...because home doesn't happen overnight.

So, remember me dreaming of a white kitchen?  Well, I finally got me a white kitchen!  And I didn’t spend a fortune on it either.  Take a look at our builder basic kitchen before we painted the cabinets white.

builder basic kitchen

Nothing awful but I’m not an orangey-oak, grainy wood kinda gal.  All the kitchen pictures in my inspiration folder are of light, airy kitchens with either white or light gray cabinets.

white kitchen inspiration

inspiration gray kitchen

Since our walls are already a gray color, I thought white cabinets would fit in nicely.  However, I didn’t have $10,000 sitting around (nor did I want to slap that down on a credit card) for new, custom white cabinets.  Needless to say, it was pretty easy to decide on PAINTING our current oak cabinets white.  Yes, that’s right, I said PAINTING over oak cabinets.  (My dad and grandpa are uneasy over this latest turn of events…being quite the handymen and thinking it a crime to paint oak.)

First, we removed all the cabinet doors and drawer fronts (and by ‘we’ I mean my hubby) and emptied the cabinets of their contents.  Our entire kitchen contents lived on/under our dining table for about a week.

The next step was to lightly sand and degloss all cabinetry surfaces.


Then we (this time I really mean ‘we’) primed and painted the cabinet frames that remained on the walls.  For maximum benefit, we let the primer cure well longer than the recommended time.  Same for the two coats of paint.

We chose an oil-based primer and latex enamel paint for durability.  (These cabinets have to put up with our two little boys.)  Both were purchased from Sherwin-Williams at one of their 20% off weekend sales.  The total cost in primer and paint was less than $80!  Once the frames on the wall were painted, our kitchen looked like this for 2 months while we celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.

We contemplated buying or renting a spray gun for the doors and drawer fronts.  But after reading about how difficult they could be to clean and how thinning the paint correctly took some trial-and-error, we looked into having someone spray them for us professionally.  Unfortunately, all the quotes were well over $2000… more than we were willing to spend.  We had every inclination to just prime and paint them by hand but knew it would be a loooong time before we were able to complete that task… it was January in Ohio… we didn’t want to paint them indoors…plus we have two kiddos that take up most of our time…not to mention jobs.  Then we found DJ.  DJ was hard up for some work, had a decent portfolio and wanted $280 total to caulk, prime and paint all the doors and drawer fronts.  Yippee!  And he did it in 5 days.  (DJ will definitely be considered for more time-consuming painting projects in our home!)

We got our doors and drawers back from DJ, then looked to IKEA for hardware.  We decided on the LANSA handles.  Luckily, I had $75 in gift certificates so we only spent $15 out of pocket on hardware.

Steve also made an extra trip back to IKEA for a handy tool to help him line up drill holes for the hardware.  It put us back another $2.  Here’s the drill template in action.

So, 2 months and $375 later, our kitchen now looks like this.

It’s not 100% finished.  I plan on adding a glass front door to the upper cabinet, left of the sink.  And Steve is trying to find an organizational rack for the pots and pans in the lower cabinet, left of the fridge.  We’ve also been putting away money every month for the last 3 months to upgrade our sink, faucet and countertops.  More to come on those changes soon…

But, for now, we are basking in the white-ish glow of our newly painted kitchen cabinets!  I might even take up cooking.



Those look great. We have similar cabinets and I am thinking about doing the same thing but I was curious if you can see the grain through the paint or does the paint “hide” the grain? I’m kind of like your dad and grandpa and don’t necessarily want to paint over oak but I don’t like the current look and just wanted to get some of your thoughts. Thanks.


Just a few points for clarification. On the frames we used a TSP cleaner and a liquid deglosser (no sanding as to keep the dust down in the house). We did a VERY light scuff sand to the sides of the frames that were laminated (thin pieces of fiberboard w/ a picture of wood on them) so the primer would have something to stick to. As for the doors, we sanded them down to the wood with an orbital sander and sand sponge.

On the painting, DJ used a technique which involved brushing the inlays and then rolling the flat surfaces with a smooth-finish foam roller, and he did a fantastic job!

As for the cabinet drill template, it’s called FIXA and is located right by the hardware at IKEA. It was the only one I could find that would work with such long cabinet handles. Not bad for $2!

Lastly, my wife rocks!! And I hope she takes up cooking!!


Handy Hubby – Thanks for all the detail clarifications, Steve… quite the engineer.

Chris Roscoe – If you look at the cabinets just the right way, like if you are directly beneath them and look up, the overhead recessed lighting shines down and you can see the grain. You can’t see the grain just by looking at the cabinets straight on, whether the lights are on/off. You’ve got to be really close. And it’s only really noticeable on the doors, not the frames or drawers. I think it also helps that we went with a semi-gloss finish and not a gloss finish paint.

