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DIY Confidence Builder:
Add Moulding to Your Kitchen Cabinets

by Angie on February 8, 2013

how to add moulding to upper kitchen cabinets

We’re rolling along with our “In Angie’s Kitchen” Series. {I can’t believe I’m actually blogging! Shhh…Let’s not jinx it!}

angie kitchen 300 x 150

Sometimes I pretend that I’m going to buy a new house. This is for fun. Why would I even do that when I love where I am at? I don’t know. I just like houses. So, instead of stalking nearby neighborhoods and peeking in windows, I go to Homes.com and shop around virtually.

When I look at the kitchens of “for sale” homes there are 3 things that make me say “Gimme!” as opposed to, “I could work with that kitchen, I guess”

  1. Beautiful White Wood Cabinets (talked about this yesterday)
  2. A Big Center Island (Will talk about this next week)
  3. High Cabinets (Ones with a certain manly confidence)

I am not even sure if I ever noticed the difference between builder basic cabinets and “higher ones” until Layla told me there was a difference. Or, perhaps it was Kevin. Those silly Palmers, always teaching me stuff in pretty ways.

See how they added height to their cottage kitchen cabinets?

theletteredcottage cabinet makeover

After watching The Lettered Cottage’s kitchen makeover two summers ago I knew that I wanted to add some substance, some manliness, some CONFIDENCE to my cabinets someday. That someday came when we endeavoured to lure in potential buyers to our silly little home.

(In all honesty, I’m not sure whether or not the new buyers would give a care about HIGHER cabinets. I guess I just wanted to see my ideas and plans for this house all brought to fruition before we left it.)

Kevin and Layla added a lot more height than I did to their cabinets. Six inches of board plus crown moulding. Me? Just some window casing! That’s it. It’s not even crown moulding, people. I’ve never installed crown moulding and I didn’t want to be confused by angles. I can do miter cuts in my sleep…

adding moulding to upper kitchen cabinets before after

But don’t you think the simple trim makes a nice difference? This was actually really easy to do. I’ll walk you through the process if you so desire to do this in your own house –> 

Adding Moulding to Upper Cabinets – Step 1: Choose a Trim and Pre-Paint it to Match the Cabinets

moulding at home depot

I decided to use a simple “window casing” for my moulding. It’s about 4 inches wide and I’ve worked with it several times when– ‘encasing’ my windows.  I usually buy trim and moulding (what’s the difference??) in 8 foot lengths from Home Depot. I seem to prefer Lowe’s for almost everything “home improvement-y” except lumber. HD has the most selection and the best prices in lumber.

I always like to pre-paint my trim work (base moulding, wainscotting, board and batten, bead board, etc.) so that after it is installed on the wall, I just have to caulk the gaps and nail holes, then do a simple touch up coat of paint. I paint the whole 8 foot lengths. Once the paint is dry, I start the measuring, cutting, and installing steps…

Adding Moulding to Upper Cabinets – Step 2: Flatten Your Corners

I realize that “flatten your corners” makes no sense. Let me explain with a picture:

adding moulding to upper kitchen cabinets one problem

This image shows the top edge of one of the cabinets after I painted it and was preparing to add the moulding to the top. The cabinets had a “corner trim” of some sort wrapping the corners. Because of this, if I tried to make perfect 45 degree mitered corners OVER that trim, it would have been a wonky disaster. I had to remove a notch of that corner piece in order to “flatten the corner”.

This picture also shows you how far I planned to overlap my new moulding over the cabinet tops. About a half inch?

This next picture jumps us ahead chronologically, but I think it helps to see what the plan is for this corner and how nicely the “flattened corner” looks:

adding moulding to upper kitchen cabinets corner joint

Adding Moulding to Upper Cabinets – Step 3:

Measure and Cut Each Piece and Install with a Brad Nailer

I’m sorry, I’m not going to give you a tutorial on each little measurement and cut. I’m just not that good. Measure, Cut at a 45 degree angle, Nail it to the cabinet. Repeat? Make some mistakes. Decide whether to re-cut the oops piece or just try to hide it with caulk and paint. Repeat.

