Wednesday, July 9, 2014

In the which the Farmhouse Kitchen gets painted cabinets {and wooden countertops}

Here it is; the post some of you have been patiently waiting on. It's posts like these that make me wish I had mad photography skills (like my friend Wendy) but I did my best to show you how awesome my kitchen looks now.

I neglected to take a full set of before photos but I do have just enough to show you how drab and dull my cabinets were. They look so different now. In fact, my sister-in-law was here over the weekend and saw them for the first time. She (mostly jokingly) remarked that she thought she went into the wrong kitchen. It really does look like a totally different room. Enough blathering. I know you really want to see what I'm talking about. So.....
I didn't get them from quite the same angle but hopefully this side by side gives you an idea of the vast improvement. (How do you like my little photobomber?) :)

You may have noticed I had already started tearing off wallpaper and removing hardware in these 2 pictures. I literally decided to paint my cabinets that week and started in immediately. After working awhile, it occurred to me that I should take some before pictures so I snapped these few but unfortunately, it doesn't show some things that we changed. When I started, I was ONLY going to paint the cabinets but then I got the idea to move my stove to the other side of the kitchen (it was tucked in beside the refrigerator and I never like feeling hemmed in while I was cooking) and install a microwave above it. The microwave had always resided on the countertops and hogged precious horizontal surface. Quite some time ago, I had gotten an older GE under-the-cabinet microwave for $40. It was pretty dirty and although I had been assured when I bought it that it worked, I had never tested it.

So anyway, the refrigerator and stove were beside each other with a 10" cabinet between them. The fridge was so big that it stuck out past the doorway trim and bothered me. So, with hubby's approval and help, I set out to improve the layout of the kitchen. I moved the stove straight across the kitchen to where we had torn out a desk soon after we moved here. (My Hoosier had been sitting there.) On either side of the stove, we added cabinets. On the right, we put the 10" cabinet that had been between the stove and fridge. On the left, a cabinet that I had previously rescued from Uncle Cabinet Maker's burn pile. Hubby made that into a pull-out trash can cabinet using a door from one of the upper cabinets that we were no longer using. Above the stove we used a cut-down cabinet and mounted the microwave to it. A friend with electrical experience did the wiring for us. (The microwave works great, by the way.) So. much. better!
 Now on the other side where the stove had been we had a space. I was game to put in some odds and ends from the Habitat ReStore but hubby wanted to build one. Using Uncle's shop, knowledge, and help, he built a 36" base cabinet. We didn't have any more leftover doors/drawers so he used something from Uncle's discard pile. It's noticeably different but similar enough to be okay.
In the space above, we used another cut-down cabinet (When we moved here, it had been on the wall above where the stove currently is sitting.). It has an open area that I use for displaying my Celebrating Home stoneware.
This sweet little butter dish isn't Celebrating Home but I sure love it. I just picked it up at TJMaxx this week. I have been looking and looking for a butter dish that isn't just blah. This one looks so "farmhousey" and it didn't break the bank. I think it was only $5.
Here is full view:
I was planning to reuse the hardware but DH didn't like that it was all knobs so he told me if I could find something I liked under $4, he would buy new. Challenge accepted! I found what I liked but unfortunately, they were NOT under $4 each. So I kept searching different websites until I found one that had them under $4 and free shipping! Score! (At the end of the post, I will provide a link.) I love how they look! We did reuse the hinges and honestly they are not noticeably different from the knobs/pulls.
So now that we did all the changing around, that countertops were an issue. Again, I was willing to just put in some odd pieces from the ReStore to fill in the gaps but hubby wasn't happy with that. Since it was his wallet, I wasn't going to argue with him. ;) We priced new laminate but since we plan to upgrade our flimsy cabinets in the future, we wanted to go a less expensive route this time and do nicer countertops with the new cabinets. We tossed around other ideas and for awhile, DH was seriously considering attempting concrete countertops. He watched lots of YouTube videos and priced forms but ultimately decided it was too risky. The next option (and obviously the one we went with) was wooden countertops. This route cost us around $500 (less than half the laminate quote) but COUNTLESS hours. DH (with Uncle's help) did 95% of the work. Using Uncle's shop, tools, advice, and help, he sawed hard maple lumber into strips, glued them together, sanded them down, etc. I'm not going to go into detail on how he made and installed these but I will just say, he's a perfectionist and the countertops are lovely. I used Minwax dark walnut stain and Waterlox sealer on them.

And a few more shots 'just because':

See how smooth and hard this paint is? HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend!

Top of the refrigerator
And now, I never really addressed what paint I used and how hard the cabinets were to paint. So let's take care of that before I go. After much online research and reading of reviews, I decided to use Insl-X Cabinet Coat Acrylic Satin Enamel. I was able to find it locally at one of our Ace hardware stores that is a Insl-X dealer but I bought their last gallon and she told me they wouldn't be carrying it any longer. So, I HAD to make that gallon do my whole project. I could have bought online and had it tinted (Swiss Coffee) at Lowes or Menards but I didn't really want to risk it not matching. The steps I took to paint the cabinets are as follows:
#1. Remove knobs
#2. Wash cabinets good with TSP and tape off any areas not being painted.
#3. Fill any holes with spackling. Let dry and sand smooth.
#4. Number all the doors and remove. It's nice if you have an area you can set up sawhorses and lay them all out at once. I did it in my workshop and I had to lay them out in 2 batches.
#5. Prime with a stain blocking primer like Kilz or BIN
#6. Paint 2 coats of paint on the cabinet faces and doors/drawers. Because I was trying to conserve paint, I only painted the backs of the doors with one coat of paint.
#7. Let dry and cure the recommended time and re-install.
#8. Put your hardware on and stand back and admire your hard work.