This was a concern for us too before we painted. We looked into using some sort of roll-on filler to ‘fill in’ the grain but decided against it just bc we weren’t really that turned off by the possibility of grain showing. However, if you ARE wincing at the possibility of grain showing through, maybe you’d want to go with the filler. I can’t say I wasn’t a little nervous when we first started priming over the oak but now that we’re done, I wish we would have done it sooner. I am 100% satisfied with the results we got for the amount of $$ we put into it!


Chris – when we were thinking about using a filler to hide the grain it was a product called Brushing Putty from Fine Paints of Europe. It’s quite a bit more work, but some people have used it with great results.


Just wanted to drop by and thank you again for using me on this little painting project. Your job came in handy during what is typically a slow time of year, post holidays and all, although business has picked up a good bit since then.

And for anyone considering doing your own cabinets, keep in mind that although these do-it-yourselfers took a good bit of this project on themselves (which saved them a fair amount of money), you can always hire someone such as myself to take care of everything from A-Z.

Thanks again, Dana and Steve, for using me on this painting project that obviously improved your home a great deal. It was truly a pleasure. Of course all referrals are certainly appreciated, and anyone interested in having me help them out with their next project can reach me directly at 937 559 8167 or justice.dj@gmail.com.

Enjoy! -DJ

[…] phase 1 of our kitchen upgrade is well under way, it’s time to start thinking about the next step.  […]


Handy Hubby and Housetweaking Hottie –

Sorry Steve, I needed a noun that began with ‘H’. It was just the first thing to pop in my head.

Anyways, thanks for the additional information. I trust your opinion on the paint job without the filler although thanks for providing the link to the information, I’m not sure I want to take the chance with that. I may buy the smaller can and try it on a piece of one of the cabinets. I am going to remove the panel out of 2 of the doors and put glass in them. I might do that first and try the grain filler in the panels that I remove. I’m thinking that regardless of whether the grain is there, I will like seeing a little bit of grain in the wood a lot more than I will like looking at the ugly golden oak cabinets. We’ll see how the test pieces go. I’ll post some reviews of the test pieces after I finish them.

Good luck with the rest of the kitchen remodel. Looking forward to seeing the pictures. Are you guys looking at granite slabs? There is a company called Granite Transformations that uses thin slabs of granite and creates a layer of granite over your existing countertop. My explanation is not doing it justice. You can tell the difference but for the price difference, I think it may be worth it. We are going to look into it some more when we look at doing our countertops.

Thanks again! I may give DJ a call if I decide not to do it myself but I’ll probably take it on pretty soon.



I’m in the middle of replacing a panel on one of the doors with glass right now. I’ll take some pics and we can post how that project goes. If you beat us to it, let us know how it turned out.

As for the countertops, we’re looking mainly at granite. I’ve heard of Granite Transformations but didn’t really know what they did. Sounds like a decent less expensive option. We’ll definately check it out.

[…] I know, I know, bah humbug.  But, really, he does so much for me on a daily basis (have you seen this or this) that I don’t need a specific day designated to making me feel special.  However, […]

[…] Our kitchen renovation is still underway although we seem to have hit a speedbump.  Or a median.  After finally saving enough cash for new countertops, I was 100% sure that I wanted honed black granite for the perimeter countertops as seen in this Apartment Therapy kitchen: […]

[…] So, the wall was set to go.  But our slick, hollow builder pantry door needed primed first.  I used an oil-based primer leftover from our kitchen cabinet painting project.  […]


Your cabinets are beautiful! Such an inspiration…I’m going to paint ours aas soon as the weather warms up a bit so we can sand and paint outside. What color are your kitchen walls? They’re beautiful, esp with the white cabinets, they really make the color pop.


Erica – The walls are Valspar (Lowe’s) Bonsai color swatch but we had it mixed at Sherwin Williams in their NO VOC eggshell finish. And even though you didn’t ask… our cabinets are Sherwin Williams Greek Villa. We didn’t realize how many whites were out there to choose from until we started looking! Happy painting! Take before/after pics if you remember and send ’em my way. I love a good before and after.

It looks amazing! Thanks for sharing the link Dana. You guys (of course) did a fabulous job. And the budget is amazing of course.

s (& j)


Great job painting your cabinets! We painted our old 70’s cheap wood cabinets 3 years ago a sage green (walls are butter cream…all latex) and what a difference it made…even made the old 30 year old gray speckled laminate countertop look good! We replaced the hinges & pulls/handles as well to silver and laid laminate knotty pine on the floor (had commercial carpeting glued down…ewwww). We put 2 coats of poly over our paint & they have held up extremely well (I do touch them up occasionally where the fingers are always rubbing at certain spots by pulls)…did you think of putting poly on yours as well or is the acrylic paint tough enough to withstand every day abuse? Thanks!


