Costly renovations aren’t the only way to upgrade the look of your kitchen, especially if you’re looking to put your home on the market and would rather not invest a ton into it. There are also changes you can make to the outside of your cabinetry to upsell your kitchen to a potential buyer. 

“The good news is, you don’t have to spend a small fortune on an expensive remodel,” says Rose Ann Senior of New York-based Dream Rose Design. “A few small changes can make a big difference.” Ahead, find four suggestions for upgrading your cabinets, according to home stagers.

“If you have the time to put in the work, then update them with a few coats of paint or a darker stain,” Senior says. “You may have to strip them beforehand, but it will likely be worth it afterward.”

You don’t have to uninstall all of your cabinetry to make it more modern. Both Bartlett and Senior recommend switching cabinet pulls to something more modern as a simple, efficient upgrade that will appeal to buyers. 

Similarly, you can buy new, more contemporary faces for doors and drawer fronts, Rose says, especially for any cabinetry that might be a focal point in the room. “Pair that with new hardware —  something like brushed brass, polished chrome, oil-brushed bronze, copper, or even a stately iron — and you’ll be amazed at the difference,” she says. 

“I also like to add extra cabinetry around a fridge if I am designing a space for clients,” says Chicago-based home stager Joy Williams of Joyful Designs Studio. Adding a couple of stacked cabinets next to or on top of the fridge makes a kitchen look more expensive and gives it a built-in look. 

All three stagers recommend being conscious of your cabinet and shelf styling. “Open shelves continue to make a statement in kitchens,” Bartlett says. In addition to keeping your color scheme consistent, “adding a plant or wood bowl, or something with an organic texture will add warmth to the look,” she says. She recommends varying the height and size of your objects to create visual interest. 

And if you don’t want all open shelving, consider striking a balance. You can take a couple doors off your cabinets, but be sure to leave lower doors on for some concealed storage. Balancing closed lower cabinets with open shelving adds a sense of airiness to a kitchen, Williams says, and it helps to draw the eye upward. 

Sarah Everett

Production Assistant

Sarah is Apartment Therapy’s production assistant. She recently completed her MA in journalism at the University of Missouri and has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Belmont University. Past writing and editing stops include HGTV Magazine, Nashville Arts Magazine, and several outlets local to her hometown, Columbia, Missouri.