Clever Kitchen Ideas: Cabinet Facelift

Give your kitchen cabinets a facelift with framed fabric panels.
By: Heidi Karpa


Transform unused kitchen nooks, walls and even appliances with this affordable decorating idea sure to perk up a tired kitchen. Kitchen designer Heidi Karpa shows you how.

Materials and Tools:

large print
various picture frame sizes
kilim carpet
decorative wooden trivets
decorative metal handles
measuring tape
paper and pencil
masking tape
level or laser level
drill bits
industrial scissors


1. Use masking tape on your cabinet doors to outline the potential picture frame size each door can take. Helpful hint: Smaller cabinet doors are good locations for different decorative items, like wooden trivets.
2. Stand back, review and readjust. You're looking to create a consistent line with some of the frames and provide a variation point as well. For example, one larger cabinet door could have two smaller frames instead of a large one. This creates visual interest in a run of cabinets. Keep border sizes constant for similarly sized doors, but allow for one variation.
3. Make a drawing of your cabinets and frame placements, listing how many frames you'll need in each size category.
4. Clearly review the design elements present in your kitchen, especially those you don't like. Use that design element to your advantage in this project. Crisp, white laminate cabinets provide good contrast to dark wooden frames. So, instead of hiding the laminate, use it to your advantage.
5. Determine the materials you want for your frames and decorative elements. Make a list or pull photos from a design/kitchen magazine to take with you to the store.
6. Make a detailed list of how many new handles you'll need for the cabinet doors. Helpful hint: Note whether the handles run horizontally or vertically. This will matter when it comes time to buy.



Purchase your materials:

1. At your local home store, review the selection of frames available. Select different frame styles for each size category, but keep the frame color consistent.
2. At your local home or import store, review a selection of "design elements:" carved wooden trivets, interesting serving trays or platters. Anything flat, decorative and drillable can be considered. Refer to your drawing and measurements list to keep the decision making process easier.
3. Select a large print that will go above the sink.
4. Select a style of kilim carpet that accents the colors in the print.
5. At your local home or hardware store, select new handles for your cabinets. Keep in mind the wood tones of your picture frames. Dark metal handles work well with dark wooden frames.




1. Lay your frames against the cabinet, step back and review.
2. Take apart the frames and use the cardboard backs as guides for determining where you'll cut the carpet.
3. Readjust and rotate these guides until you're happy with the design elements you're highlighting. This is an important step. Think it through and experiment.
4. With a magic marker, outline the cardboard guides on the carpet.
5. Cut out the carpet pieces following the marker outlines.
6. Run glue along the backside of the carpet to adhere it to the cardboard.
7. Reassemble each frame with the carpet as the piece of artwork. Critical step: Do not use the glass inserts when you reassemble the frames. You don't want reflections to interfere with your design, and you'll need the extra space within the frame to accommodate the carpet.
8. Make sure the screws you're using to install the frames are just long enough to go through the door and halfway through the frame.




1. Hang the largest category of frames first. Helpful hint: A laser level makes the process go very smoothly.
2. You must pre-drill your holes to prevent the cabinets from splitting. Remember to drill through the cabinet door into the back of the frame, but don't go through the frame.
3. Always work from top to bottom and largest to smallest when installing your picture frames and decorative items. Periodically step back to review your work. Are the picture frames level? Are your borders around the frames consistent? Adjust as necessary.
4. Install your new cabinet hardware.
5. Hang your focal point picture over the sink.
6. Step back and enjoy your new space!

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