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Painting My Kitchen Cabinets Gray

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Kitchen Update Ideas…

Finally!  Here we are to the post where I get to show you how I painted my kitchen cabinets gray.  If you missed my previous posts on how I changed the look of my kitchen by:

  • Moving my cabinets to the ceiling
  • Adding more cabinets
  • Adding open shelving, and
  • Testing one small cabinet above the microwave

You can find them by clicking here.  We also painted the walls, put in new flooring, and moved the fridge.

Here are the Before pictures– how the kitchen was when we moved in.

Before, Left of corner

Before, Right of corner

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Before we get too far, let me encourage you that you can complete a project like this if you are already comfortable painting other things. Let me remind you that in this painting process, I took all of the hardware off, did all of the prep, and all of the painting all on my own.  It took time, and work, but it was very worth the effort in the end. When you do things on your own, if anything goes wrong you can’t blame anyone else! In this case, it was completely worth my effort to hear my husband say when it was done: “It looks like a $30,000 kitchen in here.”  So on to the story of how I did it….

I chose General Finishes milk paint in Driftwood Gray. There are a lot of choices out there– but I am very glad with my choice.  I bought only one quart each of the paint and the clear coat.  At $35 for the paint, and $28 for the clear coat– well, that means that I bought paint that is $140 for one gallon!  But guess what?!  I only needed One Quart!!  I have used the leftovers for other projects, and I still have some left!  The paint is heavily pigmented, so you don’t need very much.

Through Pinterest I found a pin on Painting Kitchen Cabinets without Sanding or Priming.  I read that post several times.  She has another post detailing how well her cabinets held up after nearly two years. Those posts are what convinced me that I could paint my cabinets, too!  I had thought about painting my cabinets for two years before I actually did it.

So it began. I tackled the bottom lower cabinets first.  There were just a few of them, so it wasn’t as daunting of a project. Here is how they looked:

I had painted the floor baseboard under the cabinets white with latex trim glossy paint. Then it matched the baseboard around the rest of the kitchen walls.  It also really helped brighten the floor, and then I could see to keep the dirt cleaned up!

I took off three doors and two fake drawers.  Since I wasn’t sanding or priming, all I needed to do was clean the cabinets, and then degloss them with Zinsser Deglosser. I put brown packing paper down, and painted them right in the kitchen.

Here is the first of two coats.  See how well it covers both the white and the natural wood? I followed the directions which say to use a foam brush– see the two black foam brushes in the center, below? I think those foam brushes are the secret to no brush lines showing!

I painted the turn table door, the little drawer, and of course the framing, in place.

Here is the first coat.

After two coats of paint, three coats of clear coat are recommended (which I did).  Then I let it cure for the recommended time before putting the hardware back.  When I removed the old hinges, the springs in them fell apart.  They were in need of replacement.  I was able to reuse all of the handles.  All I had to purchase was satin nickle hinges for each door.  I really like the new self-closing hinges— the doors actually stay shut now when I close them!

So my cabinets went from this:


To this!  Don’t they look so much better?!


So for several months, my kitchen cabinets remained with the bottom painted and the top unpainted. It has been popular to have cabinets different colors, but that was not my plan.

So after the last upper cabinet had been installed, I tackled the job of painting all of the upper cabinets. This time I painted them in my basement.

I painted the sides and the frame…after taping the ceiling.

Here are the other cabinets….

I followed the same process that I followed for the lower cabinets, that I detailed above.

Here is a section finished.  Remember my free cabinets?  It was really nice that they didn’t have holes in the doors for other hardware.  I didn’t have to repair any holes.  But I did have to drill new holes for my hardware– and having never done that before– it was a little scary!!!

Here is the first handle that I installed.  I was relieved that it was straight!!  I managed to get all four handles installed straightly.  It was really neat– I needed four more matching handles for my doors. Because I had removed the doors on the cabinet above the microwave, and because I had removed the cabinets above the sink– I had exactly four extra handles! That was a very happy accident. Update: Now I know what to buy the next time I need to do this!!

Here is the entire kitchen all painted.  It looks like I have a ton of cabinet space, right?! Do you like the dark gray as much as I do?


kitchen with gray cabinets

Here is a close up of the Coffee Station (more details Here) that I created to the left of the stove. Even the hardware on my baker’s cabinet matches my other hardware pretty closely. : )


I hope that you have been inspired by what a little bit of paint, and a whole lot of time, can do! Are you wondering where my fridge is now?  Find it here.

kitchen makeover showing before and after pictures
painted kitchen cabinets, slipcovered chairs, new kitchen faucet and sink







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    1. Oh I’ve purposely left that out because I hate it! It photographs ok, but in real life it has a lavender tint! I would hate for anyone else to use it… unless they really did want a lavender gray. I’ve used a new color now in the bathroom in our other house, and I really recommend “passive gray” instead! https://youtu.be/I_OFMtZEN-k

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