Why I'm painting our kitchen cabinets

October 26, 2015

I'm so close to done with the kitchen I can taste it. I'm not gonna lie -- I'm exhausted. :) I am so excited to see it finished I can barely stand it! I cannot wait to get it done and focus on the holidays (and decorate it for the holidays!). 

The next and biggest step in the reno is the painting of the cabinets. My friend Jenny from Evolution of Style is coming today to help me get started! She quit her corporate job and now does cabinet painting along with her blog and I can't wait to learn from her. I will be sure to sure to share all the details!

I know some people cringe when anyone talks about painting cabinets, especially nice ones like ours. I get it. I don't get the extreme responses I see on blogs at times. I'm a wood lover -- it hurts my heart a little bit when I see a beautiful old wood piece painted. But if it's what the owner wants, I say all the power to them!

We are painting ours for a few reasons. A biggie is that they are worn -- we've lived here almost 12 years now (I can't even believe that!) and they are showing their age. It's hard to see in wide shot photos but here's a close up: 
stain wearing on cabinets
Every single cabinet around the sink is worn. The problem is if you touch where it's happening it flakes off even more: 
maple cabinets flaking
When I was prepping the cabinets last night I found even more wear on the sides and bottoms that I didn't even see at first. Fixing this isn't fun. I mean, you can fix it. But do you want to? I doubt it. ;) The work to strip these down and/or try to match the stain and finish isn't something I want to tackle. Those stain pens and markers don't do much to help these.

The thing is -- I don't like the finish anymore. I like it in general, but not for our kitchen. I picked these out all those years ago and deciding what you want for your entire house for the next 20+ years within a week is no joke. But back then the wood was our style -- dark and dramatic was what I loved. Light and bright is what I love now.

Another reason for the change? I have known for years now that I wanted to build our cabinets up to the ceiling:
Again, matching the stain would be difficult at best. I'd also have to use nicer wood than I did for the build and I would have easily tripled my cost on that project.

While we were out of town I had help priming those cabinets and I'm SO excited to see it start to transform!:
This cat. I have baskets that are usually up there and he was thrilled they were gone while everything dried.

But the biggest reason I'm painting our cabinets?

Because I want to. ;)

I have always admired white kitchens. They are timeless and classic and you can change them up so easily with accessories and fabrics. My plan right now is not to go all white though -- I'm going darker on bottom and lighter on top.

I think my friend Layla's kitchen years ago was the first time I fell in love with the two-toned look:
light gray kitchen cabinets
As always, that girl was ahead of the design curve. :)

I want a little more contrast though. I love the dark gray (Peppercorn by Sherwin Williams) we have on the island (I've used it all over our house), so I'm going with that on the lowers:
gray cabinets kitchen
As with everything along the way, I'm going to wait to see how I like the white primed lowers first, but I'm pretty sure I'll go dark. 

The uppers will be all white. I just love that look! Here's one of my favorite two-toned pics: 
dark gray base cabinets
I may have mentioned one or 857 times that I'm a huge fan of contrast. Oh. my. goodness. I love it! 

This is another favorite: 
two toned cabinets
Gah. Be still my heart. I've learned what I see in photos doesn't always turn into love in my own home, so we'll see what color those base cabinets become!

There you go -- the many reasons I'm painting our cabinets. The most important one being that I want to -- and you should do the same. It's your home, make it what you want! 

If you have tutorials on painting cabinets, please feel free to leave a link in the comments. I'll share the detailed process with you very soon! 

Update: Here's my post on the sprayer I used and the full tutorial on how to paint your cabinets! 
Email subscription form header
Your email:*
Please enter all required fields Click to hide
Correct invalid entries Click to hide


  1. I think it is going to look so stunning! You always do such an amazing job of pulling everything together and doing such a professional job. I also can't wait to see what hardware you choose! (Or are you reusing your existing hardware? I can't remember now...)

