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Painted Cabinets


 In June of 2011, I painted my kitchen cabinets.  I had been itching to since I first walked through the house that became our home.  Several things stopped me.  Number one was my husband.  He just wasn’t ready for me to paint over perfectly nice wood cabinets.  Number two was that we had two babies 19 months apart.  I was willing to refinish floors, paint walls, slipcover furniture and start a business, but painting the cabinets was a bit more than I wanted to tackle.

  So, I settled for painting the walls a pale yellow to brighten up the space and waited for the right time to make my move.  You know the move.  The “Hon, I’ve been thinking…” conversation.


Cushions - Beauty 1 (578x800)

 (Nothing like a toddler in underwear streaking through a photo shoot.  This was a common thing when my boys were smaller.)



I finally got my chance when I was asked to partner with True Value as a part of their blog squad.  The walls went from pale yellow to pale blue and I repainted the ceilings in the family room and kitchen.  I also bought primer and paint for the cabinets as well as new hardware.

The project was a bear.  I think I have 51 cabinets doors…I haven’t counted since I put them back on after painting them.  It took me about two weeks from start to finish, but it made a huge difference in the look of the room.  Huge.

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Paint is amazing.

I used Zinsser Primer, which is water, based followed by Benjamin Moore’s Satin Impervo, which is oil based, in off-the-shelf white.  That’s not the name of the color.  It’s just the default white sold off the shelf.  (This isn’t a paid review or featured post, by the way.)


Oil is very different to work with if you’ve only used latex, Chalk Paint, Milk Paint, etc.  I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite to work with, but it has worn so well and I would use oil on kitchen cabinets again in a heartbeat.  (Here’s a video on how I painted my cabinets, if you’re interested.)


(I misspoke at one point in this video.  I say it took me “three coats”, but I meant “three quarts” of primer.  I only applied one coat.)

Anyway, even though it’s oil based, it hasn’t yellowed.  It’s still bright white.  The paint has not chipped at all.  It has held up to scrubbing, sticky fingers, coffee and soda spills, an orange juice explosion (courtesy of Mini Mustard Seed), and everything we’ve thrown at it (like stretchy super heroes, gummy snacks and mushy Cheerios )  The only place the paint has worn away is on the door to the cabinet under the sink…

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We’re in and out of that cabinet at least 15 times a day, so if that’s all the wear that shows in the entire kitchen, it still gets a thumb’s up in my book.

I’m working on my kitchen now, so I thought I would give an update.

I finished grouting my kitchen back splash today.  The grout float tool and I understood each other much better after our bonding experience yesterday.  I don’t think I’ll quit my day job, but I have decided that DIY tiling is not so bad.

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  1. I’m so glad you you posted about this. I painted my cabinets a couple years ago too, and it DID make a huge difference. I used latex paint and they are showing some wear, mostly just like yours, on the doors we use the most. They are now officially distressed! I think it’s funny that we spend time distressing things, but when our painted cabinets get distressed, well, is that cool, or is that a big faux pas!?


  2. kathy patterson says:

    Hi….just wanted to tell you that I am a professional cabinet painter / faux finisher. I’ve done MANY kitchen and bathroom cabinets with great success! Been at it for over a decade, just me and my friend. I am FINALLY getting ready to makeover my own…YAY! I can give you pointers on how we finish them so the paint doesn’t wear off…some folks don’t want the distressed look. It is a lot of work but it is worth it and a huge money saver!

    • I would LOVE some pointers to paint my kitchen cabinets. I have the “70” style with the plain front on them, I think just the plywood, were made by hand but has no design or trim on the front. My husband thinks if I paint them all would be really ugly!! Can you advise? My opinion is to paint and get rid of the wood tones to brighten the kitchen with an off white or cream color and maybe put a trim in the espresso or chocolate. Any help here is needed before I just gut it up and tackle something I haven’t a clue as to WHAT or WHERE I start:))
      I LOVE MMS kitchen and wish she would come here to do this with my assistance, than I could learn face to face and have no regrets, unless you and your friend want to do this:))

    • I am really dying to read your tips. Where can I find them? Thank you so much.

