Oh, I have all the things to say about painting our kitchen cabinets!
First, I am breathing one big sigh of relief that I’m writing this post because it means that this project is done! So crazy. I’ve dreamed of transforming our kitchen by painting our cabinets white ever since our offer was accepted on this home, and three years later, it feels good that that dream actually came to fruition.
Before I chat with you more about these cabinets, take a look at our starting point and how things are looking around here today (obviously unpictured are the toys currently on the floor and junk on the counters because #welivehere).
Here’s the “before” from move-in week in September 2014.
Another “before” because I’m a sucker for transformative pics…
Have you ever staged your home to sell and wondered “Well why hasn’t this house looked this clean and organized the whole time?” That’s basically how I’m feeling after finishing this project and cleaning it up for these pictures. I can’t believe this kitchen had the potential to look so airy and cheerful and that we finally got it this way with just seven more months left to live here. Hmph.
While it would have been great to do this project three years ago so that we could enjoy it longer while we lived here, there’s one big reason I did this project last instead of first: I had to actually learn how to do it.
When we moved in, I had no idea how to paint anything. Because I knew that I could absolutely increase or decrease the value of our home based on how well I painted these cabinets, I knew I needed to wait until I was 100% confident in how I was going to tackle them.
Because we have three bathroom vanities made out of the exact same honey oak material, I tried three different painting methods on those before picking which one would work the best in our kitchen. I did all three vanities a year or two ago because I needed to see how well they would hold up as well as which method and look we liked the best. Considering that we were beginners, I’m very satisfied that we waited and did things this way.
I painted our half bath with a latex flat gray paint, our girls’ bathroom with some kind of super shiny bright white gel paint (the same that I used on our metal doors), and our guest bath with an off-white chalk paint antiqued with a dark wax.
Making a long story short, going with the chalk paint was a very easy decision. For this project, I used five liter-sized jars of Annie Sloan’s “Pure White” paint. I also used an entire 500ml jar of Annie Sloan’s clear wax.
I made the decision about a quarter of the way into this project that I wasn’t going to do a step-by-step detailed blog post on how to paint your kitchen cabinets. A few reasons for this: 1.) this project is way hard enough without having to take a zillion pictures of every step and 2.) I don’t feel like my method is the best way. I mixed and matched a bunch of different methods of painting I’ve learned throughout the last three years of painting this entire house and combined them to paint our cabinets.
To be honest, if someone told me they were painting their kitchen cabinets using my step-by-step process in my blog post, I would be shaking in my boots that it wouldn’t work for them. I don’t want to be held responsible! Ha. 🙂
Here’s why kitchen cabinets are tough: You see every single little imperfection. Think about it: you’re right up on your kitchen cabinets constantly. You use and abuse them like crazy, constantly slamming the drawers, taking stuff in and out of the cabinets, opening and closing the doors, etc. They not only need to look and feel sleek, but they also need to be durable. It’s hard to get all of that just right. I’ve always been a perfectionist with my projects in this home, but painting these cabinets took the term “perfectionist” to new heights!
To be honest, this is the only project that I’ve momentarily regretted starting. This was hard and oh so time-consuming when you’ve got little kiddos who you’re taking time away from to paint. But I just kept think about how this project will hopefully put money in our pockets when we sell this bad boy next year. Or it’ll at least increase the interest value. Or so we hope.
About the hinges: We considered replacing them with a “no show” kind but we’d probably have to seek marital counseling afterwards because it would be so difficult. The current hardware is old and intricate and not something we wanted to dabble with.
About the pulls: The current pulls were put in within the last five years, and while we heavily debated spending $75ish on new handles, we decided that we didn’t want to put another stinkin’ dime into this house that won’t be ours in a few months. Nobody is going to decide not to buy our house because we didn’t put on new $75 hardware.
About a backsplash: We had no interest in doing one ourselves and obviously had zero interest paying someone to do it. Again, not gonna be our house soon.
About the countertops: We’re hoping they look a bit less blue and maybe (just maybe!) a tad more gray now that the cabinets are white. Our realtor highly advised against getting new countertops because that would put our house in a price bracket that didn’t match our street. She didn’t think we’d be guaranteed to see all of the money back (potentially $5k+) if we decided to get new ones.
Though I’m not super comfortable giving you a play-by-play of how to perfectly refinish your kitchen cabinets, I’ll totally share what we used and a general overview of how we did it. 🙂
Seriously… do a bunch of research before tackling your cabinets. You want them to be durable for years. I can’t tell you how much junk we’ve had to scrub off these cabinets already and how many times we’ve seen the girls bang them with their toys. Kitchen cabinets get so beat up, so you want to refinish them correctly if you’re going to spend the time doing them at all.
- Took off doors and drawers and cleaned them well with Lysol wipes (<—- supposedly you’re supposed to clean them with some fancy cleaner. Whatever, man. This is why you shouldn’t follow my instructions verbatim!)
- Taped off all necessary areas using Green FrogTape. Blue Painter’s Tape doesn’t hold a candle to green frog tape, IMO. Your lines will be perfect and paint does not bleed through (as long as you give the paint enough time to fully dry before pulling it up!)
- Used these small “doors and cabinets” rollers and this hand-held tray to roll on the paint. Did a total of four light coats.
- Used a 220 grit sanding block to lightly (!) sand cabinets until they felt as smooth as could be.
- Wiped off dust
- Used a waxing brush and Annie Sloan’s clear wax to apply three coats, waiting 24 hours between each.
- Put the kitchen back together.
Sounds SO EASY when I type it out in seven easy steps. Like, why did this take us months to do? Maybe it is that easy and it was just hard for us with two kiddos around who constantly wanted to destroy the kitchen while the doors and drawers were off. Also… perfectionist.
If you want to tackle your cabinets, read loosely through my steps, do a ton of your own research, practice on a handful of pieces, and then go for it! Good luck. 🙂