15 In DIY projects

kitchen makeover step 2: handy hardware

So, we started our mini kitchen makeover the other day by painting out the dark wood trim of our cabinets (see that here). The cabinets didn’t have any hardware – you pulled them open at the bottom (the area we just painted). Since we didn’t want to get fingerprints all over the new white paint and since we wanted to make these cabinets somewhat more attractive (they’re never going to be beauties, but they can get a bit of a facelift),  we decided to go get some snazzy new hardware. We figured that we should get the hardware that we will ultimately want to use when we reno this kitchen properly (probably in another year or so), instead of spending slightly less money for something we’re just going to replace. So we checked out some different options online and in various stores, and settled on the long slim handles. We liked the clean lines, that they match nicely with stainless steel appliances (which we’ll buy during our reno), and that they would go nicely with both a more traditional or modern style cabinet.

We liked the Vinna ones from IKEA (about $6.50 a pop)…

…but when we saw really similar hardware at our local Lee Valley (a Canadian store, for any non-Canadians out there) that was slightly cheaper and had a nice brushed finish, we were sold.

Since we were drilling new holes on all of our cabinets, I was seriously stressed about getting the measurements right. Before we did anything, I got Dan to hold up a handle on a cabinet and move it around until I liked exactly where it was placed (yes, this was probably kinda annoying for the hubs since I wanted to get it juuuust right). Then once we had the first one in place, I grabbed the ruler and measured all the dimensions (how far away from the bottom and side of the cabinet). A couple of trials-and-error holes weren’t going to look pretty, so I measured the hardware, measured on the cabinets, marked the spots, held up the hardware to make sure it looked right…

…and then re-measured again, just to be sure…

Below you can see all of my pencil marks on the drawers.

Then my trusty hubby came and drilled where X marked the spot(s).

Then came the best part – installing the hardware. I was seriously giddy at this point.

And here they are all finished. Doesn’t it look so much better? A bit white-washed right now, so we’re trying to figure out if we want to paint the backsplash, but sooo much better than where we started. It wasn’t a super cheap project — since we needed about 20 pulls, we ended up spending around $150 (with taxes and everything). But like I said, these puppies are here to stay (unlike everything else in our kitchen which we dream about replacing).

Now to do something about the hideous floor. Stay tuned!

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  • Courtney

    Looks great! :)

    Even if you spent $150, did you figure out how much you saved by finding the better deal?

    • gemma

      Unfortunately we didn’t save a huge amount – the hardware from Lee Valley was about 50 cents cheaper per pull (so about a $10 difference overall). But at least we saved a bit of dough and actually got pulls that we like better (with the brushed finish).


  • Ginny Gonneau

    Love the handles!

  • Andrea

    Gemma – I LOVE what you’ve done with the cabinets. My husband and I live in Omaha, Nebraska and we have the very same hideous wood trimmed kitchen decor. (How does such crappy style spread so far and wide?). I am inspired to paint the edges like you did until we can afford our mega renovation. Thanks for taking the plunge and showing me that it will turn out so well!

    • gemma

      So glad you’re feeling inspired, Andrea! It definitely makes a HUGE difference to the space. Our kitchen instantly felt brighter and lighter. You should totally go for it!! Just make sure to sand first and then use a high-gloss paint for extra durability.


  • I’m a kitchen designer and I have to say “kuddo’s” to you! great job…my friend had the same cabinets and painted with all silver with black pulls and put in a black sink. Believe it or not it looked fantastic.

  • Pam

    what size pulls did you use? same on the drawers and cabinet doors? thanks!

    • gemma

      I can’t actually remember what length these ones were – we brought home a few different sizes and just held them up and eyeballed them all to see which ones we liked best (the store we got them from had about 6 different length options in this pull). The ones we went with though are all the same size throughout (drawers and cupboards).


  • Your a genius! Thanks for your makeover steps, I now have an idea on my kitchen.

  • Steph

    We have the same gruesome cabinets! What kind of paint did you use? Did you paint the wood strips only?

    • gemma

      Aren’t they the worst?! Yes we painted just the oak strip. We used a high gloss white paint and put a coat of varathane on top (for max durability).


  • WOW – I have been looking for this exact thing forever, and was about to start on this over the weekend; I am absolutely thrilled to see your posts, and love the result! THANK YOU!

    • gemma

      Oh I’m so glad. Good luck with the project!


  • jen_cam

    Ok, so I fully realize these kitchen posts are a couple years old….but I am totally bookmarking them. I have just begun searching for a little condo for myself (tired of renting), and I swear they all have these cabinets. Like. Every. Single. Place. Out of all the ideas I have seen for giving the 80’s melamine a short-term face lift, yours seems the most cost-effective. Not to mention a plan with the least possibility of injury to myself. Ha!

    • Haha – yes, definitely low on the injury possibility front. I am happy to say that we were really pleased with our cabinets for the 4-ish years we lived with them like that (currently renovating, so new cabinetry). You definitely want to use a really durable, high gloss paint, but it does wonders to hide that oak strip!

      Good luck with your condo hunt!!