Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Kitchen Cabinet Makeover

Well this post has been a long time coming but I finally got the whole thing documented, found some "before" pictures and took some decent "after" pictures.  This is what our kitchen cabinets looked like when we moved in, below.  80's medium honey oak with white knobs that were falling off left and right, literally.  This was a little too traditional for my modern industrial lake vibe so, here we go, making it our own!
Our kitchen faces north so we don't get a lot of sun blazing in the kitchen windows so I wanted to lighten it up as much as possible.  This door leads out to the lake so I want it to feel light and sunny and beachy year round, even if you're looking at snow.  ;)  I've been dying to DIY some cabinets and researching different techniques and ideas for a long time.  In order to get huz to bite on this HUGE project I had to have a system that would ensure the cabinets we painted over a 3-6 month stretch would all look the same when we were finished. We also had several sections of cabinets on different walls that we did at different times based on the rest of our kitchen remodel so it all had to look cohesive when it was finished. We chose the Rustoleum Transformation Kit from Home Depot.  Each box of the kit does roughly 10-12 linear feet of cabinets, however we veered off from the kit and didn't use part of it.  I'll outline our technique below.   

To start, remove all the door fronts and drawers, keeping all the hinges and screws and hardware to reuse later. Or if you don't intend to reuse, donate them. Also remove all the foam/cork/vinyl bumpers so you can paint easily on all flat surfaces.  We painted all the doors and drawers in our garage and did the base cabinets in the house where they were mounted.  The nice part of this is you don't have to remove most of your contents of your cabinets where there are doors. Drawers--not so lucky, but we dumped out all the drawers in piles on the floor on beach towels so we could go find the right drawer when we needed something out of it.  This is also a good time to destash so if there is anything you don't need anymore, get rid of it.  This should get me some points with the huz, his name could be Mr. Destash!

How we did it:

1. Start off by applying the deglosser.  Brush or wipe this on with a rag, scrub with the pad provided and wash with soap and water.  Dry well.

2. Next is applying the base coat in the kit, note that you can get this tinted in the store if you are not wanting a white base cabinet.  We did, so ours was not tinted.  The kit recommends 2 coats. We applied 4 coats front and back cause huz did not want any brush strokes to show.  This is the slow part as you have to do both sides of the cabinets and wait for them to dry in between coats and sides.  Thank goodness we have a heated garage (we did this most of the winter and MN winters are long) as this made for a nice space to spread out, keep the fumes out of the house and not rush the process.  The irony in this is after he worked so hard to get the brush strokes out, I put them back in, in the next step. I love the grain of wood!

3. Glaze.  The kit supplied a stain that you apply to your painted cabinets as a glaze.  All stains have a yellow/orange warm toned base and I wanted the cabinets to be a cool tone.  Thus I implemented my own glazing process.  First we selected the wall color paint which was Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray. 

I applied a thinned down version of the Mindful Gray with a paint brush and some rags. I brushed it on and then wiped off any excess or anything that got too dark. I ended up with one set of cabinets that got too dark so I had to apply the base coat again so I could start over. I recommend doing this glazing part all in one day if you can so it looks the same on all your cabinets and you don't have to redo any like I did.

I wanted the white to show through but wanted to pull out some of the wood grain and brush strokes.  Here is a close up of some drawer fronts after the paint glaze was applied.

 4. Protective Coat.  Apply 2 coats of the clear top coat finish letting them dry well in between coats.  Apply new vinyl or cork bumpers. Last but not least, put hinges and new hardware on and step back and enjoy your work.  You deserve to kick back and relax for awhile! And that's exactly what we did for the entire summer.  

This was more labor intensive but inexpensive compared to other options for refacing or refinishing cabinets.  Plus our cabinets were not old or in poor condition so they didn't need much more than the facelift and a little DW-40 to get them rolling with ease and style again.  We purchased 3 transformation kits (I got one on sale), paint, bumpers and new hardware for less than $400. And I still have some left to redo a door for a future project.  In my book that is money well spent for the transformation it has made to our kitchen.  Next up is the backsplash, flooring and a hood over the stove. Can't wait!  

What are you working on this fine Wednesday?  I'd love to hear about it!


  1. Cool! Love your look! What are these bumpers you speak of? I don't know! Great job and can't wait for the next!

  2. Thanks Terri! Bumpers are the circle of adhesive backed vinyl or cork or foam that keep your doors from hitting the cabinet and scratching the paint or finish off. Check the back of yours, they all have them when they are made.