Skip to Content

7 Low-Cost Alternatives to the Cabinet Door

A photo collage of a cabinet door.

Cabinets create a strong visual presence by taking up the majority of the space in the kitchen. So it only follows that updating the cabinetry is one of the easiest ways to give your kitchen a facelift. It can also be one of the most expensive renovations you’ll undertake if you decide to replace them with new cabinets.

Suppose the cabinetry’s not the issue but those boring generic cabinet doors that come in neutral shades of brown, white, black, or whatever color you’re already fed up with.

In that case, you can refurbish your pre-existing cabinetry with an entirely new look simply by trying out any of the low-cost alternatives to the cabinet door we listed below.

1. Wire Mesh or Screens

A front view of a hanging cabinet with wire mesh screen.

Screens or wire mesh have a number of applications in the home and around the yard. They are commonly used on radiators to allow airflow and can also be used to screen a porch, doorway, or chicken coop. Since they come in a number of weights and designs, you can easily find the screen that will meet your needs.


Wire mesh and screens can actually be very attractive, especially in a farmhouse-style home where the mesh or screen will give the kitchen a country feel.

When you opt for this door alternative, you can rest assured that there will be airflow in and around the dishes that you have stored in your cabinet. This will help to prevent mold or mildew if you choose to put your words away while they are still damp.

Using the same mesh that is used on radiator covers will help tie together your home.

You can buy wire mesh on a budget without having to worry about overspending on your remodel.

Screens are incredibly lightweight, which makes them a great choice if you are worried about whether or not your cabinet can support the additional weight of the door.


This look is not one that everyone wants in their kitchen, as some people think that it looks a little unfinished.

Some people may be frustrated that they can see a few of their dishes, but part of their view is still blocked.

While it looks great in an industrial home or one that is a mix of modern and farmhouse, this style is not a great option for a more bohemian or classic style home, as it will look out of place.

2. Shutters

A fronti view of a wooden kitchen cabinet shutters.

While they are often used as decoration on homes, shutters have a purpose, and that is to keep rain out of the windows and to protect the glass during a storm. They are generally made out of wood and built to last, even during harsh elements.


Most people have old shutters around their homes or can find some relatively easily, making this a great option if you are in a hurry to replace your cabinet doors.

Thanks to the design of the shutters, they will add a little architectural interest to your kitchen and will make your cabinets more of a focal point in your space.

Shutters are very easy to paint, which will make it easy to update your kitchen in the future.


The overlapping wood on shutters can easily trap grease and dust, which means that keeping them clean may be more of a struggle.

If your shutters aren’t completely clean when you bring them into your kitchen, then you may be bringing in a lot of dirt and bacteria.

Old shutters may have lead-based paint on them, and this will need to be removed before they are used in the kitchen.

3. Fabric

A close up photo women choosing a fabric.

The fabric has a variety of uses, including being used for clothing, drapery, upholstery on furniture, and as sheets. It commonly is sold by the yard and is wrapped around cardboard centers on a bolt. When you shop for fabric, you need to know how much you need so that you can order the right amount.


The fabric is very inexpensive and comes in a variety of styles and colors, which makes choosing the right fabric for your kitchen fun and easy.

Most people can create fabric curtains for their cupboards in a short period of time.

Because they can be easily washed, when they get dirty you can simply put them in the washing machine. This decreases the chance that they will be stained and need to be replaced.


Fabric will tend to move when air blows through your kitchen, which some people do not like.

Unlike cabinet doors, which look solid and make your cabinets appear firmer and safer, the fabric is a lot lighter. This visual lightness may not appeal to some people.

Using the wrong type of fabric means that when you wash it, it will shrink, which can cause you to have to completely redo your cabinets.

4. Chalkboards

Chalkboard door in the kitchen cabinets.

While originally used in classrooms to help with instruction, chalkboards are now more common in homes, as well. You can either opt for a real chalkboard or use chalkboard paint to paint a plain piece of wood if you want to have a chalkboard in your home. By using chalk and an eraser, you can write on the board and then remove the writing at a later time.