Sherry – Um, I am totally giddy that you read this AND made a comment! The painting of the kitchen cabinets never would have happened without your inspiration!

Steph – We have two young boys (both under 5yrs) that test our kitchen paint job every day. Happy to say that it has held up well. We did not use polyurethane but the white latex paint we used is enamel, so it has a much more durable surface than plain latex paint. It requires a longer curing (drying) time after painting, but we knew we’d need it. I will probably take one day each year to touch-up scuffs but I’m okay with that. These cabinets are gonna be around for a while! The only thing we would change was painting them earlier!!!!


Thanks so much Dana and Steve, this is super inspirational. We are moving into a house at the end of April and the entire house is oak… oak kitchen cabinets, oak bathroom cabinets, oak trim, hollow oak doors, oak baseboard and oak crown molding- YUCK! Not to mention a two-story entry way… all OAK… oh, and also oak-colored hardwood.

When we made the offer on the house my intention was to paint all that oak white but everyone I have talked to about looks at me like I am crazy (except my sweet husband who stands by me and says that all the oak is ugly). I am nervous to take on the project but our first fix would be painting the kitchen cabinets white – I have to say, the more and more people that are cropping up that have done this gives me ease. My main worry is the oak grain showing through, how many times did you sand? Just the once at the beginning? I have read a few instructions on the internet that have recommended once and then between priming and painting and that seems like so much work. I just don’t want the grain to be noticeable (but if it ended up like yours when you can only see it up close and in the light I would be more than satisfied).

How many coats of primer and then paint did DJ do? Any info is helpful, and again thanks so much for sharing – your kitchen looks 100x better! I can’t believe that dads and grandpas are so puzzled by us people that just want a fresh and airy kitchen! I mean look at that difference!


Heathyr – Even though we were both totally on board for painting our oak, I can’t say I wasn’t a teeny-weeny bit shocked that we were actually going to do it. That first stroke of primer was like “OK, there’s no turning back now!” But, honestly, even after only being primed, those cabinets were looking a million times better!

As for our specific technique, we cleaned, deglossed and sanded everything then dusted off again. We used one coat of OIL-BASED primer tinted to our topcoat color (Sherwin Williams Greek Villa). We did LIGHTLY SAND between priming and our first coat of paint. We used a LATEX ENAMEL in a semi-gloss finish for a durable topcoat. Two coats of latex enamel were required with SANDING BETWEEN EACH COAT and light dusting with a damp towel. This may sound like a lot of sanding, but really it’s not that bad…it wasn’t like we made sure each and every square inch was perfectly sanded…we just lightly rubbed our sanding blocks across the surface in a circular motion (like shining windows). We were more concerned with paint strokes showing up but that did not happen.

As far as the grain is concerned, I think going with a SEMI-GLOSS LATEX ENAMEL topcoat is the way to avoid this best. Semi-gloss is easy to clean yet not so shiny that it shows the grain – I wouldn’t recommend gloss finishes if you’re worried about the grain showing. Again, our grain is faintly noticeable: only up close with overhead lights shining down on them and your head tilted at just the right angle. They really have a soft look to them not grainy at all.

Hope all the info helps! I’d be glad to answer any other questions that may arise. Good luck and happy painting. You will be so glad you paint that oak! And don’t think too much about what others say – if you and your husband agree that the oak orange has to go than so be it. You’re the ones that have to live there and it’s not as if you’re saying everyone should paint their oak…it’s just your preference. Believe me, we got a lot of ‘looks’ too!


Thanks for share, please keep us posting about this info. I’d like to read it more.


Holandia – We are upgrading our countertops in the near, NEAR future so stay tuned for that! I’ll be sure to post. I also have plans for changing the look of our black appliances without actually ‘upgrading’ them…

[…] our boring builder grade kitchen cabinets (too pricey for us) we’ve decided to tweak them here and there to add form and function.  Check in later this week to see how we customized another […]

[…] when our kitchen got a major (yet inexpensive) overhaul, we removed the door of the upper cabinet to the left of the sink.  You can somewhat see it […]

[…] you’ve been following the adventures of House*Tweaking, you already know that we painted our builder grade oak cabinets white and added modern hardware in an effort to shake off the […]


What an awesome change! Your kitchen is beautiful. I’d love to find someone like DJ to help paint our kitchen in Baltimore! How did you find him- friends, craigslist? I am always a little leery of craigslist.

