noelle o designs

creativity + sewing + upcycling inspiration

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Recycling Old Kitchen Cabinets

how to recycle a kitchen

Here’s a happy story in a world of news that seems to always lean toward the negative- a journey to recycling old kitchen cabinets.

knotty alder kitchen cabinets

This is my old kitchen- a perfectly good, serviceable kitchen; which is why I stuck with it for years. I couldn’t justify replacing it when there was nothing wrong with it. It wasn’t just the cost of remodeling, it was the wastefulness of discarding the functional that I couldn’t stomach. Everything, literally every drawer and door, still worked great.

Over the years the floor slowly wore down in heavily used areas and my husband was convinced it looked good in a farmhouse chic kind of way. I was ready to just paint all of the cabinets white but I also wanted another layer of upper cabinets for more storage. I couldn’t find a cost effective way to add them- white or otherwise.

eco friendly kitchen remodeling

My least favorite area of the entire kitchen was the junk collecting section of countertop next to the refrigerator. Always a mess with whatever tidbit of flotsam that need a surface to land and live on. More than anything, I wanted this useless countertop area hidden behind doors.

knotty alder kitchen island

The kitchen island is small, but there really isn’t any way to expand it without changing the whole footprint. We even love the Hi Macs (Corian knockoff) countertops. Amazingly durable and warmer than quartz or granite- (literally a warmer temperature) for sitting and resting elbows and arms.

recycling old kitchen cabinets

So here I was for 10 years, clinging to functionality and briefly thinking of remodeling here and there but never seriously. I didn’t want to be wasteful but was unable to come up with a sustainable option. Then one day a carpenter who came over to bid on building another layer of upper cabinets (to fill the space between the existing cabinets and the ceiling). He gave me a ludicrously high bid and then mentioned the idea of selling the entire kitchen on Facebook marketplace or other local classified website. I had no idea this was even possible. He mentioned the cabinets were well made knotty alder. The cabinets were in great shape and there was definitely a market for a kitchen like this.

Hesitantly, I posted the entire kitchen for sale online. To my amazement, there were many interested folks and within a day it was sold. An unbelievably cool outcome to a die-hard upcycler like myself. A best case scenario for everyone involved, including planet Earth.

deconstructing and recycling a kitchen

About 6 weeks later, the new owner and our 20 something age sons all teamed up and uninstalled the kitchen in about 3 hours.

removing kitchen cabinets

Working together and each motivated to protect the wall, floors and cabinetry we got the job done… about 2 weeks before Christmas. The timing was less than ideal but also perfect in other ways. I had grown kids coming home for Christmas and ready to help with the only present I wanted. I wanted help building the new IKEA kitchen– 1000 boxes delivered, stacked the garage and waiting for assembly.

How To Recycle Old Kitchen Cabinets- Old Kitchen, New Cabin Home

Before we get into the new kitchen build, here’s the new happy home of my old kitchen. It now resides in a 100 year old cabin about 150 miles south of the house where it once lived. According to the new owners, it’s exactly what they were looking for. They were kind enough to share these pictures- making my heart soar. Nothing went to waste, not sitting in a landfill or even pieced out for a garage workspace. All cabinets sustainably reused and looking great.

kitchen second life remodel
knotty alder cabinets recycled

New hardware, a tile floor, white countertops and appliances give the knotty alder cabinets a fresh new look.

repurposed kitchen
recycling a kitchen

Stay tuned for the new kitchen, I’ll post all of the building phases. Then watch for a video of the whole remodel on my upcycling themed YouTube channel. Because what is better than watching a project go from start to finish without having to lift a finger?!

Here’s a teaser of my new kitchen…

ikea kitchen remodel

Installing the IKEA kitchen cabinets is the next step- take a look!

Check out one of my other home improvement projects- The Metal Fence Project. Thanks!

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