If you want, but cannot afford new cabinets, there are several really smart ways to upgrade your existing ones. The most obvious way is to repaint them and most types of cabinets can be repainted quite nicely with the proper preparation. The quality of the outcome is directly related to how much prep work you do.
First, make sure you remove the hardware and doors and clean it well to remove grease and grime. Use a good quality primer and two coats of good quality paint.
Allow surfaces to dry properly between each coat for best coverage and durability. Although this can actually be a lot of work and somewhat time consuming, it is also extremely cost effective.
Another big tip is to make sure your house isn’t hot! I learned this the hard way, when I painted a hutch and turned the air conditioner off during the summer, and left for work. It never properly dried and looked awful! Now that winter is here, make sure your house is not hot and stuffy so that the paint can properly dry.
When thinking about colors for your cabinets, consider dark shades like chocolate brown, green, red or even black. These colors are easy to coordinate and can act as a sophisticating force for the kitchen. Black base cupboards and cream upper cabinets can give a nice French bistro appeal when combined with decorative elements like wood and steel. Faux finishes such as crackling and over-glazing work surprisingly well on old kitchen cabinetry. I like this technique because they hide a lot of the ugly your old cabinets may have.