[…] winter we painted our builder oak cabinets […]

[…] here it is now after painting the cabinets, upgrading countertops, installing a new sink/faucet/backsplash and extending the […]


Your kitchen makeover helped me convince my husband to let me paint our kitchen cabinets white too. Probably a silly question, but did you paint the underneath portion of the upper cabinets. I know I would paint this part of the shorter cabinets that you can clearly see, but I’m unsure of all the other cabinets. What about the back of the cabinet doors? Should these be painted? Thanks!


Carrie – We did NOT paint the underneath portion of the upper cabinets. We considered it but decided not to just because you don’t really see that part of them in our home. We DID take the cabinet doors completely off and paint both the fronts AND backs of them. However, we did NOT paint the inside of the cabinets…except for the one cabinet that Handy Hubby turned into a glass-front cabinet. {We painted the inside of it gray.} I hope that’s what you needed to know! I don’t think there is really a right/wrong way to do it…it’s totally a personal choice. Yay for painting cabinets!!! Good luck.


We currently have white oak cabinets that are 20+ years old and showing wear and tear. I am leery of trying to repaint the doors because I have run into the following problems. Plan A) I enjoy the oak grain showing and I purchased an oak door replacement (for the worst door) and painted it with water based white paint. The results were the paint dried too fast and the paint strokes showed. My dilemma is I have not had great success in the past with the water base paints no matter where I have used them within my homes interior. The paints dried too fast with paint strokes showing. I want a smooth finish. I was not satisfied so I moved on to Plan B. I retrieved the worst door and I used an oil base paint for select areas of exterior touch up and painted the inside of the door which unfortunately turned yellow. The paint did not dry too fast and the finish was smooth. Exactly what I desired. What are your recommendations for a nicer outcome if I use water base paints? Are there techniques I can use to eliminate these problems and also should a clear coat be used? Any advice would be appreciated as I do not wish to replace my cabinets in these hard economic times. P.S. Benjamin Moore paints are truly a nightmare for me, I have had better success with Sherwin William paints.


Dennis – We used an oil-based primer {after finely sanding} and latex paint for our kitchen cabinets. We used small foam rollers on the larger surfaces and a small 2″ brush to cut in. No poly…just a semi-gloss finish with the latex paint. All primer and paint was from Sherwin Williams. We had no problems with brush strokes or yellowing.


what did DJ caulk? i always see that in directions but never understand exactly what they are caulking…your kitchen looks awesome btw:)


Malissa – DJ caulked around some of the raised panels {the part of the door front that looks like it has a beveled frame around it} on the cabinet doors, so there wouldn’t be any gaps/cracks showing where paint got in and could run out. We also caulked a few places on the cabinet frames {the parts still stuck to the wall when the doors were off} where separate cabinets met. Caulking all the nooks and crannies gives the finished product a seamless, polished look.


Hi! I’m a little late on commenting, but doing some initial research on painting our cabinets white as well. We have a small kitchen in our townhome and think the white will brighten up our little cave of kitchen. I was planning to go to Sherwin Willaims for supplies (my work has a discount there). I love the color that you guys went with. Do you by any chance know the name of the paints you used?


Help! Husband and I are about to redo our kitchen cabinets so I’ve looked at a million tutorials on painting. I’ve got a little one so durability is definitely important. Everything I’ve read says not to mix oil primer with latex paint, so I just wanted to touch base with you and see why you chose that, how is it working for you, any reason you guys went with what you did? I know you said durability as far as the latex enamel, but I was just maybe hoping you could elaborate on the oil primer use?


Jennet – We did use oil-based primer. It has more of a smell when applying it, but it is much better at providing a base for latex enamel paint. We did a LOT of research about this same issue…latex over oil???…but in the end we found out from reputable sites (YHL, This Old House) and salespersons (Sherwin Williams) that this was the best way to get a long-lasting, durable, wipeable surface on our cabinets. You can use latex enamel paint over an oil-based primer. Just make sure to let the primer cure well (we added on several days to the drying time) before applying the latex enamel. We LOVE the results. Don’t know why we didn’t do it sooner.


Beautiful. I am painting two small 13X30 oak cabinets to install UNDER the counter in the kitchen for more storage. For as long as we have lived here, no one has ever used the bar stools and sat there. Just wasted space. One cabinet to each side, open shelving in the middle and just to make it special, new granite countertops to replace the formica and a new one bowl sink and a new faucet with the enclosed spray. New cabinet knobs were found on ebay for a dollar each and free shipping. Can’t beat that.
Your kitchen is gorgeous. You did a great job! Be proud!!!


Andrea – Good luck on your kitchen redesign and send some pics my way after if you’d like!


