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To paint 60s plywood cabinets or not to paint...

Hi All!

I'm currently fixing up my 1960 small ranch house. There is a basement suite and ultimately will be two rental units once it's fixed up and I move out. It's not in the best location so I can't justify spending a lot on updating it. I'm currently planning the kitchen update. The kitchen is a tiny box. About 10'x12'. The cabinets are original plywood (not a bad grain but I'm not sure the type of wood...medium tone). My current dilemma is whether or not to paint them. I was thinking of painting the lowers a teal color and refinishing the countertops in a charcoal color. The uppers would be white and I'd paint the backsplash white as well. The walls would be a light butter yellow. The other option is keeping the original wood look and have the rest of the kitchen white with teal backsplash and charcoal countertops. The appliances are white. Painting the cabinets would brighten up and make the kitchen look larger but will have a bit of maintenance. Plus I love natural wood and avoid painting over it whenever possible...but this house needs to appeal to the masses and the kitchen is very small and any trick to make it seem larger would help. I'm interested in increasing the house value and rentability. Any advice would be appreciated!


Re: To paint 60s plywood cabinets or not to paint...

Sounds like you're on the right track. I too like wood but right now the usual suspects are out of style and it may be 20-40 years before it comes back into style. Painted cabinets are never totally out of style because they can be painted a popular color and hardware updated to make them at least acceptable to most folks. Plus, being rentals there's the question of maintenance and repair which paint makes fast, cheap, and easy. Since you intend to rent I'd advise you to think through every upgrade to make it 'renter-proof'. By that I mean using things which are durable, don't need any specialized cleaning or maintenance, and can't be easily harmed. It costs more initially but the savings come in time, and in time saved from doing repairs.

Right now that's my main business and I know that with rentals, cheap doesn't work for long nor does it 'sell' to the potential renters who want as nice a place as they can get compared to your competition. Nicer places bring you better tenants even if your price is slightly higher. Go 'low' and that's who will be living there. It's always better to have better people who will take care better of the place than the kind of folks who care only that it's cheap, even if it's not the best neighborhood or location.


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