The Most Important Measurement in Updating Your Kitchen


Kitchens. They sell houses. With the flood of HGTV shows, blogs and design magazines showing how ‘easy kitchen improvements are, buyers EXPECT updated kitchens.

When our clients ask us to come in to improve their kitchen, we often are able to make simple changes such as replacing appliances, lighting, countertops, back splashes and cabinet hardware.

However, sometimes the simple changes just don’t get it. If anything, adding updates to existing old, ugly cabinets makes them look worse. That’s just “putting lipstick on a pig!”


“Lipstick on a pig!” New granite countertops installed on old cabinets.

Many times we are confronted with an older kitchen with classic cabinets that still look nice, but the layout does not make sense or it needs to be larger. Is this your situation?

What are your options? Gut the kitchen? That’s generally not in the budget. Add a few new cabinets and use as many of the old cabinets as possible? Yes!

Okay, now look down at your cabinets. Do you see that gap between the floor and the bottom of your cabinets? That’s the toe kick. The dimension of your toe kick is the most important measurement in your kitchen if you are thinking of incorporating new cabinets. It is the kicker (pun intended) to your successful redesign.

When we update kitchens, we are usually dealing with older cabinets in which the toe kicks are smaller than those on new cabinets produced today. Are you saying, “But what’s the big deal? If the new cabinet is too tall, just trim some off the bottom and if it’s too short, just elevate the cabinet or countertop.” Well, not so fast…

Take a look at the graphic. In either case, the doors and drawers won’t line up with your existing cabinets if you adjust the height up or down. If you elevate the countertop and try to cover the gap with trim, the trim pieces usually interfere with the doors or drawers when you extend the trim onto the cabinets without the gap.

Toe Kicks of Cabinets

Two Different Cabinet Toe Kicks

Instead, you’ll need to redesign the kitchen so the old base cabinets are in one area and new ones in another. You don’t want to have them side by side or the two different toe kick heights will be noticeable and will scream DIY. Not what you want a prospective buyer to think and a good way to have your investment dollars vanish before your eyes.

What has been your kitchen redesign experience? Would love to hear any helpful hints you would like to pass along!


I’m Sue Proud, Owner of PROUD HOME Staging, LLC and an Accredited Staging Professional® in St. Charles, IL. I appreciate you taking the time to read this post.

We would love to hear from you… please leave your comments and questions below or Contact Us directly about your Home Staging and Design needs.
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