HGTV Star David Bromstad’s Best Tips For Updating Old Cabinets

HGTV Star David Bromstad's Best Tips For Updating Old Cabinets

HGTV Star David Bromstad’s Best Tips For Updating Old Cabinets

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New kitchens and bathrooms can be expensive, even if you look for inexpensive options in cabinetry and countertops. If buying brand new cabinets isn’t in the budget, don’t worry. David Bromstad of “My Lottery Dream Home” has helped heaps of prospective buyers see the vision while touring homes, and some of his best tips revolve around how to give cabinets a new lease on life. As shared by Bromstad over the years, there are plenty of ways you can upgrade your old cabinets without needing to rip them out and replace them.

From painting them a unique color and bleaching them to exceedingly simple changes like swapping out regular hinges for soft-close ones, the updates don’t need to be huge. Even just swapping out the countertops of your current cabinets can make a massive difference and change the vibe of your space completely. Whether you’re saving for your dream bathroom renovation or just want to refresh your kitchen without trashing the old cabinets, you’ll find plenty of inspiration with Bromstad’s tips.

Painting them pink

Kitchen with pink cabinets

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One of the easiest ways to give new life to old cabinets is to paint them, especially if you go with a bright color. Speaking to Apartment Therapy, David Bromstad revealed that he is a fan of bold colors, particularly pink due to the fun vibe it gives. “Personally, I love to add color to my kitchen by painting the cabinets. I prefer to keep my backsplash neutral and classic with some interesting shapes,” the design expert stated. “Painting your cabinets is such a powerful [form of] self-expression. It’s not gonna cost you an arm and a leg, and it’s definitely going to make a huge impact.”

As a color, pink typically represents love and romance, but it also gives off a flirty and vivacious energy. If you’re not a fan of in-your-face Barbiecore pink shades, opt for a barely there shade like Pink 07 from Lick. Pink looks gorgeous with other pastels like mint green or baby blue, or you could stick to neutrals if you’re worried about your kitchen appearing visually overwhelming. Alternatively, select one or two cupboards to accent by painting them pink and keeping the rest of your kitchen neutral.

Bleaching wood cabinets

Bleached wood cabinets

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Bleaching your cabinets is an effective way of getting them lighter without needing to replace them. During Season 13, Episode 7 of “My Lottery Dream Home,” David Bromstad told a couple looking for their dream home that the dark cupboards in the kitchen could easily be made lighter. “I would strip all that [the cabinets] down and bleach it, and it will come out almost white,” Bromstad shared. “And you’ll have a natural look that’s casual, and you’ll see the wood grain, and it’s absolutely stunning.”

The following bleaching method will work for most types of wood, but, for best results, check the type of wood your cabinets are made from to see if there’s a different method you should use. Firstly, take a sander and get rid of as much of the original finish as you can. Next, cover the cabinet with full-strength bleach — ensure you wear a mask and carry this task out in a well-ventilated area. Once the bleach has dried, you might need to sand again to get a smooth finish. The bleach layer step may also need to be repeated depending on how dark the finish is. Once the cabinets have been bleached, you can either varnish them and keep the farmhouse look or paint over them. The paint finish will be much smoother, especially if you’re using a lighter shade.

Mixing up the style of your cabinets

Purple and white kitchen cabinets


Sometimes, having everything tie together nicely isn’t the desired outcome. Speaking to LifeMinute, David Bromstad shared his ins and outs for renovating a kitchen, revealing, “What’s hot in kitchen design right now is not to do the whole matchy-matchy cabinets … [you could try] doing a different lower cabinet, a different upper cabinet.” This doesn’t mean having cabinets that look completely different from each other, but rather a set that isn’t completely the same but looks cohesive together.

You don’t have to buy different cabinets to do this. In fact, you can change the design of your existing cupboards with relative ease — for example, with different panel designs. However, the easiest way to achieve a non-matching look is with paint. For a unique finished product, either use one color for one row of cabinets and another for the other row, or go for many colors that may not be within the same palette but still complement each other. Pastel colors always work together — think baby pink and baby blue, or delicate meadow green paired with pale lemon yellow. Keep the rest of your kitchen neutral to avoid a clashing look.

