Upcycling furniture has grown in popularity in recent years. This is basically a way of giving something old and unloved, a new lease of life. It could be finding a completely different use for an object, or it might be a simple lick of paint to transform a dull worn-out item of furniture, into something new.

There is good reason to get involved in this practice. People are sending more waste to landfills than ever before. Despite being fully aware and having the knowledge that the planet is being damaged constantly, landfills keep growing.

According to the EPA, landfills in the US are receiving around 9,680,000 tons of furniture each year. Recycling can help in this regard, but upcycling could be more effective. What if you didn’t buy a new kitchen, but instead upscaled it?

Why upscale and upcycle?

Apart from the obvious benefits of not adding more waste to landfills, there are other advantages to upcycling.

Buying new furniture can be costly, so having a way to rejuvenate existing chairs and tables can be extremely beneficial. You won’t just be able to save money but you can also give your home a brand new look.

The internet has many guides for upcycling furniture using all manner of techniques. There are ways to decorate tables with comic book covers, and methods to give the furniture a washed appearance.

Kitchen furniture is no different. Many people now are having their cabinets painted instead of replacing them to give them a brand new look and to save money.

Why you should paint your kitchen cabinets

Kitchen cabinets in particular can benefit from upscaling. While you may need to invest in a new worktop at some point, the cabinets themselves can often be used for many more years.

Painting your kitchen cabinets is much quicker than having a whole new installation. It can take a number of weeks to have a proper kitchen remodel, but only a few days to have kitchen cabinets painted.

Your friends and family will believe that you have had a new kitchen installed when in reality you have only had your cabinets painted. This is the beauty of upscaling and upcycling. You could also alter the appearance of your kitchen this way.

One of the tips for making a small kitchen look bigger is to have lighter-colored cabinets but a darker worktop. So, if your kitchen is quite small, and dark, instead of replacing the cabinets, just have them painted.

Can you paint kitchen cabinets yourself?

You can indeed carry out this work yourself. However, it is one of those jobs that might be better done by professionals depending on your skill levels and the equipment you own.

What you may not understand is how much work will be involved in making sure a quality finish is produced. Kitchen cabinets will need to be degreased, cleaned, and sanded, before being painted.

Also, to achieve the appearance that the cabinets were done professionally, spray equipment is needed. It wouldn’t be possible to achieve the proper finish and add lacquers with a brush. Therefore, proper filtration equipment is needed to remove any dangerous chemicals from the air which most homeowners will not have.

Do new kitchens add value to a property?

Now, this is an interesting area with regard to upcycling and giving your existing cabinets a new lease of life.

Adding in a new kitchen can massively improve the chances of you selling your home. A good kitchen remodel can push up the price of your home, and estate agents know how important the kitchen area is.

When potential buyers are asked what is most important to them, kitchens always rank highly. They are the heart of a home, and a large kitchen isn’t just used for cooking, it can be a gathering and meeting place too.

However, installing a brand new kitchen may not be the most financially sound thing to do.

What is the return on investment for new kitchens vs upcycling?

Having a kitchen remodel equals a big boost in the valuation of the home right? Well, yes but perhaps not as much as you might imagine.

It would be very rare to receive a 100% ROI on any renovations you make in your home, and the kitchen is no different.

Zillow did a study on the return on investment on different sized kitchen projects. It would appear that the smaller the changes, the bigger the ROI.

Therefore, if you were planning on moving home soon, having your kitchen cabinets painted might make more financial sense than installing a new kitchen.

According to Zillow, a minor kitchen upgrade could have an ROI of over 80%, and a moderate one should return nearly 60% of your investment. A major refit involving a bigger investment though would only return about 53% of the money put in.

As a new kitchen might cost around $30,000, that could mean a considerable loss of cash when trying to sell a home. Whereas having cabinets painted might only cost $3,000 and you could expect a return of nearly $2,500.

What other ways are there to upscale kitchen furniture?

Worktops can be made from salvaged wood. Driftwood can be turned into unique and attractive kitchen worktops if you have access to a skilled carpenter.

There are many other simple ways to improve the appearance of a kitchen though that don’t involve trawling beaches for driftwood.

Change handles on kitchen furniture

You can give your cabinets a new appearance by switching out the old handles on them for some attractive modern versions. This is an inexpensive way to give cabinets a new look and can be very effective.

Add under cabinet lighting

Lighting can change the entire ambiance of any room and the kitchen is no different. You could add pendant lighting over your counter, or alternatively, add lighting underneath the cabinets.

Change your sink

One way to make a new look without changing the worktop is to replace the sink and faucet. This can be a fairly inexpensive way to give a new look to that area of the kitchen. Expect to pay around $150 for an aluminum sink, but porcelain ones will go for several times that price.

Change the backsplash, paint the walls, add shelving

Changing that old backsplash for something more modern might make a real difference to the appearance of your kitchen.

Painting the walls will also change the overall look, and you might be surprised how many people assume you have fitted a new kitchen when everything is largely the same.

Adding some shelving will not just change how the kitchen appears, but you will be adding in something practical and useful too.


One of the tried and true methods for adding value to a property is to install a new kitchen. However, this is expensive and time-consuming. A kitchen remodel can take weeks to complete and all the time you and your family will have to work around the mess and inconvenience.

Making smaller changes can still have an impact on how your kitchen looks, and might also improve your chances of making a quick sale if that is what you are looking for.

Having cabinets painted is certainly one way to upcycle your existing kitchen furniture without breaking the bank, and still achieve a good return on your investment.