Hey! Your kitchen turned out AMAZING! My hubby and I just bought a new house and we are hoping to paint the cabinets white and hopefully they turn out half as gorgeous as yours did! I have one question though, did you paint the insides of your cabinets too or just the exterior? Thanks!


Ann – We painted the backs of all the doors but did not paint the insides of the cabinets {except for the one glass-front}. We’re the only ones who see them, so we couldn’t justify all the extra work. Or maybe we didn’t want to justify the extra work ;)


Looks great! We are hoping to start our project soon. It’s amazing how the quotes range from $750 to $2800! Now I just have to decide the color white and the color of hardware. We have exposed hinges so I am a little concerned with dark hardware. Would love anyone’s insight.

What color white paint did you use?


Nicole – We used Sherwin Williams Greek Villa. It’s a nice clean white but not too stark or sterile.


Hi Dana,
Your cabinets turned out gorgeous! I found your blog while searching for tips on painting oak cabinets white – thanks for being so descriptive about your process. I’m trying to get up the courage to do this in our house, but everyone I bring it up to thinks I’m crazy! (Why do people think oak is so great?!) Our house is only 5 yrs old, but the previous owners must have been living in the 80s because they look so DATED! And they didn’t stop at the kitchen cabinets – they chose the same yellowish orange oak for all the trim, stair rails, closet/room doors, bathroom vanities, etc – it is literally everywhere!
Just a couple questions for you – when you say you deglossed and sanded – did you use a deglossing product and then sand, or did you just degloss them using a sanding block? Also, I noticed the trim in your house is white – did you paint the trim too or was that already white? Thanks! ~Rebecca


Rebecca – We used TSP deglosser to degloss the cabinets, then sanded them. It did have a smell to it, so just be aware of that and open windows/run fans. The trim in our home was already white when we bought it. But our kitchen cabinets, railing, and vanities were/are oak. I painted one of the bathroom vanities too and love it. Good luck!


“We had every inclination to just prime and paint them by hand but knew it would be a loooong time before we were able to complete that task… it was January in Ohio… we didn’t want to paint them indoors…plus we have two kiddos that take up most of our time…not to mention jobs. Then we found DJ. DJ was hard up for some work, had a decent portfolio and wanted $280 total to caulk, prime and paint all the doors and drawer fronts. Yippee! And he did it in 5 days. (DJ will definitely be considered for more time-consuming painting projects in our home!)”


New to your website. my hubby and I dont have a lot of money but are talking about painting our kitchen cabinets the same as you did. Ours are real oak, and grainey, not very good looking =) I was wondering If I did everything like you did, then sanded the doors too, where can I find a guy like DJ in california! lol I am painting my doors in my house white too, and its very hard not to get the paint brush to leave streak marks, and Im worried if I take on the kitchen will I leave streak marks, and I feel like they will turn out ugly then I will have to pay out of pocket to have them professionally done lol! Did DJ hand paint or use a sprayer? and was DJ a handyman? My hubby and I can do anything and everything, but when it comes to painting cabinets, and doors we are not so good at that!

and what does chaulk mean? =)

Thank you in advance!


Ki – DJ used a small foam roller and a small brush to complete the job by hand {as did we for the cabinet frames}. We found him on Craigslist and he was able to produce references and pictures of previous paint jobs. It turned out great!


What were your drying times for the primer (2-3 days?) and for each coat of paint. We are in the process of priming right now and when all is finished we need to finish a wall tear-down so we are wondering how many days until we can resume that project to keep from having dust on our new cabinets (not to mention, cook a real meal). Thanks.


Angie – It took us the course of a few weeks to get the cabinets completely primed and painted. That’s just because we did it between working, kids napping/sleeping and other everyday life stuff. We had planned on doubling all the recommended dry times to get a solid paint job but it ended up being even longer than that! I’d suggest going longer for your drying times. I know the waiting and inconvenience is hard but it’s well worth the wait. Our painted cabinets have held up so well to our two kids and messy food preparation.


Hi! I am in the process of painting my oak cabinets right now – started last weekend over the long 4th of July holiday. The sanding was a pain but I am sure the end result will totally be worth the work and mess. I have referenced your info a few times just to look at the pics etc. (looks great!). I have a question please – I have already applied two coats of primer (oil based), and sanded in between each. I am now ready to paint (latex paint – Valspar – “Betsy’s Linen”). Do I need to sand in between each coat of paint also? I will be brushing the small detail areas and rolling all flat surfaces. What do you think? Necessary to sand in between the paint coats also?


Alysia – We very lightly sanded between coats of paint…although by the third coat, I think we skipped it. The key is to very lightly sand it..just scuff it up a little…don’t press so hard that you remove all that hard work! Good luck!


