DIY Cabinet Upgrade Part I

Our orangey oak builder-basic cabinets have been screaming for some attention since we moved in.  Plus, yesterday I realized that the cabinets in my kitchen at home are the exact same cabinets as the ones in the kitchen at work.  Little tidbit for  you 🙂
So here are some before pictures:

IMGP0655 Right after we moved in
IMGP0804 At Christmas
After we painted and had the light fixture replaced with recessed lights

Alright, so first thing to do here is install some trim.
I picked up some 1x2s, some molding (I chose a shorter and squattier version of crown), and some brass brackets.  I spent about $30.

I cut the 1x2s to size with a hand saw.
I cut the trim angles with a miter box.
I used Liquid Nails and brads from my staple gun to attach the trim to the 1x2s.
Then I countersunk all the brads and filled the holes in with wood filler. 
Then I coped my one inside angle with a coping saw. 
I discovered an “oops” at the same time.  (See below)
Then it was time to install!
I set each piece on top of the cabinets and originally intended to use the brackets to attach it from the back.  No dice.  I don’t know what the deal was, but I couldn’t get the screws to screw into the back of the cabinet facing.  I’m thinking maybe I’m not strong enough to give it the pressure it needed, or I couldn’t get enough leverage (standing on the counters doesn’t give you much leverage) or both?  So I made do. 
I ended up using 2” wood screws and because they weren’t quite long enough to go through the 1×2 AND into the top of the cabinet, I had to use the weird little hole-making tool I used on the guest room headboard.  I drilled the holes probably a quarter inch into the 1×2 and then my screws were long enough.  Then I could just drill a screw straight down through the 1×2 and into the top edge of the cabinets. 
The picture above was from my headboard project, but that’s the little tool I used on the cabinet trim as well.
And now the cabinets are ready to be sanded and primed!
So the one “oops” I discovered was I needed to cut the crown one inch shorter than the 1×2 in the inside corner.  Otherwise, the 1×2 that butts up against it will be impeded by the crown.  But I installed my molding and THEN realized I should’ve cut it shorter.  My solution was cutting a notch out of the other 1×2 so that it would fit in nicely UNDER the crown of its neighbor. 

If I’d thought more about this project before I started, I might’ve realized that.  But when you’re impatient to get going and you think you can figure it out as you go, I guess you have to deal with the bumps as best you can.

Curious to see how this project ended?  Go here.


  1. Ah, yes, the builder orangey-oak cupboards. When we had this, our first, house built almost 8 years ago, that is what we put in (I didn't really know what I liked and we were rushed in our decision-making). Now I would love to paint them white. However, with building a new house in 2 years, I can live with it just that much longer! I look forward to seeing your results. Thanks for stopping by!Chantelle


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