How to Move Kitchen Cabinets and Reimagine Your Space

Breathe new life into your kitchen

Kristin Luna
Written by Kristin Luna
Updated April 28, 2022
A beautiful kitchen in new luxury home
Photo: hikesterson / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images


This one takes some serious know-how.

Time to complete

4 hours

This project should take about 4 hours to complete.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.

What you'll need:


  • Pry bar
  • Level or a laser level
  • Screw gun
  • Screwdriver
  • Putty knife
  • Moving blanket


  • Sandpaper
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Drop cloths or tarps
  • Construction adhesive
  • Screws
  • Spackling or wall joint compound
  • Pencil or chalk

A kitchen remodel doesn’t mean you have to install all new cabinets, countertops, and appliances. Sometimes rearranging what you already have can give your kitchen a whole new identity. If you’re wondering where to start, moving cabinets to a new layout is a great way to change things up without breaking the bank.

Prepping to Move Kitchen Cabinets to a New Layout

Reusing existing cabinets is a budget-friendly way to rework a kitchen layout without spending $100 to $1200 per linear foot for the cost of solid wood kitchen cabinets. Before starting, have a game plan ready, including a drawing of where everything will go. Be sure to include factors like door swing and drawer clearance. 

As long as your cabinets are in good shape and aren’t built-in—meaning you can separate them from the wall or side panel—you should be able to carefully remove the cabinets and move them around to accommodate a new vision for your kitchen layout. 

The first prep step is removing all dishware, silverware, and cooking ingredients from the cabinets and any inset drawers. If you plan to tackle your project over multiple days (or weeks), it’s wise to box up your kitchen items with packing paper and bubble wrap. Set up a side area for storing the bare necessities in a tidy manner but within easy reach. Since moving cabinets is a much easier job with two to three people, you’ll want to have a helper or two on hand.

6 Steps to Moving Kitchen Cabinets

  1. Remove the Countertops

    Worker installing new countertop
    Photo: New Africa / Adobe Stock

    Gaining access to the lower cabinets in your kitchen first requires the removal of your countertops. If you have a heavy stone countertop like granite or marble, you’ll want a kitchen remodeling pro in your area to assist during this step. These stone countertops can weigh hundreds of pounds, and you won’t want to risk damaging the stone or injury to yourself and others. 

    Carefully crack the seal by lifting the countertop upward, and slide it off until you can flip it down to the floor, onto a moving blanket, and out of the way. If you have laminate countertops, chances are the installer glued them down with an industrial-strength adhesive. If this is the case, plan on forcing them up with a pry bar to separate the countertop from the lower cabinet before moving it to a different area.

  2. Unscrew the Cabinets

    Once you’ve done the heavy lifting of removing countertops, it’s a relatively simple endeavor to disassemble and remove all the cabinets. Carpenters or cabinet makers typically use a handful of screws to connect the cabinet pieces and secure the assembly to the wall. Taking each cabinet piece by piece, disconnect individual sections before unscrewing the cabinets from the wall to prevent twisting the boxes. Save the screws for the re-installation process.

    Upper-level cabinets are usually only screwed into the wall along the back, either into a structural joist or along a wood rail. Remove the bottom screws, then have your helper support the assembly while you take the last screw out of the cabinet. Removing the doors before separating the cabinet from the wall will make the weight of the box easier to handle. Be sure to mark the inside of the cabinet doors with chalk or pencil to keep track of which goes where for re-installation later.

  3. Reinstall the Cabinets

    A man assembling wardrobe
    Photo: martin-dm / E+ / Getty Images

    Starting with the upper cabinets (if you have them), measure up from the floor and make a mark at 54 inches, which is the standard height of upper cabinet bottoms. Carefully lift the empty boxes to this mark and secure the box to the wall, using a laser level to ensure that the cabinets are even with both the horizontal and vertical lines of the room. 

    Assemble the individual pieces for the bottom cabinets before screwing the whole thing to the wall. This will ensure that the boxes stay square and the doors fit and close properly.

  4. Touch Up Walls

    If there are any existing holes in the walls not covered by cabinets in your new layout, go ahead and use a putty knife to patch those holes with spackling. Then sand it down, and touch up the wall with paint. 

    There will likely be areas along the edges of your cabinets that need attention and possibly patching to touch up any old caulking lines or previous coats of paint. It’s best to add a fresh layer of paint to the whole wall while you’re at it, so there are no visual discrepancies.

  5. Mount the Countertops

    Bring in a second helper—because installing your own countertops will likely take three people—and slide the old countertop into position. Carefully lever up the material, using the countertop edge as a pivot point, so you don’t have to deadlift the heavy slab. If you’re working with a heavy rock like granite or marble, there’s no need to apply adhesive to the bottom. If you’re installing laminate countertops, you’ll want to squeeze out a fresh bead of glue along the top edges of the lower cabinet before installing it.

  6. Add a Fresh Coat of Paint to the Cabinets

    The final touch for any project that involves moving cabinets is repainting them. Cabinets are on the receiving end of a lot of the wear and tear in any kitchen, and moving them around into a new layout pretty much ensures you’ll see new scuffs along the way. 

    To DIY paint your cabinets, clean the cabinets and put down a tack cloth. Sand them and prep with a solid coat of premier. Then add a coat of oil-based paint in your desired color. After the cabinets cure for a couple of days, evaluate if they need a second coat of paint.

DIY Moving Cabinets vs. Hiring a Pro

Moving cabinets is a task you can attempt to DIY yourself with the right tools and an extra set of hands. If your light kitchen remodel includes replacing some cabinet boxes or faces at any point, it’s time to call in a local cabinetmaker.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.