We are wrapping up our unusual DIY kitchen remodel, and it’s coming together even better than we hoped. When I say “DIY kitchen remodel,” I don’t just mean that we painted cabinets. We actually revamped our original cabinets, added some new, and tied it all together.
I’m sharing all the cabinet details and real cost in two posts, in case anyone reading is pondering a similar project. Is it really possible? Yes, with moderate DIY skills and a lot of patience, here’s how.
This is Part One. Read Part Two here with details on cost and lessons I’ve learned through this project.
Just want to FIX your cabinets? Read this post!
Read More About Our DIY House Updates
Cabinet Brainstorming for Our DIY Kitchen Remodel
When we bought our second fixer-upper, we planned to rip out the cabinets and install new ones, along with the other usual updates. However, the more we examined the 1980’s oak cabinetry, we realized that the cabinets were quite customized and still in great shape. We wanted to add new maple cabinetry along a third wall in the kitchen, so we debated how to tie everything together. Could we keep the existing cabinets, add new ones, and still create a uniform look? Question of the hour. Here’s where we started:
I got quotes to reface the cabinets (basically a facelift with new doors and veneer) and quotes to replace them (all new). But the more we thought about the project, it seemed so wasteful to just rip them out and trash them. Also expensive either way! The quote to reface existing cabinets and buy new ones for the third wall, which we would install and paint, was over $12k. Also, since they wouldn’t match my custom paint color, we would start from scratch with the refacing in a stock color. The quote to just replace everything was over $11k for product, no installation, and $24k to sub out the entire project, including labor. Our kitchen would be unusable for the duration of either project, which is a major drawback.
Time for a new game plan. Could we buy new products in maple and paint everything to match? We did some research and found that this should be possible, if unusual. We would need to disguise the fact that our DIY kitchen is two wood species – oak and maple. Updating doors to a full overlay style would help cover much of the oak frames. (Here’s the difference between standard and full overlay.) We would also need to carefully coordinate shaker-style doors and drawer fronts to give everything a uniform look.
Items We Bought for the Cabinet Remodel
These are the cabinet-related items we decided to update in our kitchen. We researched online and in-store options, measured a million times, and ultimately bought (all online!):
– Replacement doors, drawer fronts, and soft-close hinges for all existing cabinets
– New drawer boxes and soft-close glides for existing drawers
– Pulls and knobs
By this stage in the game, the original cabinets were painted with General Finishes Milk Paint, which looked great. This is why we thought paint could tie everything together. Here’s what it looked like:
Where to Buy Cabinets Online
While researching options, I found a bunch of online cabinet companies. Investigating further, the pricing for solid wood products is so much better online than I’ve found at big hardware stores. Of course, it’s a gamble with an unfamiliar, online business. We all know this. Definitely do your own research and look at reviews first! We bought our components from these sources: Unfinished Kitchen Cabinets, Cabinet Doors Depot and Cabinet Door World.
Our largest purchase was the new cabinets, which I ordered from Unfinished Kitchen Cabinets. Their sister company, Cabinet Doors Depot, sells the doors and drawer fronts we needed to match new cabinets to the rest of the kitchen. After many conversations with customer service, I was convinced that I could order coordinating products from the two companies. It seemed like the best route for our project. I ordered two doors first, which we used to check the full overlay measurements, test out paint and pick hardware.
To plan our orders, we measured our kitchen and reviewed the available cabinet sizes. We wanted a custom-size pantry, custom hutch, two trash base cabinets, one 3-drawer base, and one upper cabinet for above the fridge. We drew sketches for these new cabinets, as well as filler, toekick, end panels, fridge panels, and molding. For new doors and drawer fronts, we followed these directions and measured out full overlay doors and drawer fronts. Then we crossed our fingers and bought the whole shebang!
Read More About Our DIY House Updates
Where to Buy Drawer Boxes Online
While waiting for the cabinets, I ordered new drawer boxes from Cabinet Door World, which shipped a few weeks later. Since we wanted soft-close slides, it seemed worth it to just upgrade the entire box. Specifically, we bought dovetail drawer boxes and 21″ undermount soft-close slides for our existing 24″ base cabinets. Wyatt says the installation requires fairly high-level DIY experience, so let me know if you want more details on how to do that! I saw glue, clamps, scraps of wood and a drill were involved, but that’s all I know. After living with them for six months, I am really pleased with these drawers. They are beautiful and the ordering/shipping process was smooth; I’d definitely recommend this company based on our experience.
Checking Work Off the List
While waiting for the cabinets to arrive, we finished most of the updates to the old section of the kitchen. We received the new doors and drawer boxes first, which was helpful. I painted all of the new doors and drawer fronts with a paint sprayer for a super smooth finish. Wyatt installed the new drawer boxes and attached drawer fronts and pulls. We also installed the new doors with these soft-close hinges and new hardware. The full overlay looks awesome, and I love that they almost entirely cover the old oak cabinet frames. We also installed a new porcelain tile floor. Whew! Busy times over here.
During this stage, I made sure to order the rest of the supplies for the new kitchen: sink, faucet, drain assembly, and new hardware. I brought home countertop samples to choose a few quartz options that look good with our paint color. (Some businesses wouldn’t let me borrow them, but others let me check out samples for 24 hours. Just ask around.) I find it extremely helpful to see samples in my own kitchen.
As for hardware, I bought a mix of black pulls and knobs for the new kitchen, to add visual interest. Most of the pulls are these 5 1/16″ size square bar pulls, with a few larger ones on the bigger doors. Here are more ideas for modern black cabinet pulls. I also mixed in a few sleek knobs on some of the upper cabinets. My best advice on installing cabinet hardware without mistakes is to use a template like this.
So Far, So Good…
We’ve hit a few bumps in the road, but our DIY kitchen remodel has been sloooowly coming together. Stay tuned for Part Two and I’ll break down the costs for this project and share lessons we’ve learned. If you’re planning a similar DIY project, I hope our experience will help you!