Friday, December 03, 2010

I'm no professional.

Before I started my kitchen, I read every tutorial I could find and watched some how-to videos online. When I had a good idea of how I was going to do it, I went to the Home Depot to price it out. I figured I could do the whole thing for less than $200 (I didn't need to replace my hardware, which is originally from the Home Depot, I think. So that kept the cost down.). I bought my supplies and painted a sample cupboard (I knew I was going to replace the under sink cupboards with a skirt - I am pretending that I have a pretty farmhouse sink - so I used one of those. The skirt is held on with velcro so I can wash it when it gets dirty. And yes, it is totally not baby-proof, I know.). After painting the sample,  I decided that I loved the color (Heavy Cream, by Martha Stewart in Behr high gloss latex. I chose latex for its easy clean-up and low odor. It's definitely a creamy, yellowy white, not stark at all. I matched some dishes I have that looked pretty sitting on the countertop.). I also decided that using a foam roller was a bad idea (It left the finish really bumpy, and I didn't want bumpy.).

Once I got started, I never looked back. I divided my kitchen into 5 sections. I worked on one section a week. I knew that if I tried to do the whole thing at once, I would do a sloppy job. Also, I have four kids (including a little baby). I don't have the kind of time it would require to do it all at once. Breaking it up into manageable sections kept my kitchen from being a disaster, kept my work neater, and kept me from going crazy.

This was my schedule, give or take a day:

On Monday, I removed all of the doors, drawer fronts, knobs, and hinges. I cleaned all of the surfaces with warm soapy water, used a liquid deglosser, lightly sanded, and wiped everything down. Then I caulked the cracks. (I figured that using the deglosser and sanding covered all of my bases. The biggest tip I read was to sand, sand, sand!)

On Tuesday, I did three coats of primer on the backs of the doors and drawers, and on the body of the cabinets. Since my cabinets are less than five years old and in really good shape, I didn't need to paint the inside. That would have been a lot more work.

On Wednesday, I primed the fronts of the doors and drawers.

Thursday was light sanding and wiping down, then two coats of paint on the backs of the doors, drawers, and cabinets, letting each coat dry for at least two hours before applying a second coat.

On Friday I painted the fronts.

I let each section dry for about four days before rehanging.

I used a high gloss paint. If I were to do it again, I might use a flatter finish paint with a glossy polyurethane over the top. High gloss paint is really hard to work with. It shows everything. But it seems to be the most recommended paint for cabinetry, so hopefully it will hold up and not chip too terribly.

Here's what I learned about painting your cabinets yourself: Unless you have lots of experience and use a sprayer, it's probably not going to look like a factory finish. You will see brush strokes and some mistakes. You have to be ok with that. I didn't want to wait until I could afford new cabinets, so I was willing to put up with some imperfections to get the look I wanted now.

a few more tips:
  • always paint with the grain of the wood
  • after painting one side of a door, wipe the edges with a wet rag to get the drips 
  • always have a wet rag nearby
  • no matter what anybody tells you, sand!
  • three thin coats are better than one thick one
  • buy the best brushes you can afford. I went for the "better" ones.
Did I miss anything? What do you think, are you up for it?

p.s. The magic words print is from HomeGoods, and I don't remember the name of the wall color. Sorry!


  1. I really love white kitchens. I'm sad we didn't make ours white!

  2. Pretty. I thought about undertaking my cabinets this last summer, but they are still honey oak! I'm not brave enough...but tutorials like this help!

  3. Steph, you are studly. I can't wait to see the kitchen in person!

  4. Love your kitchen! You are awesome.

  5. My husband and I are no where near experts, but tend to do all home projects ourselves. In our last house we repainted EVERY paintable surface (this was before we had kids) and learned a lot! We actually found some tiny little sponge rollers that work really well on cabinets to give it a smooth finish without brush strokes. It took forever, but like you, I wanted it WHITE! In our current home we gutted and remodeled our kitchen ourselves with 2 small children. Let me tell you, hanging cabinets is the WORST. I'll take painting ANY DAY! Beautiful job!

  6. That looks amazing! We are moving back to AZ in a couple of years, and I'm bookmarking this page now so I can reference it. Love it!!

  7. Very pretty and nice painting tips. I'm so amazed that you did it! I might start it, but I know I'd end up having Sumo do the majority of it.

  8. I love to see every cupboard redo. It will happen in our house some day... But until then I am enjoying seeing your before and afters.

  9. While the cabinets look great, I am totally envious of your cake sweet!

  10. How do you like your ceramic cook top? I just bought one that is being delivered Wed, but I'm nervous about it after reading some online reviews. Anyway, I'm just wondering if I should have just got the sturdier metal one since we tend to be hard on things. I do like the updated look of it though.

  11. It looks amazing! Can't believe you could get it all done with kids. I'm so impressed.

  12. Your kitchen is gorgeous. What an amazing transformation and on such a low budget, it's really impressive. I love the cabinet you left the doors off of, it looks so pretty with your cake plates. I am absolutely in love with your nativity advent calendar too. thanks for al the inspiration!

  13. You did SUCH a great job...I LOVE them!

  14. The kitchen looks awesome and you are awesome for sharing!! Yes, I am totally up for it! Thank you!

  15. Your cabinets turned out fantastic! I wouldn't have known that you didn't hire someone if you hadn't said so.

    We painted our cabinets white (high-gloss as well!) a little over a year ago - it was *so* worth it. I love white kitchen cabinets, and by gosh and golly (and lots of trial, error, and drips), they got painted. The rest of the kitchen is still un-done, but my cabinets look great!


  16. I'm doing my cupboards...sometime. My friend just did hers and she has a sprayer so I can borrow that. I think you were smart to do high gloss and not use a sealant. I don't care what anyone says, sealants (ALL types) yellow. I currenly have a yellowed kitchen table and I used sealed with a polycrylic(recommended b/c it wouldn't yellow and guess what? It yellowed).

  17. Were your cabinets oak before? We're buying a house that has awful oak cabinets and want to paint them white. I'll probably end up having to do it myself and I'm super nervous!


Hello! Thank you for your comment. I'd love to respond, and it is much easier if your account is linked to your email address. Or, you could just email me at Thank you!