How to Convert Kitchen Cabinets to Open Shelving

Give plain kitchen cabinets a new look by converting them to open shelving. See the step-by-step process for this easy kitchen project.

Give plain kitchen cabinets a new look by converting them to open shelving. See the step-by-step process for this easy kitchen project.

Open shelving not only looks great but is functional in multiple ways. Make it easier on yourself to unload the dishwasher, set the table, and plate food with a storage unit that doesn't require opening and closing doors. For cost-efficient open shelving, convert an existing cabinet into this stunning kitchen storage unit. We show you how in this instructional video.

What You Need

  • Cabinets
  • Double-edge pull saw
  • Putty knife
  • Quick-drying two-part putty
  • Sandpaper
  • Trim
  • Finishing nails
  • Nail punch
  • Caulk and caulk gun
  • Damp sponge or cloth
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush

Step 1: Prep Cabinet

Remove doors and hardware from cabinet. Cut out the middle stile with a double-edge pull saw. Remove shelving and set aside.

Next, use a putty knife to remove splinters and loose wood from where the hinges were. Fill holes and any dings with a quick-drying two-part putty. Smooth with putty knife and let dry according to package instructions. Once dry, sand the surface smooth.

Step 2: Add Trim

Attach trim to the edge of the removed shelf with finishing nails. Countersink them with a nail punch. Fill holes with putty and let dry.

Step 3: Caulk and Paint

Caulk any seams with paintable caulk. Alternate using your finger and a damp sponge or cloth to remove excess caulk. Caulk should only fill the opening. Let caulk dry.

Paint the cabinet your desired color. For extra impact, paint the back of the cabinet with a contrasting color or line the back with wallpaper. Let dry.

Reinstall the shelves and fill cabinet with plates, bowls, and accessories.

4 Comments

  1. my top cabinets were the ones all the way at the ceiling so I did this with just the row at the very top. I could put all my display items up there out of the way and still have my regular cabinets to cover my daily stuff and work great! I love it!

  2. Sounds like a full time job dusting shelves and display items

    1. I agree. I would put glass doors instead. Pretty to look at but stays clean.

  3. Doesn't the center stile help support the cabinet?

    1. The center stile provides a place for the door stop. Think of the cabinet as a bookshelf? Your 30 inch wide bookshelf doesn’t require a center support. (When I first saw the concept, I thought the same...so I researched it. It works.) Good luck and happy remodeling!!

  4. Most of us need our cabinets for everyday usage - which isn't necessarily pretty. If you are lucky enough to have maybe one cabinet you can use for pretty dishes/tableware, that would be the place to have open shelving. Otherwise, cabinet doors save us from looking at everyday familyware.



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