How can you spruce up old cabinets? Clever ideas & tips for refreshing furniture cheaply!

Do you want to spruce up unsightly old cabinets in your kitchen or living room without spending a lot of money? If your existing furniture has lost its shine, you can give it new life with a little creativity and little investment!

If you don’t have enough budget for new furniture or you just feel like doing a DIY project, you can spruce up old cabinets. You don’t have to put up with outdated and creaky furnishings in your home. Instead, there are several proven solutions that you can use to restore quickly and easily yourself. These range from replacing unsightly cabinet doors to converting entire modules. Be inspired by the following creative and practical design ideas to feel comfortable in your home again!

What inexpensive means can you use to spruce up old cabinets?

Spruce up old cupboards in the kitchen and paint them with glossy acrylic varnish for a modern look

Over time, stubborn dirt and dust accumulates on classic wooden furniture or modern kitchen cabinets, making cleaning difficult. This often results in the surfaces becoming unsightly and appearing outdated. Although there are different opinions on how to care for such pieces of furniture, the cleaning method used depends on the material in question.

When renovating the kitchen, you can spice up old cupboards in a cheap way

However, there are also situations in which you are tired of old-fashioned designs and colors and simply want to spruce up old cabinets. But how can you renew these important furnishing elements without having to replace them with new ones? There are actually numerous inexpensive and diverse options for refreshing the existing furniture without much effort.

Spruce up wooden furniture and old cupboards with a homemade polish made from olive oil and turpentine

But before you start restoring your own furniture, you should make sure that your furniture is sparkling clean. In order to spruce up old cabinets, it is important to free them from accumulations of dirt such as greasy layers or dust. This can be a challenge in heavily used kitchen areas, but when it comes to painted surfaces it works easily.

Make your kitchen colorful and spice up unsightly old cabinets with a new coat of paint in blue and green

To do this, you can simply use soapy water and a microfiber cloth, although you should treat wood with special agents. Also try homemade polishes, such as mixing equal parts olive oil, turpentine, lemon juice, and ethyl alcohol. Simply apply the solution and then wipe the surfaces with a clean cloth.

Refresh the look of the cabinets with a new coat of paint

Spice up old cupboards with fresh white paint and use them as an accent in the living room

An equally popular and common way to spruce up furniture is to repaint it. This will cost you much less than new living room, bedroom or kitchen furniture. For example, if your kitchen feels dark, it could be due to the kitchen cabinets chosen in such tones. These will suck the light out of the room with certain color combinations, which might prompt you to give them lighter colors. This shouldn’t be difficult, as many specialty stores these days offer paints suitable for every surface.

Choose neutral grays for kitchen cabinets and add stylish contrasting door handles

It’s best to research the best option if you want to use it to spruce up old cabinets. This would be the quickest and cheapest way, although the choice of color depends on your own taste and possibly trends. Although dark colors such as black or gray look elegant, they are more suitable for large rooms. In small rooms, it is better to combine light and dark colors to achieve a stylish look and improve the feeling of the space.

Use foil, tiles or wallpaper and beautify the furniture

Use wallpaper to spruce up the back of cupboards and improve the atmosphere in your living space

For example, by using interesting wallpaper, you can spice up and modernize old cupboards in a stylish and affordable way. To make wallpaper stronger and moisture-resistant, you can coat it with acrylic varnish. In addition, such furniture can be spruced up in an imaginative way by using foil.

Design an elegant and high-quality looking kitchen-living room with cheap imitation kitchen worktops

This way you can breathe new life into old-fashioned or unsightly pieces of furniture. Although interior designers disagree as to which of the two methods is more effective, precise decaling can not only save an outdated area, but also make it unique and better than the store-bought options.

Use foil or wallpaper to beautify unsightly surfaces in kitchens or living rooms at low cost

If you also prefer beautiful patterns on ceramic tiles, this would be an excellent design option for the inside of the cabinet. To do this, you can simply glue the tiles to a wooden board and attach them to the back of an open shelf. Such design ideas work equally well with wallpaper or just paint. However, it is also possible to remove the existing varnish from MDF or chipboard with fine sandpaper and then paint it in a color of your choice.

Furnish a kitchenette in a rustic style and design shelves with ceramic tiles

All this allows not only a quick and inexpensive refresh, but also completely new design solutions. This means that complete cabinet modules can be converted into bedrooms, living rooms or children’s rooms. For example, you can also achieve a rustic, vintage effect by applying an artistic glaze with a delicate crackle.

Replace/leave out handles or cabinet doors and spruce up old cabinets

Install eye-catching door handles and spice up old cupboards cheaply

The rule of thumb also applies to cabinets: “Less is more”. For example, if you remove selected cabinet doors, you can modernize an outdated kitchen or living room with decorations and create a completely different atmosphere in the room. To do this, simply loosen some of the doors on your upper cabinets and leave the shelves open. You can also add an accent color to this part of a kitchenette or a TV/hi-fi cabinet, as long as the rest of the furniture has neutral tones.

