10 Uses for Kitchen Cabinets Outside of the Kitchen

A woman opening a kitchen cabinet.
Kitchen cabinets can help keep your kitchen arranged and less cluttered. Adene Sanchez / Getty Images

What's so cool about kitchen cabinets? Sure, they serve as a handy resting place for your pots and pans, and they lend panache to your culinary space. But kitchen cabinets, even the standard variety, can be transformed for use in a variety of indoor and outdoor living areas, too.

Whether you've remodeled your kitchen and have cupboards to spare or simply want an inexpensive way to refurbish your décor, cabinets offer an economical and unique way to organize craft supplies, corral clothing and accessories, and decorate your abode.


The inexpensive kitchen cabinets you'll find in stock at home improvement stores offer a variety of finishes (though you may want to select an unfinished model if you're going to add a custom coat of paint) and come in standard heights and widths perfect for DIY projects.

And don't overlook those avocado green cupboards if you're making room for your dream kitchen -- even the most outdated cabinets can become useful and artistic additions if you upcycle them into something awesome. From tiki bars to toy chests, check out the surprising things your kitchen cabinets could become.

10: Sofa Table with Storage

Why pay hundreds for a slim table to sit behind your sofa when a couple of kitchen cabinets could do the job -- for just a few bucks?

To create a one-of-a-kind sofa table, place three to five kitchen floor cabinets side by side and join them together with wood screws. Standard cabinets come in 3-inch (7.6-centimeter) width increments, ranging from 12 to 60 inches (30.5 to 152 centimeters) wide; the number of cabinets you use will depend on the length of your sofa. You can opt to leave the cabinet doors in place for out-of-sight storage or remove them to turn the cabinets into display shelves.


After the cabinets have been affixed to each other, it's time to put the icing on the cake. In this case, that means topping the cabinets with a solid material, such as medium-density fiberboard (MDF), that's 2 inches (about 5 centimeters) longer and wider than the cabinets and then painting it according to your personal style. You also could use granite or marble for a fancier look.

Love shabby chic? Then give your new sofa table a coat of paint and a vigorous scrub with fine-grain sandpaper for a rustic finish. If contemporary furnishings fit your style, then sandwich the cabinets between a stainless steel countertop and industrial casters [source: Siper].

9: Craft Room Cabinets

To learn more about how to install cabinets anywhere in your home, check out these how-to videos.

Crafts are fun, but the supplies they require can be, well, crafty. If left in disarray, decorative papers, ribbon, glitter and yarn tend to attract other wayward materials -- and before long, nearly every horizontal surface will be populated by past-project debris. Installing a few repurposed kitchen cabinets, however, can help contain the clutter.

You can buy or recycle basic kitchen cabinets to create a roomy workspace. You could install wall cabinets approximately 2 feet (70 centimeters) above your work table to keep supplies within arm's reach. However, if, like many people, your craft kingdom is actually headquartered in a spare bedroom of your home, you may not want to permanently affix the cabinets to the wall.


Simply screw the sides of floor cabinets together and top them with a laminate countertop. You could even customize it to an ideal height that will help you get crafty without hurting your back. Standard cabinets are 30 to 36 inches (76 to 91 centimeters) high; if you prefer something shorter, you could saw off the bottom base of the cabinets (or ask your supplier to do so; most home improvement stores provide cut-to-fit services for a nominal fee). Add casters to make your supply cabinets portable -- and so you'll be able to pull them away from the wall to retrieve kamikaze craft supplies.

8: Cupboard Turned Toy Chest

If you have children, then you've probably experienced a common issue: far more toys than you have places to store them.

If your household's toy-to-child ratio is 16-to-1 (or any equally overwhelming number), the solution could be as close as your kitchen cabinets. You can repurpose a used or new cupboard by transforming it into a toy chest.


Upper kitchen cabinets, the kind you'd find affixed to a wall, will work best for this project because they don't have a base like floor cabinets do. Simply place the cabinet on its back, with the door facing upward. You'll want to replace the original hinges with specially made safety hinges that won't let the door slam on tiny fingers. After repainting the cabinet a cheerful color, you'll have a roomy and clever place to store toys -- on the cheap [source: Andreev].

7: Laundry Room Organizers

In addition to cabinets, a few other kitcheny concessions, like a hanging paper towel dispenser, could make your laundry life easier.
Buccina Studios/Photodisc/Thinkstock

If there's one place that's a clutter magnet in most homes, it's the laundry area. Even if you have a room dedicated to the task of washing, drying and folding, other household items seem to have a way of migrating there. The solution? Ingenious and inexpensive storage, thanks to a handy bank of kitchen cabinets.

If your laundry room, or laundry area, has room for improvement, consider installing upper and lower kitchen cabinets. Leaving the doors on will hide various and sundry items, such as laundry detergent, from view -- and you could attach a corkboard or refinish them with chalkboard paint to create a space for notes and lists. Or you could remove the doors for a contemporary storage option and add baskets to keep smaller items, such as fabric softener sheets, clothespins or mate-less socks in check [source: Better Homes and Gardens].


6: Inventive Art Table

For a creative twist on the ordinary kitchen cabinet door, turn it into a mini art table that's just right for toddlers to flex their imaginative muscles. You'll need just the front panel of a cabinet for this project, preferably with hinges and door still attached -- though if you don't have an entire panel, just the door would work.

Before you begin, you'll need a few supplies, including paint and pre-fab furniture legs about 6 inches (some 15 centimeters) tall -- you can buy these at a home improvement store. If you're using just a door, simply remove the hinges and handle, fill in the resulting holes, attach the pre-fab legs and repaint the entire piece to create a toddler-sized table.


