DIY Painted Kitchen Cabinets

I always have some sort of project going, and an ever-growing to-do list. But I never blogged our kitchen re-do, and since it was one of our more dramatic and labor-intensive projects, it deserves sharing — even now, way after the fact.

A dark and boring kitchen:

When we moved in this house ten years ago, our kitchen was ugly and dated. Sickly bright yellow paint, a peeling fruity wallpaper border, and boring dark cabinets. Perking up the kitchen was a priority. I painted the walls a cream color before we ever moved in, but didn’t take any before photos of that because I was too antsy to get that ugly wallpaper gone.

kitchen before

We lived here about 6 months before we tackled the cabinets because we knew it would not be a fun project. (Those pictures are terrible but I was excited to find them because I thought I’d trashed them!) Since these “before” photos, we’ve also replaced the dishwasher and the oven.

DIY Painted Kitchen Cabinets: AFTER!

Paint made SUCH a difference! It’s so much brighter now, and a much happier place to be than it was prior to this DIY project. I’d originally planned to replace the counter tops but brightening the kitchen made them look so much better that I’m content to leave them as is. A few years ago I repainted the walls (again!) to a light sea glass color.

DIY white painted kitchen cabinets

We did this project as simply as possible. We removed all the cabinet doors and drawers, then sanded, primed, and painted them in the garage. I used a regular ol’ paint brush to prime with Kilz, and a mini roller for two coats of ordinary semi-gloss finish trim paint. I’m an impatient painter, so I actually did the final coat of paint after we’d reinstalled the cabinet doors.

As for the cabinet bases, I sanded just enough to get primer to adhere. I crawled in there and painted them as best I could. Close inspection would reveal a less than perfect interior paint job but it looks perfectly fine to anyone who opens a cabinet door. Only my pots and pans see the far corners, and they don’t care.

Before painting the cabinet doors, I filled the old screw holes from the door handles so I could replace them with simple old-fashioned glass knobs. I found the drawer pulls at Target for just $1 each. Since I couldn’t find new hinges that would work, I painted those with Rustoleum spray paint. It’s available in a variety of metal finishes.

DIY custom painted kitchen cabinets

I thought we’d have to replace the oven hood, but Ken scrubbed it so well he got it looking like new. {Go look at that before photo again; yes, it’s the same hood!} Then we raised the center section of cabinets over the stove, and he cut out the panel of the two top side doors. That allowed me to put fabric curtains in the cabinet doors, and it’s easy to change out the fabric if I want a fresh look.

I plan to add wooden brackets under the upper cabinets on this section, and wooden ball feet below the lower cabinets to make this look more like a stand-alone piece of furniture, but I’m waiting until we replace the old linoleum flooring. {Maybe in the next few months, I hope!}

DIY painted kitchen cabinets

After allowing the paint to cure a few days, we used paste furniture wax on the cabinets, which gives them a nice sheen but also seems to help with chipping. It’s now been over 9 years since we painted the cabinets and I’m thrilled with how well the paint has held up. Other than a few tiny dings here and there, they still look as good as the day we finished. And they still clean up well with a soapy sponge or a little spray cleaner.

DIY open shelving painted cabinets

Another modification we made was removing one set of upper cabinet doors to have some open shelving. Because of the way these cabinets are made, Ken did have to cut out the bar in the middle, and I had a few screw holes to fill where hinges used to be.

Under the sink, I left off the cabinet door and hung a curtain instead. Since I can’t fit a farmhouse sink in here, I’m going for the illusion of one. {I’m going to have to make a new little curtain because Piper the puppy has chewed off one corner, the little stinker!}

DIY painted kitchen cabinets and under sink curtain

And that vintage Sellers cabinet in the breakfast area? I adore it, too.

The cost to replace all these cabinets would’ve been huge. Even refacing them would have been a sizeable chunk of change. But this makeover was low-budget. All it took was primer, paint, and some elbow grease.

I’m never really done with my house, but I enjoy the process. If I ever do feel done, I’ll know it’s time to move and start on my future little beach cottage!