We bit the bullet and finally painted our kitchen cabinets after four years of living with yellow maple cabinets. Hallelujah! No, better yet, praise the good baby Jesus, no more nasty cabinets! We’ve been toying with the idea for some time now, and the time was juuuust right as a good friend of ours was starting his own finishing/custom millwork business and was looking for a job. Lesson #1: it pays to have friends.
This is a picture of our kitchen before we bought the house. This is a picture that also induces nausea in me in about .25 seconds. Not too long after we moved in, we swapped out the horrendous hardware, put in quartz countertops and DIYed a tile backsplash.
The kitchen at that point was certainly livable, but not quite exactly what we wanted in the end. We always talked about painting the cabinets, but just didn’t think the finish would be nice enough for our taste. Lesson #2: it pays to pay someone else to do something well. Once we decided to go forward with hiring our friend Wes to refinish our cabinets, things moved quickly. We cut the costs down by doing the prep work on our own, and Scott helped Wes reinstall the cabinet doors at the end of the project. Lesson #3: it pays to think outside the box to save a few bucks. We also talked with Wes about options for paint and came up with the best solution that would 1) fit our budget and 2) give us the professional finish we were looking for.
Our first step was to remove all hardware from the cabinets, and then remove all of the cabinet doors for sanding. This picture may or may not have led us to reorganize our cabinets. I don’t know how people live with open storage in a kitchen!
We numbered each cabinet and each door so after the painting was completed, we would be able to put the puzzle pieces back together. Our finisher instructed us to lightly sand each cabinet door, front and back, with a special sanding block (below). Since our cabinets aren’t real wood, we didn’t want to use a heavy sand paper and end up ruining our cabinets. A light sanding would be enough for the paint to adhere and would keep our cabinets looking lovely.
After sanding and wiping down the cabinets, our finisher took our doors off site to a spray booth and sprayed two coats of tinted primer (i.e. our paint colors) and one coat of water based polyurethane. Lesson #4: sprayed finishes trump rolled paint by a landslide. He also sprayed the sides and undersides of the cabinets that would be visible in the house (after taping off all of our cabinets, countertops and backsplash).
The industry standard for these pieces of your cabinets behind the doors (above) is called edge banding – basically, a heavy duty sticker that you put over these pieces of the cabinet. I was fine with the stock color for white, but the gray wasn’t tickling my fancy. What can I say? I’m an obnoxious designer. So we returned the edge banding for the base cabinets and sanded, hand painted, and added polyurethane to these stripes of exposed cabinet. Now I won’t see a slightly different color when I open and close my doors, which makes me infinitely happy. Lesson #5: be sure to think through the details so you’ll be happy with the end product.
Once all of the sprayed/painted parts in the house were dried, we were ready to install the doors and new hardware, purchased from Lowe’s. I looked into hardware all over the place, but decided to go with something that we really loved from our big box store – and there isn’t anything wrong with that! I like to explore all my options and find the best bang for our buck, and this hardware was definitely the best solution.
We obviously decided to go with the two-tone look, and we couldn’t be happier with our selections. We went with Benjamin Moore’s “Cloud White” on the upper cabinets and Benjamin Moore’s “Storm Cloud Gray” on the base cabinets. Now, for a bunch of pretty pictures:
I really wish these pictures would show you how beautiful the finish on these cabinets are. They’re like freakin’ butter. Our finisher said “just feel them” when he was finished, and I honestly haven’t stopped petting my cabinets since he left. Does the kitchen feel so much fresher/lighter/cleaner/more awesome? We’re pleased as punch, you might say. :) Next up: a rug, window treatments and possibly new lighting? Once we start we can’t stop!