i should be mopping the floor: Giving Builder Grade Cabinets a Custom Look

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Giving Builder Grade Cabinets a Custom Look

Giving builder grade cabinets a custom look with crown molding, hardware and paint is a project that's worth tackling to transform your kitchen.


This is actually a repost from when I guest posted over at the House of Hepworths a couple of weeks ago. Since I'm about to start doing {lots} of posts over our kitchen redo in the next few weeks, I thought this would be a fun one to include over here, as well.

While this kitchen is about to wear me out, I am happy with the direction it's heading. Here's a tutorial on one of the very first things we transformed...the cabinets.

Here's the before. We had smaller molding on the cabinet tops, oak stain {that had drastically lost its luster over the six years we've lived here} and no hardware.

We started by ripping off the old molding...which, literally, ripped right off.
Not much effort needed here. 

Let me preface this by saying it took us three entire eight-foot lengths of crown to figure out what in the heehaw we were doing. But, once we finally got it...we got it. Cutting crown can vary from project to project and I by no means feel qualified to give an entire tutorial on it. But, I'll let you know a few tips that really helped us {that and watching about 100 youTube videos on crown molding cutting}.

Ideas to keep in mind when cutting cabinet crown molding:
- You'll be making outside cuts only, for the most part {we had one weird angle where we had to make an inside cut, but the other several dozen cuts were all outside angle cuts}.
- As referenced in the photo above, adding tape guides to your saw for cutting is the only way to do this...it took us three lengths of molding to finally figure that one out. Some compound miter saws come with crown molding guides, but ours didn't. You want tape on both ends to ensure that you line your molding the exact same way every time. Even being off by a millimeter can make a big difference.
- Crown molding is cut upside down on the saw, and "standing up". 

This next step we did a bit out of the norm {but there's always several ways to attack a project, in my opinion}. We assembled this one "on the ground" before mounting. We did this step differently on every single cabinet. But this one seemed to work great for us. I liked "on the ground" assembly because it was easier to match up corners. We connected it all with liquid nails, let it dry and then took it up to the cabinet tops.

A lot of tutorials recommended an additional board for mounting your molding to. Since our original molding wasn't on a board and the top of our cabinets were not what we expected, structurally, we attached ours directly to the tops of the cabinets. We used finishing nails to attach the molding in place. 

Then fill, fill, fill. We used DryLock {a spackling type of putty} to fill in all corners, nail holes and gaps. Once it was dry, it got a good sanding.

Then I painted everything. I plan to do a full tutorial on kitchen cabinet painting on the blog in the next few weeks, be sure to stop by for the fun! My basic approach is to use a primer that adheres to any surface {to prevent a whole lot of sanding}, two coats of that; two coats of satin latex paint; and polyurethane {be careful on the polyurethane, it can turn white cabinets yellow if it's the wrong kind}. 

We also added some vintage reproduction hardware to give the cabinets a special touch.

Really enjoying the brightness this added to the kitchen. 

And I have to be completely up front with all of you...the above photo is staged beyond belief. My husband walked in and said..."oh, we're doing fake kitchen today, huh?" 
I won't lie...my goal is to have this kind of pretty-pretty all over the kitchen and maybe when all this mayhem is said and done, it may happen. But right now, the above is how I do "fake kitchen". 







Neglect your chores like me and don't miss a thing:




28 comments:

  1. Kristi I totally do fake kitchen too! And fake living room, fake powder room...pretty much fake in every room, which is why so many of my smaller projects are photographed on the stairs! Which, now that I think about it, isn't all that great either, what with the gross carpet and blah lighting.

    Can't wait for your tute!

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  2. It looks great, Kristi! Can't wait for the full tutorial and pictures :)

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  3. Fake kitchen?! That is too funny. It sounds just like my Honey. I can't wait to see the rest of your redo!

    Ashley @ 3littlegreenwoods

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  4. Your cabinets look great!! Amazing what paint and new hardware can do! And I love the idea of adding the thicker molding to the top! It just gave it so much character!

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  5. Haha - "fake kitchen". Oh yes. We are masters at faking it! Like your brownies in the bathtub picture!! lol
    In a little bit I am even going to have my real children put on fake smiles when I get them out of bed for a photo shoot. heehee

    Your crown molding looks amazing. We would SO mess that up! Looks fantastic though. Pinning.
    xoxo

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  6. Great idea! Looking forward to your cabinet painting post! :)

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  7. Love the "fake" Kitchen- will pass this project onto hubby-lop

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  8. Your cabinets look great!! What a transformation!!
    Shawna

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  9. Amazing before and after Kristi, Pinning!!

    xo, Tanya

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  10. Your cabinets look sooo much better - what a fantastic job you've done!!

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  11. Love your honesty about your "fake" kitchen. I do the same and it lasts about a minute or so! We can at least dream, right? Great job!

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  12. Kristy, we painted our builder grade cabinets as well. Your's look great and I love the molding.

    xoxo
    Denyse

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  13. Kristi, your cabinets look amazing! I really want to paint our cabinets and this is good inspiration for me! Thanks so much for sharing!

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  14. Fake kitchens are the new black - this looks amazing!!! Cheers to a fabulous kitchen
    Kelly

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  15. Oh wow, what a difference. This is amazing. Thanks for the tutorial. I would love for you to link up to my Inspire Me party that is ongoing.http://www.astrollthrulife.net/2013/08/177th-inspire-me-tuesday.html Hugs, Marty

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  16. I love, love, love the white!!! You are giving me ideas!!! Wonder if my hubby would go for it? :)

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  17. It's unbelievable what a difference this makes. You guys make a great team. I love your curtains too Kristi! :)

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  18. I can't believe the difference a coat of paint and some trim makes! We put crown molding around our cabinets and I bet my hubby would have liked it more if he had known to put it together on the ground. It was a very long day for him! And fake kitchen pics? Hahahah! I had to laugh because all my pics are like that.

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  19. Your kitchen is really coming along Kristi beautifully! I bet you are exhausted! :) Keep up the great work girl!

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  20. Oh wow! Can you come over and redo my cabinets! I have all the ambition in the world...not as much skill tho :)
    These cabinets look amazing!

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  21. This is so great!!! It's such a huge change. Love it!!!!

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  22. Wow what a difference!! I love the hardware - looks perfect!

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  23. Oh Kristi, your white cabinets are going to be dreamy!! What an awesome job you guys are doing, and I can't wait to see the final product! That hardware you chose is gorgeous!

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  24. Great idea!!!!!
    thanks for sharing this wonderful tutorial of making your own custom cabinets with custom color. The design of your cabinet is perfect and it look very pretty after adding additional board on top of it. you have done your work creatively that's why the end pics look perfect.........Thank you so much for this stunning tutorial.....
    walk-in closet

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  25. Kristi, I am so much impressed with the way you used cabinets and painted them. I have recently bought a custom cabinet and want to modify it. Thanks for the share.

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  26. This looks gorgeous...I do have a question though: once the crown molding was attached did you also "sand" the main part of the cabinet and door or did you just paint/prime it directly??

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