Help me camouflage cabinet doors
February 18, 2007 3:45 PM   Subscribe

Kitchen cabinet camouflage - bring me your ideas!

I've got a 10-year-old condo with a kitchen that was treated pretty poorly by the previous owners. After layers of crud were removed, I discovered that some of the lower cabinet doors have 1x1" holes in the white veneer, revealing partical board. I am now looking for ways to camouflage this.

I cannot reorder doors in this style. The cabinet company no longer makes them and I can't really find anything that looks similar. They are flat white cabinet doors.

I don't want to paint the doors. I'd have to paint all the bottom ones or the three damaged ones would stand out. And this is a condo in an upscale neighbourhood. Painted cabinets would not really look right in a modern kitchen.

I realize that I could put new veneer on the cabinets, but I did that at my old place and, with wear and tear, the veneer started to peel away. If I was just planning to flip this condo, I'd redo the veneer. But I'm going to be here a while.

I have considered replacing the cabinets or the doors. However, I'd prefer to save my budget for other things, since I am not planning on living here for more than a few years. If I must replace the doors, I will. But let's not go there with this thread.

Today, I remembered a Debbie Travis TV show where she used aluminum channels to hide chipped cabinet doors. (She also went crazy with orange plastic...I don't want to do that.) It occurred to me that, because the damage on my cabinet doors is within an inch or so of the bottom of the cabinet doors, it could be disguised with some sort of metal channel. For example, I could just put the channel along all the bottom cabinets and make it look like a feature. Given that there are some metal separators between the drawers and the cabinets, this would not look out of place.

However, I wondered what other means I could use to disguise the damage. I'd like to do something that looks modern and clean. So, aside from metal channels, what other things could I use to hide the damage?

FWIW, we'll be replacing the appliances and putting in stone counters. And I've searched old threads here, in Google, and looked at what's available from Home Depot and Lee Valley. But I may be looking for a non-standard solution -- who would have thought to use metal channels, for example?

posted by acoutu to Home & Garden (19 answers total)
Is it possible for you to link to some photos of your cabinets? I think that would help everyone to better visualize the damage and what you're working with.
posted by tastybrains at 3:54 PM on February 18, 2007

You could apply something over the top of them to give a 3D effect (say light wood circles or squares that have been painted and shellacked) over the holes, and then placed randomly elsewhere on the fronts (or in a geometric pattern if the holes permit). This works particularly if you have a modernistic design sense.

If you want to avoid the 3D effect, I'd think about filling the holes (putty, woodfiller, something like that), and then applying a good quality wallpaper or paper over the larger space or smaller pieces in some sort of pattern. This could end up being so subtle as to be unnoticable or fantastically striking.
posted by julen at 4:01 PM on February 18, 2007

Response by poster: Here are some pictures of the kitchen. You will have to view the large size to see the damage. The long thin shot of the bottom of the cabinets focuses on the damage. Flickr seems not to want to show the full size of the photo, but I hope this is enough to help.

Note that all the dirt and grime has since been removed.
posted by acoutu at 4:08 PM on February 18, 2007

Speaking with industry experience- these cabinets do not appear to have a veneer top as you are saying. The top is laminate (or thermofoil as its referred to). There is no way to repair this in a way you'd like.

I really think you should look into refacing. Your kitchen is not large and if it was done by someone with expertise (read: NOT HOME DEPOT OR SEARS OR FACELIFTERS) you'd be amazed with the result.

I would say you can try some of the quick fixes that you may hear about here but since you're planning on replacing the counters with stone and all the appliances, I can guarantee you won't be happy with a quick fix and you'll end up doing something drastic.
posted by Thrillhouse at 4:32 PM on February 18, 2007

Response by poster: Oh, sorry, I thought thermofoil was a form of veneer.
posted by acoutu at 4:51 PM on February 18, 2007

If it was me, I'd replace the cabinet doors. If I really couldn't or wouldn't do that, I'd probably try wood veneer in strips instead of the metal channels. You might be able to use some exotic wood that would look really cool, or else a plain wood with a cool stain. In either case, cut to size then (I think) glue it on.
posted by Robert Angelo at 5:12 PM on February 18, 2007

If your new appliances are stainless you could get a few pieces of flat stainless that could be screwed to the doors or glued to the doors with constuction adhesive.
posted by Mitheral at 6:05 PM on February 18, 2007

how about covering the whole bottom edge of all the cabinets with narrow beveled strips of acrylic mirror?

