordering. Panelled doors create a traditional effect but can be tricky to keep clean as dust and grime tend to get trapped in the grooves. Doors with a flat façade look more contemporary and are lower maintenance as there’s nowhere for dirt to collect. High gloss styles are fashionable but tend to show up every finger mark, especially dark colours.