Alexandra: I painted my laminate cabinets. Clean, PRIME!, and then two coats of a GOOD latex. (Treat gentle for a month or so to let the paint cure.) Also... no not paint over hardware/hinges -- for a professional look.) Here is my little kitchen:
Yes, you’ll have to treat them like painting plastic. As in degrease thoroughly, lightly sand, clean again w/ TSP solution, Prime with oil based primer & then paint 2 full coats with oil based paint.
Take the doors & drawers off & paint them horizontally.
Using oil based paint will be stinky, make sure you have a ventilator. But follow the above instructions.
For a more rustic look, after the cleaning or sanding of the old surfaces, use paint with some texture in it. Chalk paint, for instance, will help fill in and disguise surface flaws. You can distress the edges of doors and cabinets, and stack the paint colors (dry between coats) to show colors underneath, to give the suggestion of old wooden cabinets. Best wishes, Jewell