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Cheap Kitchen Cabinet Upgrades That Look Expensive

Published on NewsOK Published: November 21, 2012

Wood Panels to Glass

If you have traditional frame-and-panel cabinet doors, you swap out the wood panels for glass, creating an expensive-looking accent for little more than the price of the glass alone. The hardwood frames of these doors provide the structural integrity; the panel actually "floats" inside grooves in the frame's edges. Use a router and a straight-cutting bit to cut out the backside of the grooves, remove the panel and add a piece of precut glass, securing the glazing with plastic glass clips and screws. The glass can be plain, textured, frosted, beveled, etc., but for safety it's best to use tempered glass, which you can buy from any local glass company. Mixing glass-front cabinets and plain wood cabinets is also an attractive option. A good example is Dallas architect Eddie Maestri's farmhouse-style kitchen, in which a Dallas carpenter installed both glass-front and plain panel cabinets, creating a rustic and light look.

Task and Accent Lighting

All well-designed kitchens have good lighting, and this always includes undercabinet lights. The nice thing here is that you don't have to splurge for nice-looking fixtures because you don't have to look at the fixtures. That is, if you have standard cabinets with faceframes; with Euro-sytle frameless cabinets, you might want to spend extra for more attractive lighting, but there's no reason to go overboard because the fixtures aren't prominent. Standard wall cabinets have a recess underneath that nicely hides "slimline" fluorescent fixtures. This is all you need to create an upgraded look and vastly improve the usability of your countertop work areas. Don't go for halogen puck lights, which are inefficient and put out way too much heat both below and above the cabinet's bottom panel. As for above-cabinet accent lighting, the same no-see-um benefit applies. This can be as simple as snaking a rope light on top of a bank of cabinets or adding a few uplights to play off the ceiling. In any case, it's the light—not the fixture—that creates a custom look. 

Philip Schmidt writes for

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