Friday, March 23, 2012

Inexpensive Ways to Update Your Kitchen

Sarah at Thrifty Decor Chick is having a “show us your kitchen” linky party and I wanted to join the fun so I dug out our kitchen pictures from four years ago.  Our kitchen is a prime example of what you can accomplish with just a can of paint and a screwdriver.

Before, our kitchen looked outdated with dark stained oak cabinets and crazy knobs.  Our first update was the knobs, which didn’t make enough impact so I decided to bite the bullet and paint the cabinets.  Our kitchen really had good bones - a good layout and real wood cabinets - so it didn’t make sense to do a complete overhaul.

Apparently, I didn’t clean up for the before picsSmile and I was actually already in process.  I painted the island first as a test run and you can see I started to fill some holes on those drawers.


The wood actually doesn’t look too bad in the pic below, but this kitchen needed to be awakened!  Oh and look at that fluorescent light box.  So glad to be rid of it!


These pictures were taken about three or four years ago.  I can’t believe how little my kiddies are in this pic!  Oh, there’s the famous clutter counter!!  Ha-ha!  Too funny.


I tossed around the idea of painting the cabinets black, but was a bit nervous until I saw this pic in the July/August 2007 issue of This Old House magazine.  Seeing this pic and reading about how the homeowners transformed their space just by painting their oak cabinets inspired me to go for it.


This is really a project that could probably be completed in a week or less, but it probably took us about a yearSmile.  It was actually kind of a joke after a while.

It’s been done for a few years now, so I don’t have step by step pics either.  But the process we took was:

  1. Clean the cupboards with TSP
  2. Sand (I just sanded by hand, just enough scuffing. I didn’t go down to bare wood)
  3. Wipe with tack cloth
  4. Prime
  5. Paint (two coats)

I used regular latex paint because I refuse to use oil-based paints even if it’s the more durable choice.  I’ve recently come to find out from Centsational Girl & Isabella & Max Rooms that there are water-based paint choices that are a great choice for this type of thing.  My regular old latex paint has actually held up just fine.

For budget purposes, we kept our solid surface Corian counters.  Although I’d love Carrera marble in my fantasy world, these work well in contrast to the black.


Besides painting the cabinets and changing the hardware, we did a few things to customize it a bit.  We took the doors off the cabinets above the microwave and refrigerator to add some openness. 



We also added hooks on the island for towels and oven mitts – love this.  So handy!


Added a Rev-Your-Shelf system (from Lowes) to a cabinet so I could have one of those nifty sliding garbage and recycling centers like new kitchens today.  Love! (Actually my neighbor installed it for me – thanks, Red!  She even helped paint some cabinet doors.  She’s the DIY queen.)


We also removed the wooden scalloped valance above the sink to update it a bit.


I brought in pops of red as an accent color with things like the colander and binder above the microwave and the little rooster on the window sill.  I wanted something red for my serving utensils, but couldn’t find what I wanted in the kitchen department, then I stumbled upon this planter at Home Depot and thought this was perfect!


I picked up wooden letters from Michael’s and painted them red for a little pop on the other side of the room.  It’s a small wall, so the letters work perfectly there.


Every season I change out what goes in those little white vases I picked up from IKEA. And I love the J.R. Watkins hand and dish soap because it’s a green option and the packaging is cute enough to leave out!


Oh, and we made the side of the pantry a chalkboard.  Very handy and fun for the kids.


So for just about $200, our kitchen was transformed with some paint and new knobs.  I didn’t include the new appliances and the lighting because it truly did transform the kitchen even with the old appliances and fluorescent light box.  We finally got the appliances last year and obviously that was a chunk of change.  Yes, it’s even better now with the new appliances, but just wanted you to know you don’t have to spend a bunch for a big impact.




And soon, I get to share some more kitchen transformations!  Three of my friends are redoing their kitchens.  One is going my route and a step up by painting the cabinets and installing granite counters.  The other is doing a massive gut job of their entire main floor and the other you saw a peek of over at my sister’s.  I cannot wait to show you their before and afters. 