      • Debbie says:

        Where can we find your tips about painting kitchen cabinets? I have a 1957 ranch with plain cupboards. Thanks!

    • Debbie says:

      Getting ready to repaint my cabinets and would be thrilled for tips!!! WHERE???

    • Lisa Rigby says:

      I’m getting ready to paint my cabinets very soon, and I would love to know what your tips are for no chipping paint!

  3. Stacey says:

    I love following your blog, love your kitchen and your style. (Wish I lived closer to visit Locketts) You have inspired me to try so projects on my own, not quite up to painting my kitchen cabinets yet but thought I would start on a smaller scale . Maybe not the best choice to start with but if I bomb it would not be the end of the world. I bought a table and chair set mostly because I loved the shape of the chairs. The table on the other hand is not my fav, it has a shinny finish like a really formal dining table. I need some professional advice as to weather I could refinish to be more country distressed (milk paint it) or if I should scape the table and find another to go with the chairs? Thanks

  4. Best part of this whole post was the picture of your little one streaking through the kitchen :) Made me smile, thanks for always being real. with love from a fellow antique dealin’ mom of 3 little boys :)

  5. What wax can be used after painting furniture with chalk paint? I want it to have a nice sheen, and be protective, but I don’t want to spend a lot. thank you

  6. Janet says:

    What a great tutorial! I have cabinets just like yours and am dying to paint them! Did you sand your cabinets first? If so how did you do it??

  7. sheila says:

    did you have to get off the finish on the wood before you primed them?……

  8. mary ellen says:

    getting ready to paint cabinets in my utility room. Just wondering who you didn’t use milk paint.

  9. Julie says:

    Did you sand your cabinets prior to priming them and in between priming and painting? Also, did you seal the doors after painting them. And finally, in regard to the base of your cabinets, were they solid wood or veneer? Thanks so much!


  10. Sheri Jewell says:

    I love, love how your kitchen turned out! I am in the middle of a re-modeling nightmare and could use some advice. We went to the Benjamin Moore paint shop and instead of buying a primer and oil based paint like you did – the people at the store recommended the Benjamin Moore “CabinetCoat trim & Cabinet Enamel” in white. They told us no primer needed and covers like a dream. Well………..we scrubbed and clean the wood cabinets very well before we started and we are on coat number 5 and the wood & a yellowing is STILL bleeding through???? At 57.99 a can we’re thinking we are definitely gonna need a few more cans to finish the job – YIKES! Any suggestions are welcomed – thank you!!

  11. Claudine Pepe says:

    Does your kitchen peninsula have a countertop overhang or did you just put the stools up against the peninsula when the children sit in them? Thanks for answering me.

  12. In hind sight will you still recommend this paint and method for painting kitchen cabinets? We are about to embarque on our first ever custom painted kitchen job. The client (a retired interior designer – persure is on) likes our work, but wants just a plain (non distressed) repaint of her factory finished white cabinets, that has held up for the past 30 years.

  13. Heidy says:

    Can one use milk paint or antiquing wax over this type of paint for a washed or antiqued look?

  14. Karen says:

    Thank you for sharing
    I am hiring someone to spray my cabinets in Satin with no sealer.
    Would you advise using the oil based improve do because it helps with the cleaning up on cabinets vs latex satin paint without a sealed?

  15. Beautiful kitchen makeover. I’m also mentally (and emotionally) preparing myself and the hubby for a kitchen cabinet paint re-do. Love the inspiration here. Can you also tell me what is the color you used on the kitchen walls in the final pic? It looks beautiful with the light colored cabinets. Thank you!

  16. What an incredible difference. I was looking at the first few photos thinking this was the last thing I expected your kitchen to look like. The after pictures are more what I imagined. Great job.

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