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When we bought our house 2 years ago, I absolutely fell in love with the kitchen – or I should say, the potential of the kitchen.  First, its a very large kitchen – lots of open space, and lots of natural light.   I can look out the kitchen windows, and see my kids playing in the backyard – wherever they are.   Its got a great bay type window over the sink, that is just gorgeous.

But while I loved the bones of the kitchen, I hated everything about the walls, the cabinets and the floors – and how they worked together.  Its a house built in 1990, and as such, its got a love affair with oak.   Oak floors, oak cabinets, and then for some reason, the previous owners thought it would be great to paint the walls in Benjamin Moore “Cork” – which is basically kind of a mustard-orange color.   Its like they took the cabinets and the floors into the paint store, and said “we want our walls to be a yellow orange, to match the cabinets”.   Here is a “before” picture (this is actually from the realtor listing, the dining table belongs to the previous owners):




When we bought the house, we thought – we’ll just get new cabinets, piece of cake.   What we weren’t really thinking about, is that in our large kitchen, there are 63 door faces – that is 27 drawers and 36 cabinet doors.  First we did a quick call with our local Home Depot store and after giving them a rough idea of our space and how many cabinets we have – we had quotes in the range of $40,000-50,000 for new cabinets, installation, the whole bit.


Then we looked into cabinet resurfacing – where we’d keep our existing cabinet bases, and get all new doors.   That came in at around $14,000, including hardware and hinges and everything.

Yikes again.

So we waited a year, thinking maybe we’d grow attached to the kitchen.   And with every waking day, I hated the color in the kitchen more and more.  The color and the feeling in the room was so depressing to me.   Until one day I woke up and decided I was painting the cabinets myself, and by the end of the day, SOMETHING in this kitchen would not be oak or mustard colored.

I had researched all of the options for paint, and decided to go with Annie Sloan chalk paint for 3 reasons:

  1. No Sanding:  The sheer number of cabinets that I had to paint, the thought of sanding them all down and then priming, and then painting was exhausting.
  2. Dry time:   if I had not used chalk paint, I probably would have gone with a oil based paint which takes FOREVER to dry, and would have probably taken me 6 months to get through all the cabinets I had to do.   With Annie Sloan, I could do a section of 8-12 cabinets at a time, and by the time I was done with a coat on all 8, the first one was just about dry and ready for a second coat.
  3. Finish:  I was going for a more rustic/distressed look, which is exactly what AS paint lends itself to.


Now for the details!!   At the end of this post, I broke down all the details of exactly what we added, what we purchased, and exactly how much was spent.


I hit the island first, just so I could get some level of accomplishment (plus if I ruined it, it wouldn’t be as hard to replace as all my cabinets)

I removed all of the doors, hinges and knobs, and gave everything a quick rub down with a deglosser (these are 30 year old cabinets y’all!).   I got lazy with the deglosser after this, since I had to shellac my main cabinets, I only used the deglosser on the island .



I had looked into getting new hinges, but they were like $2 each, meaning $4 per door, for like 37 doors – I was NOT paying ~$200 on new hinges.   So I bought a can of my favorite Rustoleum Oil Rubbed Bronze Spray Paint, and hit up every one of the existing hinges with it.   And it turned out amazing, I don’t think anyone would ever know they weren’t the new $4 per set hinges.



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First I painted the outside of the island, and then hit the doors.




Hallelujah to Chalk Paint!    Painting the entire island – 2 coats of paint took me about 2.5  hours in total!!


I was pumped.   Day 2, it was time to move onto the cabinets and I COULD. NOT. WAIT.

Here are a few more close ups of her orangeness…



Because my kitchen is pretty big, I opted to tackle it section by section, so that I could see some level of improvement as I went along.


Before I go any further, I should add a note for anyone who might be considering painting aged oak cabinets.  While Annie Sloan paint is awesome in that you don’t have to sand or prime, I did find that I had one step to do, before I could paint – especially since I was using white paint (I did not have to take these steps on my island, which I think has slightly newer cabinets, and I used the darker French Grey color there).

If you add your first coat of chalk paint, and see what looks like grease stains coming through the chalk paint, then you’ll need to do this as well.   Because my cabinets are 30 years old, much of their original glossy coating/varnish has worn off, and there is basically somewhat bare stain sitting on top of the cabinets.   If your cabinets are dark grained oak and are pretty old, then you will likely need to seal in the original stain with Shellac before painting.  Depending on how much stain is coming through, you might need 2 or 3 coats of shellac.  The nice part is, it can be applied at any point during the process.  There were a couple of doors that I put one coat on, and then one coat of Annie Sloan, so then I added another coat of Shellac and then redid the Annie Sloan.

You do not need to remove the chalk paint that has been previously applied, you just Shellac at whatever point you realize you are still getting bleed through.

Thankfully it goes on quickly, and dries quickly, so its not a huge pain, but is definitely needed if you’ve got old, grainy oak cabinets like mine (especially are using a very light color of paint).


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The only other prep work I did was to wood fill and sand the existing hardware holes, since I was going to get new hardware.  OMG, the orange is gone!!   Its white and bright, and its BEAUTIFUL!!!!



About 3/4 of the way through the painting process, my new pulls arrived in the mail, and I was in LOVE!!!    I had found some pulls online that I really liked, made by topknobs.com, but they were like $17 a piece.   I was determined to find something like them, when I finally found a knock off version on another site for only $3.50 each!!!!!   Since I had to buy 67 total pulls, I had to watch my budget there, a lot.   I began installing them the minute they arrived.





