Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Is That a Custom Cupboard, or Does it Just Look Like One?

by Jim Mallery
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

Custom cupboards may be just what the chef ordered to give your kitchen some spice. But your budget might find the idea highly unpalatable. New, custom cupboards can easily climb into five figures.

You don't need to do an about-face on your dreams. Maybe just a little sidestep will do. Consider refacing your old frames instead.

Custom Cupboards

First, understand that "custom cupboards" doesn't necessarily mean "great cupboards." It just means that a cabinetmaker has measured your area, consulted with you on design, and built cupboards to fit. They still can be crumby cupboards.

Likewise, preconstructed cabinets can be well made and look very nice. They can have all the bells and whistles of high-end custom cupboards.

So if you are thinking about refacing your existing cabinetry, it doesn't really matter if they are custom or preconstructed--what counts is that their structure is sound.

Reface for a Custom Cupboard

Refacing simply involves putting a new veneer over the existing boxes and hanging new doors. Whereas you may have cheap, flat panel doors on your cupboards now, you can replace them with quality, raised-panel cherry, maple or hickory, finished naturally or in the stain of your choice.

Besides upgrading, new doors will also give you the option of installing modern hidden European hinges.

Doodads Make It Custom

Also, you can use this as an opportunity to add some bells and whistles to make your old cabinets really seem like custom cupboards. There are a number of items you might add, including a pullout sink tray, a built-in spice rack and a pull-up mixer shelf. And if you have the countertop off during this work, you can install a high-quality lazy Susan or hinged-shelf system for the corner cupboard.

If you are aggressive in choosing your refacing options, you can end up with cupboards every bit as custom as if you paid a cabinetmaker $20,000. And only you and your refacer will know.

About the Author
Jim Mallery, a semi-retired journalist and onetime registered contractor, has extensive experience remodeling, repairing and rebuilding homes.

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