This post is linked up to the following Linky Parties:

Thrifty Decor Chick, 30 Days, Not JUST a Housewife, Tater Tots & Jello, Randee's Organized Chaos, Don't Mess With My Tutus!Ask Anna and Bubbly Nature Creations


  1. awesome job! looks beautiful!!

  2. This is pretty cool! I love the change! :)

  3. What a great update ! I recently did my cabinets and i'm so glad I did. Love the colored chairs too !
    Steph Hess

  4. Oh my! What amazing before and after shots. It is beautiful! I love black cabinets!

  5. Fantastic update, I love seeing what a little bit of money, paint and a lot of effort can do to transform a space! Enjoy it!! Janell

  6. Wow, Kim!! What an awesome makeover. Love your kitchen!

  7. I love it! Would you mind sharing what color you used? I have the lovely arched oak cabinets and I am ready to paint them but have been wishy washy about the color. I love how your color turned out.

  8. gorgeous makeover. really lovely.
    cheryl xox.

  9. So gorgeous! Love the pops of red! The eat letters are my favorite!

  10. HOLY COW!!! This is gorgeous. We are building right now, and we went with black cabinets too. Love yours!

  11. I love it!!! And I love your red and black chairs!!!! It looks so much brighter! Love it great job!!! Thanks for my 100 follower!!! I am following you back!!

  12. I'm proud of you for going for it! Painting cabinets is on my to do list...and I'm nervous about it. You've inspired me. I love the way your cabinets turned out. And the little splashes of red look really good with the black. I was just thinking how I like you counter tops when I said that you wanted carrera marble....I can envision, so beautiful.
    Thanks for sharing your updated kitchen at Show & Tell.
    Sharon @ mrs. hines class

  13. Am finding amazing that painting the cabinets black actually seem to have lightened up the space. Very nice.

  14. Love the "new" Kitchen. I have wanted to paint my cabinets for years but I am so afraid to. My cabinets are real wood too. I have read and read about people painting theirs but I have never heard from someone like yourself that says they have had them painted for a few years. I hope you can calm my fears by answering a couple of questions for me. Does the paint chip or rub off around the knobs where your have rubs against it when opening the cabinet? Did you use a roller or bursh and does the finish look smooth? I really hope you can help me. I want to paint them SOOOOO bad. This is an older house, built in 1978 I think. I feel it will give a more updated look painted. Thanks For your help. Teresa

    1. Surprisingly, I have not noticed any wear around the knobs. Really the only place that I've noticed a bit of wear is on the island on the corners. When I first painted, I wasn't sure if I wanted to do the worn edge look, so I left it knowing that I wouldn't mind if it happened over time. I like the worn look though:). But so far, it's really held up! I used both a roller and brush. Our house is also from 1978, probably the same cabients:). I don't regret painting them one bit. Oh, at first glance you don't notice the wood grain, but yes, you can still see it. I know there is a way to get a smoother look, but I was too lazy...something like floteral????? cAn't remember for sure. I'm sure the guys at the hardware store might know or a little google search. Hope this answered your questions, but please feel free to email me so I can answer you directly at .

  15. Looks great!!!! Way to stretch $200!

  16. Looks amazing great the menu boardon the side of the cabinets.

  17. I love it! I think it's great that you chose black instead of the typical white, that you did it yourself, that you worked with what you had... Just great!

  18. Kim!
    Your kitchen looks absolutely amazing! What a beautiful job! Love the chalk board and removing the doors above the microwave and fridge...ingenious! Erica :)

  19. Amazing makeover!!!

    1. It looks great! It's nice to see other's out there who also have dark cabinets! :)

  20. love this look, and the table is the topping on the cake...modern and a little retro with todays spin on DIY yu rocked this one

  21. seriously, this is a great job! I am inspired! Thanks!

  22. Love the redo! How did you take the wooden valance down? I have one in mine and I have no idea how to attack it! Thanks so much


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