Cabinet Refinishing {learning from your mistakes!}

 WOW!  What a busy weekend, and it doesn't seem like this week will let up at all either.  Even when I feel like I am prepared, something always seems to set me back!  At least I got my goal of finishing my cabinets checked off my to-do list {the original goal was birthday party, then Thanksgiving}.

Most projects give me much gratification, even the process of tedious work.  I push through projects with the motivation that once done I will have a beautiful end product.  However, when you are just re-doing something because you did it wrong the first time the process just becomes a pain in your behind.  This is such the case with my kitchen cabinets.  So let me tell you a story of doing it RIGHT the first time!

So this is the only photo I could find of my kitchen when we moved into our house four years ago.  That is my awesome brother working really hard to sand all of the texture off that wall so I could put up a chalk board wall.  Isn't he fab?!  The existing cabinets are actually really nice cabinets, better than what you can find in a lot of prefab cabinets today.  They are solid wood frame-less with dovetailed solid wood drawers.  Although you can see the knife hinges, I kinda adore that character it provides. The problem would be, although it is hard to tell, the color of the cabinets were butter cream and disgusting. 


My mom and brother helped me take down all of the 80's wallpaper and we painted the kitchen this Behr color Georgia Mudpie.  Then they went home and I starred at how ugly the cabinets were.  This is our first home, and therefore didn't know much about home improvement {and at 24 my patience wasn't as great but don't tell my mom I admitted that}.  So without sanding, priming or much else I whipped out my Ultra Pure White paint and went to town on the cabinets.  They looked great for awhile, until you bumped something against them and the paint peeled off down to the butter cream color.  Turns out when I went to the garage the original paint was oil based, and I just painted everything with latex... OOPS!  If you haven't heard, you can't paint over oil based paint with latex based paint.  IT WON'T STICK!!!!!

Fast forward to this August, and I had finally been fed up with the paint coming off near the cabinet knobs.  I decided I would test one door to see if I could scrape off the old paint and sand the oil based paint down to where latex primer would stick to it.  This time I was going to do it properly, and I could take all of the time I needed because I was going to do one door at a time in the same Ultra Pure White.

The.hardest.part was scraping ALL of the white latex paint off of the doors.  I have amazing arm muscles now!  Then I sanded the door down with a medium grit sandpaper, touched up any nicks with wood filler, sanded it down with fine grit sandpaper and washed the door.


After priming the door with Kilz latex primer, the door was sanded again with fine grit sandpaper.  A coat of latex what was suppose to be white paint, sanded, and painted.  On top of that went two coats of polyurethane.  The door went back up to its proper place, WHAT?!  I grabbed the wrong white paint!  This was a unknown, color matched gray-white.  Take a close look at this picture below.  The upper cabinets and tall pantry cabinet are Ultra Pure White.  The base cabinets and oven cabinet are unknown gray-white.  You probably can't tell the difference {hence the frustration having to paint all the cabinets at once before big first birthday party, lots of out of town guests coming in, why do I get myself into messes like this when I'm already stressed?!}.  The difference is enough that you can't have cabinets that butt up to each other different, but that if whole sections are different only I can tell they aren't the same.  Look at the base molding where the tall pantry meets up with the brown walls base molding, yeah their different!

Moral of the story, do it right the first time and you will save yourself three months of fixing your mistake.  Since I was already investing so much time into these cabinets, I thought I would fix something that I hate about them.  Only the upper cabinets hardware, and only some of that, is  aligned in the middle of the frame.  Before painting the cabinets their new gray-white paint, the existing hardware hole was filled in with wood filler.  After the filler had dried it was sanded smooth along with the rest of the door {see I am learning from my mistakes}.  I measured the same spot on every door to be drilled and marked it with pencil.  Then I freaked out that I was going to mess up and have holes in my cabinets, bit my lip and drilled the holes.

 ...and after this novel of a blog post I have cabinet hardware on the doors where they can actually be functional and pretty!

 I'll say it again, projects around our house are a process not done all at once.  But, here is the inspiration board for the kitchen of my dreams.  The paint color and window treatments are on my immediate want list with that Ikea runner coming in at a close second.



  1. it will be so perfect when it all comes together :) love your choices for your inspiration board!

  2. Painting cabinets is a lot of work but almost always worth it! Yours look great!

  3. It's looking great! I've been too chicken to paint my own cabinets-but I can't afford to have anyone else do them for me, so they will remain unpainted for now.

  4. it looks awesome. i also painted my cabinets, so much work but SO worth it!

  5. EEEKKK! I HAAAATE painting!!! But your paint job is looking GREAT!!! Uuuggg! I applaude you for takin that on Girlfriend! Cant wait to see the FINISH!!!

  6. I think your hard work paid off, girl. It looks great! I've always loved white kitchens. And can I ask how you made that great inspiration collage? (Like what program you used?) I've been dying to try those!

  7. Wow! Good for you for "gettin er done!" The kitchen is looking great!! And now you know its done well, too :) The inspiration board looks amazing... can't wait to see what comes!

  8. The more I learn the more I think I will pay someone to paint mine! I love your kitchen though I love the white!


  9. Looks great -- and I love the wall color!

  10. Oh, i feel your pain! What a story! Love your chalkboard wall, you have the perfect spot!
    Fabulous job pushing through! So many people would just leave it.


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