One little tip for installing hardware pulls, especially if you have a lot to do – use some cardboard to create a form of where your holes will go in comparison to your drawer.   This saved a TON of time and made sure that my pulls were all the same distance from the top of each drawer.



The rest of the cabinets took me about 2 weeks to do – painting mostly in the evenings and weekends – not bad at all considering there are 63 cabinets!

Once the cabinets were done painting, I gave them all 2 coats of Annie Sloan clear wax.   I had tried to do some distressing using the dark wax, but didn’t really like how it turned out, so I wiped if all off and just distressed the edges of my cabinets with my sanding block – it was just enough to give it some depth and texture, while maintaining a clean look from a distance.



Next I was onto the trim and walls.  I hit our wood crown moulding and trim with some Benjamin Moore Oil Based Trim paint which had been left by the previous owners – holy cow it was GOOD paint.   I had to go buy more and didn’t want to spend the $80 on a can just for one last coat on the trim, so they talked me into getting the Benjamin Moore Regal Select Pearl Finish, and it just wasn’t the same.  It was much thinner and didn’t provide nearly as good of coverage of the oil based trim paint.  Oh well, live and learn, right?

I tinted all of the trim to Benjamin Moore’s “Linen White” which was a fantastic match for the Annie Sloan Old White, and really softened the look of the trim.

My other great steal was the wall paint.  I had picked out this shade of Mint called Jade something (I can’t remember the exact name at the moment) by Behr for the kitchen walls.   I go in to buy it, and as I’m walking by the stand with all their “whoops” paint, there is a can sitting there that is the EXACT shade I’m looking for, in their Behr premium paint.   I couldn’t believe it, I even had him paint it on my sample and you could barely tell it was a custom shade.   Only $7 for marquee paint for my kitchen walls, whoop whoop!!!




I cannot even tell you how it made my heart soar, to see all the mustard going far far away…




After only 3 weeks at it, my kitchen painting job was done!!!   I invested in a super cool new bronze chandelier to go over our kitchen island.   I also gave our island a makeover by adding some trim and legs to it which adds a ton of character and really classes it up (I’ll detail that in a follow up post as it was a whole project in itself).

I found a steal of a rug at Target that fit our coloring and the size of the room perfectly – it was originally $299 and was on super clearance for only 47 bucks!!!!!

I also reupholstered the island chairs with a more fitting fabric (the previous fabric was dark red and mustard plaid).   I may eventually repaint or do something with the wood on the chairs, but for now I don’t mind the look of a little bit of wood in the kitchen.   By the time I got to the chairs, I was a little burnt out from painting so maybe down the road I’ll look into it, but for now, I don’t mind them.


So without further ado, here are the official “after” photos!!!

I am SOOO in love with it.   Its been like 3 months, and I still walk into my kitchen and its so bright and cheery and just happy, it makes me smile all the time, and I still can’t believe what a dramatic transformation it was.   Enjoy!!













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A good friend of mine was in my kitchen a few weeks later, checking it out for the first time.   She told me her parents had just done a $50,000 upgrade to their kitchen a few weeks prior, and to her untrained eye, she couldn’t tell the difference between her parents hand antiqued off white kitchen cabinets, and my DIY, on the cheap, makeover.

I call that a win!!!


Kitchen Makeover Cost Breakdown and Details

I was able to find some pretty awesome deals which I will detail in each section, but here is the rough pricing breakdown:

Cabinet Paint Supplies:

  • $192 – 6 cans Annie Sloan Old White
  • $64 – 2 cans Annie Sloan French Grey
  • $25 – Annie Sloan Clear Wax
  • $25 – Annie Sloan Dark Wax
  • $56 – Annie Sloan Wax Brushes
  • $17 – 1 quart of Zinsser Bulls Eye Shellac
  • $12 – Foam Sanding Blocks – 60 grit, 100 grit and 200 grit
  • $7  – Oil Rubbed Bronze Spray Paint for existing hinges
  • $35 – New paint brushes, plastic sheeting, tape

Total Spent on Cabinet Refinishing – $433

Wall Paint:

  • $0 – Benjamin Moore Oil Based Trim/Moulding Paint – $85   FREE!!  Left by previous owners
  • $52 – Benjamin Moore Regal Select Pearl Finish – Tinted to “Linen White” for crown moulding
  • $7  – 1 Gallon of Behr Premium Plus tinted to custom color for walls

Total Spent on Wall and Trim Paint – $59

Door pulls:

  • $122.50 – 35 x Fluted T-Knobs at $3.50 each
  • $62.50 – 25 x 3″ wide scroll pulls
  • $16.50 – 3 x 5″ wide scroll pulls (for garbage disposal, pan drawer and desk drawer)
  • $15.98 – 2 replacement oil rubbed bronze door knobs for pantry doors

Total Spent on New Hardware – $217.48

Kitchen Island Upgrade:

  • $96 – 4 x 36″ pine island legs from Lowes
  • $12 – 2 x 8′ x 1″ x 4′ wood boards
  • $15 – Metal brackets

Total Spent on Kitchen Island Legs – $123

Chandelier Over Kitchen Island – $125.99

3 ‘ of Fabric to Reupholster The Stools Around The Island (from JoAnn Fabric) – $18

New 7’x10′ Rug Under Kitchen Table from Target – $48 (super super clearance price, down from $299, woohoo!!)


Total Cost for My Kitchen Makeover:  $1024.47!!



I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below!   However if you are one of those who hates people who paint wood, or oak, or whatever, and who is shaking your head thinking I “ruined” this kitchen by painting all the orange away, I would ask you to please refrain from telling me the error of my ways.   Thank you for your kindness!   🙂


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