CABINETS

Sturdy wood cabinets are often worth saving. To change the look:

Change hardware: Replacing knobs, pulls, and hinges costs as little as a few dollars per door. Make sure the new hardware matches the existing hole locations.

Paint: A coat of paint can brighten up old cabinets and cheer up the whole room. (Metal cabinets can be sent out to an autobody shop for a durable refinishing.) Cost of a professional paint job: about $35 to $85 per linear foot.

Reface: Refacing can make cabinets look brand new. First, doors and drawer fronts are removed and all exterior surfaces are covered with a veneer of prefinished wood in whatever species and finish you prefer. Then new doors and drawer fronts are made to match. Make sure to hire a reputable company, and only after you've seen examples of its work. Cost: approximately $125 to $325 per linear foot, depending on the type of veneer and the method of installation.

Change doors: It's possible to replace just the panels on cabinet doors. Decorative filler panel options include glass (clear, etched, tinted, patterned, stained) and metal (stainless steel or punched or patterned tin). Simply use a router to cut away the existing panel and rout a lip on the back of the door to hold the new panel. Replacement panels typically cost from $100 to $250 per door. Other options include removing the doors altogether (free!) for an open-shelf look or replacing them with new doors ($100 to $400 per door).

Add moldings: Wood moldings and trim add character to plain cabinet fronts. If your old cabinets don't go to the ceiling, adding a crown molding or soffit around the top will make a room look more elegant. Cost: about $15 per linear foot, unfinished.

Upgrade interiors: Slide-out shelves, tilt-trays, lazy Susans, drawer dividers, and full-extension drawer glides can be retrofitted to your old boxes. Cost: $1,000 to $3,000 for a full kitchen.

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