Thanks for the tip! I am in priming and sanding purgatory on the doors now (the cabinet boxes have their first coat of color and I am getting excited)!


Hi, thanks for all the guidance! I am just about to start on my ugly oak cabinets too and am trying to read as much as I can about others’ experiences before I start. I realize you did this project over a year ago, but do you remember how you/your painter laid out the doors and drawer fronts to paint and dry? Is there a good way to make sure all surfaces end up smooth? I’ve seen people somehow hang their doors and drawers to dry, but I’m not sure how to do that.

Also, I really want to get started but I am driving myself crazy over what color white to use. We have a light beigy-grey on the walls, and cherry-colored wood laminate floors. I painted the baseboards a couple years ago with Behr Ultra White (because there were too many white options and I was fed up so I went with their base) and my intention is to paint all of the door frames and doors as well (they’re very off-white compared to the Ultra White). Do I need to match my cabinets to the trim? I didn’t even think about it at first, but now I’m afraid it will look weird if it doesn’t match. I like the Ultra White, but on my baseboards it’s in small doses. I’m afraid it will look too stark if I use it on all the cabinets. I guess what it boils down to is, is it okay for the baseboards and cabinets to be different shades of white? Thanks for your help!


Mollie – The painter that we hired to paint the drawers and doors had space in his own home to lay them out…he did not hang them. Handy Hubby prepped all the doors/drawers himself at our home in the garage, in the winter, and used saw horse tables. He just laid plywood remnants across the 4 saw horses he owns to make the ‘tables.’ As for what color to paint your cabinets, we did NOT match our cabinets to our already white trim/baseboards. We went with Sherwin-Williams Greek Villa which is a little warmer not-so-bright-white-in-your-face white that still comes across as white. So, yes, in my opinion it is quite alright for baseboards and cabinets to be different shades of white!


Hi, I also bought Sherwin-Williams oil based primer to start. I asked the salesperson if I should sand my oak cabinets beforehand and she said the primer will do the job. I also asked about sanding between painting and she thought I was crazy. I want to get this right. Do you think it was necessary to sand down your cabinets before starting. I was thinking about cleaning with a TSP substitute and then lightly sanding and then priming. I also got their newish Waterbased Acrylic-Alkyd to get durability while using latex. I hope it looks good. I bought a bunch of stuff since they had a 40% crazy sale but have never used SW before! I’m a bit overwhelmed at the thought of painting the inner door and then outside and frame!


Cindy – We cleaned with TSP, lightly sanded then primed before painting. We just wanted to be sure we had a surface that was ready {i.e. clean and not glossy} for accepting paint. We VERY lightly sanded between coats then wiped clean before applying the next coat. I don’t know that all of that is absolutely necessary but our cabinet paint job has held up extremely well.


what length were are Lansa Handles? Thanks!


Your kitchen looks so nice! What color Sherwin Williams paint did you use on them. I am looking for a white that is soft and not blinding.


Layla – It’s Sherwin-Williams Greek Villa. A great clean white without being too sterile.


My husband and I are going to do alot of what you guys have done – thanks for all the tips! Random question…where is the chandelier from that is above your dining room table? In fact, where did you get all your lighting from? Thanks!!


AC – The dining chandelier is from West Elm.



Loved what you guys did with the cabinets. I am also thinking of doing the same with my yellow oak cabinets.
When you said you sanded the cabinets, what grits were the sandpaper used? Thanks!


I’m in the MIDDLE of painting my horrendous orange-oak kitchen cabinets white. Your blog was a major inspiration for me. Your kitchen looks fantastic. I love the Lansa handles. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Question: What gray color did you use in your kitchen and throughout your house? I’m looking for a gray that is NOT blue, green, purple or beige, but does not look drab. Your color is serene and bright. Thanks!


Deborah – It’s Valspar {Lowe’s} Bonsai in eggshell.


Thanks!! I’m loving what I’ve primed and painted so far – just the cabinet facings. This weekend I have to finish priming and painting the cabinet doors. I’m doing this all on my own. (I’m laid off right now and have the time). It’s been arduous, but I know it will be worth the effort. I’m letting each coat of primer and paint (two coats each) dry for 24 hours. Do you think it’s necessary to let the cabinet doors “cure” in the house for two weeks before mounting them on the facings?


Deborah – I think 4-5 days inside should be good to allow the doors to ‘cure.’ We may have had ours off longer just due to time constraints!


Thanks! We’re going to go ahead and put them back up this weekend! I’m going to put glass panels in two of the doors and install those long Lansa handles. I just love the way your kitchen turned out! Hope you don’t mind!


Deborah – Not at all! I get so much inspiration from design and DIY blogs. I’m happy to pass some along myself.


