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Painting Cabinets at Home / Kitchen Makeover Tips

Updated: Mar 12

By: Trevor Ross

Question on every budget-conscious homeowners' brain:

Should I paint my cabinets myself? Or hire a company to do it?...

Transforming your kitchen by painting the cabinets can refresh the most prominent features of your space without the high cost of a full remodel. In this guide, we're joined by Ricky Oberedner, and painting expert CJ Barnes to walk you through the steps to achieve a new, updated look for your kitchen cabinets.

Project Details

  • Skill Level: Easy (4 out of 5)

  • Cost: Average Cost: $750, depending on the number of cabinets

  • Estimated Time: 4-5 days, depending on the number of cabinets

Renovating a kitchen is one of the priciest home improvement projects, especially with the cost of appliances, countertops, and cabinets. However, painting your kitchen cabinets is a budget-friendly alternative that can dramatically change the look of your kitchen.

Get a Quote from a Professional Painter

Quickly match with a painting expert in less than 3 minutes.

  • Metro Detroit (Macomb and Oakland Counties)

  • Cabinet Specialists

  • Call (586) 306-2095 for a Free Quote

How Much Does it Cost to Paint Kitchen Cabinets?

Replacing cabinets can consume nearly 40% of a kitchen remodeling budget, with a 12-by-14-foot kitchen potentially topping $10,000 for new cabinets. Conversely, painting your cabinets at home can cost no more than about $1,500 and averages $4,500 for hiring a painting company to re-vamp your cabinets, offering significant savings.

Should I Paint My Cabinets?

Examine your cabinets first. High-quality paint can't fix cabinets that have deteriorated. If your cabinets are still in good shape, painting them can be an effective way to refresh your kitchen.

What Type of Paint Do I Need for Cabinets?

Oil or Latex? Latex paints have improved and are more user-friendly due to quick drying times and easy clean-up, though some professionals still prefer oil-based paints for their durability and smoother finish.

Brush or Spray Paint? Spraying offers a smooth finish but can be challenging and more expensive due to equipment rental. We recommend using high-quality brushes for most DIY projects for ease and cost-effectiveness.

Stripping Required? If your cabinets have a clear coat finish, stripping them down to the bare wood before painting is ideal. However, a thorough cleaning and light sanding might be sufficient.

Finishing Styles

Whether you prefer a regular finish or a faux finish like shabby chic, rustic, provincial, or modern, various techniques can help you achieve the desired look. From crackling glaze for a weathered look to a high-gloss finish for a modern appeal, the possibilities are endless.

Steps for Painting Cabinets

1. Prep the Room

Begin with emptying the cabinets, covering countertops and floors, and protecting the room from dust and paint.

2. Remove Doors, Drawers, and Shelves

Label everything to ensure you can easily reassemble the cabinets.

3. Clean All Surfaces

Use a degreaser solution to clean the cabinets thoroughly before painting.

4. Prep the Boxes

De-gloss surfaces, fill old hardware holes, and sand the cabinets to prepare them for primer.

5. Prime the Cabinet Boxes

Choose the right primer based on your cabinet's condition and materials.

6. Sand, Caulk, and Fill

After priming, sand the surfaces again, caulk seams, and fill any dents or scratches.

7. Paint the Cabinet Boxes

Apply your chosen paint, allowing for adequate drying time between coats.

8. Prep, Prime, and Paint Doors, Drawers, and Shelves

Follow similar steps for doors, drawers, and shelves to ensure a uniform look.

9. Reassemble Everything

Once dry, put all pieces back together and admire your refreshed kitchen cabinets.

Shopping List

  • Degreaser spray

  • Latex primer

  • Water-based trim and cabinet enamel paint

  • Roller sleeves

Refreshing your kitchen by painting the cabinets can be a rewarding DIY project. With careful preparation and the right materials, you can achieve a professional-quality finish that brightens your kitchen and enhances your home's value.

Continue on to read tips for re-designing your kitchen and to get a refresher on the newest styling tips of 2024

Kitchen Makeover Tips for 2024

This guide is your one-stop resource, designed to help you navigate through the exciting yet challenging process of kitchen remodeling. So, grab your favorite beverage, and let's embark on this color journey together!

Introduction: The Heart of Your Home

The kitchen, often referred to as the heart of the home, is where magic happens. From morning coffees to family dinners, it's a space that witnesses the rhythm of daily life. A well-chosen cabinet color can transform your kitchen from a mere functional area to a delightful sanctuary.

Chapter 1: Understanding Color Psychology

Before we dive into palettes and swatches, let's explore the psychological impact of color. Colors are not just visual elements; they evoke emotions and set the mood for your kitchen.

