How to Turn Kitchen Cabinets Into Open Shelving

If you like the look of open kitchen shelving but don’t like the idea (or cost) of dismantling existing cabinets, you can convert them to shelving yourself. However, it’s a little more complicated than just removing cabinet doors — we’ll walk you through how to turn those outdated cabinets into an open shelving unit.

How to turn existing kitchen cabinets into open shelves

First, empty all the cabinets you will be converting and clean them out; now is the time to wipe off all the dust or dirt that has accumulated over the years (and wonder how you didn’t notice how the dirty things got there). Next, you need to decide if you want to remove the middle section that separates the two sides of the cabinet. You can leave it untouched if you like, but it will be a little difficult (although possible) to get around this in the process.

To remove it, use a double-sided saw to cut the bottom and top of the board. If you are having trouble removing a part after sawing, carefully knock it out with a hammer . When the middle divider comes out, remove the inner shelf. Using a putty knife, scrape off any jagged parts, fill small holes or dents in the housing with putty, and then sand the surface until it is smooth. Better Homes & Gardens also suggests adding clipping to the front edge of the shelves for a more finished look.

Watch their tutorial video for an example of the transformation process:

Better Homes & Gardens then recommends sealing any cabinet interior seams with paintable sealant to seal them off. Finally, paint the shelves inside and out in any color of your choice with enamel paint or paint specifically designed for cabinets .


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