A Kitchen Cabinet Facelift

Who doesn’t dream of having Ina Garten’s kitchen?

But if a new house or completely gutted kitchen isn’t in your future, don’t throw in the kitchen towel. Whether it’s upgrading appliances or refurbishing your cabinets, you can still give your kitchen the facelift it deserves—even if your budget is tight.

Think about your options
Before you dive into any home improvement project, define your end goal and budget, cautions John Durbin of Exclusive Woodworking Inc., a custom cabinet shop that partners with brother Doug Durbin’s NuHaus in Highland Park.

According to a 2010 survey conducted by the Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence (RICKI), while kitchen remodeling has declined overall, the top three changes or improvements respondents would make to their kitchen would be cabinets, cooktop or range, and countertops. With that in mind, think about what change would have the most positive impact and weigh your options.

Are you satisfied with the current layout of your kitchen (or stuck with it)? Do your existing cabinets still function well from a service and mechanical standpoint? Is this a short-term solution so you can sell your house or until you save enough for a total kitchen overhaul?

When refurbishing kitchen cabinets makes sense
“Over the last 20 years, we saw a huge trend in kitchen remodeling,” observes Steve Ragsdale, owner of Ragsdale Inc., fine painters and specialists in cabinet and furniture restoration and finishing. “If the only thing that’s dated is the look and feel of your cabinets, refurbishing makes sense.”

Refurbishing covers a range—from replacing door and drawer fronts, changing out hardware, to removing or adding decorative molding, and adding crown molding and light rails—and will likely involve repainting or refinishing your cabinets. If you don’t know the original cabinetmaker, many custom cabinetmakers like Exclusive can match material and styles.

In addition to saving money and time by refurbishing, there are environmental benefits. You’re reducing waste and reusing existing materials.

It pays to be picky
But don’t just pick any carpenter or painter to do the job. Like furniture refinishing, the end result depends on having a craftsman who understands what products to use and what will be most durable and effective in getting the look and finish you want.

Both Ragsdale and Exclusive Woodworking have artisans on staff who are skilled at matching custom glazes and finishes.

“Make sure you hire a carpenter who has experience working with cabinetry,” stresses Durbin. “Whether it’s retrofitting your existing cabinetry to fit a new appliance or adding new door fronts, ensuring the functionality is equally or more important than matching the style.”

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