Painting Our Kitchen Cabinets

When I first saw our new house, I fell completely in love with the windows in the kitchen.

The back of the kitchen.
The back of the kitchen.

It was light, airy and had plenty of  cabinet space even without upper cabinets over the sink area. What I wasn’t in love with was the builders oak cabinets that were installed. While the cabinets were fairly new (installed around 2007), it’s clear that the previous owners went with the least expensive new cabinets they could buy.

Looking into the kitchen from the dining room.
Looking into the kitchen from the dining room.

Since it wasn’t in our budget to replace the cabinets and since there was nothing wrong with them, I decided to take the plunge and paint them. I cannot tell you how many articles I read online about painting cabinets. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t cut corners in this process because lets face it, you can’ undue a paint job. All of the online articles and testimonials outlined the same process:

  1. Clean and degrease the cabinets
  2. Wipe dry
  3. Sand 
  4. Wipe with wet cloth to remove grit
  5. Prime with an oil based primer
  6. Sand the primer
  7. Add 2-3 coats of paint, lightly sanding with a fine paper in between coats

The color that I ultimately went with was Benjamin Moore’s Linen White, but the retailer cut the color added in half. I had explained that I wanted the cabinets to have just the slightest hint of cream instead of being an ultra white.

Honest to God, prepping and painting these cabinets was the most tedious house project to date. It’s a good thing that the kids weren’t here while I was working on this because I was cursing the blasted beveled edges the entire time. To get into the cracks, I had to paint the creases with a small brush and then use a roller designed for cabinets to eliminate the brush strokes. There was definitely one point during the process where I thought, “Was the oak really that bad?”

Alas, after a solid week of work, it was done. We’re going to call these our “during pictures” because a couple of things still need to be done.

(1) We have to paint and install new baseboards – you can see that these are still oak and painting them would have been a big hassle since they sit snug against the tile.

(2) We need to replace the white microwave to match our stainless range. This Frigidaire range has traveled a thousand miles with us from Florida and we’ve moved it to 3 different North Carolina houses (storing it in the basement at each one). It is a full convection oven and it cooks like a dream (and it cost well over $1000) so I didn’t want to leave it to our renters in Florida. I am so thrilled to be using it again – I’m a dork about appliances so this makes me very, very happy.

Okay, without further ado, here are the comparison pics for the cabinets – I’ll start with the before again so you don’t have to scroll up and down to see the differences.


Now one year later, we’ve finally painted the baseboards and added hardware to the cabinets. (We also have a new monster toaster oven.)



Other than the stainless range, you’ll notice that we also switched out the dishwasher from the white Frigidaire that was there to a stainless steel Bosch. We bought the Bosch for the first house that we were renting here in North Carolina (that had an unusable dishwasher) and since we knew that we were eventually going to be buying our own house up here, we went ahead and bought this top of the line dishwasher. It has a stainless interior, it’s roomy and it is super quiet.

You’ll also notice that we changed the paint color from that blasted clay color to a color called Churchill Hotel Wheat (it’s a Valspar signature color). Since the kitchen tiles are a warm color, we didn’t want to put a cool color on the walls, but we also didn’t want to add a color that would clash with the grey of the dining room (the kitchen opens up to the dining room). This color is the perfect complement.

We loved it so much, we also used it in hallway between the kids rooms, the master bath and my office. All of those pictures will be coming soon, too. Just as soon as I move the boxes out of the way so that you can actually see them!

**One year later – I’ve added some breadbaskets from South Africa above the cabinets, added a glass tile backsplash, we’ve replaced the microwave and you can really see the difference the painted baseboards and cabinet hardware made.


Closer look at the backsplash.
Closer look at the backsplash.

For effect, here’s the final Before/After:




8 thoughts on “Painting Our Kitchen Cabinets

  1. Jenny February 3, 2013 / 1:20 pm

    LOVE the kitchen windows! I have a window over my sink now, and although the view is just of the house next door, it’s lovely to gaze outside while doing dishes. The kitchen looks great with the updates!

    • dailycynema February 3, 2013 / 2:31 pm

      In the house we just moved out of, it had the smallest window over the sink and it had no view to speak of. I spend so much time in the kitchen that I love being surrounded by nature now.

  2. jessica February 3, 2013 / 1:42 pm

    love it, looks like a whole new kitchen! Are you going to put hardware on the cabinets? also love the color – I have been looking for a dining room color, looks like what I am looking for!

    • dailycynema February 3, 2013 / 2:30 pm

      Yes, I forgot to mention that – the hardware is purchased in a nickel finish, just need to drill some holes! it’s such a lovely creamy tan color – I’m sure it will work great in your dining room.

  3. lurvittest February 3, 2013 / 2:47 pm

    Oh my goodness… what a seriously beautiful kitchen! I would never want to leave this room!

    • dailycynema February 3, 2013 / 2:56 pm

      Thank you! It definitely makes it more enjoyable to cook when you love your kitchen and I can already tell that we’re going to be very happy here.

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