So after finishing our office/guest bedroom mini-makeover (check that out here), I was all gun-ho to get going on another room in our house. Our kitchen has been screaming for attention since we bought the house, but we kept putting it off because it just seemed *too* big. This room needs a major gut-and-reno job (and therefore some serious dough). However, as I stood in the middle of our kitchen looking around, I realized that there were a few things we could do to spruce it up without breaking the bank.

First up was to do something about our ’80′s special cabinetry. You know, the crappy white cabinets with a grainy wood border? Man, so u.g.l.y.

I loathe that wood grain border. Ick. I figured I could paint out the surround in white and it would probably make the whole place look a lot brighter and more modern. I knew the whites probably wouldn’t match exactly, but just kinda decided to go for it anyway. So I grabbed a can of semi-gloss white paint that I had sitting around and got to work.

First thing was to give a very light sanding of the wood. Because this is a temporary solution until we can properly reno our kitchen, I wasn’t overly careful about sanding it perfectly – just rough enough so that the paint would stick. Then I tapped everything off with good old frog tape (ie. best painting tape ever).

Then I got to slapping up the paint. The wood was pretty dark, so the grain definitely showed through at first…

But about 3 coats later, things were looking SO much better.

Here’s where things took a little turn for the worse. I decided that it would probably be a good idea to put some varathane as a top coat, you know, for extra durability. So I grabbed the varathane I had used for this project (among others), and had heard that it was pretty good for not yellowing over time. However, after putting a coat on all the white, it took only a few days for it to dry and start looking super yellow and gunky. I neglected to take a picture of this cause I was pretty bummed, but here is how crazytown things were looking while the cabinets were drying:

In retrospect, I don’t actually think it was the kind of varathane we used, but instead the fact that it was pretty hard to get a thin coat since there are lots of nooks and crannies. So after trying to just live with it for a few days, I gave in and did another coat of white paint on top of everything. Phew. Back to nice crispy white.

So here’s where things stand. Please don’t judge me on how messy the kitchen is. I’m just keepin’ it real, folks.

Yes, the whites between the painted part and the rest of the cabinet don’t match exactly, and yes it’s just a temporary solution until we can get better cabinets, but it’s SO much better than it was. The whole room just instantly feels brighter. And the total cost was $0 dolla dolla bills since we already owned the paint. Gotta love that.

Next up? We’re going to add some snazzy hardware so we don’t get fingerprints all over the new paint. Stay tuned!

 

  • http://www.Henderson-Home.blogspot.com Rox-Anne

    This looks great! I am looking to paint my cabinets until we have the big bucks to renovate the entire kitchen (actually hoping I will move before that happens lol) You did a great job!!! xoxo

    • gemma

      thanks! it’s amazing what a can of paint can do…

      xo,
      gem

  • Pingback: kitchen makeover step 2: handy hardware | the sweetest digs

    • Julie P

      I have the same ones. Have decided to add new hardware to make thing different, but think I may now try to paint the bottom as well. Thanks!!

      • gemma

        Go for it, Julie! It has made a HUGE difference to our kitchen. Who ever thought those were nice cabinets, right?! Ugh!

        xo,
        gem

  • jenn

    I have the same cabinets that I’ve been itching to cover up. You’ve completely given me the courage to bite the bullet and do the same! Was there any reason you painted the cabinets while it was installed, rather than removing them?

    • gemma

      The reason was pure laziness! I just didn’t feel like taking them all apart. As long as you tape it out carefully and then leave them to dry while they are open, then it’s no problem. My trick was to give them a coat of paint at night so that they could dry while we were asleep.

      Good luck!

      xo,
      gem

  • Lauren

    This looks awesome. We are going to do the same thing. We have the exact same ugly cabinets.
    If you were to do it again, would you use a pure semi-gloss white or would you try to match the rest more closely with something else? What would you suggest?

    • gemma

      Hi Lauren,

      If I were to do it again, I would still use the same white paint we went with. It turned out to be a near-perfect match. If you’re worried about it though, I would go to your local hardware store and get the white paint chips so you can do an exact match. If you’re having to buy new paint anyway, you might as well get it perfect (we already had our white paint on hand)! You could also use a primer if you’re worried about the bleed-through of the wood grain. We ended up doing like 4 coats of the white paint, so a primer would have saved us some time.

      Also – we used a high gloss (not semi). I would go with whatever “kitchen” paint your hardware store has. Oh, and don’t forget to sand the wood beforehand!

      Good luck!

      xo,
      gem

  • Andrea

    This is great! Although, for those that want an exact match, you can take one of the smaller doors off the hinges and bring it into your paint store to do a computer color match. I would also use a primer especially for wood stained finish, it will stick way better.

    • gemma

      Yep, absolutely! Great tip Andrea.

      xo,
      gem

  • http://chobhi.blogspot.com/ Tanima

    I can’t tell you how excited I was to find your makeover on Better After, not only did you make over the exact same cabinets that I have in my kitchen and hate, but you live in Ottawa like me! All your sources are from stores I can actually go too!

    Love the floor you did, I’ve used a similar peel and stick tile in my bathroom, and laundry room, and love it!

    I love watercolors as well, so I plan on buying a print soon.

    I am now inspired and a huge fan!

    • gemma

      Amazing!! So great to connect with fellow Ottawa folks. And so happy to hear that you might have gotten a bit of inspiration from our kitchen makeover. Aren’t those floors super easy to install? Such a great product for an easy and quick makeover.

      Thanks for popping by!

      xo,
      gem

  • Laura Lough

    Hi Gem, Just loved what you have done. I have the exact same cabinets and was hoping to do the same glossy white. My issue is the cabinets are more of a creamy white. Do you think I can paint the who cabinet inclucing the wood trim? If so do I need to do anything to the before I paint them?

    Great ideas, keep them coming!

    Laura
    Oakville, Ontario

    • gemma

      Hi Laura! Isn’t it funny how those cabinets were so trendy back in the day? Ugh! I know the beige ones you mean. The only thing I would worry about when painting the whole cabinet, is whether paint would adhere to the cabinet surface well enough (I don’t know about yours, but mine aren’t solid wood).

      I think you could do two things: Option 1. Test out painting of the doors by doing an inconspicuous area on the inside of a door and see how it goes. I would recommend using some sort of surface prep/de-glosser (ask at the hardware store what would be best). Then if it sticks well and looks good, paint everything out! Option 2. Just paint the wood trim, but be sure to find an exact match to your creamy white doors. Bring home a bunch of paint chips and hold them next to the cabinet to find the right one.

      I would probably go for option #2 to be on the safe side. They won’t be a pure white, but if you add some other punchy colours into the space they will definitely still read as bright and light.

      Hope that helps! Good luck!! Let me know how they turn out :)

      xo,
      gemma

  • Esther

    I have the exact same cabinets and also have some leftover white paint on hand, but have been thinking about painting the wood trim black to give it a bold and contrast look. What do you think?

    Btw, you did a great job!!

    Esther, BC

    • gemma

      Oooh that could be really fun. It would definitely be striking! A whole black and white kitchen is gorgeous. I would probably do one or two cabinets to see how you like it, before going full force.

      Good luck!

      xo,
      gemma