Ah, knotty pine cabinets. The choice for summer cottages, log cabins....and everyone on my street in 1954. Let me start by saying that I love knotty pine, and I TOTALLY understand the people out there that think its sacrileges to paint over such cabinets, that knotty pine cabinets should be restored to their original glory. I'm a history teacher, I get it, I'm all about preserving the past...but not when the past is where I spend an inordinate amount of time each day. So if you are someone who can't stomach painted knotty pine, run away now!
Still reading? Great! This is what my kitchen looked like before we moved in. I mean it's cute, don't get me wrong, but it's not me. I like neutral colors, and marble, and chrome, and metal...and this is orange and red and brown (oh my)!
The cabinets were actually in really good condition, and very well built. I will say one thing, although my home was one of hundreds being built at the same time in the '50's, they did quality work. They also go right up to the ceiling from the inside, so there's actually ton's of storage (which is good since for some reason there's no counter or cabinets surrounding the stove...I don't know what happened there).
Anyway, we hadn't even lived in the house for 24 hours when I started in on the kitchen. I knew it would be the first big DIY I tackled because let's face it, the kitchen is the epicenter of our modern lives.
I knew I wanted a white kitchen (because I, along with everyone else in 2003, emblazoned the kitchen from Something's Gotta Give into my brain; thanks Norah!) and white marble counter tops. I also had almost zero money to spend on this project. Having just purchased the house, almost of all of our discretionary money went into closing costs (which is why this blog is about decorating your house and not how to go about buying it). New cabinets (even just faces) were totally out of the question, as were new countertops. So when faced with the idea of a knotty pine and red future, I did what any DIY girl would do, I slapped some white paint on!
Okay, so it was a bit more complicated than that (not much though) so here's what to do if you can't live with your cabinets for a second longer. Start out by reading every article on painting your cabinets that you can possibly find on Pinterest. Refuse to accept their two week time frame, decide it will take you two days (don't worry you can laugh at yourself later).
Go to Sherwin Williams and tell the nice man there that you are going to paint your cabinets but you don't want to sand or prime. Patiently wait as he tries to hold back a chuckle while explaining to you that you will have poor results if you don't. Decide to sand (but only a little) and prime after all.
Remove all of your cabinet doors and hardware. One tip that I read that really became useful was numbering your cabinets. I was convinced it would be easy to tell which cabinet went where when it was time to put them back on, I ended up being very glad that I labeled them. I ended up taking a piece of painters tape and putting one inside the cabinet and one on the back of door with corresponding letters (i.e.: A in the cabinet, a on the back of the door). I tried to go in order so that if a label fell off (and it did), I could use process of elimination to figure out where it went. You could use whatever method works best for you, I just definitely recommend some kind of labeling system.
It's also a good idea to put the hardware in baggies as you go, that way when you realize that they do not make modern chrome hardware that fits your cabinets and realize that you will either have to purchase "new" hardware identical to what you took off of the cabinets or use what you got, you will actually have them.
Moving along. Next you should degrease your cabinets. Years of kitchen residues can build up on them and it makes the paint hard to stick to. Krud Kutter was what every article that I read recommended. I had never used it and was trying to avoid multiple trips to the store. I ended up using a solution of vinegar and warm water with a few drops of liquid dish detergent added. It worked fine for me (and my cabinets are old), but you may want to look into an actual product if there's a lot of build up.
So you've cleaned the cabinets. The next step is one I skipped out of pure laziness and trying to get this done quickly, but I wish I hadn't. Inspect your cabinets for any holes that need to be filled prior to sanding. I skipped this step but in retrospect I wish I had done it. It won't take long and makes a big difference in how professional the end result looks.
So we're finally at the sanding. I did a light sanding on each cabinet. I'm not going to lead you astray, it was time consuming and annoying. If I'm being honest I probably should have sanded even more, but at that point I was itching to paint. All in all this first "prep" phase took me a day. Not too bad in the grand scheme of things.
Ideally you want the windiest day possible so that bits of grass and dirt continually blow onto So we're finally at the sanding. I did a light sanding on each cabinet. I'm not going to lead you astray, it was time consuming and annoying. If I'm being honest I probably should have sanded even more, but at that point I was itching to paint. All in all this first "prep" phase took me a day. Not too bad in the grand scheme of things.
your freshly painted cabinets rendering them useless and forcing you to start from square one. What's that? You don't want that? Oh, my mistake. Really though, it was my mistake, be patient...wait for a non-windy day.
