Adding to Existing Cabinets

Renovation Help

Although it sounds easy, adding to your existing cabinets can be very difficult and often not possible to do. This is a hot topic, as homeowners often want to improve storage and functionality in their space without completing a full scope renovation. Here are some considerations to think over if you’re thinking of adding to your existing cabinets.


Cabinet trends, substrates/materials, colours and door styles are always changing and evolving. If a colour or door style is not a hot seller, it will often be discontinued. That being said, once a colour or door style is removed, it is typically gone forever and not available for purchase at a later date. Think of this in terms of clothing fashion —­ if you buy a cute top in the spring, that colour and cut will not be available next year. Trends evolve and most cabinet manufacturers develop their product line quarterly or yearly. The rule is typically for every new finish, one must be removed and that is often the one with the lowest sales volume or popularity.        


Another complication of adding new cupboards to an existing kitchen is the change factor of the finish. Cabinets are often affected by UV light, cooking, and oxidization among other things. Matching up to the patina (or rate of change) for an old cabinet is extremely difficult. Typically, colour matching is not a service that made-to-order cabinet manufacturers offer. Custom colour matching is an art form and there are firms that specialize in this service.

1 – Outside finish of a cabinet door several years after installation
2 – Inside of the same cabinet door is somewhat different than the outside


In manufacturing, there are often daily optimization updates to improve quality. That being said, moving a hinge placement drilling by 2 mm can really make things difficult for matching. Also, each cabinetry manufacturer uses different drilling and placements of hardware and hardware brands, which is why you can’t order parts from one cabinet company and put it on another. Although the parts and pieces look really similar, these items are generally not interchangeable.


If you are looking to improve storage in your space it is always easier to add new cabinetry in a different area or zone. This will prevent the need for an exact match to your existing cabinets and countertops.

If you want to update for aesthetic reasons, you will need to look for a firm that specializes in restoration and cosmetic improvements, rather than a firm that only provides new cabinets. Think of this in the context of cars. If you need to repair or restore your car, you typically go to a mechanic and specialty auto body shop, rather than the new car dealership that sold you the car several years ago.

Another idea to improve functional storage in your space is to consider the addition of internal accessories to your existing cabinets. Examples include cutlery trays and rollouts. These accessories are quite accessible and can be purchased directly from Big Box stores, Lee Valley, Richelieu, or retailers that specialize in supplying retrofit items.    


Again, adding and matching to existing cabinetry is an art form and not everyone specializes in this service. The key is to find a firm that focuses in cabinet restoration, rather than just providing new cabinetry.


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