Replace cupboard doors with creative design ideas or equip with a drawing board for small children

Another creative idea is to turn the closet doors into drawing boards, an approach that is very suitable for families with small children. You can also go practical in the kitchen by installing an open dish rack instead of doors.

Consider a practical built-in dish rack when cleverly designing your kitchen

In addition, you can have some transparent cupboard doors made and display pretty dishes in them, or stick an eye-catching film on them. Various moldings or ornaments that you can find in furniture stores or hardware stores can also spice up old cabinets. Practical pull-out shelves can also be installed in the hollow spaces of the cupboards to provide more storage space.

Install pull-out drawers and spruce up old kitchen cabinets in a practical way

This is a solution that is more suitable for base cabinets. As for the door handles, you can replace them with trendy or eye-catching versions to add accents to the small details. This changes the look of the respective cabinet and can transform into a completely new eye-catcher.

Add subtle cabinet lighting as a practical and design element

renovated kitchen with modern kitchen cabinets with glass doors

Furniture lights offer an equally inexpensive and stylish remodeling option if you want to spruce up old cabinets. These are suitable for base cabinets in kitchens as well as showcases in living rooms, which can brighten up certain zones. This means you can also increase the energy efficiency of your home and improve the appearance of any living space.

Accent lighting over a back wall that contrasts with white kitchen cabinets

In the kitchen, you can optimally illuminate the area above your carefully selected kitchen worktop, with the light reflected from the tiles making dark cupboards appear brighter. So if your closet doesn’t have it yet, it’s time to try out this inexpensive design idea.

Subtly lit small cooking area with modern kitchen cabinets as a practical solution

Such lighting elements can also be installed in the cabinets to make it easier to see at night without turning on the main light source. In addition, you can connect the lamp to a dimmer switch to create even more impressive accent lighting in the respective room. Properly chosen and well-designed cabinet lighting also helps bring old-fashioned kitchens or other living spaces up to date.

Could you spruce up old cabinets by repurposing them?

Living room decorated in retro style with minimalist design

Continue with a creative and sustainable concept, for example by transforming an old upper cabinet into a practical TV cabinet. If the old piece of furniture is missing door handles or the cupboard doors constantly creak when used, this would be the perfect opportunity to repurpose it. To do this, you do not need to tighten the entire structure, nor replace the hinges or cabinet doors.

Restoring antique pieces of furniture or sprucing up otherwise unusable old cupboards and repurposing them cheaply

Instead, you can simply use the sturdy top part of the module and design it as a TV cabinet as you wish. In such cases, however, it is advisable to dismantle the entire piece of furniture and check whether it is stable enough to be converted in this way. Then you can spruce up such old cabinets by simply sanding off the old paint and repainting and varnishing them. If necessary, you can also attach furniture casters or feet.

Spice up old cupboards by repurposing them and use them as practical seating with storage space

Another clever and practical option is to convert cupboards into benches for windows or other living areas. These classic furnishing elements seem to be a rarity and are more likely to be found in older houses with deep dormers. However, if you have a spacious window alcove as well as some unsightly and outdated cabinets, this would be an excellent idea. Wall cabinets are suitable for this and can be adapted to the respective window seat depending on size and design. Although this may require some carpentry work, repurposing would still be cheaper than buying new.

Create more practical pieces of furniture from old cabinets

As a DIY project, spruce up old cupboards and turn them into a buffet

With a little simple furniture restoration, unsightly kitchen base cabinets can be turned into other useful furnishing elements, such as buffets. This allows you to store your table linen, dishes or serving cutlery at the same time and beautify your living space. In addition, a sideboard made from old cupboards could provide a lot of storage space in a relatively small space.

Combine modern design with vintage elements and decorate open shelves in the kitchen area

Typically, good quality, sturdy buffets are quite expensive. Alternatively, you can upgrade outdated standard kitchen base cabinets with or without door handles, moldings and furniture feet and have them made into a handmade piece yourself or by a carpenter for a fraction of the cost. By reviving old cabinets in this way, you can enjoy unique pieces of furniture and real eye-catchers for a long time.

Spice up old cupboards with DIY furniture restoration and make them the highlight of your apartment

As you can see, almost anything is possible when renovating old cabinets. You can modernize any piece of furniture by using existing materials such as leftover wood or paint. This makes painting cupboard doors a breeze and can create a completely new feel in any room. The best part is that you pay little or nothing for it and can let your imagination run wild.

Quynh Luu Phuong Pham

Author and editor. I write about Interior designs, Beauty tips, IT services for business, Real estate and foreign trade. Strongly passionate about games, comics, art, literature, design, fashion and decoration, I will tell you in detail the best stories in the world of beauty and will guide you through the most popular trends of the moment.

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