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How to Paint Oak Kitchen Cabinets White: My $150 Kitchen Makeover

I’m going to get right to the point. In one week’s time, and about $150, we were able to transform our kitchen from this:



To this:

IMG_20140830_151631891 IMG_20140830_151413096 IMG_20140830_151618325 IMG_20140830_151646717_HDR

And the best part is it cost us less than $150 to do it! Pretty great, yes?

I knew when we decided to buy the lake place that I’d eventually want to redo the kitchen. But new cabinets would have cost thousands of dollars, and we’ve got more important projects to take care of first. So when the motivation hit me to paint the cabinets, I knew I needed to act quickly before the motivation went away. Luckily Matt was on board with it, so I got to work wiping down the cabinets, removing the doors, and lightly sanding the surfaces right away. I had to fill the holes from the old hardware with putty since I didn’t like how they were located in the middle of the cabinet doors.



I did the cabinets in sections. I did the upper cabinets from start to finish, from sanding to hanging after the final coat of paint, before even attempting to start on the lowers.

Once I was done sanding, I was ready for primer. I went and talked to the lady who works in the M&M Lumber paint section, who Matt says has worked there as long as he can remember. She recommended a primer for me, Zinsser Bullseye, and assured me I’d only need one coat. She also asked me what I planned on using for paint. I reluctantly told her “Sherwin Williams”. After an awkward moment, she assured me the Valspar paint they carried would do just as well and they could color match any Sherwin Williams color.


It did save me a trip to St. Cloud, anyways. She also saved me a lot of time by letting me know I would not need to sand between each coat of paint. Thank goodness.

I wanted a soft, warm white color in the kitchen. After a lot of Google image searches, I had it pinned between two different Sherwin Williams colors; Dover White and Alabaster. Well, apparently I was feeling both cheap and impatient, so I didn’t buy any color samples to try first. Word of advice; buy the color samples. Seriously, just spend the money and take the time and do it. You’ll see why below. I picked Sherwin Williams Dover White at the last second and had it color matched at M&M.


So I went for it. After a coat of primer I started painting Dover White on part of the cabinet frame and one side of a door. And I immediately felt sick. I seriously felt like vomiting. I saw the color next to the stark white primer and started to panic. It looked dingy. It looked yellow. It looked like everything I didn’t want. And I felt like I had just wasted $36 because I was too impatient to take the time to buy test samples. I had to put my brush down and walk away. I brought my little panic attack to Matt. His advice? “You have to figure it out.” So helpful. (I love you, Matt.)

So I did what anyone would do: I posted my dilemma on Facebook. 🙂

After stepping away from it and getting some reassurance, I decided to go for it. Here’s some progress pictures:


Thank you, Anna. Well, at least there’s proof I was working.


Uppers are done. Time for the lowers.

I think the total project took about 30-35 hours total. Which we managed in a week. And it was totally worth it. The color ended up being exactly what I was looking for once every door was hung in it’s place. I’m loving my new cabinets and loving that they were so inexpensive to do. My mother-in-law bought the new hardware for us so that relieved some of the cost. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started this, but I can honestly say it was easy, just time consuming and monotonous. But I am fine with monotonous. I’m a Medical Lab Technician, for crying out loud!

I’ll say good-bye with a sign that makes me smile, and even moreso now that there is paint from my project spattered on it.


But wait, the kitchen isn’t completely done yet and I need your opinion! What color should I paint the island? Should I paint it the same color or do an accent color?

A woman’s work is never done.

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