{How to easily customize builder cabinets}

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We have pretty much wrapped up the bathroom finishing, so now we are focusing on the basement kitchen/bar.

Before we started on this process, we had a couple bids for custom cabinets.  Super pricey for just the 6 cabinets that we needed.  We did a little measuring and it turned out that all of our cabinets were actually stock cabinets and we could easily purchase them @ home depot or lowes (we ended up going with home depot).  I did have to paint the cabinets to get the color that i wanted, but it was worth it to save the $1000.  I will work on a post to show the before/after of the cabinets.

There are of course lots of ways to easily customize builder cabinets and one of the easiest is to add molding.  In this case, we decided to add base molding instead of a traditional toe kick.

By adding base molding, it quickly transforms the look of the entire cabinet and gives it a built in, furniture type look.  And who needs a toe kick anyways?!  No one ever stands that close to the cabinet, so its not necessary and its just another place to get dirty!  I added base molding to my upstairs kitchen island a while back and am so much happier with how easy it is to keep clean rather than a normal toe kick.

Anyways – just a few cuts and you can easily customize your cabinets too!

For our cabinets, we needed a baseboard that was at least 4 1/2 in high  but no more than 5 in high that way i easily had enough room to nail the baseboard to the cabinet but not to high that the cabinet door wouldn’t close.

I needed something to nail the baseboard to on the floor, so i cut some furring strips, glued those to the floor and nailed them to the cabinets.  If you don’t do this step, the baseboard will just get kicked and be pushed back, it needs that bottom support to keep everything in place.

Next i glued all the edges that would be touching wood as well as the bottom part of the base molding that will be on the floor so that everything stays put.  After gluing,  the baseboards are attached to the furring strips as well as the bottom of the cabinet with a brad nailer.

That’s it!!  So easy huh?!

You most likely will have a few corners to wrap around at the end of your cabinet, you wouldn’t want to just end the molding at the end of the cabinet, except if you were at the end of a wall of course because it will look unfinished.  So, there will be a few corners where you will need to do some mitered edges.

This pic below doesn’t show what i am talking about the best, but you can see that the molding was wrapped around the corner where the dishwasher is.

So of course everything needs to be caulked, nail holes filled and painted, but then its all done!

As soon as i can get to it, this is for sure going on my list of projects to do upstairs!  It makes such a difference.  But 1st i cant wait to get this 2nd kitchen done!  The mess is driving me bananas!!


11 replies
    • Sausha @ {Sweet Pickins}
      Sausha @ {Sweet Pickins} says:

      thanks!! By the way, i am loving all your crates/boxes that you are making, they look so good! I need to make a couple for my pantry when i can finally wrap up this basement project :) Yours look awesome, good job!

  1. Julie
    Julie says:

    Wow, that makes such a huge difference! I wish we owned our house so I could do this in my kitchen – I despise the toe-kick area in the kitchen. It’s just a magnet for all the crap that my kids can’t seem to get into their mouths!

  2. Grace
    Grace says:

    I understand updating builder cabinets and the molding could have been set further back and still give you the finished look you are going for. Your gonna need and miss that toe kick…just sayin.

    • Sausha @ {Sweet Pickins}
      Sausha @ {Sweet Pickins} says:

      I was a little worried when you submitted your comment that i really messed something up! So i did a little research on the subject of the toe kick and read of few woodworking sites and some forums about the subject and when it comes down to it, its just personal preference.

      Some people were saying that toe kicks are a must because if the space was blocked with trim you would stub your toe, have no room to scootch into the cabinet when prepping/doing dishes, get scuff marks on the molding, etc.

      And some people like me, said that toe kicks arent necessary because do you really stand that close to the cabinet? They are a trap for dirt and just aesthetically speaking, cabinets look better with either the cabinet going all the way to the floor or molding added like i did (in my opinion of course!). Looking online, the majority of custom kitchens dont have toe kicks, and if they do they are only placed in certain spots such as below the sink.

      When i redid my kitchen island about 6 months ago i did the same thing, added molding around the bottom to cover the toe kick. Before i decided to do that, i made a conscious effort to see where my feet were when i was prepping or standing at the island and my feet never were closer than about 6 inches or so from the bottom of the cabinet so i knew it wouldnt be an issue for me. And it hasnt been, i cant not think of one time where i ever bumped my feet or anything and not to mention the cleaning – so much easier now!!

      All in all i gathered there is no right or wrong way. Just personal preference and its just what your used too :) I really appreciate your comment – im sure other people wonder the same thing and this forced me to do a little research on the subject!

      • Sarah
        Sarah says:

        I did wonder if you would miss the toe kick because, I am near sighted, I *really* belly up to the cabinet. I always get wet slacks at the bathroom sink at work because it wicks up the left over water on the counter too! I sure do love the way it looks but I would get frustrated that I wasn’t *hugging* the counter. Plus the way I get up close, saves all the things I tend to drop. Ha ha. You really did a great job.

        • Sausha @ {Sweet Pickins}
          Sausha @ {Sweet Pickins} says:

          Ya, i think in your situation you would miss the toe kick for sure! But im perfectly ok without it and havent missed it in the least!

  3. Linda Benton
    Linda Benton says:

    I have stock cabinets in an ivory glaze with a matching ivory toe kick…but boy, is it scuffed and dirty looking. Has anyone every painted the toe kick a darker color – say BLACK so that it just sort of disappears? I am so tired of getting on my hands and knees to stry and scrub…..some of it is scratched paint. I’m not carpenter so I don’t think I’ll try what you did with the extra moulding. Ideas anyone? I also have the same pet peeve on the risers of my stairs going upstairs. No matter how often I paint it (white of course), it shows grey scuff marks. Perhaps the best advice would be: Learn to live with imperfection!

  4. Elise
    Elise says:

    Thanks for this post. I am staring at my HD cabinets and I was thinking about ways to customize them and this was the only post I found to show the hubs what I meant. I have the Harvest color so its more difficult than white but the manufacturer says I can bring a door to a SW store and they will color match. I don’t want to glue to my floor though Justin case I want to change it down the line so I will probably fasten blocks of wood to the toe kick where the cabinet frames touch and then fasten the moulding to that.


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