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I’m the proud owner of a great house that came equipped with the world’s most hideous kitchen cabinets: 

Horrible, huh? (Yes, that is contact paper peeling off the drawer. I know…ew.) A full kitchen remodel isn’t happening anytime soon, so I’m relying on the budget decorator’s best friend — paint — to make my cabinets more beautiful.

Since I’ll be giving the paneled walls a whitewash treatment, I’m leaning towards colorful cabinets to liven up my kitchen. I’m in love with the cool Caribbean blue of these cabinets designed by TD[S] Furniture + Cabinetry:

TDS Furniture and Cabinetry - Blue Kitchen Cabinets
I’m also considering keeping some cabinets neutral and adding color in key spots, like this aqua island from Austin-based firm Loop Design

Loop D Design - Colorful Austin Kitchen

…or this bold retro oven featured alongside white and gray cabinets in this midcentury kitchen makeover by Savannah-based designer Celestino Piralla.

Midcentury Rancher Kitchen Makeover

With some updated cabinet pulls and a few glass inserts, it will be like a whole new kitchen…almost.

Add Glass Inserts to Kitchen Cabinets
Ready to paint your own kitchen cabinets? Check out our step-by-step cabinet painting project to learn how from start to finish.

What would you do with these kitchen cabinets? Suggestions welcome!

Read Liz’s previous House Diaries posts here and follow her home inspiration board on Pinterest.

174 Responses

  1. CplusE says:

    I am not normally a fan of painted wood, but those Caribbean blue cabinets in the top photo are fabulous! I especially like the fact that several doors are in unpainted wood with an orange-based stain as a complementary color to all of the blue. Maybe you can sand down and stain just a few of the drawer fronts after peeling off the contact paper. I say go for the color — you certainly won't ruin those outdated cabinets by painting them! If you get tired of bold color just repaint them, or you may even be ready to remodel by then. I can't wait to see your "after" photos!

    • Liz_HGTV says:

      I like the few unpainted cabinets, too — perhaps the best idea would be to get a select few new drawer/cabinet fronts to break up the color.

  2. RAJ says:

    You have a great kitchen Liz. It will look fantastic when you do the painting.

  3. [...] House Diaries: Cabinetry Dreamin’ HGTV Design Happens Sat, August 25, 2012 2:00 PM UTC HGTV Design Happens Rate Share (function(){var [...]

  4. Shannon says:

    That aqua island looks really good.

  5. Zamir says:

    I've always felt that all kitchen cabinet doors should be glass so one could see inside. I love to cook and the kitchen has always been my living room. I say to those people that say they don't want to see the mess inside their kitchen cabinet keep them neat or stay out of my kitchen. I love the aquamarine blue behind the glass cabinet.

  6. PFG says:

    Wow, the patina on the paneled walls looks lovely in photo at this distance. Say what? Contact paper & not a Formica brand glued on covering attached to the faces of the cabinetry? EEK, what was someone thinking for durability, or not, LOL?

    • PFG says:

      I like your drawers & cabinet pull edge color & wood grain as well. If this is contact paper, what does your cabinetry look like underneath it? I'd have to find out right away to determine any decision further? You could have all the substance you need right underneath?
      If it’s in fact all wood, refinishing to remove grime, glue or what? If wood, MDF or what?

      I recall this style of cabinets being popular in maybe, late 70's or early 80's, but it was not contact paper on the front of it…it was a laminate? Is the cabinetry in good working order or are hinges broken, drawer glides need work? So, you’re interested in only a cosmetic fix up then? You've got to post a picture of cabinets without contact paper on it? I'm too curious, if it's wood, maybe, a nice wood grain will appear underneath that just needs refinishing?

      Then I would look to walls to maybe go with a tudor look (my latest craze), maybe, then timber façades incorporated with tile with the floor in mind to follow suit to bring up the simple elegance. They're loads to go with, like u are already. Let us know what's underneath this stuck/glued on contact paper?

      • Liz_HGTV says:

        The cabinets have laminate covering and the drawers have contact paper fronts that are peeling off. Underneath, there is MDF, unfortunately, so I'm not sure they're worth salvaging. However, I need to find a way to make them work for now, at least!

  7. PFG says:

    I just can't imagine anyone turning to contact paper, but we've got millions doing DIY quick fix it jobs any day of the week. It's they're homes…some go for cheap, then some go with unnecessary complex costly changes too. Some change they're minds all over the place, while incorporating what's on sale and wonder what happened at the finish.

    If it's all wood cabinetry, maybe you'll be lucky in that cleaning is all it needs? Either way, if you choose to paint it, paneling & cabinets…you still have to clean it very well. Removing that glue from contact paper, grime, grease, oil or any food splatters, it may have on it. So your paint adheres well, smoothly, yet looks like the professional finish you'll want to see.

  8. PFG says:

    With the 1st photo you offer us to see. The wood that's inserted in spots, my 1st conclusion, I surmise with this look? Is that the unpainted wood inserts were a fix, but didn't warrant a whole new cabinet upgrade at this time with the mix & match that now has come to be. So, I'm thinking, more unpainted wood inserts would remove this 1st conclusion, I’m forced to think with beautiful wood inserted pieces. The same would be true, if it was all wood with a few painted ones that were inserted as well.

    It's just too austere, when items are brought in that don't coordinate at or with something, but that's the look today. I find it bothersome, busy, but uncomfortable for me personally. I guess, it's due to it not being done before for the most part with being over the top with eclectic that sets its own taste, but a latest fad.

  9. Liz says:

    Love the painted wood cabinets in that Carribean blue green color, but wouldn't have any in the natural wood.
    I've seen bottom and top cabinets in different colors and liked them but don't like this combo. Also love glass fronts in cabinet doors. Not all of them, probably, but some key cabinets with glass and lighted from the inside. So many styles and colors. Hard to pick a scheme.

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Liz GrayLiz is a Senior Editor at HGTV.com. She lives in a midcentury tri-level that’s stuck in the ‘70s…for now. When she’s not working on remodeling projects with her boyfriend and...

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