No, Please, Not Another Kitchen with Melamine and Oak Strip Cabinetry!!!

Real Estate Sales Representative with Immeubles Deakin Realty E8107

I once had this kitchen. You've seen it before, haven't you? Or was it just a Montreal home-builder's brainchild? You know, that beautiful (?) almond-coloured melamine cabinetry and then, for a pinch of the organic, a strip of oak at the bottom of each upper cabinet door and at the top of each lower door and drawer. Beautiful? Ummmm, how can I say this ... NO. Dated? Just by about two decades. I don't think anything screams 'late 1980s' more to a home buyer than this kitchen. What to do, what to do, what to do?

Here's an idea that worked well for me: paint out all of the oak strips in the same colour as the cabinetry and then install beautiful hardware on the doors and drawers. Et voilà! You've just been teleported out of the late '80s and into the new millenium - not quite 2008 but close enough.

Now, what to do with those blasted grey melamine and black tiled bathrooms that had their day back when we all had big hair and kept a bottle of Final Net (a.k.a. Final Helmet) in our purses to cement the effects of all of that hair teasing. Ahhhhh, the good ol' days...

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Professional home staging and professional photography: two critical factors to making sure your home looks its best, both in person and on the Internet, and neither of them cost you a penny when you list with me.


Put your best house forward. TM

Tanya Nouwens

Tanya Nouwens Inc., Montreal Real Estate Broker and Canadian Staging Professional (TM) 


C. 514-919-8468

This blog is written with my opinions. My opinions are presented with accuracy but not guarantees. Copyright Tanya Nouwens - 2015. If you want to reprint parts of this, just email me for my permission at


Comments (21)

Mara Hawks
First Realty Auburn - Auburn, AL
Inactive-2012 REALTOR - Homes for Sale Auburn Real Estate, AL
What a wonderful idea! I don't have those cabinets anymore, but this almost makes me wish I did, just to be crafty & clever! I had some years of several moves to funky older places. I always spray painted the kitchen knobs red, just for a splash of joy. This looked really cool on the metal ones. Thanks again for sharing a fun idea!
Feb 16, 2008 01:51 AM
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging Consultations that Sell Portland Homes"
That's a great tip for dealing with those old cabinets -- they used to be called "Euro" look cabinets and as you say, date the kitchen right back to 1980.  I just staged a home yesterday with this look and will recommend your tip to the seller. 
Feb 16, 2008 04:02 AM
Kathleen Garvey
HomeSmart Cherry Creek - Denver - Denver, CO
Denver's Neighborhood Expert - Listings & Sales
Good idea Tanya!  I would recommend oil-based paint in nothing more shiny than a semi-gloss....satin/eggshell finish is better. This paint dries hard and because cabinet doors are used so often, a hard finish is in order!!  Properly sanded, cleaned and painted, these would look much better!  I never liked the oak trim....come to think of it, I have never liked oak period.  Bring me some cherry-wood and we will talk! : )  Thanks for sharing....Regards-Kathleen G
Feb 16, 2008 04:15 AM
Isabel Gomes
Gomes Design - London, ON
Interior Decorator, Stager - London, Ont
Those kitchens never seem to go away.  Painting them is a good idea.
Feb 16, 2008 04:59 AM
Tracy Moses~Redefining LUXE~Staging ~ Decorati
Redefining LUXE - Mount Pleasant, SC
What a great tip!  I agree, those kitchens do not seem to go away so at-least now we have some ideas in order to improve them.
Feb 16, 2008 05:01 AM
Elaine Manes Gage
Home Staging Online Services - Denver, CO
Staging done ONLINE!
Tanya- Great idea to inexpensively update those horrendous cabinets! But, I totally don't get the hairspray reference! Have you seen my photo?????
Feb 16, 2008 07:20 AM
Tanya Nouwens
Immeubles Deakin Realty - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Real Estate Broker & Stager

Oh, Elaine. You have so much to learn. To get true 1980s width and height to your hair, follow these simple but effective instructions:

1. Tilt head to one side.

2. Take comb in one hand, hold hair that is hanging to the side with the other and TEASE, BABY, TEASE! If you're not out of breath, you haven't teased enough.

3. Without lifting head up, take bottle of Final Helmet and SPRAY, BABY, SPRAY! If you can still breathe, you haven't sprayed enough.

4. Repeat on the other side.

5. Repeat for the front.

6. By this time, you're so tired and weak from the fumes, you forget about the back.

And THAT is big hair. Now go listen to some Flock of Seagulls.


