Painting Kitchen Cabinets

'Almost Ready for Dinner' by Marianne O'hare
‘Almost Ready for Dinner’ original artwork by Marianne O’Hare

Gasp! Yes, I know. Many people cringe at the concept of painting kitchen cabinets but lacking the serious coin to replace our cabinets, I was left with no other option. Being an avid cook, I spend a lot of time here. My heart pined for white but my kitchen was dark. It was almost a deal breaker when we were house hunting but other things overcame my dislike of the depressingly dark kitchen.

So I got ready to paint. I recorded and rewatched various DIY shows where home owners had painted their kitchen cabinets, including ‘Ask This Old House’ and ‘I Hate My Kitchen’. Plus, I read a LOT of articles on the web. The process took me months. (What? Procrastinating? Who, me? No way… I’m researching!)

People reported great success with a kit by Rustoleum called Cabinet Transformations. I did the measurements they describe and was pleased my small kitchen only required one box. Since I only did the uppers so far there’s plenty left for when the next burst of motivation strikes and I’m ready to turn the house upside down for a few days again.

It went easier than I’d thought, although doing this in winter with closed windows wasn’t the best for air quality. I brought our 2 air cleaners into the kitchen and ran them full blast which helped. Plus it was worth doing in cold weather because I knew once the weather warms, I’ll be outside! So this was a great project for a snowy weekend.

I did go beyond the 2 coats they recommend and did 4 coats, and I’m glad I did. The result is still more flat than I’d hoped for, knowing a glossy surface is easier to clean, but that being said I know I could add a clear gloss coat some day. If I really want to. But I like these a lot. The lower cabinets will be done soon. Maybe. Or maybe we’ll live with it like this for a while since I kind of like the uppers being white and the lowers being wood.

It’s all about the prep. If you’re going to paint your cabinets you mustn’t rush the prep work. First, scrub well using TSP (and wearing gloves). Wipe down and allow to dry. Then with a green scrubbie supplied in the kit, apply the kit’s liquid stripper. This essential step removes the glossy finish, replacing the usual sanding step, and allows the paint to adhere. Again, wipe off and allow to dry well. The kit comes with a directional DVD and booklet, so you’ll be shown every step clearly. Just wanted to point out what I learned both in research and doing it myself. Take Your Time. Each step matters.

Relax a bit and just do your best. There ended up being one flaw of a tiny drip I’d missed, near a door handle that I use daily. But rather than stress out on the 1% I’m not happy with, I’ve chosen to focus on the 99% I adore! It’s so much brighter, and I did it! A worthwhile project, all around. I encourage you to take steps to love your home even more. You can do it! If I can, anyone can.


A much brighter kitchen!
A much brighter kitchen!