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Kitchen dilemma
Robin W
February 19, 2013 in Design Dilemma
I have one of those atrocious 80's kitchens with the laminate cabinets with wood trim handles. I'm painting the cabinets all white but am torn as to whether or not I should add hardware. Thoughts?
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rinqreation
My though is I'd see doors with two handles, a screwed one and a blind one.
February 20, 2013 at 1:14am   
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PRO
ASVInteriors
Oh the irony! Mixed white and wood is becoming so trendy again....


Perhaps not add handles in the immediate - whatever you may think of the colours, the lines are streamlined. You can add them after the fact. If you did I would go with those long bars to accentuate the horizontality of the design.
February 20, 2013 at 1:49am   
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kitasei
You are focused on the laminate. But if you installed one eye-catching thing (a great faucet comes to mind, as yours is wimpy) the rest will fade into a streamlined background. The original look is not as bad as you think IMO, because it is (by design) inconspicuous.
February 20, 2013 at 2:03am   
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rinqreation
I'd like to add my mom painted hers white too and eventually replaced the entire kitchen because the wood and laminate looked horrible in the same color.. I'd advise you to pick two colors if you're fed up with the wood.
February 20, 2013 at 2:38am   
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charleee
Laminate may not be very popular, but really, it's so easy to clean!!! What if you just painted the wood, instead of the whole door? You could paint it black and get a stainless range to match your dishwasher and you'd have a very cohesive and modern look.
February 20, 2013 at 3:37am     
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kitasei
Just to chime in again -- you've got an intact 80s kitchen, which in a very short time will reek of retro charm. You COULD just hold out a few more years!
February 20, 2013 at 5:49am     
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charleee
OMG, 80's = retro??? I'm getting too old!!!
February 20, 2013 at 6:02am     
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PRO
Dytecture
The 80s could be classified as "retro" according to wikipedia !

My thoughts would be to paint the horizontal wood strips black and no handles added.
February 20, 2013 at 6:07am     
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bevballew
I get you with those cabinets. I would try painting the wood black first if you think you will like that look. Maybe paint just one cabinet with a latex paint you could remove rather easily if you don't like. I think it sounds pretty cool myself. I lived in a house years ago with those cabinets. I think a black trim might be fun.
February 20, 2013 at 6:11am     
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kitasei
Sure - put up a poster of Nancy Reagan saying Just Say No on the refrigerator, another of the Tianammen Square uprising and Earth Day, and find a period telephone and computer. Call it Millennial.
February 20, 2013 at 6:20am     
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kitasei
Rubik's cubes would add great pops of color...
February 20, 2013 at 6:23am     
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PRO
FN Design
You could stain all the wood bits a color that matches the floor, paint the cabinets white and get rid of the thingie in front of the window ... then new hood and faucet and remove what seems to be a light box and install new lighting.... that should hold you over till you give in and get a new kitchen. ;)
February 20, 2013 at 6:32am   
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charleee
Oh Dy, seriously? It reminds me of the time my friend's daughter wanted to dress old-fashioned for Halloween, I'm thinking poodle skirts, bobby socks and saddle shoes, she's thinking hippie.
February 20, 2013 at 6:33am     
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charleee
By they way, your kitchen looks very neat and clean, good job :))
February 20, 2013 at 6:34am   
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PRO
Brannick Maier Architect
I agree with using horizontal hardware if any. Actually to update the kitchen, before I painted the cabinets, I would remove the valence over the window to let in more light and take the linear appearance away. Then I would consider new lighting as what appears to be the 80's flourescents really "date" the kitchen and change its mood. The new faucet and stainless range would really bring it out of the 80's.
February 20, 2013 at 6:45am   
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apple_pie_order
I'd paint the wood handles white or black or stain them darker to match the floor's wood tones. For the overall appearance, you might consider adding lights above the cabinets to give the kitchen some drama and depth. Most kitchens look better without storing or displaying things in the space between the cabinets and ceiling.
February 20, 2013 at 6:46am   
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providences
Previous comments are correct that the kitchen cabs can be easily made to look modern, but you have not told us if you prefer a streamlined modern look as in the picture posted with one reply, or a traditional look (the all white cabs, lots of large trim pieces and details).

The golden oak current look is very dated and should be changed. I don't think new hardware would improve the look of the cabinets given that the handles are already built in as part of the wood trim.

For a modern look, if your wood trim is really wood, then consider sanding and staining it so it contrasts with the white but still keeps its wood nature - grain etc. A white-washed or gray weathered look works for oak. If the trim is veneered MDF (especially a plastic veneer like in the 80), then don't paint. It will not look professional due to brush marks and the paint might have trouble adhering. It is possible to laminate it to a stainless look, or with real wood veneer to give it a quality grain and color. Lowe's also sells a U-shaped aluminum rail (in the hardware steelworks section) that could be used to replace this oak trim on the door tops and still provide the same functionality.

