Update Your Tired, Old Kitchen Cabinets With This 5-Minute Trick

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I am a perennial renter, and given my habit of spending over saving, I probably always will be. So that means seriously renovating my kitchen is always out of the question. There are two problems with this: the kitchen is my favorite place to be in any apartment (aside from my bed, no contest there); and most of the kitchens I’ve been stuck with have been pretty outdated (laminate countertops and finicky appliances are pretty much a given).

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The upside is that I’ve gotten really creative when making aesthetic upgrades, which, per every landlord I’ve ever had, cannot be permanent or damage what’s already there. One of my favorite tricks for fancying up my kitchen(s) came from my mom, who is a true home and design pro. It’s as quick and simple as it is effective: Change out the knobs or handles on the kitchen cabinets.

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No matter how tired or dated your cabinets, a fresh set of hardware magically gives your kitchen new life. All you need to do is unscrew the old knobs or handles from the cabinet using a screwdriver or drill (just make sure to save it, so you can replace the original hardware when you move out), and then swap in the new batch. The whole process only takes about five minutes, depending on how many cabinets you’re working with.

When picking out hardware, I like to take the color of the cabinets and my own personal sense of style (an eclectic, colorful mix of vintage and industrial-looking pieces) into consideration.

If cabinets are white (like mine were in my first post-college apartment), pick complementary colors that tie into another room, like the living room or bedroom. Then mix and match a few different knobs that tie (they don’t need to perfectly match!) into that color scheme. If my cabinets are just exposed wood or a specific color, I’ll usually pick one neutral-toned knob or handle and use that throughout the kitchen for cohesion.

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Not sure where to get a fun kitchen knob or handle? I usually like to shop Anthropologie (they have a big selection, and many in-store deals on these little guys), but you can find great options all over the internet, from Amazon to Wayfair. The beauty of cabinet hardware is there’s not one right way to do it; the right way is your way! Here is a bit of hardware inspiration to get you started, depending on your style:

  • If your aesthetic is more minimal and contemporary, opt for these brushed nickel handle knobs or these round matte black knobs.
  • If you love a chic, antique-inspired look, give these crystal knobs or brass cup handles a peek.
  • If you gravitate towards eclectic, colorful spaces, mix and match these funky garden-inspired knobs or assorted ceramic knobs.
  • If you can’t get enough of metallic tones, check out these bronze and silver knobs or this quartz crystal knob set.
  • If you prefer an industrial look, these iron handle pulls and cast iron knobs are right up your alley.
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I should also mention that your kitchen cabinets aren’t the only ones that can benefit from a quick hardware upgrade. I’ve changed out the hardware on my bathroom cabinets and even my Ikea furniture to give them a little style boost. No matter what you do, make sure to pick something you love—aka, something that makes the rented space feel just a little bit more like home.

Do you have a quick and easy kitchen upgrade? Share it with us in the comments below!

This post contains products independently selected by our editors, and Food52 may earn an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases.

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