Learn From My Mistake Before You Paint Your Cabinets

July 16, 2014

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Every day the kitchen plans come up over here. We’d love to start the big renovation (new cabinets, appliances, countertops, lots of windows!) next year and it’s one of our favorite things to talk about these days. Endless drawings and plans and discussions. In those discussions, I almost always end up frustrated at myself.

You see, when I painted the kitchen cabinets just over a month ago, I chose the colors I did partly to get it out of my system. I missed our two-toned cabinets from our last house that we only got to live with for a minute, but I didn’t want to do the exact same thing so I did something lighter.


Also, I wanted to get the white cabinets out of my system because in the renovation, we’re leaning toward colored cabinets. All one shade. These images are currently serving as our inspiration:




^^This is actually the photo that pushed us over the edge on our flooring choice. We love the muted floor tone with the slate-colored cabinets! Love. 


[ 1   2   3  4 ]

So why do I feel frustrated? If you are planning on ripping out your cabinets and replacing them, but want to paint them in the meantime–definitely do! Except don’t do what I did and paint them in a color that “gets it out of your system.” Don’t paint them white, if you want to replace them with colored ones. Don’t paint them in a tuxedo fashion, if you plan on replacing them with one solid color. Use that opportunity to test out where you’re headed to make sure you will like it when it’s the real thing.

It seems so obvious when I say it out loud, err type it. I wish I would have painted our cabinets in a similar way to what we’re planning on installing next year just so I could make sure it will look good before we spend thousands of dollars. I admit, I am a little nervous that our choice won’t be classic enough as white cabinets are–which is when my scared mind always resorts to, Oh, let’s just do white cabinets–it’s safe. But, we’re crossing our fingers the bolder choice pays off and we love it for the long haul.

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What do you think?

  1. Steph Nelson says:

    I think eventually whatever you put in you will tire of. I mean, even “classic” white cabinets will need to be changed because of styling tastes and changes down the road. I remember loving white wash kitchen cabinets around 20 years ago and now yuck. I can’t see any color of cabinet in 20/30/40 years still being in style. Or maybe I read an “ugly house” blog a little too often that makes fun of dated kitchens. So just go with what you want and love it and change it when you don’t anymore! :)

  2. Dawn says:

    We are just finishing up a tuxedo cabinet re-do based on your last kitchen. The cabinets were all dirty white and now they are white on top and Midnight Dream on the bottom. I love the look! I did something different because iI know when we gut the kitchen when our kids are out of college, I want wood cabinets not painted. I hate how paint gets chipped. We may go light maple to go with our Brazilian cherry floors. Thanks for your inspiration.

  3. Jackie says:

    Love your inspiration photos. Why not paint the island first for a trial run? Love your stools. Where were they purchased?

  4. Annemie says:

    My parents redid our kitchen ten-ish years ago in bright yellow and it still looks fresh and vibrant today! They did change out the wallpaper twice, to make it more up to date. But the cabinet colour: still looks fab! So go for it!

  5. Hilary says:

    I love the inspiration photos. And to me they almost have a tuxedo inspired look to them – especially 1,3, and 4. The glass doors and the light walls lighten the upper part of the kitchens and give a silmilar look – to my eyes at least!

  6. Meagan Briggs says:

    Julia, you guys hit a freaking home run with your last kitchen and cabinet color choices. Seriously. That kitchen blew me away and I can totally see you guys doing that again in this house. Why not do something similar, but with a twist in the new house? Especially if you already loved the darker colored cabinets? The navy and woodblock countertops are a modern combo, but also classic with how chic it looks together. I think maybe you wanted so badly to brighten up your kitchen from those terrible honey cabinets that you just said, white is the way to go! But as we’ve seen in your old house, and these AMAZING inspiration pictures, that white is not necessarily the best way to “liven” up your house. Every one of those inspiration pictures screams “WARM! BRIGHT! CLASSIC!” I know you guys will make the right choices for you and I cannot wait to see how the new kitchen comes together!

  7. Stephanie says:

    I love me some white cabinets…but if it helps: “White” = builder grade “color” = custom. :) Go with your gut. I LOVE your inspiration pictures and know you’ll do a knock down job.

  8. C says:

    A silly question….I am using your guide to paint our kitchen cabinets in the upcoming months (white because we’re getting dark floors and love the contrast), so THANK YOU but did you paint the inside of the cabinets too?

    I feel like I should only paint what is visible when the cabinet doors are shut and perhaps the front edge of the interior shelving but did you paint the entire interior? Please let me know. Thank you! Sorry if that’s a silly question.

    • Julia says:

      Good question! We painted the backs of all the cabinet doors, but not the inside of the boxes. I did that in one of the cabinets in our last house (we actually ended up taking it out and putting open shelving there) and it got pretty scratched up from constantly sliding/removing/putting away dishes. I wouldn’t recommend it. Happy painting!

      • C says:

        Got it! Thank you so much! I’m glad I asked the question before spending an entire week painting the insides HA! :)

  9. Hmmm, I think it’s good that you got it out of your system, but I also see what you mean about test-driving the most expensive option. Not that painting all of those cabinets is super fun, but could you do it again in the slate color when you get closer to the remodel? Just to totally make sure?

  10. Amanda says:

    I agree with another commenter that I would have done the same thing you did. “Temporary” solutions seem like a good chance to try something you wouldn’t typically want long term, but I definitely see your point in that this is a good time to test out your future plans to avoid making a costly mistake. Either way, now you know that you definitely don’t want white, so that’s a win, right?

    I LOVE your inspiration photos though. There’s been so much white on blogs, so it’s nice to see some color! I think it’ll look beautiful in your house. Try not to be so hard on hyourself :)

  11. Carmen says:

    Go bold you only live once!!!! I get the same feeling when I’m making choices- Is it classic enough? Hey in the worst case scenario you can paint them…. But I have a feeling you will adore the cabinet color!!!

  12. Thanks for this perspective – I think I would have done what you did, though! There is still an upside – you are now more certain you don’t want white cabinets in the the long run. You’ve gotten to live with your option B and know you want to go with option A next time. Maybe if you had done the slate color already, you’d always be wondering about white or two-toned. Like “Should I have gone that route? Now I’ll never know!”

  13. Haley says:

    oooooh, I love those inspiration photos!

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