I painted my cabinets in the driveway. I would recommend you find space in your basement/garage/kitchen/closet and do it there. By the way, if you have that much space in your closet we are no longer friends (what's that..we don't know each other?). The point is find some space.
Layout your cabinets so that the taped side is face down. If you have coffee cans or smaller boxes that you can use to hold up the cabinets while they dry your life will be even better. I didn't do that and had to repaint the sides of the cabinets..I told you...learn from my mistakes.
The painting part is actually very easy. I used two coats of Kilz oil based primer. The oil based primer was definitely more difficult to work with than latex, but the nice man at the paint store said it was much better for knotty pine (which takes a few coats to cover up the dark knots).
After you finish the primer take a break and ask yourself what you were thinking and wonder if these are ruined forever. Sand lightly.
Next give the cabinets two coats of paint sanding in between coats. Having completed many DIY projects I have learned that the second coat of paint is magic. No matter how terrible or awful you think your project looks, the second coat of paint will fix it and you will do a happy dance. Seriously, trust me.
As you can see the second coat did the charm. Depending on your cabinet style you may have some deep grooves. I used a roller to get a base of paint on and then went back with a smaller paint brush to get inside all of the crevices and nooks and crannies. Finally, I used a medium sized brush and gave a once over to the whole door.
While the cabinets were drying I painted the cabinet bases using the same technique, two coats of primer, two coats of paint. My guess is that most people will only need one coat of primer, but if you have a darker wood like knotty pine, two coats is a safe bet.
I chose to just paint the front of my cabinet doors, maybe someday (read: never) I'll do the insides. If you are doing the backs, give the fronts a few days to curate and then flip them over and repeat the steps.
Remember how I said it would take a weekend? The painting part really did. I don't have a ton of cabinets and I really went at it from dawn tip dusk. So had things worked out I could have had new cabinets in a very quick time span. However we know that never works. Remember how I told you to save the hardware? I wasn't kidding. I thought I could jaunt over to Lowes pick out some new hinges and pulls and be ready to go. As it turns out, my cabinets (being older) use an exterior hinge. So I bought some of those, but they didn't fit. It turns out mine needed a very specific size that none of the home improvement stores near me carry. A few calls to kitchen stores and some online investigation turned up that everything that could possibly fit was on back order.
I decided to spray paint the original hardware silver (it was black)..except that I hadn't saved it..oops. Soooo I did manage to find a hardware that was black, almost identical to my original hardware at a Home Depot not terribly far (read: really far away) from my house. I bought it, spray painted it, and we were in business again. A few seconds and baggies however could have saved me all this trouble.
So now its time to reassemble your kitchen. If your taping system was done correctly you should be able to easily line up the doors and attach your new hardware. Voila, $150 bucks and you have a new kitchen. Open yourself a bottle of wine and cheers yourself for being the savvy amazing DIY diva that you are.
Is it perfect? Absolutely not. Is it going to be perfectly fine until we can afford a full kitchen remodel someday. Yes. In fact they've grown on me, and I really forget what they looked like before.
I'm really happy I decided to do this. It saved us a ton of money, was my first foray into DIY, and really gave the kitchen a modern feel while not taking away from it's charm.
After the cabinets I did a faux marble treatment on the counters (blog post coming soon) and installed a vinyl floor that was super easy (I guess I'll blog about that too.
Hopefully this inspired you to paint your kitchen cabinets if it's something you've been thinking about. It really was worth the sweat equity and I can honestly say that it can be done by one person (with a lot of patience).
After the cabinets were done I did a DIY finish on the red counters to make them look like marble. You can find the tutorial here. I also painted the walls in SW Sea Salt. I love how it changes color throughout the day. My backsplash is actually stickers until I find one I like! I got them on Amazon. It fools people all the time! Finally, I put down a new flooring right over the existing one. I'll be doing a post on that soon. I will do a whole kitchen round up on how much the "makeover" cost me. I promise it was not much.
We have since purchased a new stove and hood, so I'll have to get a picture of it now that the oven matches the fridge. I'll update when I do.