Ok, it's not quite that simple. :) The actual painting is not hard. The hard part is having your kitchen torn up while trying to carry on normal life. Obviously, this is not very detailed instructions. Because this post is getting too long, I will leave it at this. If there are enough questions on the how-to, I will do a separate post and address the questions. For now, I've kept it simple.

The hardware I used is:


If you use these names and do a google search, you can probably find them for a better price if you are buying quantity. Menards also has these in stock of you live near one of them.

This post contains affiliate links.

Linking to:
From the farmhouse,


  1. This is awesome, Rachel!!! It looks amazing!

  2. WOW!! Fabulous... and it shows..all your hard-work and elbow grease into making your project turn out the way it did. Good for you!

    Great tips!

  3. I know this was a HUGE project to undertake BUT, WOWZERS!
    You transformed that kitchen into something gorgeous!
    LOVE the groves in the cabinet door and how they are much more noticeable after painting.
    LOVE the mixture of hardware styles
    LOVE the feed sack striped linens
    LOVE the wood counter top
    LOVE the bead board back splash and soffit

    You always do such nice work.
    I'm guessing you like to cook a little more now that you have this 'new' kitchen. :)

    I remember a day many years ago (when you were probably about 6 years old:)) in which I helped two girls living in that house make a 'batch' of cookies X's like 8 or 10 (man did we have cookies!!)
    Clean up from baking included squirting dish soap, big time, on the counters to get the cookie grease up and it took a loooong time to get that soap all rinsed off. It was like bubbly slime. I learned a lesson that day that I have not since had to relearn.

    If you don't have room for your Hoosier, I'd be willing to help you free up more space by bringing it to my house. :)

    p.s. I may need a butter dish like yours. :)

  4. Love it! I so want to paint my kitchen cabinets. One thing at a time!

  5. Wow, I would let you and hubby remodel my home. I cannot believe those are the same cabinets, they look like you added beadboard. I had to go back and look at the brown version to see the details were there. Kudos

  6. You did a lovely job....Your hubby did a great job on the counter tops also....I am very blessed my husband was a cabinet builder/carpenter before being an engineer..He's actually a jack of all trades...My husband is also a perfectionist when it comes to building,painting, doing anything...
    Can I ask, you said the paint on the cabinets is a creamy white...by that you mean an off white, yellow white?....So they are not stark white, right?...They look really white in the photo's....I am looking for an off white...You said you ordered it off of Amazon?....
    Thanks !

    1. Thank you for your sweet comments, Gigi! To answer your questions, the cabinets are not stark white. I used a paint color called Swiss Coffee that just takes the starkness out. It's not buttery or grayish. Just middle of the road but not all the way to cream if that makes sense. If you compare to the white appliances, you can see the slight differences. I was actually able to get the last gallon that my local Ace had so I bought mine locally. If you go to the INSL-X website and type in your zip code in the 'dealer locator' tab, you can see if it's available locally for you. If all else fails, you can get it on Amazon for about the same price I paid. (It's not cheap paint!) Hope this helps!

    2. Now that I notice the appliances, I see that the paint is creamy white...Thank you so much...I really like this color....I'll check out their website....Thanks !

  7. Lovely job.....Now you need lot's of red accents.....Gorgeous..

  8. WHo makes Waterlox sealer and where do you buy it?T hank you. Gorgeous makeover!!

    1. Waterlox is made by Waterlox and they market it. I chose it based on it's great reviews and I've been very happy with it so far. It's a little tricky to apply properly but by following their instructions to a T, I was able to get a nice finish. Go to Waterlox(dot)com and check their how to buy tab. If there are no places locally for you, it can be purchased directly from their website. Hope this helps!

  9. Wow, that is so much cleaner and brighter. I have a dark timber kitchen that we are replacing very soon with white cabinets and wooden countertops. Ours is falling apart, so painting isn't an option - I can't wait revel in the light! Love your accessorizing too.

  10. Gasp! That kitchen is gorgeous (hm, that doesn't look right, but I hope you know what I mean). You should enter it into a contest, surely you would win. The counters are so pretty I would be hard pressed to use them. Knowing you, you have researched the whole thing and they are probably very user friendly. Great job. Loved seeing it.

  11. I'm in the process of doing my own kitchen and dining room makeover and wanted to ask you about your cabinets. I have a dealer locally that sells this brand of paint. Did you also use a clear coat finish afterwards, or is that not needed with the INSL-X paint? Thanks a bunch!

    1. Hi Jenni, this paint doesn't need a sealer. It dries really hard and smooth and is very wipeable. (A 'must' in this household with 3 boys. :) ) That's great you can buy it locally! Best wishes on your makeover! ~Rachel

    2. Thank you Rachel! I'm excited and can't wait till it's finished!

  12. Wow, love your "new" kitchen...what a difference the paint makes on the cabinets...and the counter top is beautiful!

  13. Lovely re-do! I especially like the countertops. Also in case you ever tire of your floor, you can paint that too! I did in our former home. Didn't take me long to want to paint over the 1970's green vinyl flooring. It lasted very well even with kids and pets.

  14. Love your new kitchen, and 'farmshouse' decor. Love that butter dish from TJ Maxx - I never saw one like it here in SW GA's store. I looked when I first read this entry back in early August! I love farmhouse / vintage retro kitchen decor (from the look of old kitchens of the '30s/40s but not art deco, just homey and worn) and love your home.

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Thanks for taking the time to make my day with your comments!