I’m so inspired now. One question, how many cans of primer & paint did you use?
I have the same oak cabinets, ss appliances & golden swirly granite. Will be painting all cabinets white w/2 glass door cabinets for pretty dishes. Will paint walls a darkish carmel which should really make the cabinets pop. Did the same in my living room – transformed it from bland old ladyish to bright and inviting. Carmel walls with white wood wraped windows and long ceiling to floor airy curtains. I have green accents and it makes for a great holiday decoration background. Can’t wait to do the kitchen now. Thanks so much for your inspiration.


Heidi – You should be able to ask the worker at the paint desk to guesstimate how much paint you’ll need based on the number of cabinets/drawers/doors/square footage, etc. We had a lot of cabinets plus an island. We bought 1 gallon of primer and 2 gallons of paint and had leftover of each. I would highly recommend buying enough to have some leftover that way you can touch up any scratches over time.


It looks amazing, I am going to have mine painted in February, we already have knobs but I would like to switch them out. Do you think if I change to the long handles like yours I need to fill the existing hole or that I can use the existing hole and then drill a 2nd one for the handles?



What size Lansa handles did you use?



Cheri – I guess it all depends on the placement of your current knobs. I’d say to buy some handles you like, hold ’em up and eyeball placement before you decide.


Hi there. I know this post is quite old, but I just discovered your site tonight. I absolutely love your newly painted cabinets. Ive actually seen your completed kitchen pics and I love the whole thing. I swear its like looking at what I pictured in my mind as how I want to redo our kitchen, right down to the handles from Ikea and the cool built in shelving you created in your island! We, too, have builder grade birch (i think) cabinets in a honey color with a dark glazing effect. I absolutely cant stand them and I want so badly to paint them white. We have great appliances and countertops already as well as a nice deep undermount sink so so structual changes need to be made :). Im so glad to see that painting the cabinets will be as easy to tackle as I had imagined. I actually have a post going up on my blog on Monday about our kitchen delimma. I love your blog. Thanks so much for sharing!


Thank you so much for inspiring me to paint my cabinets. When I saw your before pics, they were so similar to mine, I just knew it would work. I did all the painting myself, did the boxes one week then planned on hiring someone to spray the doors. The best price I could find was $1,000 – way more than I wanted to pay. I had 29 doors so it was quite labor intensive but I did it in 3 days and one of those days I was babysitting my 6 month old grandson. He helped as he just wanted to be held so I painted with one hand. I love them and I have before and after pics. Let me know if you would like to see them and how I would post them.


Heidi – Would love to see your before and afters!!! You can email them to me at danarmiller@hotmail.com


Your kitchen looks great! I am also contemplating painting my oak cabinets as well and have heard similar remarks…’You’re painting OAK?!?!?’ :)

What did you do with your hinges? I couldn’t tell from the pictures you posted?


Just me – The hinges were concealed so we left them as-is since you couldn’t see them without opening the doors.


My husband and I are living in the house he grew up in. The kitchen has the same orangy-oak cabinets that drive me nuts. I also am dying for grey walls. Thank you for your step by step. I am planning on doing it all myself, as I don’t want to pay $5000 for someone to paint my kitchen. I am also in Ohio. Wondering who DJ is and if you are in Cincinnati? So much thanks!


Mandy – Our previous home was closer to Cincy. Now, we’re closer to Dayton. We found DJ on Craigslist in the Dayton area. Not sure if he’s still doing side painting jobs but check out Craigslist!


you kitchen looks great I love it! we are trying to do the same in my since I don’t like my cabinets color anyway. do you sand the cabinets in the wall or only primer and paint?

[…] House tweaking made their builder oak cabinets look brand new! […]


Did you paint the inside or you did you left them as is?

I am having another painter redo the bad paint job that my cabinet contractor did. Both used Semi Gloss Latex Enamel and I am seeing some corners and surfaces would having an accumulation of excess paint. Just like the grain, I’ll only notice it if I am upclose but it bugs me that the surface is not consistent. Do you run into that problem when you hand painted it?


Victor – We left the insides of the cabinets as is. Here’s a post on how the grain looked after painting…



I’m so glad that I ran across this blog! My kitchen looks exactly like yours used to look and I too hate the orangey-oak, grainy wood look. I want a white kitchen so badly! Everytime I mention painting my cabinets to anyone they look at me like I’m crazy. Your pictures prove that I’m not crazy. I think I can remove and sand the doors, but I think I will hire someone to do the painting. Thanks for sharing!


Dana, I just came across your article about painting your oak cpds white. We did the same about 2 yrs ago. Sooo much nicer. My hubs is an oak guy. I’m not an oak gal.I have always loved a white kitchen. So much nicer isn’t it? You did a lovely job!


