George to the rescue

Follow These DIY Steps to Remove and Refresh Your Kitchen Cabinets

You can change the entire look of your kitchen by renovating the cabinets and adding some color to them

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The kitchen is the heart of the home. For someone who loves to cook, there's no greater space to be.

For Marine veteran Kyle Chappell, his culinary passions were nearly cut short when he was involved in an almost-fatal motorcycle crash in 2015.

After enduring numerous surgeries, including a leg amputation, Chappell's life changed completely.

"It was catastrophic. It's really inconceivable that someone could survive what happened," his mother, Jennifer Bucher, said.

Although he's much better, even all these years later, he's still recuperating.

"The recovery section is still ongoing," Chappell said. "This was in 2015 and now it's 2023 and I'm just getting to the point where I can walk through a grocery store."

As Chappell continues to recover, he still has challenges with daily tasks, including cooking.

On Season 14 of "George to the Rescue," George Oliphant and his team set out to give Chappell's kitchen a major overhaul, including replacing his drab, outdated kitchen cabinets. Working with designers from Butter & Velvet Home & Design and the crew from Mika Construction, George got to work to help give Chappell the kitchen of his dreams.

Replacing those dated cabinets can change the entire look of a kitchen. Here are some steps to get you started.

When removing your kitchen cabinets, whether you want to knock them down with a sledgehammer (like George did in the picture below) or take them off the wall, there are a few things you have to do first.

George begins to demo the wall kitchen cabinets. Credit: George to the Rescue

Before you begin, you'll need the following supplies:

  • Safety goggles
  • Gloves
  • Face mask
  • Screwdriver
  • Electric drill
  • Utility knife
  • Putty knives
  • Crowbar or pry bar
  1. Step #1: Empty the Cabinets and Drawers

Take out all of your dishes, pots, pans, utensils, cutlery, cooking equipment, glassware, and anything else inside your cabinets and drawers.

  • Step #2: Turn off Water Supply to Kitchen Sink

Remember to turn off the water to the kitchen sink.

  • Step #3: Turn off Gas to Oven/Stove

Pull the stove away from the wall and find the gas valve. Turn the lever until it no longer moves. Then check your burners to make sure the gas is off. If you're unable to turn the lever or can't find it, call the gas company to shut off the supply.

  • Step #4: Remove the appliances from the kitchen

Once those steps are complete, the cabinet removal process can begin.

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How to Remove Kitchen Wall Cabinets

Remember to wear protective goggles, gloves, and a mask to protect your nose and mouth.

First, check the cabinet installation. If they were fitted with glue and nails, rather than screws, it will be more difficult to pry apart and you'll likely damage the cabinetry in the process. In that case, you may need to demo the cabinets instead of trying to save them.

But if your current cabinets were installed with screws, begin by unscrewing the cabinet doors at the hinges. Then carefully remove all internal shelves (which are usually resting on pegs, so they should lift off easily.)

Once that's done, check inside the cabinets to see if there are screws in the sides that are holding the cabinets together. If so, remove them before detaching the cabinets from the wall. Now, unscrew the cabinet from the wall. It'll likely be attached with drywall screws through the back.

Also, check for a row of screws inside the cabinet across the top and bottom of the cabinets. Use a drill counterclockwise to remove each screw. While you're removing these screws, be sure to have someone holding onto the cabinet to prevent it from falling.

Now carefully hold onto each cabinet tightly, using a pry bar or crowbar, and gently pull it toward you to remove it off the wall. Repeat with each wall cabinet until complete.

Credit: George to the Rescue

How to Remove Kitchen Base Cabinets

Your base cabinets are typically connected to the countertop, meaning you'll have to remove the counter. And before you can remove the countertop, you'll need to pull out the sink. And remember, as we said before, turn off the water to the sink before you do this.

Now that the sink and countertops are out of the way, start removing each drawer. There are many types of cabinet drawers. If it's a free-rolling drawer, just pull it all the way out until it stops, then lift it up. That will allow the drawer to detach. Other drawers have a bracket that will need to be unscrewed before being removed.

Next, remove any trim along the bottom or sides of the base cabinets by sliding a putty knife between the trim and the wall, then prying the trim loose.

Now it's time to remove the base cabinets. You'll follow the same steps you used to remove the wall cabinets (see above). Take your time and be sure to keep your goggles and gloves on the whole time.

Whether you plan to refurbish your existing cabinets or install new ones like George and his team did for Chappell, it will make a huge difference in your kitchen and in the lives of those who use it.

Choosing Kitchen Cabinet Colors

The first thing most people will notice when they walk into your kitchen is your cabinets.

Gone are the days of only wood-colored cabinets. Sure you still see them in houses. However, many homeowners are now opting to add pops of color to the kitchen by painting their cabinets.

Before you choose a color for the cabinets, consider the following.

Choose cabinet colors based on your kitchen design. If you're going for a more modern look, taupe, gray, and emerald green are colors to consider. If you're wanting something more traditional, antique white tones may be the way to go.

Next, consider the size of your kitchen. If you're working with a smaller space, airy. Lighter hues will help the room feel bigger rather than using darker tones like black or dark gray.

Be sure to coordinate your cabinet color with your countertops, backsplash, and walls. Keep those in mind so they complement each other, not clash.

George and his team chose a muted gray color for the upper and lower cabinets for Chappell's new kitchen. But as you can see below, they chose a soft black color for the cabinets in the kitchen island.

George to the Rescue
Credit: George to the Rescue

Watch this entire episode of "George to the Rescue" in the media player above.

Some of the tips mentioned were sourced from Real Homes and Homes and Gardens.

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