Modern kitchens also get away from the wall of uniform cabinets look, so you could invest in a frosted glass door here and there, interior cabinet lighting, as well as some open shelves. Ikea sells some cheap steel open shelves and wall rails to get you going.

For a traditional kitchen, you should probably get some crown molding for the cabinet tops and upgrade that window valance (or remove it altogether). Cabinet hardware would also be appropriate, but you should probably change the oak trim to something that doesn't have an obvious handle function as to get away from the "quick and dirty upgrade" look, and make it seem that these cabinets have always been like that. Personally I don't think you can really make a melamine white cabinet ever assume the look of a traditional white kitchen so perhaps a modern look is your better option.

I think that the range hood also needs to be upgraded perhaps to a stainless or even a glass model, or get the built in microwave (a cheap one could be around $250).
February 20, 2013 at 7:03am     
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PRO
White Lotus Interiors
Two sets of hardware is just odd.
February 20, 2013 at 7:07am   
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winniegirl
Hey, Love that kitchen! We have the matching cabinets in the kids bathroom :) ha! Thought you couldn't paint laminate? Maybe that's just in the bathroom where the moisture would peel it off. I am in no position to offer any advice,( only sarcastic comments) since I come here to get my questions answered by all of you creative types. You have some great ideas, I like the idea of a dark stain on the lovely oak trim. Can't wait to see what you do! good luck
February 20, 2013 at 7:11am   
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charleee
rwillekes, you have many comments on your dilemma, any thoughts?
February 20, 2013 at 7:12am   
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Robin W
Great comments! Thanks for the thoughts all!

I've thought about staining the oak to match the floor but given the amount of it in the kitchen, I'm worried that it would be overwhelming. Both pieces on the sides of the fridge are the same oak.

I would really love to get rid of the 'thingie' above the window but because of the molding going around the top of the cabinets, the cabinets around the window would look orphaned without. I thought about trying to salvage the trim (I'm on a pretty tiny budget right now) but removing and angling might prove to be pretty tough. Thoughts?

The light fixture will be replaced, I'm thinking some simple track lighting. The hood fan and faucet are also going to be replaced.
February 20, 2013 at 8:09am     
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bcgirl80
Hello - I agree paint the wood a darker accent color black is perfect, match the range to the dishwasher and I would add hardware. Something simple clean -
February 20, 2013 at 8:21am     
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Robin W
Update. Finished painting the cabinets. Decided to go all white for now and see how it looks. Don't have the corner cabinet door put back yet but thought I would share the progress. Pardon the mess...

Trying to decide on a wall color now...
March 23, 2013 at 6:48pm     
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charleee
Oh man is that ever better! Great job!
March 23, 2013 at 6:49pm     
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starbella
What are those cupboards called European? That's what my friend calls her mothers cabinets;)
March 23, 2013 at 6:59pm   
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Robin W
I don't actually know the technical term for the style of them. I just call them ugly.

