I finally finished painting my entire kitchen — walls, cabinets, and backsplash. It looks like a different kitchen! It was very economical (about $200), but involved some work. It didn’t require much skill or muscle, just patience and time. Take a look.
Here’s how I transformed and modernized my kitchen with paint:
The salmon wall was first on my list to paint when we moved in. In this house, the living room, dining area, and kitchen are all in one big space. I painted everything else white, so I decided a dark charcoal gray would be a nice contrast and help break things up. I decided on Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal, a lovely deep gray with warm undertones.
The only thing I didn’t paint in the kitchen were the brown countertops, which would not be my top pick, but I can deal with that. The charcoal wall and backsplash (also Kendall Charcoal) go well with them and sort of helps them fade into the background.
I painted our dark bathroom cabinets white four months ago with only one quart of enamel. It took me around seven or eight hours over a few days to finish and I was pleased with the results. Several months later, they’ve held up really well. I have had a few nicks, but they were easily touched up. Make up and dirt wipes off them easily.
The bathroom vanity was sort of a trial run for my bigger project — my kitchen cabinets.
I’ve wanted to paint our dark kitchen cabinets white since we moved into our house. Actually it was sort plaguing me every single time I looked at them. You know when you know how something should go, it’s just a matter of getting there?
After painting in the bathroom, I bought all the supplies for the kitchen, but they sat around for a few months. I was just nervous to take the plunge. Then one night on a whim I took my new little sander and went for it. I knew once they were sanded, it would be too late and I’d have to finish!
The kitchen gets much more traffic and wear and tear than the bathroom, so I made a few changes to my previous process:
I bought a small, inexpensive sander so the enamel would adhere better.
2. Vinegar and water wash
I took my time washing the cabinets well after I sanded them. I used vinegar mixed with water to strip any extra grease or dirt off. If all the varnish is not washed off, it will seep through the enamel and give it a brown tinge.
I used a roller over large spaces to save time.
4. Protective finish
I used three coats of polycrylic to seal the deal after the cabinets were painted white. I wanted to use this extra precaution against my boys ramming their Little Tikes car at top speed into them.
By the time I got done painting the cabinets white, I was pouting that I still had to do the clear coat on top. But it went so much faster than the paint because it’s texture is much thinner. I used a sponge brush to avoid brush strokes. Sherwin Williams had the choice of satin, semi-gloss, and high gloss. I chose satin because I didn’t want to flaunt my mistakes, but it turned out much glossier than expected.
Be sure to get a water-based can polycrylic. I’ve heard over and over that the oil-based protective finish will yellow over time.
I still didn’t take the doors off this time around, and again, I used an artist brush to navigate small crevices.
Here are updated instructions for kitchen cabinets:
How to paint kitchen cabinets
- small sander
- vinegar and water in spray bottle
- gallon of Cabinet Coat
- quality paintbrush
- 4-6″ high density foam roller
- small flat artists’ paintbrush
- medium-sized foam brush
- quart of polycrylic protective finish
I used the whole gallon of Cabinet Coat on about 10 cabinets (I did the laundry room and kids’ bath while I was at it). And I didn’t even use half the quart of polycrylic for the final coats.
I’m pleased with the result, but you should know they are not factory-finish quality. That’s impossible. Even as hard as I tried, after multiple coats of paint there are occasional brush strokes or smudges. I spent less than $100 dollars to paint them, so I’m ok with that.
Painting my backsplash was apparently a controversial move. I was informed at two paint stores that this is strongly not recommended. That’s never stopped me before. I still wanted to give it a go.
So far it’s worked out great. Painting the backsplash the same color as the wall helps it blend into the background. I wouldn’t suggest making your painted tile a focal point or accent color, just because it won’t look the same as tile and will show off any brush strokes.
How to paint a tile backsplash
I painted the tile backsplash in a snap. If I would have realized how easy it was I would have done it a long time ago! Here’s what to do:
- Remove outlet covers. I painted mine with the oil paint off off to the side so they wouldn’t stand out as much against the dark backsplash.
- Sand if your tiles have a glossy finish. These were a stone texture so I skipped sanding.
- Clean well. Be sure to get all the grease splatters and food off before you paint.
- Fill in any missing grout. Ours had three holes where something had been hung. I cheated an used caulk because they were small.
- Tape off areas as needed.
- Paint at least two coats with an oil-based paint in your color of choice. Replace outlet covers.
It was my first time working with oil-based paint. It takes much longer to dry than water-based paint. Professionals recommend 16 hours before adding another coat. (I couldn’t wait that long though!) It’s stickier than the dickens as it begins to dry, so try not to get it all over your fingers or you’ll leave your mark on everything you touch. And again, this satin dried a lot shinier than I expected. I wouldn’t have picked a shiny finish per se, but I actually really like it.
It’s not a proper scene in our kitchen if there’s not some cheese, crackers, and wine. And on the weekends, Marcello always has a pot of sauce simmering for some delicious Italian treat. Don’t ask me for a recipe. He never makes anything the same way twice!
Let me say first that painting the cabinets white completely brightened up the space and my husband and I love the change. I’m glad I did it. Now having said that, it took quite a bit of time and patience. Combining the cabinet paint and polycrylic finish, I painted about six coats on these suckers, front and back.
My schedule was erratic and I worked whenever the boys were asleep or deeply engaged in some truck activity, so I don’t have an accurate count of how many hours it took. But it was a lot. It sort of took over my life for a couple weeks. Would I do it again for the result? Yes! It was worth the couple weeks of kitchen chaos.
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