I’m a little late to the game here, but I thought the cabinets turned out wonderfully! My wife and I just purchased a home with these oak cabinets down in Springboro (Settlers Walk) and the first thing we want to do is redo the cabinets white. They already have a dark quartz counter top so we think it’s going to look great! Your blog will provide great instruction. Do you happen to have a link or post that provides all of the instructions and the materials used? If not I can extract from this post.


looks great ! i am about to undertake the same project w/the same cabinets. i am going to change my hinges and put the cabinet doors back on inside out though. i like the more simple frame on the inside, it is more mission than traditional. thinking of using a few coats of high gloss clear coat too…?


Thanks so much for the inspiration. We just moved into our new home and it is full of oak – and I such a fan of more of an airy feel as well! Likely tackle this in the next 2 months of so. :)


Hey. I know this is an old post, hopefully you’ll get this comment. I was wondering how the white was holding up? I just bought a house and envision my cabinets white as well. Any chipping or yellowing?


The only markings and scratches we got were from hard ‘trauma.’ Mostly, on the toe kicks from kids bumping cars into them or people bumping the tips of their shoes on them. I just touched it up every once in a while. Maybe twice a year. We would also get scratches from knives accidentally catching on drawer fronts/doors when we were putting them away or grabbing a dish from a cabinet while holding a knife. The enamel finish has great durability if cured properly. We had no yellowing either. However, we no longer live in that house so I can’t say how it’s doing now. {A family with young children bought the house so it would fun to see how it’s holding up.} In the 2+years that we lived with the painted cabinets, there was no yellowing.


Love this informative post. My husband and I are thinking of painting the same type cabinets white. We are empty nesters and rarely have anyone but us at our house. My question is regarding how often you have to clean the white cabinets? Do you find that grease and dust show up a lot more on the white (versus stained wood).

Thank you,
Kim Crowden


Thank you so much for this post, as old as it may be :). As much as I love our new home, the oak cabinetry just makes me cringe, and I’m so excited to know that this can be done…by us and affordably. The question I have for you is (I apologize if this is already somewhere in your text, and I just happened to miss it): Did you guys purchase new countertops? Or did the change in cabinet color really make the countertop look that much better? And what how exactly would you describe the countertop in terms of color and texture? I love the idea of white cabinets, but our countertops are a cream color so I’m not sure how it will look. We’re not completely against purchasing new countertops, but ideally we would not have to. I’m considering going with an espresso stain vs. white, which may provide a better overall look than the white but I thought I’d see what your experience with this was. In the first picture, your countertops look very similar to ours. Thanks!


> Mike, how did your cabinets turn out? I too live in Settlers Walk and have the golden oak builder’s special from Ryan Homes. Did you use filler first to remove the grain visibility?


We did not use the filler however we did use DJ and we had him use 3 coats of paint. They look great!


Thanks for the quick reply. I currently am torn b/t replacing all the cabinets with new white ones ($$$) or just painting the ones we have. Are yours holding up well? I have reached out to DJ – hope he gets back to me. Mike


Whats your email I will send you some pix?


Mike, I would love to see some pics of your cabinets: my email address is swimiu@gmail.com. DJ did in fact call me back, and he will be coming over to provide a quote. Hoping the cost is in my range, otherwise, I will be doing it myself :-) Thanks again


They came out wonderful! I too live in Ohio–Columbus area to be exact…would DJ happen to be in the area? I saw that you mentioned you lived in Ohio. Thanks!!


We’re painting our ugly white cabinets (not pretty ones) RED! Oh yes we’re going red. The sanding is going crazy, and we’re going out tomorrow to get some deglosser just so we don’t have to keep sanding every little detail on the fronts of the cabinet doors. The boxes are easy to sand with the orbital sander, but the doors will take us a year at the rate we’re going. Does the deglosser work so we can prime?


So I don’t know if you are still viewing this board. I am getting ready to redo my kitchen and will be doing white cabinets. My question is what type/color are your counter tops. I really like their look.


They are absolute black granite.

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Love the cabinet doors as well as the back door. Am so going to do this! What colors did you use? Undercoat as well as the top coat? And is the “undercoat” simply one coat of latex? Thanks


Just seeing your post and in the process of a kitchen remodel, to include painting cabinets. We have hired a company to do this, b/c….3 kids! However, I’m wondering with as much time as has passed, are you pleased with the paint? I’m worried about chipping, etc. Thanks in advance!


Hi, great job!! How are your cabinets holding up to grease, wiping, everyday use? also did you use a water based latex enamel (I used pro classic on my buffet) ? cant wait to update ours .. if i can get hubby on board with painting our solid oak cabinets. thanks, Kim