Tanya Nouwens Gurberg

Ready, Set...Sold! 514-919-8468

Feb 16, 2008 08:47 AM
Diane Lombardino
Keller Williams Realty of Jupiter - Palm Beach Gardens, FL
 Tanya, your comment is so far definitely "my laugh of the day!"  I have a few hours to go and I am going to a party tonight so I may have a better laugh!  Gotta go now.........and get my "BIG HAIR" ready!  My hair is never big enough and I hate to admit that I remember those days of teasing and hairspray!!  <still laughing out loud>     Thanks........
Feb 16, 2008 09:36 AM
Toronto's 2 Hounds Design: Decorating + Staging
2 Hounds Design + Home Staging - Toronto, ON

Hi Tanya! I'm always so happy to see new Canadians on AR.

I had a client last month with the cabinets you were talking of. While we had a nice budget to update the kitchen...not enough to get new cabinet we painted them. I also hate the color of the I had the whole thing painted out not just the wood.

Take a look, I just posted the before and afters!

Feb 16, 2008 09:58 AM
Dee Nofziger
|Key Realty | Maumee Toledo Real Estate Blog - Toledo, OH
Maumee Real Estate, Toledo Homes, Key Realty

Now I'm sorry I didn't go to my company's charity DISCO party tonight. I could've done the big hair thing and saved on my beverage bill, as that Final Net stuff had a habit of making me lightleaded, once upon a day, if I remember correctly.

Feb 16, 2008 10:02 AM
Elaine Manes Gage
Home Staging Online Services - Denver, CO
Staging done ONLINE!

Tanya- Thanks so much for the refresher course! My honey comments about my big hair all the time, and I have to laugh. This is nothing like it used to be. And, at least I've switched to flexible hold hairspray!

Feb 16, 2008 12:39 PM
Cindy Bryant
Redesign Etc. Home Staging - Houston, TX
"Houston Home Staging Pros"
You can get them resurfinished here.
Feb 16, 2008 03:59 PM
Abby Roselli
ALR Home Staging and Showcasing, LLC - Staten Island, NY
Staten Island Home Stager
LOL, the big teased hair days!  My mother just replaced the carpeting in my old bedroom at home.  She commented how matted the carpet was by my mirrored closet doors.  I'd sit on the floor indian style, doing the tilted head thing referenced above with all that hairspray landing on the after day, year after year...I had a one-can-a-week habit there for awhile!  AH, those were the days!  I actually looked tall!
Feb 17, 2008 04:00 AM
Kathy Riggle
Houston Home Staging

Good solution, Tanya! As for the big hair-I was taller than most boys and did not want to add inches. However, I do remember rolling my hair on empty  huge frozen orange juice cans- what look I was going for, I do not remember!!


Feb 17, 2008 04:42 AM
Charlene Hammontree
616 Realty LLC - Rockford, MI
Meeting the needs of Buyers and Sellers in MICH
I would love to see pics... Welcome to AR! Great posts!
Feb 18, 2008 12:12 PM
Adam DeYonker
Team DeYonker Realty L.L.C. - Shelby Township, MI
thanks for the advice!
Feb 18, 2008 05:05 PM
Audrey Hoffman
VoteAudrey blog - Columbia, SC

Tanya--I worked at an office here in Baltimore, MD with those "lovely" cabinets.

Good tip on getting rid of the cringe factor!

All the best,



Feb 18, 2008 05:43 PM

Does anyone have pictures that they are willing to post or could send via email?

I have been scouring the web for months and cannot find very many pictures of the almond melanine cabinets with oak trip that have been painted and hardware added. I looked at the one pic in this thread which was helpful, but would appreciate seeing more pics with some hardware.  Thanks!

Jan 10, 2009 04:45 AM

Sorry, Anita, I have no pics to offer.  I did this in my previous house and never thought to take pictures of it.  The result was pretty amazing though.  For what it's worth, I think adding hardware (I used brushed nickel) is absolutely key. I've seen it done without the hardware and the results are not as impressive.  Good luck.

Jan 10, 2009 11:49 AM

I have such a kitchen, almond with the oak strips, but my house wasn't built until 1993.   So, calling it 80's, it a bit of an exaggeration.  :D

The cabinets themselves are still in good shape.  So, I am considering replacing the doors and draw fronts with some oak shakers in a stain to match the frames.

Sep 02, 2012 06:50 AM