That said, they look a lot better painted but I will admit, a complete renovation is in the immediate future.
March 23, 2013 at 7:30pm   
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starbella
I totally understand. I just bought a new home and the kitchen is honey oak. I see a Reno in my future but need to start saving. I will be painting or gel staining them till I can get the cream kitchen of my dreams:)
March 23, 2013 at 7:35pm   
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dianecourbat
Yes, those cabinets were called European in the '80s. What is called European now are cabinets that are completely plain, usually shiny and still have no hardware showing. They go to the ceiling and almost look like a blank wall. I like them a lot!
February 8, 2014 at 3:35am   
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bevballew
You cabinets were th big craze in the 80s deviating from the standard. Too bad the painting did not help. I have friends who put Home Depot cabinets in their home and they look beautiful. And I assume the prices might be decent. I had your style cabinets in a small bathroom when we built out home in the 80s. I agree they are ugly now. At that time they did seem cool! Maybe you can just put new fronts on your cabinets?
February 8, 2014 at 5:25am   
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ccahls
Robin, your cabinets look wonderful! I was going to suggest painting the wood white rather than black but as I read further you already painted them! You go girl. They look awesome. Good decision.
February 8, 2014 at 5:52am   
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Robin W
Oh my! I had forgotten all about this! I never did post pictures of the finished update. It took me about 2 months and there are a few little things to do still but here's the finished photo.
February 8, 2014 at 8:29pm     
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rosiegabby
Looks really good.
February 8, 2014 at 8:34pm   
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bitterswt02
Cute!! yes to the hardware question. It the finishing touch. Lovely job! Congrats!
February 8, 2014 at 8:34pm   
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ccahls
And nice color choice on the walls. love it!
February 9, 2014 at 4:54am   
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marchjuly
What did you use to prime and paint? We have the exact same cabinets but haven't painted them because we assumed nothing would really work...or last. Please share your process!
February 9, 2014 at 5:10am     
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toddmanning
last year I redid these same cabinets. We flipped them inside out. Drawers & cabinet doors are flat on the inside. I thought the laminate needed to be sanded so that the paint would hold up to daily use. So i bought one of those $85 kits from Lowes Took 2 days for me to sand, prime, paint & poly the whole kitchen. Waited another 24hrs to screw in the handles & a little slip of the screwdriver left a mark. When it came time to redo the bathroom cabinets those also have this same laminate, we flipped the cabinet door, painted it with a spray paint this time & added the handles. After a year, I have never had to touch up the bathroom cabinets but had to fix the marks in the kitchen many times. I would recommend plain old good quality spray paint. The ones I used in the bathrooms were the rustoleum 2X ultra coat in white & the other the rustoleum Universal in copper finish. I replaced the laminate top in the 1 bath with a granite counter with an under sink everyone thinks it's an expensive vanity and the spray paint cabinets have a better shine. Don't waste your money on those kits.
February 9, 2014 at 6:01am   
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apple_pie_order
@toddmanning: do you have photos? Sounds like you found an excellent strategy, too.
February 9, 2014 at 6:09am   
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toddmanning
Right now all I have is a before pic from the listing. I never took a pic after we finished. I'll try to do it some time today so i can post both before & after.
February 9, 2014 at 6:18am   
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toddmanning
@apple_pie_order: Here are the before & after pics
February 9, 2014 at 9:11am        Thanked by Robin W
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PRO
D. Ryan Group -Construction Services
I wouldn't paint laminate .. That's crazy ! Just order new drawer faces and doors .
February 9, 2014 at 9:48am   
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tlparks
Robin W, what is your wall color?
February 9, 2014 at 10:02am   
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Robin W
D Ryan - sometimes budget dictates what options are available to you. I wanted a simple update that would make it look better. It doesn't have to last forever, just look better until I can afford to replace it all. Please don't post here if you're going to be negative and discouraging like that. Some of us like to be crazy creative!

As for how... I took all the doors and drawer fronts off and cleaned them with TSP. Then I roughed them up with sandpaper front and back. Reversing the doors wasn't an option as they are full overlay doors so they have big holes in the backs that would have required filling. So rough them up, then give them a good wipe with a soft cloth to get all the dust. I primed both sides with a high adhesion primer (I think it was BIN 123) letting dry a day in between coats. I did 2 coats of primer. Then I used a melamine paint designed for cabinets - CIL Smart from Home Depot. Two coats of that waiting 1-2 days between coats. Also did the same thing for the cabinets. Big things are the sanding, priming and follow the instructions on the cans.

It's been over a year now since I finished and I haven't had ANY problems. The cabinets are easy to wipe down and I've even had to scrub a few but as of yet I have no significant wear marks. If you're on a budget and want a simple redo to hold over till a full renovation is possible, I strongly recommend painting. And don't listen to people who say they wouldn't paint laminate. It is possible!
February 9, 2014 at 10:21am     
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tlparks
Wall color? :)
February 9, 2014 at 10:23am   
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Robin W
Sorry TL. I had to go look at the can as I couldn't remember. It's CIL Cliffside.
February 9, 2014 at 10:34am   
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apple_pie_order
@toddmanning: thanks for the new photos. Your kitchen went from outdated to sleek and sophisticated. Nice to know there are alternatives for painting various laminates.
February 9, 2014 at 10:39am   
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marchjuly
Thanks for the info. I might just give it a try...
February 9, 2014 at 10:53am   
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charajoo
I painted my (same) cabinets White; stained the trim Dark Oak; replaced the countertop with a Brown granite laminate and replaced the faucets and lighting with Oil Rubbed Bronze fixtures. Navy oriental rug on dark oak hardwood floor and Navy check curtains at the windows. Hope this helps.
February 9, 2014 at 6:11pm   
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tiamay
Great job on the update.
February 9, 2014 at 6:26pm   
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desertgirl
Those were the same cabinets my dad just refinished . He sanded and put a 2 inch frame around face. He used a paint from Home Depot that you have to special order to paint over this material . Lots of time and fairly labor intensive. The end result was great, he ended up with a pale butter yellow cabinet and put on a new counter. Good luck on the decision.
February 10, 2014 at 10:54am   
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