  2. I love it. I cant wait to see it done. Hurry hurry! Kidding, but i am pretty excited to see what you go with.

  3. My kitchen cabinets are white and I adore them. So bright and pretty. Can't wait to see your final result.
    Also - we've been twice to Mickeys Very Merry Christmas party And it's So.Much.Fun! Go the first week in December, no crowds at all!

  4. we are about to tackle painting our kitchen cabinets...they are oak with a dark walnut stain...they were in such bad condition that we have stripped and sanded them to make sure the paint sticks well - can't wait to see yours completed - my hubby would love to keep them stained, but I am craving and light and bright white kitchen!

  5. Great choice. I painted mine white uppers, dark grey lowers and no regrets. You're going to love it.

  6. Gonna be amazing! And, Jenny is amazing.

  7. I can't wait to see it! I think the contrast is going to look great :) I was crazy enough to paint my cabinets twice within a year!! I started with espresso then like you, decided I'm more of a light and bright kind of girl.

    This is my reveal post with links to my tutorial: http://www.simplybeautifulbyangela.com/2015/03/repainting-kitchen-cabinets-part-2-big.html

  8. It's going to be perfect!... and what I wouldn't give for my husband to give up wood cabinets and paint them all. Can't wait to see yours!! xo

  9. i totally want to paint our cabinets white. it's a kitchen that feels doom and gloom. But my husband isn't 100 game. maybe i can talk him into gray. One day. but first the bathroom.

    Meanwhile my sister has been hard at work painting her kitchen cabinets white. Originally they had someone paint the entire house and the cabinets. Well let's just say the cabinets were done so crappy, so she started over. won't let anyone touch them but her. she's ALMOST to the finish line (since June)

  10. how did that cat get up there???

  11. I can't wait to see your finished kitchen! We recently painted our kitchen cabinets white too. Here's a link to our tutorial: http://texasdecor.blogspot.com/2014/06/how-we-painted-our-kitchen-cabinets.html We used tips from Jenny too. Her blog was a real help!

  12. I painted my old oak cabinets two tone(white on top and mid-grey on the bottom) about four years ago. At the time it was just to hold me over until i could renovate my kitchen but now I don't even want to change them! I love it! The white has held up really well and everyone once in a while i have to touch up the grey but they still looks great. So glad they are still in style.

  13. Exactly! Paint away woman! I am dying at how our renos are on such similar schedules! We are finished painting our uppers and just primed the lowers this past weekend.. thank goodness we have less to paint on the lowers! I can't wait to see yours!!

  14. Can't wait to see the finished product! I have always loved white cabinets, even before they were trendy (again) - I think it's because that's what my mom has always had. The two-tone will look fantastic in your kitchen with the new plank wall and island!

  15. I think it's going to look fantastic, no matter what you do to them-because you're so great at visualizing and designing spaces!

    xoxo, SS

    The Southern Stylista

  16. This post is very timely as I painted my base cabinets this weekend. Mine were all white and have been for about 5 years. From far away they looked great, but close up they were a disaster. I decided on doing navy blue and am so glad I did. The two-toned look is gorgeous and I know that your kitchen will be fantastic. I plan to build my cabinets up like you did. Did you do a tutorial that I missed? If not, do you plan to?

  17. It's funny that, when we see a beautiful home or room or piece of furniture, we only respond to how much we like it our how pretty the paint color is or how lovely it looks. But if we see the "Before" and the before is original wood paneling, or original walnut, or whatever wood...suddenly some of us are freaking out over the idea of "painting that beautiful wood".
    Painting a potentially valuable antique should require some really serious thought, along with a consideration of whether you are likely to want to sell it later or leave it as an heirloom to family. But painting almost anything else, should be a matter of fitting the item to the intended use or desired look. Right now I have an old buffett in my entry with great carving on it. It's stained by the garage seller I bought it from 10 years ago for $45 and the stain job is terrible. Really bad. But my DH and my friends and anyone who sees it has a hissy fit when I propose painting it eventually to better suit my current decorating style. I haven't made up my mind. But it may just happen...