or maybe with perforated metal strips? if you do that, maybe first fill in the holes with white-out or paint, just to hide them enough so that if they peek through the perforations you won't notice a major colour difference.
posted by twistofrhyme at 7:27 PM on February 18, 2007

White nail enamel to fill in the damaged bits.
posted by hortense at 8:19 PM on February 18, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks. I don't think there's any way to just fill in the damaged areas, though. They're pretty bad. Ideas like beveled mirror, metal strips, channels, or even shapes are probably more likely to work. Any other ideas like that out there?
posted by acoutu at 8:34 PM on February 18, 2007

I think since you are adding stone counter tops and new appliances, you may as well get some cabinets that you like. You don't have many cabinets there. Any money that you spend in the kitchen, you will get back when you sell.
posted by lee at 8:50 PM on February 18, 2007

Response by poster: I'm not sure I'd get my money back from new cabinet fronts. All the spacers are white, so, if I put in new fronts, I'll have to use white -- or else replace the cabinets themselves. If I just put new white cabinet doors, there won't be much of an impact. All the other units came with white doors, so no one will think these are new cabinets. The condo is only 10 years old, so it's not like the doors look bad. It's just that there's some damage along the bottom. (The doors in the pic look really bad because I took those pics before we even moved in. I've since scrubbed all the stains off.)
posted by acoutu at 8:57 PM on February 18, 2007

Don't discount getting new doors.

My brother just bought new cupboard doors from B&Q (UK's Home Depot) as end of line stock with an extra discount for a kitchen special. He ended up paying about $5 a door. This sort of deal comes round pretty often (over here at least) and is probably worth trying. It should save a lot of money and give you a completely new kitchen look as well.
posted by twine42 at 4:59 AM on February 19, 2007

Best answer: If you are planning on reselling in a few years, please consider new cabinet doors or refacing. Potential buyers aren't going to make a buy/don't buy decision based upon white cabinet doors. However, trying to "doctor" the doors with metal strips or mirrors (shudder) or anything else will label your kitchen as "that weird kitchen" when potential buyers are considering your place.

You want to keep it neutral and nice, especially if you are investing in other upgrades such as appliances and countertops. I don't know if Ikea sells cabinet doors separately from their cabinets, but if the dimensions work, that could be an option. Is there a Habitat for Humanity Restore in your area? They stock low price surplus materials from building projects that might work for you.

If you were going with an extruded aluminum channel or angle, do you know how to install it? Do you own a router or table saw? If it isn't done correctly, the result can look pretty mangled. The TV shows make these projects look much easier than they actually are.

If you want to go the aluminum root, consider adding an aluminum angle along the bottom edge of each door. This would just slip on over the existing door panel at the bottom and wouldn't interfere with the back of the door panel or closing the door. For example, the 1/2" x 1" angle at the bottom of this page. You would need a way to cut the lengths cleanly so they wouldn't be jagged at the ends. A miter saw with a very high quality metal cutting blade might give you the speed needed to cut aluminum cleanly. And I'm not sure how you would attach them (Glue? Not the greatest for use in high humidity areas such as kitchens. Any kind of screw would be visible.).
posted by jeanmari at 6:12 AM on February 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Sigh. That sould be "route", not "root".
posted by jeanmari at 6:13 AM on February 19, 2007

Response by poster: Yes, we have access to all those tools. We renovated our previous home by ourselves and we do a lot of research before attempting any project.

Those angles look like the best option so far.
posted by acoutu at 8:26 AM on February 19, 2007

I'm not sure I'd get my money back from new cabinet fronts.
You're spending the money for granite counters and new appliances. You should be able to get new doors for less than 10% of what you are spending on that. No, it won't be a drastic change that will impress people with the modern doors, but it will keep them from seeing a beat up kitchen when you've spent thousands remodeling. Or, replace all the doors with something nicer when you redo the rest of the kitchen.
posted by yohko at 12:00 PM on February 19, 2007

Best answer: For resale, I think you'll end up refacing/replacing the cabinet doors. But go spend some time at the bigbox stores. You should be able to find metal tape, which might look okay, and looks easy to apply. You might also be able to find embossed vinyl or paper decorative border that would look good. In that case, I'd stick with white on white.
posted by theora55 at 1:07 PM on February 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks. I'm going to check out the metal tape.

I'll consider redoing the doors down the road, but, right now, I'm planning another baby and I just want to get the new counters and appliances in, before I end up with no income for months on end.
posted by acoutu at 2:49 PM on February 19, 2007

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