diy: kitchen cabinet makeover

Growing up with two teachers, summer was always home improvement season. I guess it runs in the family because the DIY bug bit me too. This summer, I tackled a home improvement project that I’ve been eyeing for a while — painting my kitchen cabinets.

After scouring the web for bloggers who have been brave enough to do this on their own and convincing Dad that it wouldn’t be a terrible project, I am proud to say my kitchen has a fresh face.

Now before you all break out your paint brushes, it was a A LOT of work. I couldn’t have done it without Mom and Dad who are extremely handy, by the way, and boy, did they work. We began the project Monday morning, and pulled some long hours to finish up Thursday. If you’re working full time, I can see how this project can stretch into a marathon.

As I mentioned before, I did some research. To glaze. Not to glaze. Chalk paint. Oil-based vs. latex. Spray vs. brush. And I also ran the gamut of colors. At one point, I wanted my cabinets to be green. Oh my. But in the end, I decided on white, alkyd paint, no glaze and used a synthetic brush. My cabinets are clean, fresh, and I am in love with them.


Here’s a few resources that helped me get started…

Painting Kitchen Cabinets (with a This Old House tutorial)


How To Paint Your Cabinets Like the Pros

Step 1

Remove all cabinet doors and hardware. I also cleaned out my cabinets and am glad I did because there was more dust than I knew what do to with. Wipe down cabinets…vinegar and water is a safe bet, and you won’t risk yellowing your white paint with an ammonia-based cleaner.


Step 2

Sand, sand and sand some more. Thank goodness we had a couple of electric sanders because doing this by hand, I might have quit. Now my cabinets are just the standard builder’s cabinets, nothing fancy. Wood on the outside, particle board on the inside. The trick was removing the sheen, so the paint would stick. We started with 150 grain sand paper, which is more fine. It didn’t do the trick, so we opted for coarse paper, 60, and it made the process a lot smoother. Pun intended. Sanding took all of day one, and the really fun part is sanding the nooks and crannies of the beveled edges. But it was a necessary evil. Prior to sanding, I was gung-ho for sanding after reading a blog that recommended sanding before primer, after primer and after one coat of paint to remove the grain of the wood. But I quickly lost my zeal for sanding after round one. Have I mentioned the dust?


Step 3

Most of you know, I can be somewhat of a Pinterest addict. When I ran across kitchen cabinets with wainscoting (aka beadboard) on the face of the doors, there was no turning back. Once again, Dad is handy, and I am not, so this was all him. I picked up pre-packaged tongue and groove wainscoting from Lowe’s. Dad cut each piece to fit, secured it with Liquid Nail, and then he added a thin wood molding around the edge of the wainscoting. The molding saved us in two ways: we didn’t have to caulk around the edge of the wainscoting because it sealed it, and it also covered a beveled edge on my cabinet doors which meant much less sanding. It also gave it a polished look. He attached the molding using brad nails and a nail gun. The wainscoting MADE these cabinets.


Step 4

Remove ALL dust. Vacuum, wipe down with a wet cloth and then wipe them down with tack cloth (with gloves or you will stick to everything, as mom discovered). Some people like to hang their cabinets to paint. I happened to have a plethora of paint cans, so they made great stands to set up in the garage.


Step 5

By day two, the cabinets were clean and ready for primer. I used alkyd primer and alkyd semi-gloss paint from Sherwin Williams in Alabaster which I got during their semi-annual paint sale. One coat of primer. I used a foam roller on the back of the cabinet doors. It made the job go fast, but didn’t achieve the look I wanted, so I opted for a paint brush on the fronts.


Step 6

Painting wasn’t terrible, just time-consuming. On day three, we did two coats on everything and allowed a couple of hours between coats to dry. We painted in the garage in the morning, but with the day-time high reaching 103, we moved inside because the paint was drying too fast. As long as you paint with the grain of the wood in even strokes, you look like a pro in my book.


Step 7

The cabinets dried overnight. Day four, Dad installed the new hardware that I picked up on and hung the cabinet doors. Who doesn’t love free shipping? Mom recovered my kitchen chairs with fabric we picked up at JoAnn’s. P.S. The catalyst for the color scheme was a new linen curtain Mom made for my sliding door. White and green became the theme. Mom and I also snuck away to IKEA to pick up a jute rug, since the red rug I had wouldn’t match. As you know, one thing always calls for another. And while they had their projects, I cleaned all my baseboards. I embarrassed to tell you what I found, but I have a clean house now!


Step 8

Return all your kitchenware to it’s home. This is a great time to purge. Decorate. Step back, and enjoy! It was hard work, but so worth it. My kitchen looks bigger and brighter, right off a page of Southern Living if I say so myself. Give it a try in your kitchen, you can certainly make it happen on a budget.



4 responses to “diy: kitchen cabinet makeover

  1. Love it! But I sure hope the other family members don’t see it! I’m not up for that much hard work! LOL!

  2. Oh my goodness those look amazing!! Bad news for MG, this may be happening in our kitchen soon 😉

  3. Jamie! The kitchen looks soooo awesome! Maybe we will do that to my kitchen next summer?!? Ok, probably not worth it here…but I’ll hope you can help me spruce things up a bit (-: miss you!!


  4. Jamie y’all did an awesome job!!! I love it. your dad is an gifted “handy man”
    Liz S.

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