To install the trim to the cabinets I overlapped the trim pieces onto the front of the cabinets by about a half inch and nailed them on with my nail gun. I tested for “level” a couple times as I went. I didn’t use wood glue, because… I never do?? … I got into the habit of not using wood glue when doing trim work after trying to remove base boards that had been glued on. It was a terrible job and the drywall was all torn up by the time I was done. At that point I decided to have pity on any future homeowner. As a rule I try to make things sturdy enough to not break or fall apart, but reasonably remove-able for future remodels. Can anybody say, “WALLPAPER IS THE DEVIL?” That’s what I’m talking about…

I do the best job I can with joining the corners at perfect 45 degree angles and trying to get everything to match up just right, but in the end I usually have to walk away telling myself, “That’s good enough, girl! Nobody will notice the flaws but you!”

My grandpa always says, “Caulk and Paint Make a Carpenter What He/She Ain’t” and this is a case where I did my best at carving the pieces to fit each other the best I could, then covered my sins with caulk and paint. All the being said, let’s talk about the trickiest park of the whole job. It relates to Step 4 –>

Adding Moulding to Upper Cabinets – Step 4: Hope and Pray that the Cabinets are all the same Height and Level

When we got our new fridge (more info on the new appliances coming soon to a kitchen series near you!)  it was just a tad bit too tall for the cabinet above it. So we decided to just raise the cabinet up. It was super duper easy to simply unscrew the cabinet and move it up a few inches.

(By super duper easy, I mean- My mom stood under the cabinet and held it up on her head while The Manchild screwed it into the studs and I laughed, and made “nobody pass gas right now” jokes. My mom, with a cabinet on her head, laughed so hard at my jokes that she suddenly expressed the need to go pee. But- alas- the cabinet on her head disallowed such a trip to the restroom. Oh the humanity (hilarity)!! I wish you could have all been there with us. Man and Mother-in-Law sharing a special moment jammed behind the fridge together. I wanted to join them, but there wasn’t space. And I was laughing too hard.) WHERE WAS MY CAMERA IN THAT MOMENT? gah.

how to raise cabinets above the fridge

The higher cabinet was actually working out pretty well visually- it adds some architectural interest, don’t you think? But it caused a little dilemma for me when it was time to add the trim. It was super tricky. I can’t explain with words, but here are some horrible pictures:

how to join varied height cabinet trim

As you can see by the behind-the-scenes burn marks, I used my SoniCrafter Tool to cut some chunks out of the moulding. Have I ever told you about my SoniCrafter? It’s like an oscillating Dremel, but it got better ratings from Consumer Reports. I bought it at Lowe’s. Check it out here–> {Rockwell SoniCrafter}

joining corners upper cabinet moulding

 The End.

And that’s how Angie beefed up her cabinets. I don’t know why I feel like the proper word for how they look is “confident.” But it’s like when you tell your kids to stand up straight, hold their heads high, and greet the world with a smile. I feel like the white paint and added moulding really does that for my cabinets and they are tall, proud and confident now.

black base cabinets white upper cabinets kitchen 2

On Monday? We’ll have our next installment of “In Angie’s Kitchen.” which shall address my open dishes cabinet and why it is my new best friend. I’m sorta passionate about dishes and how they can take over your kitchen if you let them.

Also on Monday? I’ll be making “Poppyseed Chicken” for my dear family to eat. I cook now. (gasp!) The only reason I know what I’m making 3 days from now is because I use PlantoEat to collect recipes, store recipes, organize recipes, plan grocery shopping, and shop for my ingredients. It’s just so easy. Try it?

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

how to add moulding to upper kitchen cabinets
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Kelli February 8, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Great job Angie! Nice transition on that higher cabinet :)
Kelli recently posted..Doors, Doors, DoorsMy Profile

Layla February 9, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Muah! XO
Lovin’ the look, and thanks so much for linkin’!

:-)
Layla recently posted..Adoption Home Study #2My Profile

kathy February 9, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Challenge (or double dog dare) was accepted and rocked!!! you go girl!! I look forward to next week!!

(ps i love double !!)

Katie B. of HousewifeHowTos.com February 9, 2013 at 5:13 pm

Wow, this definitely gives the cabinets more presence in the kitchen. Love it! Now that I’ve looked at ours, I wonder if you have advice about how I could do this when the top of our cabinets has a rounded edge that sticks out about 1/2 inch?
Katie B. of HousewifeHowTos.com recently posted..A Printable Cleaning Checklist For Kids RoomsMy Profile

Nightsky April 12, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Hey, nice tips! and Very Funny Blog notes :)) thanks for being an inspiring riot!

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