80's Kitchen - Is This Doable?

antmarilJune 15, 2009

I have been lurking for months. I enjoy reading all the posts and some of the kitchens I've seen here are amazing. I live in a 1400 sf ranch home that my late husband and I had built 30 years ago. It is a very modest home in a modest neighborhood.

In 1985, we had our kitchen redone and chose laminate "Eurostyle" cabinets that were very popular at the time. Almond color cabinets with oak trim. We had been considering a kitchen redo for quite a while, but real life (college tuition, etc. got in the way). My husband passed away last year and now I'm trying to figure out a way to have this kitchen updated a little, without spending major cash.

I was thinking that I (not really me, but someone who knows what he's doing) could paint the oak trim the same color as the cabinets. Do you think this would work? I know it wouldn't look great, but it might look better than the outdated kitchen I have now. I could have a nice pull added to the cabinets (vertically). I would also purchase a new countertop, backsplash and new SS appliances. The floor is oak. I would post a picture, but I don't know how.

Any suggestions or your thoughts on this idea would be greatly appreciated.

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Sure it's doable. If you feel ambitious, there's someone here (sorry, but I forget who it was--maybe someone else will remember) who peeled the laminate off and painted her cabinets, too. It turned out great.

Anyone remember whose kitchen that was?

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 10:11AM
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I think we used to have your 80s-tastic cabinets. Does the oak run horizontal along the bottom, as a groove to pull the cabinet door open?

Around here, I've seen a couple approaches, one of which you describe (painting just the oak trim). For what it is worth, the best remedy I've seen was my neighbor's: he painted the whole door (laminate and oak) a nice creamy white color. (Boy, did he get that color just right. Brilliant.)

I remember him saying that the prep for the two surfaces was quite different. And that he used some product to fill in the oak grain as part of the prep. (I'm almost sure it was some product in the Fine Paints of Europe line, though he didn't use their paint.)

He also installed pulls (to bling out a fairly boring kitchen), even though the groove is still there.

He put time into this project, for sure, but the cost was fairly minimal compared to how enormously improved it looks.

Depending on your kitchen, don't be bullied into stainless steel. It's a lovely look (we have it) but not right nor necessary for every space. And because it has penetrated the market, it doesn't necessarily signal "expensive" anymore. If it were me, I'd pay attention to the details of some appliances that make them look upscale, as opposed to the slapping-ss-on-the-front thing that a lot of manufacturers are doing. Stream-lined is a good thing to try to ferret out. (Not so big and clunky, which reads to me as cheap, no matter what the price actually paid...you want your money to work hard for you here.)

If everything still actually works in your kitchen, definitely take your time to replace appliances until you find amazing deals (close-out, last year's model, scratch-and-dent, craig's list, whatever). Appliances are stupid-expensive so deals really add up in this area.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 10:45AM
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Your idea is absolutely doable. I had an 80s kitchen. I replaced everything, but I took some of the original cabinets (which were white melamine with oak trim) and put them in the utility room behind the kitchen. I painted everything with something called "Grip and Seal Latex Stain Killer" by Coronado and then had trim board nailed on to the old cabinets (to mimic my new kitchen cabinets). Then I painted everything the same color as my new kitchen cabinets (Benjamin Moore Collector's Item) and used the same cup pulls and knobs as I did on the new cabinets. I'm really pleased with how everything came out. Here are some pictures.

Original kitchen cabinets:

Redone cabinets:

Just one thing. When the trim was added to the cabinets, they stuck out just a bit farther than the drawers (which were only painted). So I put a little block at the back of the drawers to make them flush with the cabinets.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 11:50AM
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I've also seen a kitchen just like yours where they painted out the whole cabinets - it looked pretty good

Another idea that would really update the kitchen is to reface the cabinet boxes (maybe peel off the laminite first, maybe just paint) and then put on new paintable MDF cabinet doors painted to match. There are tons of websites out there that let you order just the cabinet doors. The ones I've seen are in the $35-$75 each range, depending on style and size. If you are going to the trouble of painting cabinets, you might be much happier overall if you get a new door style, especially if you are also adding a new countertop and backsplash on top of the cabinets.

I'm betting there are some knowledgable people on here that could direct you to some great new doors, and tell you if it is as doable as I think it is.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 11:57AM
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Thanks everyone! You have given me some very good ideas.

Anne - your kitchen cabinets look great. I would be thrilled if my cabinets could look like yours!

Tuesday22 - Yes, the oak trim is the "pull" for the door.

Anyway, I really appreciate everyone taking the time to read my message and reply.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 1:10PM
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