Art + DIY Carrie Crista Life My Life

Cabinet Painting 101

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that we updated our cabinets literally the day we closed on our new house. The cabinets weren’t horrible since the house is brand new and everything is updated, but we didn’t like the color. We’ve always loved white cabinets because they open up a space and make it look fresh and clean. In fact, a big reason we bought our house in Savannah was because of the kitchen, which had white cabinets, granite, and a pretty back-splash.

The kitchen in our old house in Savannah, Georgia

We decided that cabinets would be a fairly easy task to take on so we got some paint chips before closing and figured out what color we wanted no less than 5 minutes after getting the keys.

I will be honest, I didn’t expect painting cabinets to suck as much as it did. I am certainly no Joanna Gaines, renovation is something I never want to do, and I am, quite honestly, a big scaredy cat when it comes to re-doing something because I feel like I will ruin it. After this process, I’m not as scared of ruining things, but I’m still no Joanna Gaines and I still don’t want to do renovations ever. Part of the reason it was hard for us was because we only had a few hours to devote to it each day. With Maddie being around, we couldn’t exactly paint things in peace, so we decided to maintain our usual routine as much as possible (we were in an empty house, aside from her pack n play, an air mattress, and a TV) and then work on the cabinets after she went to bed. We started the process Monday afternoon and were finished on Thursday night around 10:00 pm. After staring at cabinets for so long, I have some Cabinet Painting 101 tips for those of you who may want to embark on a cabinet painting journey but don’t know where to start.

Tip #1: Research

We (mainly Mike) watched a TON of YouTube videos on how to paint cabinets before we decided it was something we actually wanted to do. We researched the steps involved, the type of paint to get, and the tools we would need so we were totally prepared.

Tip #2: Take your time with prep

When you have any sort of top coat on cabinets, sanding is a must. Instead of sanding, we used a deglosser (liquid sander). We ended up purchasing two bottles of this and used one and a half throughout the process. The key to this is to really take your time so you can make sure you prep the doors and actual cabinet framing sufficiently. Without sufficient prep, the paint will NOT stick to your cabinets. There were a few places that weren’t deglossed enough and it took extra paint and extra care to make them look like the rest of the cabinets. Take your time! It is incredibly tedious, yes, but it will save you time and frustration in the end.

Tip #3: Have a plan of action

We were very intentional with the way we un-installed, laid out, painted, and re-installed everything. Every door and drawer was numbered. Hardware was put in a numbered baggie that corresponded with the door or drawer it belonged to. Doors were laid out in a way that made reinstalling them easy and efficient. All of this led to a fairly seamless process, despite the length of time it took. We were never confused as to what went where and how far along anything was in the process. Having a plan of action definitely streamlined the process, which was essential with our time constraints.

Tip #4: Have as much fun as you can!

I’ve said it before, but painting cabinets is tedious. Tedious things tend to get very old very quickly, so try to make it as fun as possible. Mike and I listened to Christmas music to keep our spirits up and when that got old, we watched Friends, King of Queens, stopped for McDonalds even though we didn’t need it, and did other things that we knew would keep us happy despite doing the same thing over and over again.

Once we finished painting and installing, we added outer hardware. Originally, there were no handles or knobs on the doors or drawers. I knew those would totally tie the kitchen together and make the cabinets look complete so, a couple of days after we finished painting, we installed the knobs and handles. It changed the look completely and we are SO happy with how the kitchen turned out!

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering what it looked like, so here you go!

Before (It may not look like a ton of cabinets, but that’s only about 2/3 of them).




This project was so much work, but it was so worth it! Next up in our kitchen journey: back-splash!

Questions for you:

  • Have you ever taken on an updating/renovation project?


You Might Also Like