Adding soft hinges to existing cabinets

Changing out door hinge

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Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference, a point which David Bromstad reinforced in Season 15, Episode 7 of “My Lottery Dream Home.” Speaking to a couple looking to buy a home with a peaceful vibe, Bromstad referenced the kitchen cabinets, saying, “These are solid wood. I’d redo the doors, get better hinges on so they’re soft-closing.”

It won’t take too long, but this inexpensive feature will make a huge difference in updating your kitchen or bathroom cabinets. You can carry out this task yourself with ease, even if you’re a total DIY beginner. You’ll need a drill with a screwdriver function to get started. Use the drill to take off the cabinet doors and the hinges (bottom hinge first). Use the existing holes to line up where you’ll put your new hinges — you may need to mark new spots if there are no pre-existing holes. Screw in the hinges and ensure they’re secure. Finally, align and reattach the doors. We recommend asking for help with the last step so that you know everything looks even.

Incorporating taller cabinets

Kitchen with blue cabinets

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Taller cabinets can make a kitchen look more put-together, not to mention the extra storage options you’ll have. In Season 13, Episode 5 of “My Lottery Dream Home,” David Bromstad shared some important advice regarding taller cupboards, telling the pair looking for a home, “When you go to the ceiling with your cabinets, it just feels expensive.” While Bromstad was specifically talking about replacing the cabinets in the kitchen for some that were ceiling-height, you don’t have to do this to implement his advice.

You can simply add to the cabinets you already have to achieve a taller look. A good way to do this is by adding boxes or another storage solution on top of your upper cupboards. The boxes don’t have to be made from plastic — you can find ones with a chic look that add to the décor of your kitchen rather than detract from it. Having space to store things out of the way but still close at hand is especially useful for utensils you might not use that often but still don’t want to go digging for when they are needed.

Refacing the insets

Opening cabinet doors


Often, cabinets can be given a whole new look even if just one thing is changed, and refacing is a good way to do this. In Season 4, Episode 11 of “Color Splash,” David Bromstad shared, “Instead of replacing all the cabinets, we’re going to reface, always a great way to save money. We’re gonna cover up the insets with bamboo.” Bromstad additionally opted to make the cabinets darker with tinted wax, which he called “so easy to apply.”

If you haven’t heard of the term, refacing your cabinet simply means to change the appearance of the doors – for example, via a new finish, putting a fresh veneer over the door, or swapping out the doors completely depending on your budget. In Bromstad’s case, he chose to swap out the existing wood for bamboo to match the Asian theme of the kitchen. You can hire a professional to reface your doors, but you can also do it yourself if you want to save money. Replacing the doors completely will usually be the most expensive option, costing between $2,200 and $6,600 on average, but it could be worth it if you want a completely different look.

Replacing the countertops

Renovating kitchen cabinets

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A lot of tips on updating your cabinets center around the doors, but changing up the countertops can make just as big of a difference. In Season 15, Episode 7 of “My Lottery Dream Home,” David Bromstad gave tips on how to revamp a tired kitchen, stating, “Just replacing the countertops [of the kitchen cabinets] is going to make a huge difference.” Getting new countertops is a good way to freshen up the look of your kitchen without needing to buy more cupboards. From natural stone countertop to ones made from laminate, there’s a material to suit every budget.

Sometimes, the countertops you choose may not be supported by the construction of your current cabinets. For example, natural stone countertops made from marble or granite can sometimes be very heavy, which can then cause issues if you’re placing the material on top of old cabinets. To prevent the cupboards from cracking under the weight, speak to a contractor or countertop expert to ensure you have chosen countertops that are the right fit. Though you can technically carry out this job yourself, we recommend calling in a professional, unless you’re a very experienced DIY-er, to ensure the process goes smoothly.

Charlotte Gammon

By Charlotte Gammon

Meet Charlotte Gammon, our expert and author. She's our true treasure, as she has got 20+ years of experience in gardening, winery and house design. In early 2000s, she worked for magazine and was in charge of the gaardening section. Later on, Charlotte opened her own designer agency and worked as a designer and decorator. We are happy to have Charlotte with us, as she is our good friend. We value her experience and we're sure you will love the articles she created for our blog.