  • Warm Colors: Red, orange, and yellow hues energize the space and stimulate appetite.

  • Cool Colors: Blue, green, and purple shades create a calming and soothing atmosphere.

  • Neutral Colors: White, gray, and beige offer versatility and can either cool down or warm up your kitchen, depending on their undertones.

Action Tip: Spend a week observing how light interacts with your kitchen at different times of the day. Notice which areas receive ample sunlight and which corners remain shaded. This will be crucial in selecting your cabinet color.

Chapter 2: Analyzing Your Kitchen's Size, Layout, and Lighting

The physical attributes of your kitchen play a significant role in color selection. Let's break it down:

Size Matters

  • Small Kitchens: Opt for lighter colors to make your kitchen appear larger and more open.

  • Large Kitchens: You have the liberty to experiment with darker or more vibrant colors to add depth and interest.

Layout and Flow

Consider the layout and how your kitchen connects to adjacent rooms. Aim for a harmonious transition between spaces.

Natural vs. Artificial Lighting

  • Natural Light: Enhances colors, making them appear brighter and more true to tone.

  • Artificial Light: The type of bulbs (warm vs. cool) can significantly affect how paint colors look in your kitchen.

Action Tip: Collect paint swatches and observe how their appearance changes in your kitchen's lighting over the course of a day.

Chapter 3: Coordination with Countertops, Backsplash, and Flooring

Your cabinets don't exist in isolation. It's essential to consider the colors and materials of your countertops, backsplash, and flooring.

  • Countertops: Select a cabinet color that complements the primary tone of your countertop.

  • Backsplash: For a harmonious look, choose a color that aligns with the nuances of your backsplash tiles.

  • Flooring: Ensure your cabinet color does not clash with your floor material. Opposing colors can create a striking contrast, while similar tones offer a seamless look.

Action Tip: Create a mood board including elements from your countertops, backsplash, and flooring to visualize the overall palette.

Chapter 4: The Color Wheel and Kitchen Aesthetics

The color wheel is an invaluable tool in your color selection process. Here's how to use it:

  • Complementary Colors: Colors opposite each other on the wheel offer a vibrant contrast.

  • Analogous Colors: Colors next to each other provide a harmonious and cohesive look.

  • Triadic Colors: Selecting three evenly spaced colors around the wheel creates a dynamic and balanced palette.

Action Tip: Decide on a primary color theme based on your kitchen's aesthetics (modern, traditional, rustic) and use the color wheel to find complementary or analogous shades.

Chapter 5: Popular Cabinet Colors and Trends

While trends should not dictate your choice, they can offer inspiration:

  • Classic White: Timeless and versatile, white cabinets are a universal favorite.

  • Soft Grays: Offers a contemporary look with a soft, elegant vibe.

  • Navy Blue: Adds depth and sophistication to your kitchen.

  • Sage Green: Brings a touch of nature and freshness.

  • Bold Black: For a dramatic and modern statement.

Action Tip: Research current kitchen design trends and gather inspiration from platforms like Pinterest and Instagram.

Chapter 6: Testing Your Choices

Never commit to a color without testing it first:

  1. Sample Paints: Purchase sample pots and paint large swatches on poster boards. Move these around your kitchen to see how the color behaves in different lights.

  2. Virtual Tools: Utilize online visualizers to upload photos of your kitchen and experiment with various cabinet colors.

Action Tip: Live with your painted swatches for at least a week, observing how you feel about the colors at different times of the day.

Chapter 7: Coordinating Cabinet Colors with Wall Paint

Achieving harmony between your cabinets and wall color is key:

  • Contrast: Opt for contrasting shades for a dynamic look.

  • Monochromatic: Use varying shades of the same color for a subtle and cohesive appearance.

Action Tip: When in doubt, choose neutral wall colors as they adapt well to most cabinet colors, providing flexibility for future changes.

Chapter 8: Final Thoughts and Decision Making

Choosing the right cabinet color is a journey of exploration. Trust your instincts and select a color that resonates with you and your lifestyle. Remember, the goal is to create a kitchen that you love and enjoy spending time in.

Action Tip: Consult with a professional designer if you're feeling overwhelmed. A fresh perspective can often help clarify your vision.


Congratulations on completing our ultimate guide to choosing the perfect cabinet color for your kitchen! Armed with knowledge and insights, you're now ready to embark on your kitchen transformation journey. Embrace the process, experiment with confidence, and look forward to enjoying a kitchen that reflects your unique style and personality.

Remember, the perfect kitchen isn't just about trends or pleasing others; it's about creating a space that brings joy and comfort to your daily life. Happy painting!

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