Chalkboards provide the perfect surface for a family to write notes to each other or to track a grocery list.

Children won’t get as bored in the kitchen when they are allowed to draw on the cabinet doors.


Chalkdust is very fine and can get all over everything in your kitchen. This means that you need to be incredibly careful about cleaning up your space and preventing dust from getting into your food.

When they aren’t cleaned regularly, chalkboards look messy and can be visually overwhelming.

Chalkboards are hard to get perfectly clean, which is frustrating for homeowners who want a neat kitchen.

This alternative doesn’t look great in certain homes, such as classic homes, and will look very out of place, depending on the style and design of your kitchen.

5. Mirrors

A close up photo of a hanging cabinet mirror door.

Mirrors are used in the home to allow family members to see their appearance, but they are also very beneficial from a design standpoint. Mirrors can make smaller rooms appear much larger and do a great job at reflecting any light in the space.


Mirrors are perfect if you have a small or dark kitchen and want to reflect as much light as possible in the space.

You won’t ever have to worry about how you look, as you can quickly check your appearance in the mirror when you are working in the kitchen.

When you opt for mirrors instead of cabinet doors, you will be able to make your kitchen look a lot larger than it actually is.


If the sun shines directly into your kitchen, then it can reflect off of the mirrors and be very painful in someone’s eye. This also can make it difficult to see a recipe, depending on where the sun is located.

A cluttered kitchen will appear even messier when reflected in mirrors, which means that you always need to work hard to keep your kitchen neat and orderly. Otherwise, your mirrors will look dirty and messy.

Mirrors always need to be kept perfectly clean, as any splatter, water droplets, or condensation will show up and mar their surface.

6. Open Shelving

Farmhouse kitchen with open shelving and wooden furniture.

Displaying dishes and other kitchen items on open shelves has become more popular as people realize the pros that this option affords them. It involves some sort of shelf or cupboard and no door to protect the dishes.


This is a very updated and trendy look that will change the whole feel of your kitchen.

It’s incredibly easy to grab the items that you need when you don’t have to open doors to do so.

They are a great option if you are on a budget and trying to remodel your kitchen without overspending, as you will not have to buy doors.

There’s plenty of airflow around your dishes, which will help them dry if you stack them while they are damp.

If you have dishes that you want to display, then you will love that you can always see them, thanks to your open shelving.


Any grease in your kitchen will land on your dishes, which may mean that you need to wash them more often to keep them clean for eating.

If you tend to hide items in your cupboard instead of keeping the kitchen clean, then you will be frustrated that you have to keep the space in your cupboards neat and picked up since it is always on display.

If you live in an area that is prone to earthquakes, then you will want to rethink the open shelving in your kitchen. Any tremors can cause the items on your shelves to vibrate and move toward the edge of the shelf, which may result in them falling over and breaking.

7. Windows

Front view of a white painted cabinet with cabinet windows.

Windows are primarily used on a home or other building to allow light in and to make it possible to see in and out of the space. They come in many different styles and sizes and are made up of a number of different materials, depending on your needs.


Windows will allow you to see the inside of your cabinets without having to open them. This allows you to display your favorite pieces so that you can enjoy them even when they are put away, and you can easily tell where the items that you need are located.

You can find windows in a variety of styles to fit the appearance and style of your kitchen.

Windows are fast and easy to paint if you want to update your kitchen. Since they are not made of solid wood, you can easily paint them in much less time than it would take to paint traditional cabinet doors.


Due to the weight of windows, you need to make sure that your cabinets can support them and that they are installed correctly so that they don’t damage your cabinets or fall.

Not everyone likes the look of window panes in their kitchen, and this alternative will be out of place in more modern homes.

Using new windows in your kitchen can be very expensive, which is why so many people opt for old windows.

Any paint that is chipping off needs to be removed so that it doesn’t flake into the food that you’re making, as this can be very dangerous.

It can be more work to separate windows into parts that can be used for your doors.

Dust can settle in the windows, and it is frustrating to clean each individual pane when they are dirty.