Nearly Nautical – Cabinet Painting: Part 1

As I mentioned yesterday, the most exciting project of 2014 (that I can’t believe I have yet to share with you) was the painting of my kitchen cabinets!!

I was so indecisive about this project! Finally, all it took was my husband commenting that he liked the look of a Pinterest kitchen I had put in front of him a few times before. As I’ve learned throughout this whole decorating process…it takes him some time to let my ideas simmer before he realizes he actually likes them. haha.

Thank goodness for Pinterest! If I didn’t have that resource to say, “I’m picturing something like this!” or “Here’s what it looks like in a small space like ours” we wouldn’t have made any progress in this place! Men are definitely visual learners…thank you for all your help Pinterest, most sincerely.

As much as it pains me to show you, this is how we last left the kitchen (and with a few less birds):



Oh that lovely golden oak. I don’t miss it one bit.

Now here’s the Pinterest picture that got the ball rolling:


I mean, our kitchen doesn’t look THAT different from this one, right?

Now, I’m not totally delusional. I knew I would never achieve this exact aesthetic in my tiny space, but the navy on the bottom with the white on the top was worth attempting! Before you ask yourself – Yes, I am aware that I live in NYC and not in Cape Cod. That said, the nautical color scheme was working for us, and at this point ANYTHING was better than that golden oak! If

With my newfound confidence in furniture painting from the bookshelf project, I felt ready to tackle these cabinets head on!

I thought that finding the perfect navy blue would be the most difficult task, but after bringing home 10 swatches that ranged from black to purple to grey in our lighting, we decided to paint the bottom cabinets the same color as the wall. (It looks so country blue below, but feels far more navy in our space).

Behr English Channel

Behr English Channel

I planned to repaint the wall in a pretty grey (Revere Pewter – which I’d already painted the backsplash area) and get rid of the trees and birds after the revamping the cabinets anyway.

Lucky for me, we had a ton of paint leftover from the gallon bucket that was purchased to paint our tiny kitchen wall. On a freezing cold Monday when I had absolutely no desire to step out of the house – I decided it was time to paint!

I knew I needed to make sure the cabinets were extra clean to start on the right foot, so I gave them all a scrub with dish soap and water, as well as goo gone wherever ancient kitchen grease was lurking. The cabinets above the stove were especially sticky, but I kept on going until my arms were burning. I knew I still had de-glosser to go, so I didn’t stress out too much when it seemed like there were some spots that just wouldn’t come completely clean.

I detached the first two of the lower cabinet doors (marking and bagging their hardware separately) and got to work using the de-glosser, gloves, and scouring pad from the Rustoleum kit we used for the bookshelf. I was nervous to do any de-glossing near the parquet floors so I covered the kitchen tile in beach towels and started my task on the floor.

The de-glossing was definitely the least rewarding part of the process. Thankfully hulu kept the entertainment coming while my hands were covered in latex gloves and chemicals. There was some serious elbow grease involved in taking the finish off these cabinets. Getting into the molding was the most difficult part – and once I started painting I think I could have done a better job, but the paint still covered the oak – so I’m happy with the results.

After scouring the doors with de-glosser (per the Rustoleum instructional video) I wiped down the cabinets with a dry cloth to remove any wetness and remaining de-glossing chemicals. I went through a lot of rags in this process as they just kept getting too wet to properly dry the doors.

Once the doors were completely dry it was finally time to paint!

I laid out my cabinet doors on the extended kitchen table (with two tarps on it, and a plastic sheet underneath!) At this point in my professional cabinet painting I expertly decided to use canned goods to prop up my doors.

Of course, they weren’t the same size! Apparently, I wanted to challenge myself by painting unleveled, wobbling pieces of wood. Surely that makes for a finer finish, right?

In between coats of paint, I emptied the drawers and painted the drawer fronts. I chose to keep the fronts attached to the backs – low quality builder grade drawer boxes meant it wasn’t going to be easy to get these guys back on without a fight. Then I de-glossed the oak surrounding the cabinets (same process as before) and once dry, I used a foam brush to paint that area blue as well.

The lower cabinets required less paint that the top cabinets (which discovered while I painted those the next week). I think I decided the bottom was complete with only two coats on each side, but I touched them up where I needed to after seeing them hung in better lighting.

This is one of my only photos in the middle of kitchen painting chaos. (Snacks are vital in times like these).


You can see I also painted the kick plate blue by taping off the floor and using my foam brush to get to the hard to reach places.


It was coming together, and I was excited!!


I knew we made a great decision when I added the hardware back on! What a difference!

At the end of Day One, I may have only completed one bottom side of navy blue cabinets, but I was tickled with the results!!


When I stepped back to look at the rest of the kitchen, I knew I had a long way to go. But having this little corner of major improvement to inspire me was the carrot that kept me plugging away!!


Much more painting to come!!

One thought on “Nearly Nautical – Cabinet Painting: Part 1

  1. Pingback: Cabinet Painting 2.0: How to DIY with a Toddler at Home. | Tickled in NYC

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