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Here’s a look at how to paint kitchen cabinets.

how to paint kitchen cabinets

Approximately 33 days ago I started the process of painting the kitchen cabinets. Approximately 34 days ago, I remember standing in the hallway of my office, telling my two coworkers that there was no way I wasn’t finishing all the cabinets that weekend. I remember telling them that the blogs I was browsing through made it seem so complicated. What could be so hard about painting a few cabinets?

Well, put my foot in my mouth on this one. Three days… Thirty-three days… Close enough, right?

The Before

13 kitchen cabinets before

I am not a fan of dark cabinets. When we first looked at this house, Brett and I were in complete agreement (which doesn’t happen too often) that they needed to be changed.

At the time, Brett was traveling a lot for work and I needed a project that I could do on my own. Thus, the plan to overhaul the kitchen cabinets was born. It was something that I knew I wanted to get done sooner, rather than later.

So, a few weeks after moving in, I was ready to paint.

The Process

Step one: Begin by taking all the cabinet doors and drawers off the base. Remember to label them so you know where they go after painting. I put each doors’ hardware in a separate plastic baggie and created a key on a piece of paper.

1kitchen island

Step two: Sand down the cabinet base and doors. I used 100-grit sandpaper. After sanding, use a damp cloth to wipe down all surfaces and go over with a dry towel.

Step three: Tape the base of the cabinets. I tend to get a little crazy when I paint, so I lined the walls, floor and inside of the cabinets with painters tape.

12 kitchen cabinets taped

Step four: Start painting. I painted the base of the island first and put two coats on it. Then I started with the base of the cabinets along the wall. I ended up putting four coats on those, plus a little touch-ups here and there. Looking back, I should have used a primer, since the cabinets were so dark to begin with.


Step five: Paint the cabinet doors. I used a brush to paint along the inside edges and then went back over the entire door with a roller. Much to my surprise, there aren’t any visible brush strokes.

4 kitchen cabinet doors

Step six: Apply the glaze to the cream colored cabinet base, the island cabinet doors and the cream cabinet doors. (Stay tuned for a how-to post on the glazing process)

8 kitchen cabinets finished

Step seven: Put the doors back on. I washed the hardware in hot soap and water before reattaching them to the base.

Step eight: Sit back and enjoy!

5 kitchen cabinets finished

What We Learned

  • When multiple blogs say that a project is a lot of work and takes a significant amount of time, they are telling the truth. Don’t be arrogant and think you can skirt the process. It doesn’t work.
  • Check the paint and see if there are any restrictions on its use or compatibility.
  • Also, read the directions and application process.
  • Sanding the cabinet doors and base is a dusty, messy process, but very necessary.
  • Using a roller for the cabinet doors doesn’t leave brush strokes.
  • I wish I would have used a primer on the cabinets that were painted cream.
  • Paint is a game changer. It has this ability to completely transform a space. Who knew color had such an impact on an area?

Final Thoughts

Yes, this mini-makeover took a lot longer than expected. But, you know what? I don’t care. It was so nice to be able to do a project at the speed that I wanted. If I didn’t feel like painting, I didn’t paint. If I wasn’t in the mood to glaze a few cabinet doors, I didn’t glaze. That is the beauty if doing a self-paced project. You can do what you want, when you feel like it.

6 kitchen cabinets finished

In the end, Brett and I are so happy with how they turned out even though I am still convincing Brett that the island isn’t too “girly.” I think he secretly loves it 🙂

kitchen summer home tour

How about you? Do you like self-paced projects? Have you tackled a kitchen cabinet makeover recently? Share your thoughts and comments below!


All our best,




  1. Treenski

    I’m going to be painting mine come summer and this has been the most helpful! 🙂

    • Kelly

      Yay! I am here to help if you have any more questions 🙂 Good luck and send me pictures!

  2. Sabrina

    Oh wow you did such an incredible job with the kitchen makeover! The cabinets look beautiful and I love the island! What a difference!! Great job Kelly!

    • Kelly

      Oh you’re too sweet! Brett is still on the fence about the island, but I love the pop of color!




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