If you've got a whole panel to work with, you can create a tiny supply desk. In addition to your other supplies, you'll need a thin but sturdy piece of wood with the same measurements as the cabinet panel's outer frame. Then attach the wood to the back of the cabinet panel, thus creating a storage space between the door and the wood where you originally reached through the panel and into your cabinet. Remove the door's handle, attach the legs to the back of the panel, and paint.

When finished, this art table will look like a breakfast-in-bed tray (which it certainly might double as), but with one important difference: by keeping the cabinet door functional, you'll allow little Rembrandts to flip up the cabinet door to retrieve their supplies [source: Ucreate Crafts].

5: Tiki Bar

If your tastes don't run quite so Polynesian-kitsch, you could skip the bamboo and finish your outdoor minibar however you like.

If your leisure time includes complex, fruit-infused cocktails (or if you'd like it to), a backyard tiki bar is probably on your wish list. You can create your own tropical escape, complete with as many coconut and bamboo accouterments as you'd like, by fashioning three 60-inch (1.5-meter) kitchen cabinets (or whatever length suits your space) into a midcentury tiki lookalike.

Join kitchen floor cabinets together with wood screws and top them with a ceramic tile countertop featuring tropical patterns and colors. Apply a waterproof sealant to the cabinets, even if they'll be situated in a sheltered outdoor area, to ensure they'll last. Or, you could install a bamboo veneer and thatch trim. If you're feeling really crafty, you can install a working sink so you can take advantage of a water supply when mixing drinks [source: Garden Web].


4: Garage Worktable

If there's one place where there's such a thing as too much storage, it's the garage. If you're tired of navigating towers of tool boxes or mountains of toy bins as you make a mad dash for the car, then it's time to create simplified, useful storage.

Repurposed kitchen cabinets are an ideal -- but often overlooked -- garage storage option. For this project, you can use either a base or upper cabinet. Attach industrial casters to the bottom corners of the cabinet to make it portable. Inside the cabinet, you can use the shelves to organize vehicle maintenance supplies or garden tools. Or you could remove the shelves for roomy vertical storage and create a dedicated space for sports supplies, such as baseball bats and tennis rackets. And, by adding a piece of medium-density fiberboard (MDF) or plywood to the top of the cabinet, it can double as a worktable [source: Salk].


3: Walk-in Closet Solution

Add extra shelves to your cabinet to customize it for whatever you need to store. (Making those shelves removable will require more effort, but will probably pay off in the long run.)

If your walk-in closet has gone from gorgeous to overcrowded, it's time for a new approach. You could start by installing a few well-proportioned kitchen cabinets in the walls or on the floor -- they'll have built-in features that will help keep your clothing and accessories organized. A floor cupboard with pullout drawers or shelves is perfect for keeping everything from sweaters to shoes out of the way but within easy reach, and you can add decorative containers to keep jewelry and scarves at your fingertips, too.

Need a place to corral tall boots and tote bags? Remove a wall cabinet's doors, place it on its side and -- voila! -- ideal organization for your stylish collection. And, because most walk-in closets are near a bathroom (and thus a water source), you could add a coffee machine or even plumb a water line to a base cabinet and create a coffee bar, the best weekday morning accessory of all [source: Better Homes and Gardens].


2: Home Office Shelves

A combination of kitchen cabinets -- or a stand-alone kitchen storage piece, like a china hutch -- can work overtime in a home office. Best of all, you can customize the setup to meet your organizational and storage needs.

Do you wrestle with towers of books and magazines? Feel overwhelmed by ever-multiplying papers and office supplies? Then you'll want to opt for plenty of out-of-sight storage, and one of the best ways to do that is with kitchen cabinetry. Stack half-finished paperwork and those "I'll read them someday" magazines behind closed doors in a floor or wall cabinet. Add a coat of chalkboard paint to a cabinet door to create a handy place for reminders [source: Better Homes and Gardens].


If you appreciate the decorative appeal of open cabinetry, remove the cabinet doors and use baskets or boxes to group smaller items and create aesthetically balanced stacks of reading material. If you'd like to add a whimsical or rustic touch to your office décor, you could replace the wood panels on your cabinet doors with chicken wire, fabric or plain or textured glass [source: The Inspired Room].

1: Storage Bench or Ottoman

For lots more DIY tips, check out these videos about home fixes for everything from saving energy to using tools safely.

Does your living room need some extra seating? If you're looking for a fashionable and inexpensive way to take a load off, turn a kitchen wall cabinet on its side with the door hinges are at the top, so that it opens like an overhead compartment on an airplane. Repaint or refinish the cabinet, add a soft cushion or pillows and attach wooden feet to the corners to give it a furniture finish. If you opt for casters, the cabinet-turned-bench can easily be moved around the room. The hidden recesses are great for storing games or DVDs out of sight, but within easy reach.

If you're in the market for something more ottoman shaped, simply attach the feet or casters to the back of a wall cabinet instead -- and be sure to remove the door's knob or handle before inviting guests to sit [source: Andreev]. Whichever way you want to mod it, always do a quick weight check before you start converting a piece of furniture not originally intended to hold people into a seat -- it may need to be reinforced first.

Author's Note: 10 Uses for Kitchen Cabinets Outside of the Kitchen

I haven't gotten too "out of the box" with kitchen cabinets in my home, but after researching this article, I think I just might. With visions of toy chests, tiki bars and, of course, an amazingly organized laundry room dancing in my head, I have the projects all lined up. In the meantime, the kitchen cabinet we installed in the garage will have to suffice. Designed for a pantry, but especially handy for storing gardening supplies and dog treats, it's been an island of serenity in a space that can become a sea of baseball bats or soccer balls, depending on the season. Maybe I'll need to add a bank of kitchen cabinets out there, too. Surely there's one I can fit basketballs in. And more dog treats.

Related Articles


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