Cabinet Update Before & After

When we moved into our house almost 5 years ago, I was less than in love with the color of our cabinets. They were dark brown and the sheen was like high octane gloss. But they were freshly painted and looked just fine so an update at the time wasn’t an option for me. Even over the last couple years when I knew a lighter coat of paint would do wonders with brightening up the feel within our home (instead of feeling like I was living in a cave) I still couldn’t justify it. Cut to a month ago and I finally had a reason to repaint them as they’d become scratched up and looked dirty even after washing. My husband, knowing the mammoth of a job we would be getting ourselves into, never jumped for joy at the idea. Plus, the cabinets we have are cheap. I’m not sure if they even really qualify as wood but rather a pulp pressed into boards to resemble wood. So he wasn’t all that optimistic about my plan. But if the painters before us had painted them, I was determined to do it. No way was I going to be replacing something that at this time is still working perfectly well…they just needed a update! I wasn’t out for perfection – just better.

Knowing I’d never get it done unless I tackled it myself, I opted to do just that. While I had to enlist the hubs assistance to hang the top cabinets in our kitchen I was able to pretty much do all of it on my own. Not only do I now have the satisfaction of having girl-powered the heck out of this project (there was a lot of singing to myself “anything you can do I can do better” in my head while I worked) but I’m also very happy with the results so its an all around win!

If you’ve ever done cabinets before you know that its no one day affair. It’s crazy how long it takes just to remove hardware and prep the workspace! I found this great how-to which laid out the project over 5 days but it took well over a week for me to finish. That’s more because I was going it alone while working around a toddler who I was trying my best to keep away from paint fumes and dust. Also our house is smallish so I didn’t have a garage or extra room to set up shop in. I was basically working on doors 2 or 3 at a time until I decided by the time the boxes & drawers were finished that I was ready for this job to be over with and turned our entire kitchen into a temporary workspace for a day and a half when the hubs was away.

(Soooo many doors…)

I’d say if you are working alongside someone else, or even going solo without having to provide child care simultaneously and/or have room to set up a workspace to pain the doors while you’re also painting everything else, then you can totally do it within the 5 day time frame. Despite it taking me longer it was still totally worth it. Our kitchen looks a million times better and its amazing how dramatic of a change a few coats of paint made looking back at the before pictures.

Are you ready to see the before and after?? Let’s go! 🙂


(so dark)



Ahhh I love it!!! You know when you walk into an empty room without furnishings how light it feels? That’s how my kitchen feels now. And that makes me totally happy. 🙂

Now that I know what paint color we used, I’ll be able to touch up any scratches in the future hopefully prolonging the time until the next big paint job!

While I can’t say I did anything revolutionary, my goal was to create as little impact from this update as I could. Here are some tricks to reduce waste (& save yourself some time/money) the next time you’re taking on any paint project:

1. Use old, worn out sheets as drop cloths.

2. Instead of buying painting paper, reuse stuff like paper shipment packaging, paper bags, newspaper or butcher paper.

3. Cover brushes & trays with plastic bags to avoid having to wash brushes between coats. This is a great repurpose for old sandwich bags that you acquire for whatever reason. You can wash them out and set aside for projects like this one! We happened to have sandwich bags because my husband bought them when away on a trip but I think any clean plastic bag would have also worked if we didn’t.

4. Old plastic food containers made for a good tray to pour paint into especially when they have a lid as that can easily be replaced when not in use to keep air from drying paint out.

5. If it works, use it! We didn’t replace the knobs, hinges or any of the doors because everything was in working order. Don’t find yourself getting sucked into the renovation wormhole & decide everything needs to be updated because one thing is being updated. 😉

6. Keep paint color information for accurate touch-up later down the road.

7. Save supplies to use again. Wash out brushes well and keep for future projects (unless you use an oil based paint or primer in which case those brushes have to be dried out & tossed from what I’ve read). Keep stir sticks & painting trays once paint has dried. Paint swatches can be used for kids crafts!

8. Donate paint or supplies you don’t plan on using (i.e. samples) to Habitat for Humanity ReStore or teacher groups. If you can’t bare to part with your paint samples, they are great to have on hand for various DIY projects.

Come back Friday for a fun DIY using various old containers of paint we had laying around!

xo, Erica

4 Replies to “Cabinet Update Before & After”

  1. They look amazing! I love the new, light look! I painted the cabinets at our Royerton house, and I remember it was so much work! I didn’t put as much effort into it as I should have – I can’t imagine doing it with a toddler.

    1. Thank you love! Yea I couldn’t have done it before this year – her being a lot more independent and understanding of my instructions to stay away from the paint made it much easier than I think it would have been had I tried a year ago.

  2. Love how the completed project looks, Erica! This immediately caught my eye because I have recently been considering painting my kitchen cabinets white. When I moved in the cabinets were unfinished and I stained them black. I love the bold statement, but have recently been feeling like they really darken my space. Last week I whitewashed a huge red brick fireplace and wall in my den and could not believe how it transformed the space. Thanks for sharing your tips for keeping this an Eco-friendly update. Now just to find the time to make it happen.

    1. Thank you so much Jennie!! I hope you find some! That sounds awesome about the fireplace – I bet it looks amazing!! It’s crazy how just lightening things up a bit with paint can make a room feel so different. 🙂

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