Chocolate Milk. Yummy delicious chocolate milk. Also the color our cabinets were painted. Super good for a drink, not so good for kitchen cabinets. Besides being brown, the cabinets were painted with a flat paint that showed every fingerprint and we weren’t able to wipe them off easily. The hardware was rusting and paint was flaking off. Time for a refresh. Ben and I considered a few options for the look of the kitchen. We thought about trying to restore the original wood color but the cabinets were too damaged to do this nicely. We would have had to strip all of the paint off and didn’t want to introduce harsh paint stripper into the house.
So we decided to sand the cabinets and the doors. We had already demoed the countertop and backsplash and repaired the drywall. Check out that post for fun demo pics.
First up is to tape off every orifice in the kitchen. This means every duct, door crack, anything we could think of to restrict the dust from going into the rest of the house. I highly recommend taking the time to do this if you are going to sand anything in your house. We still had a lot of dust but it would have been much worse if the ducts were open. You have been warned!!!!!!
Anyways, PSA over. We then uninstalled all of the doors and drawers and detached all of the hardware (pulls & hinges). I highly recommend our tool friend the power drill with a screw driver bit. Goes much faster than a regular screw driver.
Before the sanding party began we filled in holes and cracks with wood putty. We knew that we were going to put the hardware vertically so the existing holes in the doors and drawers needed to be filled in. We will drill new ones later We also removed decorative wood scalloping over the sink, busted up the rounded shelving at the peninsula, and patched in reused pieces of molding.
We used the same method of sanding as we did for the hardwood floors. We started with a rough grit and worked our way to the smooth grit using 3 grits. Not all cabinets will need this but we needed to remove as much of the paint as possible and there were a few coats. Looking back on it, I may have considered stripping the paint off of the doors. Sanding causes so much dust. Sooooo much dust…
So we sanded and sanded and sanded. For forrrrreeeevvver. Slowly the brown paint started to fade and we realized that the cabinets had been painted white already once in their lifetime. We knew we were on the right track if a previous owner had that idea too.
Once all of the sanding was done on the cabinet boxes, doors, and drawers they were nice and smooth. It wasn’t super important that the cabinets were free of all paint, just smooth for when we repainted them so we didn’t get bumps and imperfections. White tends to show everything so prep is crucial.
Before painting began Ben designed, built and installed a birch plywood wine cabinet where the curved shelves used to be. We then spend a decent amount of time cleaning the kitchen. Paint and dust to not mix!
Next up! Painting! Ahhhh, angels are singing, White cabinets here we come!
As part of the painting of the cabinets we painted the ceiling as well. Boy did they need it. It was one of those things where you don’t know your ceiling isn’t white until you paint it and realize there is a layer of brown tinted grease on the ceiling. Eww. Since it was a kitchen we used a scrubbable paint for future cleaning. It wasn’t ceiling specific paint but the same semi gloss paint we had been using on the trim in the rest of the house. We keep a can of that on hand for touch ups and scratches. We also painted the soffit above the cabinets as an extension of the ceiling.
On to painting the cabinets. There are a few steps to beautiful white cabinets. We used Advance primer and paint from Benjamin Moore in a soft white. We decided to use this after reading a Young House Love post. Thanks for the great ideas guys! This combo is a primer and latex enamel that seems like it cures instead of drying. It’s not too tricky to apply and it’s much better than working with an oil based product. This product allows for wipeable cabinets and easy maintenance.
Side note. Ben and I like to leave our mark on the house for future generations. This time we painted our initials on top of the wine cabinet. This will eventually be covered up by the new countertop.
Since we didn’t remove the cabinet boxes we taped them off where they met the walls and painted them with small sponge rollers and good brushes. Word to the wise. If you are planning on painting your house invest in a good tapered brush. They are worth it. I like to have a few different sizes on hand to help with large areas and small corners. While painting the cabinets we gave the walls a good coat of Gripper primer that really helped neutralize the different wall paint colors and we painted the walls a light grey.
For the doors and drawers I set up a painting station in our basement. I taped down plastic tarps to protect the carpet and laid the doors out. I set them up on leftover hardwood floor pieces so that I could paint the edges and check for drips at each coat. I used a small foam roller and painted one side each night after work. Paint, wait, flip. Repeat. 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of paint and the cabinets were bright white and shiny!
Next up, reinstalling doors and drawers with new hinges and pulls! Stay tuned! For a sneak peek check out the House Tour!