Thursday, March 26, 2009

I hate my kitchen cabinets! Let's talk paint!

So every time you walk into your kitchen, you look at those cabinets and get depressed! That's a lot of depression! The ideal situation would be to hire a kitchen designer, hire a cabinetmaker, "gut" the room. Here comes the.. BUT, you know it is out of your budget --at least for now.

There are many alternatives that I will talk about, but one of the least expensive is painting, so let's talk about that option first. If I have to make budget choices, I will paint or glaze my cabinets, assuming they are in usable condition. Then, spend money on adding shelving that slides out, spice racks inside doors, or features such as "lazy susan" for corner cabinets, making what I have convenient to use. These features can be really expensive when purchasing kitchens, but it is wonderful to have a pantry shelf slide out and have everything on it visible. Most of these items can be purchased as an "add-on" in any home improvement store.

  • Consider the style of your home, is it traditional, historic, cottage-style, country or contemporary?
  • Do you want to maintain the integrity of that style?
  • Check out your paints or glazes based on the feeling you want when you are in the room.
  • Keep in mind the amount of space your cabinets assume in the room, do you want them to be the entire focal area or background?
  • Are you doing the project for your own enjoyment? After all, the house is yours...or do want to consider the possibility of this as "investment" for the future? If you will be selling your house in the future, will your choices be appealing to others?

Examples: I love a light, sleek contemporary kitchen, however if I lived in a older cottage-style home at the beach, I would probably blend the two styles the best I can without sacrificing the integrity of my beach cottage. I might paint my cabinets white, my surrounding walls a very pale beachy blue or green, with future plans to tile a back splash with small glass tiles resembling sea glass.

My sister, having purchased a late 70's style home, with dark wood of that era, did a deep green glaze over her cabinets. I would never have thought to choose that color, but with the traditional decor of the rest of her house the result was stunning! The glaze only required that the cabinets were clean prior to glazing.

Personally, I would never paint my cabinets a bold color such as red. If I wanted red in my kitchen, I would paint my cabinets white and accent in red with kitchen towels, art work, perhaps tiles, or even a wall! This is only because the cabinets in red would be so dramatic, too busy, and a very time-consuming change if I tire of it, or want to consider the "investment" possibilities of my home.

If you just aren't sure you can see the "whole" picture, try the Internet. For example,, a site for Inspiration & Ideas, Colors & tools. You can pick out a kitchen, drag and drop colors on the walls, cabinets, counter tops, etc. has the same type of virtual color design for their paints. If you haven't been able to decide what to do, these (and there are many other) Internet options are fun to play with....they also have some great design ideas, either for now for the future.

  • You have decided to paint your cabinets and have chosen the color you want.
  • Plan your to do at least two coats of paint. Leave plenty of drying time between coats.
  • Check with the paint store, you might want to purchase a higher gloss oil based paint (if painting on wood) for cabinets. You want a paint that you can clean repeatedly in the kitchen.
  • Clean the cabinets really well and know they are dry. (I like to use a degreaser.)
  • Remove all cabinet doors, hinges, and hardware. Keep these together with all the screws, etc., so you aren't searching for parts when putting them back together.
  • Number each door or drawer front to the match the cabinet you removed it from. They can have just minor differences and it is frustrating when you replace them and they just don't fit right...then waste time "juggling" them around for just the right spot.
  • Preferably use a sander. If you don't have one, you can hand sand, but a small hand sander is quite inexpensive, and you will be amazed at the number of times you will put it to use.
  • If the cabinets have been painted prior, you might have to use paint remover if there are several coats of paint. The point is to have a surface that is smooth so the new paint can adhere.
  • A good quality paint brush and/or roller. I like a brush about 2". Depending on the cabinet style, you may also want a small foam roller for smooth surfaces.
  • Blue painters tape.
  • Keep cabinet doors flat (horizontal) when painting to reduce the possibility of "runs" in the finished product.

Once when painting cabinets, I was enjoying my project, singing along to good music, admiring my precise work AND having an excuse to splurge on "take-out" dinners; I had a friend decide to be helpful and save me a lot of time by spray painting all the cabinet doors. I admit I was hesitant, but agreed. I noticed all the doors standing vertically against a building and my friend was spraying away! Perhaps it would have worked by spraying several really thin coats of paint, but every one of my doors had "runs". I had to wait until they thoroughly were dry and then sand them again and repaint each one. Needless to say, I was not very happy! Besides, I ended up with "overspray" on a newly painted building. Sometimes short cuts just aren't!

As much as I was irritated by the additional work and time this mistake was going to cost me, I also realized how much the details count. I could do the work now and make sure I had a completed project I could be proud of, or do a "quick-fix", hang the cabinets and say "it'll do". Knowing myself, the only choice was the first. Had I chosen "it'll do", I would notice every imperfect area on those cabinet doors forever and I would hate my kitchen even more than if I had left it alone. I also knew that once I stopped, it would be really hard to face the same project again. So I rolled up my sleeves, turned the music a little louder and started singing "I'm Walking on Sunshine..."

The final result was wonderful. Each time I walked into the room, I wondered why I hadn't done this project sooner. On this project, the wooden cabinets had been painted prior, I sanded them, used a Martha Stewart paint from Ace Hardware.

Now that you've finished painting, consider changing the hardware. Cabinet hardware can make a dramatic impact and a simple way to modernize any style.

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