Move Your Cabinets!

Same cabinets - new look! Move your cabinets to create more storage space, give your kitchen a fresh look or even create a whole new layout!

Moving kitchen cabinets isn't difficult - it just requires thought, imagination, and a power drill...AND some helpers with strength!


How to raise your wall cabinets

Measure how much space you have between the top of your cabinets and the ceiling.

If you have 6" or more, move your cabinets up to supply storage options, display space or just a roomier feel to your kitchen!

Cabinets are screwed into vertical wall studs at the wood strips (called nailers) across the top and bottom of the cabinet back. (See open cabinet pictured on right.)

Each cabinet usually has two screws in each strip of wood...UNLESS the wall studs don't match the cabinet's size. Then there may be only one screw in the top and one in the bottom.

Cabinets are attached to each other, too (See screws going into closed cabinet on left) - to keep them even with one another and to give strength to the ones that didn't get screwed into two studs.

You can pretty much tell where your wall studs are by the line-up of the screws in the back of your cabinets.

To move your cabinets up to or closer to the ceiling, remove the screws holding the cabinet to the wall, slide it straight up and screw through the same holes into the stud at the higher level. (Say a little prayer that the studs are straight!)

Cabinets can stay attached to one another if you have several strong people to "catch." If you don't have enough help, unscrew each cabinet from the next and do them one by one, with at least one "catcher" helper.

Remove soffits if you can. If they're just there for looks, you can demolish them, install drywall, and patch and paint areas that will be visible. CHECK WITH A PRO BEFORE HACKING UP SOFFITS!

Before you begin to move your cabinets, protect your countertops!

If the ceiling isn't straight, you may not want to move your cabinets all the way up. Measure everything first to be sure.


Could you raise some (but not all) cabinets?

This staggered effect elevates the overall look and draws attention to that particular area.

A good place is over the stove to accommodate a new undermount microwave.

The raised cabinets on each side of the highest cabinet need to be matching widths (or very close) to pull this off.

Add visual interest under the cabs on each side where there's now a small space.


Ideas for the extra space you've created

For staggered cabinets you could...

  • Hang a spice shelf on one side and utensils on the other.
  • Create a decorative backsplash that follows the staggered line of cabinetry.
  • Or do a creative backsplash with unique tiles in each side "pocket" and hang under-cabinet lights there to show them off.
  • I added a small piece of crown molding to the center cab to top it off.

For single-level raised cabinets you could add...

  • Shelf for storing everyday dinnerware, canisters, canned goods, Ball jars of rice, dried beans, teabags, etc.
  • Cup hooks for coffee mugs under the shelf or the cabinets themselves.
  • Stemware racks for your glasses/barware.
  • Wire baskets to hold onions, potatoes, garlic and other fresh foods that don't need refrigeration.
  • Plate rack or wine rack.
  • Those cute little spice drawers.
  • Corbels or decorative brackets that look like they're holding up the cabinets.
  • Hanging rod for cooking utensils or for spices in special slider jars (from Ikea and other sources).
  • Decorative niche in the wall for storage or display. CONSULT A PROFESSIONAL BEFORE CUTTING INTO WALLS!
  • Under-cabinet mount microwave - or a shelf deep enough to hold a countertop model.
  • Small TV or stereo.

For more detailed info on cabinet moving, see How to Install Kitchen Cabinets in the DIY Remodeling section.


Or...move your cabinets around!

This means changing the layout - a little or a lot - but if you can "recycle" your cabinets, the savings are huge!

You'll need some measuring and design skills - see Design MY Kitchen for info you'll need to take on this kind of project.

Working with specific size cabinets to change your layout is tricky, but it actually CAN WORK!

Tips on re-using your cabinets in a new layout:

  • Use "filler" pieces to insert between cabinets that are slightly smaller than the space they need to fill. Take in a door to your local home center to see if they can get fillers to match.
  • To fill in an area where there would normally be a base cabinet, look in "used stuff" stores for a piece of furniture that could be painted or stained to work in the space you need to fill. If your cabinets are a pretty standard style, the cabinet you need may be available!
  • If your end cabinet needs a panel to finish it off, or if you're using cabinets as an island and they need side and back panels, tack on 1/4" plywood painted or stained to match.
  • Use open shelving to fill in wall areas where there's no cabinet to fit.
  • Flooring - Does it go all the way to the wall or stop at the cabinets? You might have to add or replace flooring that will now "show" in your new layout.

How to Refinish Kitchen Cabinets

Cheap Cabinets

Tiling Countertops

Cheap Floors

Kitchen Lighting Ideas


Back to Cheap Kitchen Makeovers

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Thinking of remodeling?

Keep a notebook or scrapbook of notes, clippings and ideas.

Kitchen magazines are expensive - look through them in the grocery checkout line. If you see pix of a kitchen you really like, buy that magazine.

Stop in at home centers and pick up any free cabinet manufacturers' catalogs.

Deciding on kitchen cabinet colors?

Visit our page to learn the pros & cons of cabinet colors!