    Lovely kitchen redo. Cannot wait to see the cabinets done. I give you an enthusiastic thumbs-up on the paint choice. It will be gorgeous.

    Red in Ca

  18. Oh Em Gee.... I am so glad you are going first! Now I can show my hubs what I have been raving about for months. LOL Seeing how awesome your turn out will have to win me the argument....right?

  19. Yippee!! So glad you're doing what you want in your home. I'm certain it's going to look great, and I'm excited to see it finished. I think you'll love the two different tones, and of course if you ever change your mind, you can paint again.

    One thing I learned from painting my island (did I ever show you that project?) is that if you're changing the hardware, be sure to fill the old holes with wood filler, allow time to dry and sand, and then DO IT AGAIN and use an ultra-fine grade of paper until the surface is smooth as butter. I guess it's because wood filler shrinks slightly, but I found this to be even more true when filling holes in my wood cabinets than when filling holes in drywall. Don't know if you're changing hardware, but I thought I'd pass along my hard-learned lesson just in case.

    Have fun!!

  20. The cats! Hubby just called me out to help install our over the sink pendants, but I just laughed so hard at your cat - two of our cats, momma especially, has LOVED our empty cupboard tops and shelves while we've been working on our kitchen! I'm finally able to start cooking real food in there, so I've got to fill those shelves - I do not want to serve cat hair food to anyone, haha! Eww. (Which reminds me of a really sweet old lady I knew as a child, who made cookies for us often...always filled with dog hair! Oh, wow. Obviously accepted with a smile and tossed into the trash. Whew. ) I can't wait to see your finished kitchen, but even more I can't wait for mine to be done!! So over house fixing. So grateful for a house to fix, though. Also, I can't believe it's been 12 years for you! Actually, we've been in ours for 12 years, just before my 12 year old was born.

  21. I love the darker lower cabinets with white uppers! Great choice. I'm excited to see how it all turns out!

  22. Glad you and your family had a nice time at Disney! I've only been once when my kids were a tween and teen. We always wished we had taken them when they were much younger.

    So nice that you've got a friend helping you paint. I'm sure it'll go much smoother getting help from a pro.

    Looking forward to seeing more progress pictures!!!

  23. I am looking for some cool summer party ideas so that I can start planning right away while saving precious time and staying in a budget. Good corporate holiday party ideas help you save time and money. Many of these tips are used by the best planners around the world.

  24. I painted (well, stripped, sanded, primed, then painted) my lowers coral and removed the uppers and installed white floating shelves. It is so open and bright, especially when compared to the 'before'.

  25. I think it will look amazing Sarah! Love the colour choice. Your kitchen will look so clean and fresh after. I painted our wood kitchen doors 8 years ago - 2 coats of primer and I think 3 of eggshell. They are still going strong and have stood the test of time. And they made our small kitchen look so much bigger! Can't wait to see the pictures :)

  26. Sarah, what a coincidence! I am in the process of posting a "How To" series (with videos!) of helpful tips for painting kitchen cabinets. Here's a link to "Part 1":


    I will be posting videos later in the week. Good luck!

  27. ours are icky brown right now i def wanna pain them someday!
    XO Ellen from Ask Away

  28. So excited to see how they turn out! I'm with you....everyone should do what they want....and I LOVE painted furniture! We built our house 12 years ago too....the look was definitely dark wood at the time. I have a pretty big kitchen (full of dark stained cherry cabinets) and everyday I wish I had the courage to paint them...there's just so many cabinets I know it will be a loooooooooooong process. Maybe I'll wait and see if you have any good tips!

