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11 Ways to Spend Less on Kitchen Cabinets

Check out these frugal tips to bring down the cost of kitchen units

Katie Levell
24 August 2017

We all want our kitchens to look beautiful and be functional, too. However, for most of us, cost is a big consideration. There are plenty of clever ways to minimise a hefty kitchen price tag, including being creative with the cabinets. Take a look at some of these astute ideas that might just bring your dream kitchen into budget.

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Keep it simple
Cabinets that have minimal accessories, fiddly designs or internal mechanisms will certainly keep the pennies in your pockets. The units themselves are usually less expensive to make as it’s the drawers, pull-outs and special materials that pile on the pounds.

Keep the aesthetic minimal, too, by choosing a basic white door, like the ones in the kitchen here. The design is subtle and uses only one wall, but stretches up with tall wall units to maximise storage space. You can use flat-pack units to achieve this look, which of course brings down prices.

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Think big
When you’re really looking to save some cash, the basic rule of thumb is to go for as few larger cabinets as will fit into the space you have. Work out multiples dependent on the length of the wall – for example, 3.6m will give you a neat four cabinets of 900mm in length. To keep the design looking smart, try and recreate the same sizes on wall units as you did on the base level.

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Invest in bespoke unit doors
The first characteristic you probably notice about kitchen cabinets is the doors. They can be highly individual style statements in any material, from chunky driftwoods to zingy coloured composites. We tend to assume that these options are pricey, but in fact there’s a budget way to get the look you want. Design a kitchen using a range of carcasses from a budget or mid-price retailer you feel has a decent build quality. You can then simply replace the doors with the material of your choice. Discuss material options with your fitter, as you need to make sure that any doors you choose will stand up to the wear and tear of kitchen life.

Do also check for the stability of the actual units you will be buying – the back panel should be thick and rigid. While you want to save money, you don’t want your cost-saving solution to end up letting you down in the long run.

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Personalise with paint
One step further from the ‘replace the doors’ option above is to use the whole flat-pack cabinet, including the door, then choose a unique paint colour to personalise it.

The pretty blue here brings real character to the door and drawer fronts of this Ikea kitchen. The paint is actually a bespoke shade commissioned by the owners.

Not sure which colour to paint your units? Check out these ideas for inspiration

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Go to town on the handles
You can make a big impact on units by swapping the standard handles for something more unique. Try an adventurous material, like leather, brass or wood, or an interesting shape such as a spiral or curve. You could even go for a mismatched look.

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Customise flat-pack units to fit
It may be tempting to head towards a bespoke option if you feel your kitchen dimensions are too irregular for classic cabinet sizes, but don’t discount the opportunity to customise flat-pack units. Ikea units, like the ones used here for example, can look stunning.

It is relatively simple for a skilled kitchen fitter to cut down a tower cabinet if necessary to fit under low windows or other architectural features such as beams and bulkheads. Your fitting costs may increase, so agree these with the fitter beforehand to settle your budget right at the start.

Bear in mind if you are going to customise units you will need to choose a door style that will suit being cut down. Flat panel or slab doors are fine to cut, but a Shaker with an internal panel or any patterned fascia will probably look uneven and botched if you play around with the symmetry.

Find a qualified carpenter or joiner on Houzz

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Ditch the wall cabinets
When you are looking to reduce the price tag of your cabinetry, a very simple solution is to only have cabinets at base level. There are many other ways to create storage above the worktop, such as shelves and even rails with hooks.

Some people love having their items easily accessible and on display, while others find that out of cupboards their pans and plates collect grease and dust. It comes down to personal choice, but if you like this style try and keep things simple and group similar materials together. The copperware in this kitchen keeps the shelves looking unified and neat.

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Opt for a butcher’s block island
If you’d like to have an island but don’t want to tie yourself down to more cabinetry, consider a moveable butcher’s block. It’s likely to be less expensive than purchasing the equivalent-sized set of units, and more flexible into the bargain. In this open space, the island can be shifted around the room to make space for more guests.

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Add a worktop to existing furniture
Another way to possibly reduce your cabinet spend is to use an existing piece of furniture, such as a chest of drawers or a shelving unit, for your kitchen island. Attach a worktop that matches the rest of the kitchen and it will look like part of the room.

You may need to raise the height of the unit slightly if it’s too low to be used as a work surface – it’s possible to buy packs of cabinet legs from most DIY stores, either plastic to hide behind a plinth or in a decorative metal finish to leave on display.

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Fill your space with freestanding furniture
Of course, there’s no reason why you should stick to newly built kitchen units, especially if your home embraces a more relaxed and eclectic design. Second-hand markets and stores will often sell old-style larders and cupboards, and just a splash of paint could bring a mismatched assortment of units into a unified theme. It’s probable that your individually sourced furniture will not fit wall spaces exactly, so make the most of odd corners with a quirky display or some useful hooks.

Discover the advantages of going freestanding in the kitchen

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Curve the worktop, not the units
Curves are a lovely feature in a kitchen to soften edges and stop inadvertent hip-bruising. However, curved cabinets are often quite a lot more pricey to fabricate. The cleverest way around this is to simply curve the worktop and not the units below.

The stately island in this kitchen does not have curved cabinets, but the seating area at the end has a perfect curve over a couple of bar stools. There are no pointy edges to bump into as you clamber onto seating, yet at the same time there has been no need for expensive curved furniture.

What do you think of these ideas for reducing the cost of kitchen cabinets? Share your thoughts in the Comments section.

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