My Mom's Kitchen Makeover!

2 Materials
6 Days

It has been said millions times: It is amazing what paint can do! When my mom asked if we could paint her kitchen cabinets white I told her YES without a second’s hesitation. If there was ever a kitchen (or house) that needed some new paint it was my mom’s new little place that she had downsized into! She added a breezeway, front deck and two car garage last year and that had helped the house work substantially better. However, it remained small (and felt even smaller) the walls were damaged and everything was in a shade of a dark brown or pink (and several little tykes had lived here leaving lots and lots of crayon artwork on the walls). This little place needed a makeover BADLY. Especially her kitchen! So, we got to work planning to paint her kitchen cabinets white.

Is that pink painted on the walls? Yes, yes it is… How can a house so small showcase SO MANY shades of Brown!? Her cabinets were actually in far worse shape then they looked in the pictures but I would have painted them regardless. Mom has only 600 square feet on her first floor and those dark cabinets just made it feel so much smaller! Funny thing is I always thought her kitchen was just tiny, it turned out to be a lot bigger then that when you’re painting six coats on all of the cabinets!

Mom and I took two days off from work with the plan to paint her entire first floor plus her kitchen cabinets white. I knew the time line would be extremely tight and warned my mom that we probably would not get everything finished. We started by taking all of her cabinet doors off and pulling her drawers out and setting them up in the garage. I wanted to paint the backs of the doors first so we wouldn’t be turning the freshly painted faces down to paint the backs later. So, I knew with how many coats the doors would take and, not being able to do the fronts and the backs at once, that we would probably not finish in two days time. However, I knew we would be close and only two days later she and I both had Good Friday off, so the plan was to finish up on Friday which we actually accomplished! Though, I will say we were both just SHOT! We never stopped moving except for lunch!

Once we had all of the doors and drawers out in the garage she tackled taping off all of the trim in the rest of the house (dining room, bedroom, hall, living room and bathroom) while I sanded down all of the doors, drawer fronts and then main cabinet boxes in prep for primer. I knew the first thing I had to do was start the process on the cabinets asap. So, with everything taped off and ready I started on the boxes, the backs of the cabinet doors and drawer fronts with the first coat of primer. The weather was really working against us and everything took forever to dry in the garage because it was literally hovering only around forty degrees with full on freezing at night.

Every surface in the kitchen received six coats. We used two coats of Kilz acrylic primer, then two coats of acrylic primer and paint in one (in a satin finish) and then two coats of poly acrylic (also in a satin finish). Was it enough? Well, honestly, the cabinets really could have used one more coat of paint but we are both extremely happy with how they turned out. We put in two ten hour days and by the end of the second day (both of us extremely sore and moving quite a bit slower at this point) the entire first floor of her house was freshly painted and completely finished, the cabinet boxes and drawer fronts were done and the backs of the cabinet doors were done. We made the decision then to bring the cabinet doors inside and finish painting their fronts down in her basement which saved our backs, our knees and our sanity worrying about the freezing temperature outside. (Below freezing and water based paint just don’t mix.) We did the first coat of primer on the cabinet door fronts before I went home for a much needed hot bath.

She did another coat of primer that night and then Thursday night after work I ran over there and did the first coat of paint on the cabinet door fronts and she did the second coat when she got home later. Then, Friday I came over and we hung the doors deciding to get them hung and getting all of the hardware on them before just painting on the poly acrylic with them in place. (Poly acrylic dries quickly and because it is clear it is really easy to apply.)

We also decided to spray paint the ugly gold hardware in her bathroom. All of her door handles are gold but all of her light fixtures are bronze so now with the gold hardware in her bathroom painted bronze all that is left to eliminate all of the gold in her house will just be her door knobs. That is a job for another day! :) She plans on adding a bronze towel bar to the dummy drawer in front of her kitchen sink, she also plans on probably replacing the counter tops one day as well as adding a back splash. We still have to paint the stairwell and all of her basement but the big job is now done!

I don’t know about you but when it comes to my wonderful mother I just love being able to do things for her! This little house was never quite her cup of tea and when she downsized from a 4,000 square foot home that was spacious with incredible amounts of daylight (that she designed) into this 1,200 square foot box where none of the choices were her own I know she really kind of hated it.

But now she has grown to like her little place and it made my heart glad when she said she wanted to make it her own. I knew then that the place was really becoming her’s and she was starting to like being here. Paint does truly amazing things to a house and this light blue/gray (Three Wishes by Valspar) she chose brightened everything up to such an extent that it is almost hard to believe. Her bathroom (which has no window) was painted in a really dark brown and now it literally feels like we added a window in there with how much the paint lightened it up! I plan on posting more makeover pictures and another post or two of her entire house, especially the bathroom. And, she spent less then $400 all in when it came to paint, hardware and supplies!

Suggested materials:

  • Paint
  • Hardware

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?

3 of 4 questions
    I was wondering if you painted the underside of the hanging cabinets? It is quite noticeable in one of the pictures that they were not painted. Did you paint the tops of all the cabinets, at least a couple of coats?

  • Sou5398032 Sou5398032 on Apr 05, 2016
    I would like to know how you prepared the drawer pulls for painting and what kind of paint you used on them.

  • Barb Barb on Apr 05, 2016
    I have never put poly over paint. Does it help protect the paint and give a harder finish?


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