Cabinet Cover Up

When we moved into our house three years ago, I was psyched about many things in our kitchen…but not the orangey-oak cabinets.  Now and then we whined about how we wished the original owners had picked out more high-end finishes when they built the house…but then we reminded ourselves that any high-end finishes might have precluded us from buying it.

And so, we lived with the cabinets, adding a faux-tin backslash with the hopes that it would help…

Photoshop simulated photo (read: I forgot to take a before picture until after the top row of cabinets was already painted...)
Photoshop simulated photo (read: I forgot to take a before picture until after the top row of cabinets was already painted...)

Fast forward to this past August.  I couldn’t take it any more and I was Googling “how to paint cabinets.”  That is when I found Young House Love with the handy step-by-step instructions  (I love how they type things out so that I don’t have to!).  They made it look so easy and so appealing, so I set into action, running to Lowe’s for supplies and returning to get started.  Chris looked scared.

After dismantling, removing hardware, cleaning, and painting four coats (one coat of oil-based primer and three coats of high-gloss ultra white finish) nine hours had passed.  Here is the half-way done result.  What a difference, right?


But wait, it gets better.  Three weeks later I actually finished the job during Project Week.  And then 2.5 months later I actually got around to photographing the finished product:



When this was done I swore that I would never pick up another paintbrush.  I had blisters and cramps in my hand from grasping the brush and roller for so many hours!  Never mind the impossible-to-remove oil-based primer all over my hands, feet and legs! But, it was so worth it and, truth be told, I would do it all over again. (And it didn’t stop me from painting the guest bedroom later that same week.)

I should also note that somewhere along the way we painted the previously primed-only kitchen walls a nice shade of Olympic Glazed Pears.  The dark pictures don’t show it well, but this warm white color actually balances the white cabinets and white floors quite well.

What do you think?!?  Do you like our transformation as much as we do?  Can you believe they are the same cabinets?



  1. Janis from Scotland says:

    Erin – kitchen looks absolutely fabuloso…….it’s amazing what some white paint and hard work can do..makes the kitchen look oh so modern and light.

    Well done, big pat on the back.

    • Erin says:


      Wow, what a great link. Thanks so much for sharing! The is one within an hour and several within two hours, so I am psyched! Dinner is a done deal anytime you find yourself in Maine!

      – e

  2. This looks AWESOME. Painting cabinets is a lot of work but ALWAYS worth the effort. We painted our rental house cabinets and it was night and day, too.

    The white really pops off the backsplash, too. Go girl!

    (And, PS – I was totally like, “What is UP with the top cabinets?” I was perplexed. =))

  3. d says:

    I’ve been blog-stalking you for a week or so now and I am SO impressed! I can’t wait until my boyfriend gets home tonight so I can show him how good painted cabinets look. I usually can’t stand the sight of painted wood, but we’ve got the same orangey cabinets in our kitchen and it just feels so dark! Definitely adding this to my inspiration folder.

    • Erin says:


      Blog stalkers warm my little heart, so thank you! Go forth and paint those orangey cabinets…you will not be sorry!

      – e

    • Erin says:

      Thanks, everyone! It’s nice to see so many people stopping by and commenting from the Thrifty Decor Chick’s before & after party!

      – e

  4. your “new” cabinets look FANTASTIC!!! I’ve really been contemplating painting my cabinets white, but I’m so worried about them looking worn and dirty after a while. But I SO LOVE the look of the painted white cabinets. Great Job! And, I’m glad to finally see someone say that it WAS hard work, everyone always makes it look so easy in blogland!!

  5. Brittany says:

    your cabinets look great. we bought a house and are painting ours next week. what kind of paint did you use and what finish? i was thinking sherwin williams and semi-gloss or satin. i’m also spray painting the hinges and getting new hardware.

    • Erin says:

      Hi Brittany,

      Thanks so much for visiting and commenting. I used all Kilz oil-based primer for the first coat. Then I did two coats of Olympic Semi-Gloss (ultra white). I finished it off with Olympic’s High Gloss Enamel finish in ultra white. It has worked well for me so far.

      Good luck with your painting!! Please send pictures so that we know how it went!

      – e

  6. amy says:

    The kitchen looks great! I like how even your light fixtures pop now against the white cabinets! Love your blog! I also really like the plants that are in your window, what type are they?

    • Erin says:

      Hi Amy,

      The plants in the window are actually just branches from the pine trees in our yard trimmed down and put in vases! They last forever and make a great winter decor item!


  7. Nadia says:

    I recently painted the cabinets in my bathroom white as well but the paint very easily. I was testing it out in the bathroom first hoping to give me confidence for doing the kitchen cabinets too but they are way to fragile to be in the kitchen. I should have followed the directions on Young House Love but didn’t. How are yours holding up? Is the finish pretty strong?

    • Erin says:

      Hi Nadia,

      Our painted cabinets have held up wonderfully! There are a couple spots here and there that are getting worn (corners that get touched a lot) and a spot or two that has chipped as a result of banging something against the cabinet. But, overall, I highly recommend the process I used.

      Good luck!

      – e

  8. Yvonne says:

    Before I started reading this post, I was looking at the first picture and I just couldn’t figure out how or why someone would put the cabinet doors on strange angles….then I read that you photoshopped it!

    Great job with the painting of the cabinets. We have dark wood cabinets, white/pink/black backsplash tiles, white/black tiled floor, white appliances and pink Corian – yes, let me repeat; PINK Corian countertops. I really hate it and it will be 6 years in this house.

    Maybe I’ll look into painting the cabinets – of course we will get to all the rest too…just don’t know when.

  9. Samantha says:

    The cabinets look great! We have the same color cabinets and we HATE it! What’s worse is the guy who bought the house and updated it bought black appliances which clash with the beige walls he painted and the brown-ish “granite” counters! Looking forward to painting our cabinets white soon too!

  10. Goingkookies says:

    WOW!! Looks awesome!!

    Love the before and after photos. REALLY puts things into perspective.
    Would be great if you had a detailed explaination or breakdown of costing so readers get a rough idea how much it’ll cost.. 😉

  11. Brianne says:

    Mine are the same ugly color, and I want to paint them white, too. I’m a little reluctant though bc my fridge is stark white, but my stove top and dishwasher are a different shade of white. Your’s look a little that way too, but it’s hard to tell. It still looks great from the pic. Can you notice a big difference, if there is any? Thx!

    • Erin says:

      Hi Brianne,

      Our appliances definitely aren’t as “bright white” as the cabinets, but it’s really not noticeable. Our kitchen feels so much bigger since painting…go for it! It’s a lot of work but it is worth it!

      – e

  12. Jody says:

    Your cabinet looks amazing. I am working on starting on the bathroom shortly. It has been completely gutted (minus the cabinets – it has become to expensive if we would add those in there as well) I wanted to ask, so you feel it is necessary to do an oil based primer first on the cabinets and why? Did you feel that you needed to do 3 coats of white paint after (meaning it took that many?)

    Thanks for all your help! I can’t wait for the bathroom transformation.

    • Erin says:

      Hi Jody! Thanks! I did this cabinet makeover five years ago and I do think there are some products out there now that may prevent you from having to use the oil-based primer. Even with this step, after about 5 years, some areas of the cabinets that we touch the most often started to wear.

      As I recall, the three coats of paint were necessary to get the full coverage look that we wanted.

      I would check out some other blogs for more recent cabinet painting adventures–Centsational Girl and Young House Love come to mind first. Hope this helps!


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