Tips for making builder cabinets look custom from Thrifty Decor Chick Leave a comment

Here’s a reminder of what we started with on this wall: 

folding table with fabric curtain
hid the kitty litter underneath
and the top was supposed to be a folding table. Haha! There was
rarely room to fold anything. As much as I have decluttered and organized in
our home, we still needed a spot for many items around the house. A lot of
them ended up on this counter! 
unfinished drawer cabinets

They are the basic unfinished cabinets you can find at any large hardware

Ikea herringbone butcher block

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After that it was time to change up those basic cabinets into something more
custom. I had a plan to transform the drawer fronts to match the simple Shaker
design of our uppers. 

Online it looked like the drawer fronts were completely flat. But when I
picked them up I realized they had a slight bevel to them: 

unfinished cabinet drawer fronts

With that bevel my plan wasn’t going to work. I sat on it for a couple weeks
to figure out what I wanted to do. I finally decided I would build new
drawer fronts out of mdf and add the thin trim on the front. 

But as I was looking at the drawers one day, I had an idea. I wondered if I
could just turn them around and have the flat side facing out. I took one
off, flipped it around…and really liked it! The bevel looked fine turned
back against the cabinets, and the back side gave me a nice flat surface to
work with. YES! This was going to be way less work and money. 

Once I had that figured out, it was time to start painting. I took off each
drawer front (there are screws inside the cabinet drawers) and laid them in
order on the counter. Before I started painting, I used a drill bit to drill
through the holes where the screws went so I could attach them back on in
the exact same spots.  

Just like my warning
when installing cabinet hardware, be sure to drill straight through from the top of the drawer, not at an
angle. If it’s at an angle they won’t attach the exactly the same and be

Then I filled the holes on the new “fronts” and started painting: 

how to paint cabinets by hand
You may recognize this color! I’ve used this Cyberspace paint color in our
dining area
family room. I LOVE it! It’s a beautiful navy/gray color. 

After the drawers had two coats each (and a light sanding between), I
started on my trim pieces. I wanted them to be as smooth as possible, so
instead of the lattice I usually use for projects like this, I picked up
some four foot poplar strips that had very little grain: 

poplar trim for cabinet fronts

They are a quarter inch thick by two inches wide. At first, I made the
mistake of starting to add these to the drawer fronts while they were off
the cabinets. It was easier to work that way, but I found it was better to
do install the trim while drawers were in place. 

It’s much easier to make sure the sides of each cabinet are exactly the same
if you add them while they’re installed. Otherwise even the slightest change
in height or width from one drawer front to the other will be

I glued and nailed each strip onto the drawer fronts: 

how to add custom trim to cabinet fronts

I had already painted the frame of the cabinets with the drawer fronts gone
— that part goes very quickly. 

It was as I was installing the fronts that I realized the paint sheen I had
used (that was leftover) was satin. I wanted semi gloss — so I gave
everything one more coat in the semi-gloss instead. (I told you this room
has giving me many fits!): 

DIY shaker drawer fronts

acrylic brass cabinet hardware

But I kept hesitating on installing them, and finally decided they felt a
little too modern for this room (or our house really). 

dark blue cabinets with brass hardware

They are more substantial and look SO good against the dark, dusty blue!

adding custom trim to end of basic cabinets

I was careful with my photo angles because I’ll be showing you the tile next,
and it is SO pretty! 🙂 

Here’s where we started with this wall a few weeks ago:

folding table laundry room

Here it was with the upper and lower cabinets installed:  

cabinets in laundry mud room

And here they are painted, trimmed out and with a little brass bling!: 

cyberspace cabinets with brass hardware

dark wood counters blue cabinets

I just adore that dark wood, moody blue and brass combo. It looks like a piece
of furniture, and I love that! Even though the DIY projects in here have given
me problems, they’ve all been worth it! This has become the prettiest room in
our home by far. 😍

I’ll be back this week to share the tile and install! 

Here are links to products and DIY projects pictured in this

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