  29. Funny, I spent the last week at Disneyland! It was so fun this time of year and not long lines at all!
    I'm loving how your kitchen is coming along and I think the dark grey bottoms will look GREAT because I love the inspiration pictures you posted! I have all white and I love it, but I have a very small kitchen with little lighting so I needed it to be as bright as possible, otherwise I also would have done medium/dark grey bottom cabinets. :)

  30. love your advice... do what you love!!! SO many questioned me when I painted mine. SO MANY. I LOVE THEM!!!!! Good luck and keep inspiring us!!!

  31. Very good information. You can find ideas about decorating your home on http://www.Decoratiuni3d.ro

  32. Me encanta! I love it. I want to paint my kitchen furniture of those colors . Thanks for inspiring ...

  33. My Kitchen is two toned! I've always wanted to change it, ever since we bought the house. Are you telling me the kitchen cabinets I've always loathed are now the thing? ;) I can't wait to see the end result!

  34. What is the source of the medium gray lowers and bread tin on the counter? I would love to know what that color is. Thanks!

  35. Very exciting! I just finished painting my kitchen cabinets as part of the One Room Challenge. I also did white uppers and dark grey/blue lowers. All my doors are curing right now in our guest bedroom and I can't wait until they're ready to hang! I loved Jenny's tutorials and also the ones on A Beautiful Mess and Young House Love.

  36. We just bought a new house and didn't want to spend money on a kitchen reno yet so we painted and I did the lowers a smokey navy and the uppers white. I LOVE them. We are decorating sisters but you are light years ahead of me in diy and blogging. I am a bit ahead of you in the kitchen redo but it's been fun to see you pick very similar things to what I did. You validate my choices!! My blog is not yours but you can check it out at the8cowhouse.blogspot.com. Thanks for all your inspiration I look forward to your posts every week!!

  37. I am looking forward to seeing your end results! I would love to paint my cabinets but not sure can be done. I would not want to have to sand them down. My room is a turquoise blue. Maybe one day they will get done.

  38. I'm sure yours will be beautiful and swoon worthy! We painted ours when we first moved into our house and I wish we hadn't. The paint flakes off, wear and tear shows very easily, and the paint is really hard to clean. I hate to be Debbie Downer. I really do hope you like the paint, but I think it is miserable. You are right though, do what you love-it is your house, after all! :)

  39. This is perfect timing for me, Sarah. This late summer I painted our little kitchen TEAL, which was brave for me, and my cabinets, which are painted what was a lovely creamy beige for the last 15 years now look very dirty, and it's time for a freshen up, anyway. Please be sure to share what white you are using, and I hope all your readers who are chiming in will share theirs, as well! I use a painter because I'm not up to painting them myself, physically and my painter, last I knew, use Dunn Edwards Paint here in California. In any event, please share your WHITE color choices. I'm a little intimidated by the two pages of whites I'm choosing from! Thanks. Can't wait to watch your progress.

  40. Your article is very nice thank you for share this information. and this in formation are used for every people.

    unique gifts

  41. Hi Sarah,

    I just uploaded 2 helpful tips videos on priming/painting kitchen cabinet doors on my blog:


    Hope these help a little. Tomorrow, I will post additional videos on sanding and cleaning before painting.

  42. Hurry, hurry - I can't wait to see it!!!!!

  43. I can't wait to see the final reveal. I love what you are doing! I just finished our cabinets. It is such a huge job :) Here is the tutorial I wrote about it especially how to get a super smooth paint finish:


    You are in the home stretch!

  44. Have you thought of doing the lowers the gray of the Island and painting the Island a grayish blue? It would add a little zip without coloring outside the lines. No matter what it will look fantastic!

  45. As always, you never cease to amaze me with your work and designs. LOVE your blog TDC, Always have; Always will. Can't wait to see the finished project! You're SOOOOOOOOOOOOO close my dear! Love from Wisco, Jacki. ;-)


If you have a specific question I will do my best to answer you back here!

You can find our paint colors and links to items at the "Our Home" tab at the top of my site.

THANKS so much for reading!