Kitchen Facelift

By: Danny Lipford
Homeowners Chelsea and Jamie Adams

Homeowners Jamie and Chelsea Adams with Danny Lipford and their dog, Rosemary.

The Adamses' kitchen before the facelift.

The Adamses’ kitchen before the facelift.

About two years ago newlyweds Jamie and Chelsea Adams bought their first home, a space they share with their poodle, Rosemary. The kitchen had plenty of space, and the flooring and counters were updated just before they bought the house. But, the cabinets weren’t meeting their storage needs and they lacked visual appeal.

All-new kitchen cabinets are expensive, so we decided to add warmth and character to the existing cabinets by refacing them and replacing the doors and hardware. With a little less than $2,000 in materials and several long days of work, we all managed to make a big improvement to the Adamses’ kitchen.

custom-built pantry

The custom-built pantry blends seamlessly with the existing cabinets and has a space for the microwave.

Building a Custom Pantry and Installing a Range Hood

The over-the-range microwave Jamie and Chelsea added had given them counter space, but had taken away both cooking space and ventilation. The solution was building them a full-height custom pantry cabinet with space for their microwave. To ensure the cabinet shelves would be sturdy, we cut dados, or shallow grooves, into the side walls of the cabinet to support the horizontal shelves, and secured the entire unit to the wall.

We also added a new vent hood that is quieter and more efficient than the over-the-range microwave – and gives them room to cook large pots of gumbo again.

Watch Advantages of Kitchen Range Hoods Over Microwaves for Venting for more info.

range hood

A new range hood improves ventilation and adds cooking space.

Refacing Kitchen Cabinets

staining cabinet molding

Chelsea Adams applies the stain to the cabinet molding.

Refacing a cabinet simply means gluing a thin layer of veneer over the outside surfaces of the cabinet box. In this case we used a beautiful white birch veneer.

To prepare the cabinets we sanded down any high spots and filled in any large voids with auto body filler. Once all the sanding was complete, we cleaned off the dust and wiped down all the painted surfaces with a liquid de-glosser.

Next, we cut the veneer using a straight edge and a utility knife, or in some cases a table saw. The vertical pieces, called stiles, went in place first, so we could measure the space between them to cut the horizontal pieces, called rails.

We applied the pieces of veneer with contact cement. After carefully pressing each piece in place, we used a roller to force out any air bubbles and ensure that it was secure. Then we trimmed the overlapping edges using either a sharp utility knife or a router with a flush trim bit. We used a mill file along the cuts, pressing down and toward the cabinet to smooth the surface without fraying the veneer.

The cabinet boxes, doors and drawers all got a coat of stain and two coats of polyurethane.

Watch How to Reface Kitchen Cabinets for step-by-step instructions.

Allen Lyle and Jamie Adams press the veneer on the cabinet boxes, while Brad Rodgers films the action.

Allen Lyle and Jamie Adams press the veneer on the cabinet boxes, while Brad Rodgers films the action.

Final Touches

For the finishing touches, we used concealed hinges and Davenport pulls from Amerock in satin nickel finish. To ensure proper placement of the hinges and pulls, we created a jig to use as a template. Here’s how you can create a drilling jig for cabinet handles and knobs.

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