Monday, January 10, 2011

Kitchen Paint Reveal

I realized recently that I never posted picture of a major project I took on. About 6 months ago, I posted on facebook that I was tackling our current kitchen's cabinets. In the house we are renting from my in-laws, the cabinets are original from 1961 and have gotten caked up with grease and grime over the last 50 years. I always wanted to paint them, but since we weren't supposed to be living here very long, it didn't seem worth my trouble. I also thought I had to paint the inside of them too. I have since seen maybe kitchen makeovers where they just painted the outside and front and back of the cabinet doors. That started to motivate me that I could take it on without being too overwhelmed and having a nervous breakdown midway through.

Seeing this makes me wish I had a picture of the ORIGINAL oven that we took out about a year after we moved in. And you think the kitchen looks bad NOW!

Oh wait...I do!!

Bad right? Oh and the microwave broke and the space was never made to hold an over the range microwave(like you couldn't reach the back burners), so we got it out of there and bought an oven on Craigslist.

I don't really remember how I decided it was time. I guess I just got sick of looking at the fugly cabinets and one day I decided it was time(after two years of living with it). I'd seen a lot of inspiration pictures of kitchens where they painted the lower cabinets a different color, like a pale gray. I was really loving this look. Check out these examples:

You can see why I wanted to give this look a try. It took me forever to pick out a shade of gray(and white for the uppers). Since the wood paneling that is above the cabinets was painted a bone color, I didn't think painting the uppers antique or off white was enough contrast. So I went with a more clean white called Alabaster by Benjamin Moore(color matched by Sherwin Williams). I don't remember the shade of gray I used, but as you'll further read, it won't matter.

First step was to take off the cabinet doors, remove all hardware, give them a wipe down, and lay them out on drop cloths. The hardware was grimy, so I cleaned them with industrial strength Purple Power. It was super easy. Just shake them around in a wash tub and use the hand held shower sprayer to rinse.

Here they are clean(yes, that's clean).

I was trying to save money by reusing them. Hardware can be the most expensive part of a painting project. I bought some brushed nickle spray paint and painted them. They looked bad. Like a bad arts and craft glitter project. I didn't even take a picture. They would not do at all. So, up they went on free craigslist and I got so many responses. Lowes still sells this style in black and it would be over $100. They would be great in a less public space like a garage and could be sprayed black. I was glad they got to go so someone who was in a pinch and really needed them. Lowes sells the basic brushed nickle knobs and hinges in contractor packs(much cheaper than buying individually).

Since these are kitchen cabinets that have never been painted and have lots of grease residue, it is absolutely CRUCIAL to use a good primer. I used Kilz oil based primer. Oil based stays on better and blocks bleed through better.

I'm not sure if this is paint or primer, but here are the upper doors laid out. I don't have alot of floor space right now. You can see a bunch of other cabinets stacked in there. Those are the cabinets for the house we are building right now.

I put little pieces of tape on the shelves and on the cabinets, numbering them so I could match them up with easy when they were done. I also used a mini roller for the first time. It really speeds things up. But I didn't like the "orange peel" texture it made, so I brushed over it with a dry brush. That is still faster than applying the paint with a brush.

They took two coats of paint on top of one coat of primer. Here is the kitchen with paint, but no doors.

So, we've got white on the top and gray on the bottom. The problem is...I didn't like it. Turns out our off white counter tops are PINK! I never knew that until there was light colors contrasting against it. And I wasn't liking the white, gray, pink pastel combo. I tried and I failed. Or rather, IT failed. Add to that, that our kitchen and den are darker than a cave and the gray wasn't looking as bright and clean as it should. So, the painting isn't over yet! It took 3 coats of white to cover the gray!! THREE!

The paint has to be really hard and dry before you rehang the doors. Otherwise, they will scratch and peel as you put screws in. I let our doors cure for about 2 days. Some longer, because it took me several days(not full days) to get all the doors rehung. And I had no help since Matt was working so many hours. Hanging doors is HARD! Even reusing the same holes, most of them just wouldn't hang straight.

I attached the hinges while they were on the floor(which is 3 screws each). Climb a step ladder with the door, drill/screwdriver, and 4 screws within reach. Then, line up the door and screw 4 screws in. Easy, right? Ok, now try and close(or open) the door. Most of them wouldn't fit in the door opening. I had to loosen the screws and try and wiggle it into place. Then, re-tighten the screws. Sometimes that would fix it, sometimes not. A few of the most stubborn ones, Matt showed me how to bend the hinge to make it fit without redrilling holes. Some days I would only hang one door before getting so frustrated I had to stop.

Finally, it was done. But now, the trim and crown molding(that was still stained wood) stood out like a sour thumb. And the window(which I always knew had seen better days), suddenly looked quite disgusting. The crisp new white paint only highlighted the old food and bug stains on the window seal. I painted the window by taping off each window pane(which took a while), primed and painted 2 coats of paint. I think I did a 3rd quick coat on some of the more visible areas.

The rest of the trim(in the half of the kitchen you can't see in the photo) took me a while. I just worked on it when I had the time. There are two doorways, crown molding, and a chair rail. So, it was a lot. The stained wood trim carries over into the den. That has not been painted, so the white paint kinda just stops between the rooms. I plan on getting to it eventually. It's the only room in the house that has the stained wood trim since it had the brown paneling when we moved in.

Now for the reveal(two taken with all the lights on, and one taken with natural day light):
*click to enlarge*

Total cost was $280. That was for several quarts of paint and primer, paint supplies, drop cloths, and new hardware(which accounts for about half of that cost).


  1. Allison, it looks so pretty! You did a great job!

  2. I stumbled upon your blog and read through the entire thing! your kitchen is absolutely FABULOUS!

  3. Your home is stunning, and I love your blog! great job!

  4. What a beautiful kitchen! You did a fantastic job decorating and picking out just the right things.

  5. This kitchen is absolutely breathtaking! I love everything about it

    Kitchen Cabinet Santa Fe



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