How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Painting our kitchen cabinets has been on the list of “Someday Projects” ever since we moved in to our house 5 years ago. I never gave it too much thought until this year. When I decided to do it, the color options I could go with consumed me.

BEFORE (2015)
I took this photo before we moved in. We replaced all of the flooring, painted the entire house (ceilings, too,) and did some other minor repairs and changes.

How does one just choose a color?! Which color speaks to me the most? After shuffling too big of a pile of paint samples too many times, I decided I needed to start a different project.

So, we replaced the floors in our 1/2 bath, laundry room and master bathroom. They were all ceramic tile, and we ripped that out and replaced it with sheet vinyl. In those smaller sized rooms, it was the right choice. You can find plenty of tutorials on how to do this on the internet. Sheet vinyl is inexpensive, beautiful, easy to install, comfortable and easy to clean. Hair spray is a friend of mine, and we all know what it can do to a bathroom floor (and counters, walls, trim, doors…). Oh, and our toddler boy was potty training and well, you know, bathroom messes happen!

When the floors were completed, we painted the master bathroom (‘Coastal Crush’) and the trim/window white. Then, I decided to paint the nursery-turned-office because that baby yellow just wasn’t right anymore. I chose a greige color called ‘Moth Gray’. When the walls were finished, I painted the oak trim and windows white. As you can see, in this house, starting one big project is a slippery slope to more projects!

[Side Note: Do you realize just HOW MUCH trim you have in your home?! Updating our trim was another big project started this year. It completely changes the look of a room! I highly suggest doing this project if you’re sick of your trim or if it needs a face lift.]

At this point, probably around May, I started thinking about the cabinets again. I narrowed down my options to two color choices; a shade of blue-green called ‘Azalea Leaf’, and a shade of greige called ‘Synchronicity’.

[Another Side Note: Do you realize just HOW MANY shades of greige are out in the world?!]

While I pondered my future cabinet color and how I wanted the kitchen to feel when it was completed, I painted the living room (‘Discover’) and all of the oak trim and windows white. Why did I paint the living room?

  1. I was tired of ‘Desert Sand’ tan with yellow undertones in there.
  2. Painting cabinets means painted kitchen walls to ‘Mountain Gray’.
  3. ‘Mountain Gray’ kitchen walls meeting ‘Desert Sand’ living room walls… CLASH.
Decisions, decisions.

Anyway, with the office and living room finished, it was go time in the kitchen. At this point, it was the end of September. I painted the walls ‘Mountain Gray’ and all of the baseboards white. I had decided that the bottom cabinets would be ‘Azalea Leaf’, but the top cabinets? I was torn. I kept seeing beautiful two tone kitchens in magazines or popping up on my Pinterest feed.

Would that work in my kitchen? Would it drive me nuts?

If I was going to paint the top cabinets a different color than the bottoms, I was going to go with white or ‘Synchronicity’ (my two alternate cabinet choices from the beginning.)

Everyone gave the cabinets lots of attention this fall.

While I pondered what to do with the top cabinets, work on the bottom cabinets continued.

Before I painted the peninsula and the desk, we added shiplap to the side of the cabinets that face the dining room. Adding that led to adding shiplap to the opposite wall of the dining room. The room is framed on two sides by shiplap and I really love the way it turned out. Thanks to my handy husband!

[Third Side Note: Painting the cracks between shiplap is not very enjoyable.]

BUT… throughout the process of painting the bottom cabinets, I kept feeling like this:


I enjoyed the bottoms being finished for a few weeks while sitting on the decision that I needed to make about the top cabinets.

Yesterday, I decided it was time to get started and go for it. I chose ‘Azalea Leaf’ for the top, and the second I started painting the first top section, I was sold. My idea for two tone cabinets went right out the window.

This morning, when I got my paint supplies ready to go… I found myself inspired to write instead.

Am I procrastinating? What? Who, me?

After thinking about or working on these cabinets between normal life/American Wren Creations work/garden/etc. for all of 2020, I feel like this project has lasted for-ev-er.

BUT… my goal is to have these suckers finished by the end of the year!

Only 2.5 sections and 10 cabinet doors to go!

I think I can, I think I can…

Tips for Painting Kitchen Cabinets

  • It is most important that you choose the right type of paint. You can see what I chose in the list below.
  • Remove doors/handles/knobs. Now is a good time to wash those handles!
  • Clean the surfaces of the cabinets, and then sand each surface by hand (the point of no return!) When finished sanding, wipe them down again to remove dust/debris. I didn’t put too much effort into sanding the cabinets, but I really messed up the look of the oak stain.
  • Paint at least 2 coats (with plenty of drying time between) with a quality, angled 2” brush for cutting in the edges and other small areas. Use a small foam roller for larger areas.

*All paint from Menards Home Improvement

Master Bathroom Paint: Coastal Crush, Semi-Gloss, Pittsburgh Paints & Stains Ultra Interior Latex Paint & Primer

Office Paint: Moth Gray, Satin, Pittsburgh Paints & Stains Ultra Interior Latex Paint & Primer

Living Room Paint: Discover, Satin, Pittsburgh Paints & Stains Ultra Interior Latex Paint & Primer

Trim Paint: White, Semi-Gloss, Dutch Boy Platinum Plus, Cabinet, Door and Trim

Kitchen Paint: Moth Gray, Satin, Pittsburgh Paints & Stains Ultra Interior Latex Paint & Primer

Kitchen Cabinet Paint: Azalea Leaf (Pittsburgh Paints & Stains The Book of Blue, Link is not directed to the type of paint we used, just the color), Semi-Gloss, Dutch Boy Platinum Plus, Cabinet, Door and Trim

Master Bathroom, 1/2 Bath, Laundry Room Floors: Sheet Vinyl from Menards Home Improvement


Published by Kerri

Wife & Mama | Gardener | Homesteader | Homeschooler |

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